General Science General Resource

Easy As 1, 2, 3: A Catholic Overview of Science For the Primary Grades

Book cover: 'Easy As 1, 2, 3: A Catholic Overview of Science For the Primary Grades'
Author(s): 
Nancy Nicholson
Copyright: 
1998
Publisher: 
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Binding: 
Loose-leaf (binder-ready)
Number of pages: 
41 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This program provides families who like to use living books with a Catholic framework from which to study science. It is not a textbook but rather is 40 pages, of which approximately half are outlines, that are three hole punched and ready to go into your notebook. The parent that uses this will find the eleven units of science outlined very handy for creating their own program and clearly laid out so that they can tuck personal notes and activities into their notebook using the 40 pages as their point of organizing.
The manual begins with an explanation of how the outline can best be used and includes suggested resources and supplies. Each units focus (animals for example) is broken down by grade and includes a listing of the main headings that should be studied (e.g. Mammals, habitats and others in grade 1, amphibians, migration and others in grade 3). The author also includes a "find out" paragraph that includes special topics that parents should bring out.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
3-9-01
Reviewed by: 

For the Beauty of the Earth

A Science Supplement for Catholic Elementary Schools
Author(s): 
James Leek et al.
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Like many Catholic Home schooling families, providing a Catholic education was number one on the list of reasons my husband and I wanted to home school. In addition, we wanted a rigorous education, and one that emphasized the beauties of truth and love. Translating these goals into a curriculum is an on-going challenge. Sometimes the books that do a good job presenting a particular subject do it without the light of the Faith. Other times, books that are "solidly Catholic" are also unattractive and uninspiring. We have had to compromise in a lot of areas.

Two that we have not had to compromise in are science and history, and this is largely due to the Catholic school supplements produced by James Leek. These two are among the most excellent resources I have come across in home schooling. They include interesting material for study and careful explanation of an approach to education that is beautifully in keeping with our holy faith. In themselves, these explanations are worth reading and incorporating into your teaching.

In science, for example, Mr. Leek explains the integrating principles for a Catholic science education. Ultimately, our aim is to better know the Creator of everything. Science study also has remote ends: that we develop a respect for God's creation, and learn to contemplate and reflect on it, and that we exercise our minds to improve life and serve our fellow men. At the same time, science has its proximate and immediate ends: to learn how the world works and to take in sensory data of the physical reality around us.

These principles are very well realized in Leek's science supplement. For the Beauty of the Earth includes a textbook with literary selections organized around the common subject matter of science. The lyrics of the beautiful hymn from which this program draws its title provide the organizing system. In addition to "the beauty of the earth" (weather, metals, energy), we have chapters on "the glory of the skies" (stars, the sun), "hill and vale and tree and flower" "the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight" (insects, spiders, mammals), and "the joy of human love" (the senses, emotions, the will.)

The corresponding teacher's guide builds on the readings with questions and activities that take the student from considering the text, to observing the natural world, to admiring God's handiwork, and finally, to the religious analogy. An example to illustrate this progression would be the reading of "Phaeton and Apollo." After the selection is read, the student is asked a series of questions on the text: Who was Phaeton? Describe the court of the sun, etc. Next, students are asked to make some observations about the sun: Where does it rise and set? Does it actually move? What makes it appear to move? Then they are asked to consider the sun's role in life on our planet, and finally, to how the sun is like God, how its marvelous working points to the existence of God.

Questions and activities are broken into grade levels so that this program can be used throughout the elementary years. My first reaction when I looked at For the Beauty of the Earth was to think that this was a liberal arts soft-pedaling of the hard subject of science. But after I carefully read the author's introduction, I decided it could be so much more than that, and it more than met those expectations. We used it alternately with our regular science text, allowing the literary selections and projects to set the tone for our textbook's coverage. Along with enjoying some good stories, memorizing poems and scriptures, doing some fun projects (like building a humane mousetrap), I found that the sense of wonder created through the program carried into the rest of our textbook consideration of each topic. The course is cross-referenced with many of the most popular school science text series from the time it was published (early 1980s).

Review Date: 
3-10-2000
Reviewed by: 

Incredible Comparisons

Book cover: 'Incredible Comparisons'
Author(s): 
Russell Ash
Copyright: 
1996
Publisher: 
Dorling Kindersley
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
64 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This picture book designed for "big kids" gives side-by-side comparisons according to length, height, area, life-span, speed, etc. of all kinds of things - animals, mountains, countries, modes of transportation, man-made structures and much more.

Segments of the book include: "On the Surface" (compares land-size of various countries, islands, different uses of land), "Into the Earth" (canyon depths, cave lengths and depths, etc.), "Going into Space" (compares power and speeds of rockets vs. airplanes, comet tail size comparison with various planets, etc.), "The Solar System" (compares planet sizes and distances, etc.), "Great Lengths" (compares lenghts of airplanes, highways, major rivers, telecommunications cables, etc.). Other chapters cover animal speeds, ladn and water speeds, human population etc. Does include some environmental and politically correct content. The segment on human population was much better than I expected. To give a sampling.... "A population explosion has seen the number of people in the world more than triple since 1900 - from less than 2,000,000,000 to close to 6,000,000,000. Each day, enough people to fill the largest stadium in the modern world are added to the total. Thankfully, the world is a very big place. All the people in the world today could actually fit, standing shoulder to shoulder, on the small Indonesian island of Bali."

Review Date: 
4-4-01
Reviewed by: 

Old Mother West Wind and other stories

Author(s): 
Thornton Burgess
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

You are probably already familiar with the animal stories written by Thornton Burgess in the early 1900s. These go by titles such as "The Adventures of Johnny Chuck" and "Old Mother West Wind" and are sold by Dover Press for only $1. Each book tells about the life and adventures of various animals in such a way that the child easily learns about animal habitat and woodland lessons. In "Old Mother West Wind" the book starts off telling about her children, "The Merry Breezes" who carry scents of animals as they fly along ruffling (tickling) the fur of different animals. Later in the book we read about a bird who, one night, almost looses her eggs to a skunk without a strip. Now we have an idea of why God gave skunks stripes. My daughter silently reads a chapter from these books each day and narrates them at dinner. These are written at the second grade level.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: