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Christian Kids Explore Physics Review by Kathy Gelzer

By Robert W. Ridlon, Jr. and Elizabeth J. Ridlon
Bright Ideas Press
PO Box 333
Cheswold, DE 19936

Christian Kids Explore Physics is a Bible-based homeschool physics curriculum for grades 4-8. There are six units: "The Foundations of Physics," "Matter," "Mechanics," "Matter in Motion," "Energy in Motion," and "Electricity and Magnetism." The back of the book contains a glossary, coloring pages, and an extensive book and resource lists that include general physics books and books pertaining to each unit as well as Important Physicists, Experiments and Projects, and Science Activity Kits and Multimedia. There is also an answer key for the chapter and unit quizzes.

The authors recommend spending about two to three hours a week on physics, completing one of the 30 lessons each week. However, I found that we could move at a much quicker pace or spend much less time on each lesson.

The lesson components are neatly organized and follow this format: teaching time (the read-aloud text), fill-in-the-blank review questions, a simple hands-on activity, and "think about it" questions pertaining to the activity.

Each unit begins with a preparation section that lists learning objectives, vocabulary words, and materials needed for all unit activities. There is also a full-sheet coloring page for each unit. These are extremely detailed; the carousel picture for the "Matter in Motion" unit would have my children in tears. Each unit concludes with a 15-35 multiple-choice questions.

The page layout is eye-appealing and useful. The sidebar contains the vocabulary word definitions, Scripture verses, extra activities, and points of interest. There is also plenty of room for additional teacher notes.

Other features I appreciated were the easily understood text written in a conversational style and the references made to other chapters. Besides being helpful to the teacher, these cross-references show the cohesive and relational aspects of physics. As a busy parent, I especially liked the easy-to-do activities, mostly accomplished with household objects.

I would add vocabulary flash cards (either reproducible ones in the book or a suggestion that the student create them himself), an activity-recording page, and specific recommended outside reading assignments with a simple book report form. Creating a student notebook to go along with the study is also something I would have my children do.

I believe in young and early exposure to what used to be thought of as upper-level science--the sooner the better in order to help children become familiar, comfortable, and competent with these foundational subjects. Though a little pricey ($35.00), Christian Kids Explore Physics is a user-friendly physics curriculum that fits the bill.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2008