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Lyrical Life Science Review by Heather Jackowitzwww.lyricallearning.com
8008 Cardwell Hill
Corvallis, Oregon 97330
"In my five years of homeschooling, I have stumbled across a handful of true curricular gems, and this one goes to the top of my list."
How many of you sing songs to your children that you make up using familiar tunes? I've made up Brush, Brush, Brush your Teeth to the tune of Row, Row, Row your Boat, among others. That is precisely the idea behind Lyrical Life Science. When his sixth grade students were having trouble remembering the material in his science class, Doug Eldon came up with "a singing science text for understanding the concepts of life science using traditional, patriotic and camp tunes of long ago." There are three volumes covering middle school life science in an unforgettable way. The publisher says the songs are best suited for nine to 15-year-olds, but older and younger children can enjoy and benefit from the songs as well. In our family, everyone loves these songs, from age one to 33. My nine-year-old daughter says, "I like to dance to the songs. My favorite one goes, 'A way, a way, a way to solve a problem' to the tune of Dixie. My mom can't get the songs out of her head, and she just keeps singing them all day long!"
The material covered in the songs should be very familiar to high school students before a study of biology is begun. Volume one covers the scientific method, characteristics of living things, invertebrates, cold-blooded invertebrates, birds, algae, fungi, vascular and nonvascular plants, protozoa, genetics, viruses, and bacteria. You will hear familiar tunes such as Clementine, Yankee Doodle, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Volume two continues with mammals, ecology and biomes sung to such tunes as Sweet Betsy from Pike, Take Me out to the Ballgame, and Aura Lee. Volume three is a study of the human body with tunes like Erie Canal, La Cucaracha, and Goober Peas.
The musical quality of the songs is excellent, with variety of instrumentals and clearly articulated vocals. Bobby Horton is a true musician who specializes in American folk music. You might have heard him in Ken Burn's Civil War, Lewis and Clark, or baseball documentaries. Doug and Dorry Eldon did a fabulous job of organizing the lyrics for maximum understanding. Their love for the subject is obvious, and their enthusiasm is contagious.
The publisher has also created teaching texts and student workbooks to dig deeper into the concepts in the songs. Teaching texts contain the music and lyrics, scientific information, and illustrations. Let your child read the text (or read it to him), learn the song, and follow up with the student workbook. Each song has three student pages: lyric, objective, and essay. The first is a fill-in-the-blank of the song lyrics. The second is factual recall from the text, including multiple choice, matching, and fill-in-the-blank. The final page is essay style, with good questions that will require deep thinking and discussion. Student workbooks are reproducible for family use. Add to this some hands-on learning, and you have a complete middle grade life science curriculum!
Two of the frequently asked questions Lyrical Learning receives are, "Do you teach evolution?" and "Do you teach creation?" In response to the first question, they reply, "No. Mammalian classification in Volume 2 - Mammals, Ecology and Biomes is based mainly on physical characteristics," and to the second, "While our materials don't technically teach creation, we think nature does." In the mammal song (to the tune of Marines' Hymn), the lyrics say, "Primates you will remember for the order includes you." Remember that this is simply scientific classification. The primate song starts with, "Oh we primates are the mammals" and ends with, "Humans have large heads that hold big brains we use to our advantage/For problem solving, making tools, the oral and written language." The teaching text includes a discussion of the differences between human beings and all other animals. In addition, in the student workbook, one of the essay questions asks, "Explain how human beings are unique when compared to other primates, and other mammals." This would be the perfect time for Christian families to discuss how God made man in His own image and gave him dominion over the animals.
The other subject that some parents will wonder about is the topic of reproduction. To be sure, all the facts are here! Sung to a beautiful Irish melody, the chorus is, "For life is a mystery that we live/ and our bodies produce life to give/ Our genes and our dreams to the children yet unborn/ to continue life's cycle again." This is perhaps my favorite song - so beautiful and respectful of the mystery of human love and life. The teaching text and student workbook cover all the scientific facts, so if you are sensitive about the subject, be forewarned. One of the discussion questions is about the statement, "The brain is the most powerful sexual organ." It is intended to lead to the conclusion that human beings are not instinctual like other animals, but rather must decide what to do with the feelings they have. I really appreciate the publisher's respect for traditional Christian values of life and love.
In my five years of homeschooling, I have stumbled across a handful of true curricular gems, and this one goes to the top of my list. Visit www.lyricallearning.com to hear samples and find out how to order.