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Incredible Creeks NaturExplorers Unit (E-Book)

By Cindy West and Melissa Leach
Shining Dawn Books, LLC

Incredible Creeks is a 63-page unit study e-book for elementary-age children from Shining Dawn Books. Shining Dawn Books is well known for its repertoire of high-quality nature study units. Incredible Creeks deals with not only creeks but also small streams, brooks, or possibly a small river and the environment in and around that water.

Like other books written by these two authors, this e-book includes a "Literature Launch," which is a listing of appropriate children's literature works to use as a springboard for your unit study. There is also a section titled "A Bit of Background" for the parent. This is not an exhaustive resource of information about the topic, but it does give you some background to be able to get out and start exploring with your children. The next section is "Getting Outside with Incredible Creeks," which is a list of suggestions on how to use the activities in the book as well as safety precautions and a bit more information about creeks. Following these sections is a list of resources and notes to incorporate other topics, including Bible, poetry, artist and picture studies, composers, and literature. Suggestions are also given for including younger or older children or working with a group in a co-op setting. The appendix includes information on nature notebook pages, reasons to study nature, safety, and unit notebook preparation. There are beautiful photographs of nature throughout the e-book.

Some unit studies give you step-by-step directions for how to teach each day and what activities to do. Incredible Creeks does not do this; instead it lists many suggestions to spur you on to create your own unit. The activities suggested are varied and will appeal to many. These include using a compass to determine the direction of flowing water, making and using an underwater viewfinder, studying the various animal kingdoms, identifying and studying the rocks and erosion in the stream, and more.

One weakness of this e-book is the lack of structure, which can be intimidating to some who are new to unit studies. How do you choose from all the great activities? However, this flexibility is also a strength. Because of the wide variety of activities presented, parents can easily choose one or two or more that will interest their children. And it is very easy to slip one or two activities into the routine of any homeschooling style to increase the nature experiences of the children. It is the opinion of the authors that "any homeschooler using any homeschooling style will find this resource useful." I would have to agree.

Incredible Creeks is a resource full of suggestions to get children out in nature and exploring. It will be a great resource for any family that has access to some water in the form of a creek, stream, brook, or small river.

Product review by Marisa Corless, MH, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November 2010

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