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Hard as a Rock Review by Dawn Peterson

By Cindy West and Melissa Leach
Shining Dawn Books, LLC

Hard as a Rock is a nature-based unit study created by homeschool moms Cindy West and Melissa Leach. It is one of several different topics they offer in their NaturExplorers series.

Hard as a Rock covers rock types, characteristics, and the rock cycle. In addition, there is ample information on life underneath rocks, such as ants, earthworms, slugs, pill bugs, and others. There are many hands-on activities, such as taking a sand sieve or strainer to a creek and dipping it into the water to see what types of pebbles you can find, going to an area where you can view rock layers to identify and sketch, doing a science experiment on the absorbency of rocks with the provided notebooking page, researching meteorites and preparing a presentation on it for family and friends, and conducting a food experiment using ants found under a rock. There are just too many to list here! There are also Bible lessons (such as "God Is Our Rock" and "Even the Stones Cry Out") with Scripture and excellent discussion questions. There are also references for poetry, artist, literature, and picture studies as well as basic nature study helps, such as recommendations for keeping safe, and how to keep a nature notebook. While the unit study is geared towards the grammar age child, there are tips on how to include very young children as well as ideas on projects and assignments for older kids if you wish to make the study more science or math based. One of my favorite things about the unit study is that even with the amount of ideas and resources listed, there is already so much information provided in it that you could use just the e-book itself along with print-outs of the many beautifully done, full-color notebooking pages and have enough!

Although Hard as a Rock is put together in a unit study format, it is really flexible for all types of educational methods! From their website:

Any homeschooler using any homeschooling style will find these units useful. In fact, any teacher in any type of school situation will find these useful! Charlotte Mason homeschoolers will love the ideas for tying in poetry and artist and composer studies, as well as the living literature lists to enhance learning. Those who use Unit Studies will be excited that most of what they need for a full unit is already here. Unschoolers will appreciate the ability to find easy to implement ideas at just the right time. Project-Based homeschoolers will be excited at the large amount of project ideas that meet many learning styles. Traditional and Classical homeschoolers will be able to pull as little or as much from the book as they desire. New homeschoolers will appreciate the thoroughly laid out ideas, while Veteran homeschoolers will be thankful that the ideas are already pulled together and ready to use.

Shining Dawn Books has put out yet another beautiful product that I have found to be easy to use and very worthwhile in our nature study endeavors. I would recommend Hard as a Rock to any homeschool parent who is looking for inspiration and guidance in conducting a nature study on this subject.

Product review by Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2011