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April 17th, 2012

TOS Crew Review: Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Robert W., Jr. Ridlon and Elizabeth J. Ridlon

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Chemistry is my oldest daughter’s favorite subject EVER (she’s nine).  We were very excited to receive digital copies of Christian Kids Explore Chemistry and it’s accompanying Christian Kids Explore Chemistry Resource CD.  There still isn’t a lot of choice in the realm of Christian science texts (that aren’t super textbook-like), and the Christian Kids series is well respected and a solid program.

We have a copy of Christian Kids Explore Biology – another title in this series, but I’m SO impressed by the changes that the 2nd edition and its incredibly valuable resource CD have brought to the series!  If you’re familiar with other titles in the series, there are quite a few similarities between this and others in the series.

Designed to provide a year of science lessons for students in grades 3-8, the 30 lessons are divided into five major units: The Basics of Chemistry, Atoms and Molecules, The Nature of Chemistry, States of Matter, and Organic Chemistry.  The program is designed with teaching science twice a week for 60-90 minutes daily in mind.

The lessons contain opportunities to memorize scripture and vocabulary, read to your children from the text, review previously learned materials, complete coloring pages, read from the Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia, complete hands on activities, think critically about the activities, and engage in optional supplemental reading (from the resource list – not planned, you choose), and test knowledge learned in the ‘wrap-ups’ at the end of each unit.

The book’s coloring pages though they aren’t nearly as elaborate as the ones found in the biology text, and many children in grades 4-8 may feel that they are beyond the coloring stage.

What totally MAKES the program though is the resource CD.  Often the success of a homeschooling curriculum is due to how well organized it is, how easy it is to get up off the ground and to run with it.  While the author is a homeschooling mom herself and her books tend to be ‘do-able’, the resource pages make it so easy to get started.  My FAVORITE parts of the resource CD are the pre-written lesson plans (more on these later) and the detailed supply lists – broken down not only unit by unit but also lesson by lesson, so you have lots of time to plan ahead for supplies.  A section of the CD also includes ALL of the reproducible pages you need for the course – these can be printed all at once and bound to create a student activity book, or printed as needed for a more notebooking-based approach.

So, more about those lesson plans!  This is really where the 2nd edition with the resource CD shines – the lesson plans basically show you exactly how to use the text and which parts of it on a day-by-day basis to get all your bases covered.  Each lesson is scheduled over 2 days (to be taught in one week), and a wrap-up for each unit is also scheduled over 2 days, for a total of six teaching weeks per unit (that’s 30 weeks total).  This is great because it reminds you to work in vocabulary, review, supplemental reading etc. I tend to lean towards open and go programs, and some elements can be a bit tricky for newer homeschooling parents in particular to figure out when to do (review etc.) so it’s nice to have the pre-planned lessons available to use (totally optional of course).

The resource CD even includes a full literature guide from the Bright Ideas Press Illuminations program for a biography of the Christian scientist Blaise Pascale – A Piece of the Mountain, though it seems to be missing a couple of the graphic organizers called for in the guide that are included in Illuminations.  A huge resource list is also included in the appendix as well as further source of biographical study.

Overall, this is another very well done offering in the Christian Kids series of science books from Bright Ideas Press for moms looking for a realistic, do-able guide to science – and with the resource CD it’s now even easier to plan and use, making it simple to get going!

The main text for Christian Kids Explore Chemistry costs $39.95 (with the resource CD) and the accompanying resource CD can be downloaded for $12.95 and is compatible with 1st and 2nd editions (currently on sale for $9.95).  Also available at major retailers.

Disclosure: I received digital copies of the main text and the resource CD in order to write this review.  All opinions are honest and my own.

For more opinions of this and other Christian Kids Explore titles, please visit the TOS Crew Blog here!

Welcome!

Jennifer. Follower of Yeshua. Wife of one man. Homeschooling mother of 5.