Science is one of my ten year old’s favorite subjects, and he loves the computer so much that he about has people convinced that we homeschool solely through the resources that we’re able to watch on YouTube. So, when we received the opportunity recently to review the workbook Surfing the Net: Science from The Critical Thinking Co., I felt like it would be the perfect merging for Firecracker of science love and working through his schoolwork using the internet.
About the Book
Surfing the Net: Science is a book geared for middle and upper elementary school science (3rd – 6th grade). There are 46 topics of study included from seven disciplines of science. These disciplines are:
- Ecosystems and Habitats
Among these disciplines, there are topics as varied as insects, clouds, oceans, fossil fuels, earthquakes, fruits and vegetables and the moon. All are appropriately gaged at the learning level of an upper elementary school student.
The book is reproducible, so my fifth and third graders both used this book. Throughout the book there are several different kinds of directions, including searching by keywords, searching by images, going to specific websites to view animations, watch videos and play games, providing a variety of internet techniques to learn along with the science concepts that are imparted.
Throughout the book, there are also a variety of different ways to display the information that you’re learning. There are various charts to fill out, new creatures and things to create, drawings to make, and fill in the blank questions to answer, creating an assignment that is familiar as the units continue but also different enough with each unit not to be repetitive.
How We Used The Book
The units in the book don’t seem to build on each other and they’re all completely separate, so we chose the units that we were interested and completed those. For example, the first unit we completed was amphibians, but the second unit we completed was on precipitation. The pages in each unit tend to vary from as few as three pages to as many as six, depending on how much information and how many activities that the unit contains.
Each day we would try to complete a segment from the workbook, along with any other exploration we wanted to do on the topic, making each unit tend to last a week or a little more. For example, in the precipitation unit, we spent a day filling out a workbook page the contained several blanks and a venn diagram using keyword lookups, another day watching a water cycle animation and filling in a chart, another day watching a build your own aquifer animation and labeling what each item in the animation represented in nature, and yet another day reading about precipitation and labeling a chart with the water states (solid, liquid, gas) involved in differing forms of precipitation. This method of completion would be short enough to keep my eight year old from getting discouraged, but in-depth enough for me to feel like my ten year old was learning.
My Opinion on this Book
We don’t often do workbooks, but this one is kind of fun. The children enjoyed looking up things on the internet, watching animations and filling in their charts and graphs. They’re always up for videos and anything online, so having this resource geared towards making online time constructive was a fun way to learn.
As we went through this, I kept thinking that this has some great supplemental activities and learning to do as you’re doing a unit study on one of these science topics. I can really imagine that it’s best potential in my life would be if I were to teach an upper elementary or middle school co-op science class and use these pages as homework packets for the class. That would be a totally awesome use for these pages.
My ten year old especially enjoyed them. He loves charts, graphs, classifying, science and the internet. My eight year old didn’t enjoy them as much, but then again, she’s at the low end of the grade level for this product so it was a little tougher for her. However, I think as we find topics that coincide with this workbook that we’ll continue to use various units from it for exploration.