October 23, 2009

Real Science 4 Kids

My kids are science junkies.  If they have a choice between some popular current movie and Bill Nye, they'll choose Bill Nye.  And speaking of popular, they love Popular Mechanics for Kids.  And all sorts of other science-y things.  They want to grow up to be scientists or space station builders or work with robotics while being a zookeeper.  They'd also like to figure out how to access the Power Grid and make Power Ranger Morphers.

So we do a lot of science in my house.  Most families do science a few days a week.  We do it five.  If I didn't I'd have mass rebellion on my hands instead of must major chaos.

That being said we've tried a few different curricula and ways of doing science.  Most of the science books we've tried we have not liked.  But we absolutely love Real Science 4 Kids.  Love it.

We started at the Pre-Level and are now working our way through Level 1.  The books take college level science and write it in a way that kids can understand.  They don't dumb it down; they just explain it really well.  Last year my then 4-yr-old was able to explain chemical bonds after sitting in on his brothers lessons.

The illustrations are excellent and really add to the child's ability to understand the material covered.  The text is bigger than most textbooks which makes it easier for kids to read.

And I just said textbook, which is a bad word if you follow Charlotte Mason.  Yes, I use a textbook.  But it doesn't feel like a textbook.  It is engaging and interesting and whole.  It reads like a story.

My only real complaint is that each book is only 10 or so chapters long.  That takes us about 10 weeks to get done.  Technically you're supposed to use all 3 books in a level during one year, but that can get expensive.  My compromise has been to add in various 'living' books to each chapter and then take short breaks to explore other science topics not covered in the books.  Right now the topics covered by RS4Ks are Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  We've taken time out to learn more about birds and the ocean and the human body.  Next is space and then we'll go back into Physics.

Things I love about Real Science 4 Kids:
1.  Written clearly and intelligently.  Treats the kids with respect.
2.  The books are truly beautiful - great illustrations, glossy pages, shiny cover.
3.  No creationism or evolution.  Straight science.  I get to add in my own stuff.
4.  The experiments correlate well with each chapter.  And they're fun.

Things I don't love:
1.  Can get expensive - especially when you need the text, the teacher's manual and lab books for several kids.
2.  The books are short - we want more!

I should mention, you can view all the books online at the link above.  Every page of every book.  How's that for being able to decide if you like the book or not?

We'll be using RS4K throughout the rest of our homeschooling career, but I know we'll use a lot of living books too.  I'll be adding posts with the lists of the books we've used and liked, as well as the ones we didn't so you can avoid those!

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