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Great Science Adventures: Discovering the Human Body and the Senses Review by Rebecca Ray

Dinah Zike and Susan Simpson
Common Sense Press
(352) 475-5757
8786 Highway 21
Melrose, FL 32666

Discovering the Human Body and the Senses is a complete study of the human body. It begins with the skeletal system and moves through the muscles and skin, before turning through each of the major body systems. As part of the learning related to the brain, students also learn about all five senses.

Geared toward kindergarten through eighth grades, and with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $24.95, this book contains twenty-four lessons on different but related science concepts, along with reproducible graphics. Each lesson has a miniature science book to read, vocabulary words to define, notebooking activities, science experiments and demonstrative activities, and additional suggestions for middle grades or interested children to explore, investigate, and research.

Throughout the lessons, the student completes various lapbook/mini-notebook activities for placement into graphic organizers that the students construct. By the end of the course, the student will have graphic organizers for each of the major concepts covered in the book, a vocabulary book, a lab book, and (if using) will have completed various additional assignments to report on in their own style. If your family is unit study oriented or Charlotte Mason inspired, you will probably be familiar with the various folds and graphic organizers used throughout the book. However, if you are new to lapbooking and creative notebooks, a tutorial is provided at the beginning of the book to refer back to when making notebooks.

This really worked well in our homeschool. My children love arts and crafts, and using the mini-notebooks to reinforce their science was a popular way to learn science in our house. I did wish several times for a practical way to store the mini-books and larger graphic organizers because I felt like we had loose papers everywhere. The author suggests storing these in large Ziploc bags. However, I found that even with the gallon-sized bags, the graphic organizers stuck out the top of the bag, and keeping them securely sealed was impossible. However, that didn't keep me from loving and admiring the children’s completed graphic organizers. The children loved them as well, which allowed learning to continue as they would review their notebooks from time to time.

I also really liked the simple and effective science experiments and activities. When I first told my eight-year-old daughter we would be learning about the body, her first words were a shout of “Eww! Gross!” However, she was quickly won over by the fun of cutting and pasting the notebooks together and the easy, but fun activities we did as part of our learning. For example, when we were learning about the skeleton, we traced everyone’s body onto a large roll of butcher paper and decorated ourselves. Then we took a tape measure and measured each of our outlines so the children could practice measuring height. Another great activity we did with the skeleton was to make a figure out of modeling clay. Then, we built another figure out of modeling clay using toothpicks to be our framework and compared which model held its shape better.

As someone who loves living books, I like that they had one or two living books about famous people recommended for several chapters. The miniature science books we constructed were just not enough reading for us. However, they are well done and contain all your student needs to learn the concepts of each chapter. I do wish they had an additional library list for each chapter because we really like to read and see pictures in our house.

I like that the book gives specific adaptations for the assignments for those of different ages and provides more ideas for study for children in middle grades. That makes it easier to know how to bring the whole family together for assignments. They have clearly marked each suggested age group for an assignment with the 1, 2, or 3 pencil marks so I will know how much work to expect out of each age. This is important in a family like ours because I teach children on a kindergarten level all the way through fourth grade, and they all participated in using this curriculum. I loved that the task of deciding how much work each child should do was planned out for me.

I would definitely purchase the other products in this series and think it is a wonderful resource for families of elementary-aged students. If you have a hands-on learner or a learner who simply loves crafts, this is a great science curriculum for him. We are happy with this program and think that we will be continuing to use it in our home for some time.

-Product review by Rebecca Ray, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2015