For my first review of the year, I got to use the Earth Book from AIMS Educational Foundation. AIMS supports hands-on math and science instruction as “the most effective way to develop conceptual understanding.” As a mom of two boys with short attention spans and eyes that glaze over after extending periods of “sit still and listen!” I can say I agree! 🙂
AIMS offers math and science activity books, based on specific topics (critters) and areas of science (physical science). They also offer manipulatives for math that can be used by grade level or topic as well. They have both physical books you can hold in your hands, and downloadable ebooks if you’d rather print pages off of your computer. For my review, I used the Earth Book, an activity book for science, with my oldest son (8th grade).
The book opens with a brief introduction and a list of standards that are addressed in the Earth Book (AIMS products are standards-based, you can even look up materials based on state standards if you wish). The lessons open with a page for the teacher explaining and describing the lesson, with tips on how to present it to the students. (Yes, I said students!). These books were created for classroom teachers, but are easily adapted to homeschooling. Many of us have a few students in our homeschool as it is, and I will say that I had my younger son (5th grade) sit in on some of the activities, and he did fine. I think it would be fairly easy to use this book across grade levels if I wanted to.
There is a materials list at the back of the book, which I found very helpful. There’s nothing more frustrating for this mom than having to go through multiple pages to sort out what materials I will need in the coming weeks. Many of the materials were common household items (straws, envelopes, vinegar, index cards etc.). However, some materials would require more effort to obtain (rock and mineral kits, builders sand, pea gravel etc.). Since the materials needed for each lesson are listed on the teacher page, you could easily look ahead and decide which ones you needed to get, or, if it was too difficult, just move ahead to another lesson.
Some of the activities we did related to hard water vs. soft water, the salinity of ocean water, the layers of the ocean and ocean currents. Other topics include things like earthquakes, weather, fossils, and rocks. I do want to make one important note here: AIMS lessons include information about the geologic timeline. The lesson for that particular topic does state that the earth is millions of years old. AIMS does not promote itself as a Christian company, just a company that wants to create fun science and math products for kids. Their views on this topic may conflict with yours. For me, as a Christian homeschooling parent, I would simply omit those lessons, or use them as a springboard for further research into the legitimacy of carbon-dating, conflicting evidence on the age of the earth etc. etc.
My boys enjoyed the activities that we did with this program. I have chosen several more that we are going to complete over the rest of the year. (Currently we are working on the weather activities since it is hurricuane season here in Florida!). The thing I like most about this product is that it is so easily adaptable. We like to follow bunny-trails, and much of our science is interest based (as you can see from other posts I have written about our studies!). With the Earth Book, I felt like I could choose a topic, get some library books, and then just spend however long we wanted to reading about and doing activities on that topic. That really is the best way for my boys to learn! The Earth Book costs $49.95 and comes with a CD with all the printables for the lessons on it, making it really easy for you to print copies for your kids. You can learn more about AIMS here:
**Disclaimer: I was given this product free of charge in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.