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From The CriticsThis excellent resource book contains 126 different lessons for fourth through eighth graders, but the materials are adaptable for older students as well. The activities that are included range across a variety of categories—soil, plants, water, wildlife, weather, oceans, ecosystems, and the environment. The book could be used as the basis for developing units on any of these topics or as a source of activities to supplement existing units.
Each lesson includes easily identified objectives, materials, vocabulary words, a setup time, an estimated duration, the setting for the lesson, and a suggestion as to the appropriate grade level(s) for the activity. The activities are primarily hands-on and inquiry based. Enough background information is included to help the teacher understand the context and guide students toward important concepts and questions.
The only drawback to the book is its shortage of graphics. A number of activities require the teacher or students to construct a piece of equipment before conducting an investigation. There are no photos, and there are few sketches to help the reader visualize how to construct the various pieces of equipment. This format may work well for a reader who is already familiar with the type of equipment described and skilled at interpreting written instructions. However, the text-heavy style may pose a problem for readers who have no idea what the equipment should look like when finished. These readers will need to consult other sources before attempting to carry out the lessons.
Overall, this is a valuable resource, well worth the modest price. I plan to use some of these activities in my seventh-grade meteorology unit and adapt a fewfor my high school environmental science class. I will also pass the book along to our eighth-grade teachers for use in their geology unit. Take a closer look—I think you'll like what you see! Recommended, Grades 5-12. REVIEWER: Mare Sullivan (Bellevue Christian School)