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Delightful Deciduous Trees (E-Book) Review by Kendra Fletcher

Cindy West and Melissa Leach
Shining Dawn Books, LLC

Cindy West and Melissa Leach have written some really useful and well-crafted unit study E-Books on subjects such as animal signs, butterflies, clouds, fruits and nuts, deciduous trees, and many more. Both homeschooling moms with a love for nature and nature study, Cindy and Melissa know what is helpful to the homeschooling mom as well as what is captivating for the student.

In Delightful Deciduous Trees, tree parts, characteristics of trees, tree habitats, and seasons are presented with plenty of basic information and lovely photographs. Varieties are discussed, and the anatomy of a tree is also covered.

The activities suggested are worthwhile. Here's a sample:

Transpiration is the process by which plants lose water through their leaves. You can almost compare it to sweating in humans.

1. To observe transpiration in action, place a plastic bag over a few leaves on a tree in your yard. Secure the bag tightly with a rubber band. After a day or two, observe the bag. You should see water droplets. These are the result of the leaves transpiring, the water evaporating and then condensing again on the inside surface of the bag.

2. If plants can't allow water and other gases to leave through the leaves, photosynthesis can't occur. Tiny holes or pores called stomata are located on a leaf. You can see these pores by painting the underside of a leaf with six coats of clear nail polish. After the polish dries, peel it off and look at it under a microscope.

3. See what happens when the stomata aren't able to transpire. Coat the underside of a few leaves with a thick layer of petroleum jelly. Observe the leaves each day for several days. Can you explain the results?

And resources! Delightful Deciduous Trees is packed with resources; you won't have to pull this study together, because Cindy and Melissa have done it so well for you. You'll find inspirational literature, ideas for nature walks and other outside activities, follow-up hands-on activity ideas, writing and research ideas (yes! writing assignments already crafted!), references for Bible study, artist and composer study, poetry tie-ins, kid-friendly Internet links and book lists for further study, and beautiful notebooking pages. Dioramas! Mini booklets! File folder reports! See? Delightful Deciduous Trees is just packed.

If you're a mom with multiple ages in your homeschool, Cindy and Melissa give you ideas for adapting the material for younger and older children. While written with the elementary child in mind, Delightful Deciduous Trees is very adaptable for younger and older students. Delightful Deciduous Trees would make a great co-op unit study too.

Included is a section for the teacher with just a few thoughts to get you interested and excited about teaching and studying the topic. There's a "Literature Launch," which includes one or more children's books recommendations--all are great pieces of living literature or really super non-fiction selections. "A Bit of Background" helps the teacher have some background knowledge about the topic before heading outdoors or starting the indoor studies. About this section the authors write: "This section would certainly be okay to share with children, but the intention is to empower the teacher with basic knowledge about the subject so all those spur of the moment questions can be answered with authority during a nature walk." The authors say this section will not be exhaustive by any means, and many of the research activity suggestions will require other books or Internet resources to find in-depth information. You will also find information such as the best places to go and safety precautions regarding the particular topic.

Nature walks, hands-on activities, writing and research ideas, poetry, artist and picture study references, composer and music references, related Internet resources--are you beginning to see what a fantastic resource Delightful Deciduous Trees is?

I have to be honest and say that I have purchased homeschool parent-produced E-Books in the past that haven't lived up to my expectations. Delightful Deciduous Trees not only wowed me by both its scope and depth of information, but it also caused me want to pack up my large brood and get outside to see what we could find. I also found my way to the Shining Dawn Books website ( quickly to see what else we could study.

Product Review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010