Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Earth: Its Structure and Its Changes

If you are looking for a great Elementary Earth Sciences book to use with your home school or private school students, The Earth: Its Structure and Its Changes would be an excellent choice. Designed for third through sixth grade students, the book begins by exploring plate tectonics, and the development of mountains and volcanoes. The book then presents chapters on rocks, minerals, caves, glaciers, and soil.

Authors Tom DeRosa and Carolyn Reeves call each chapter an "Investigation," and ask students to perform an experiment, before reading the rest of the chapter. The experiments begin with "Think about This," (a series of thought-provoking questions.) They include a list of things to gather, and the "Procedure and Observations." After students have finished the experiment, they read "The Science Stuff" and make connections to the world around them. There are always ideas for further study in the "Dig Deeper" section, and student learning is assessed with short-answer questions in the section titled, "What Did You Learn?"

The book is visually appealing, with tons of photographs, charts, maps, and pictures. The experiments almost always include pictures of materials and a picture of either the process or the result. (Helpful for readers like me who aren't sure how the experiment is supposed to turn out.)

What I Like: I like the user-friendly lay-out of the book. The experiments are presented in clear, easy steps, and link directly to the lessons and learning objectives. The authors do a fabulous job activating background knowledge, providing clear instruction, and assessing what students learned.

I love the photographs and pictures. They are high quality, and make the lessons much more interesting. My son and I had fun reading about the Badlands and looking at pictures of rocks, since we travel to the Black Hills every summer.

I also like the gentle, respectful tone the authors use when discussing viewpoints of other scientists. DeRosa and Reeves lean towards young earth creationism, but keep the debate framed in scientific terms.

What I Dislike: I wish the book cover would have included a more diverse group of children. Also, be aware you may need to run to a local home improvement store before doing some of the experiments. The materials are always inexpensive, but you may not always have them on hand.

Overall Rating: Despite two minor dislikes, the content and format deserve our Excellent rating.

Age Appeal: Grades 3-6

Publisher Info: Master Books, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-89051-591-4; Paperback, 88 pages, $12.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $9.99

OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $11.04.

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