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Know-It-Alls Activity Pads, Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4

By Kathleen Kopp (1st), Sherri Linsenbach (2nd), Susan Brecht Hibbard
(3rd), and Peggy Hapke Lewis (4th)
McDonald Publishing Company

567 Hanley Industrial Ct.
St. Louis, MO 63144-1901

Know-It-Alls are small 4 ½" x 4 ½" pads of 215 pages each, available for first through sixth grades. This review includes grades 1-4. The ¾" thick pads include 200 activities, one per page, covering material students should know by the end of the given grade level. The back of the pad is sturdy cardboard. Subjects include language arts, math, social studies, and science. The answers for all of the activities are listed by number at the end of the pad. Know-It-Alls reinforce fundamental skills and are ideal for use as a daily after-school activity or for summer review. These materials are intended for review and reinforcement only, not as a primary teaching tool. Every page is printed on one side only and will tear out of the Know-It-Alls pad easily. Most of the pages in the First Grade pad include parental notes at the bottom of the page with additional ideas to extend the activity. Subsequent grade levels include fewer parent notes, but generally more information is presented directly on the page for the student.

The First Grade activities cover initial consonant sounds, numerals and sets, simple C-V-C words, rhyme, solids and liquids, classification, map work, plants, patterning, left/right, simple addition, some vowel combinations, simple sentences, cut and paste, sequencing, simple 4-letter words, positional words, simple subtraction, senses, tens and ones places, ending sounds, basic punctuation, word problems, months, beginning parts of speech, days of the week, synonyms, and more. Be aware that one activity refers to a four-leaf clover as bringing luck. Elsewhere, the word witch is used. And when differentiating between natural and man-made items, the explanation is, "Some things are made by nature." Neither evolution nor creation is overtly referenced, and God is never mentioned that we found.

The Second Grade pad reviews many of the topics covered in the First Grade set and also includes counting by 2s/3s/5s, even and odd numbers, reading, less than/greater than, oceans and continents, simple word searches, insects, number lines, simple crosswords, word scrambles, giving directions, telling time, ordinals, map grids, compass, Roman numerals, prefixes, calendars, carryover addition, carryover subtraction, compound words, human skeleton and body, sentence structure, fractions, contractions, coins and money, abbreviations, beginning multiplication, magnetism, alphabetizing to the first letter, and more. Note that the topic of extinction is discussed in vague terms, stating only that animals lived long ago. There is an inaccurate timeline for the child's birthdate, offering years from 1989 through 1995, hardly applicable for today's second graders. And use of the old-style food pyramid is included, as are the nine planets (with the inclusion of Pluto).

After some review, the Third Grade Know-It-Alls pad covers adverbs, silent "e", animal habitats, telling time to 5 minutes, homophones, verbs, punctuation, adjectives, map use, word problems, basic government, apostrophes and possessives, carnivores and herbivores, alphabetical order to the second letter, countries, adding fractions, simile, analogies, story parts and characters, and more. Starting with this level, the instructions on each activity are longer, and students must have sufficient reading skills to work independently. One activity includes "American proverbs, or sayings," while another makes the statement again that "Some things are natural. They are made by nature."

The Fourth Grade activities cover syllables, making observations, food groups, addends, perimeter, writing a personal letter, rounding numbers, dinosaurs, graphs, rock types, fractions, proofreading, division, pollution, mammals, averages, reference materials, Morse code, polygons, alliteration, climate, latitude and longitude, food chains, states and capitals, decimal points, metric system, idioms, similes and metaphors, grid coordinates, budgets, clichés, atoms, the U.S. Constitution, and more. Be aware that one of the references to dinosaurs claims that they roamed for over 150 million years. Also, on page 128 "early humans" are called hunters and gatherers. To practice averaging, the use of dice is called for; parent and child take turns rolling and recording scores. Elsewhere, an activity states that plants "create" the oxygen we breathe; I would have preferred the word "produce."

I found the Know-It-Alls pads to be a good offering for homeschool use. The science topics include simple, understandable definitions. Repetition is good for such a vast range of information; many concepts are repeated in different ways and over several grades. Many quick definition reminders are included, helping the child solidify understanding. Creative families will find the smaller size of this product to be an excellent tool for lapbooking projects. With a little work, you could design a lapbook to demonstrate many of the general concepts learned during a particular grade level. Another nice thing is that the tear-off design allows parents to remove any material not suited for their home school. The activities can be used in conjunction with any curriculum. The pads are also incredibly convenient to carry in a purse or backpack for easy review during errands or at sibling sporting events.

The lack of creation content is disappointing, but at least evolution is not emphasized either. Early readers may find it difficult to read some of the instructions, so parents will need to assist them. Some activities (such as those on rhyme or beginning sound recognition) actually show the words, so children may make a choice by letter recognition rather than by an actual understanding of initial sounds. (My son is incredibly good at finding this type of short cut to an answer without actually knowing the material or understanding the concept.) Also, the durability is not great. As you work through the pages, others may come loose, particularly if you pick and choose activities throughout the pad. I would have much preferred a spiral binding, as it would have allowed similar tear out removal with the possibility of keeping the material together if preferred.

Great things often do come in small packages; Know-It-Alls grade level pads certainly are fantastic review for children in a convenient form--and at an excellent price for exposure to four subject areas. Using these materials will give children greater confidence as they continue their schooling careers.

Product review by: Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008

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