Living Learning Books
I don't really remember that much about the science texts that I used in my early elementary schooling. But I do checking piles of books out of the library on raccoons, snakes, sharks, and carnivorous plants (just a few of my interests at the time). While science textbooks are important, trying to cover important topics under the constraints of short chapters and leveled vocabulary leaves a lot of interesting details out! It's easy to see why "living books" are a favored mode of study, especially in the elementary grades. The problem then becomes how to fit everything together in a meaningful framework. And that's where Sandi Strenkowski's easy-to-use science curriculum guides come to the rescue. All of the structure and planning are there for you; all you need to do is gather the books and materials and enjoy doing science together!
Basically, Living Learning Books is built around a core of "living books", including several key ones that you will read throughout the level, as well as selected library books. Level One recommended for grades K - 2, Level 2 for grades 2-6, and Level 3 designed for grades 3-6. The format changes a bit between Levels 1 and 3 with the emphasis on hands-on activities becoming stronger in Level 3. All levels consist of two components: a teacher's packet and a student packet, both loose-leaf and three-hole punched. Teacher and student each will then have a binder, where you can add and reorganize as you like. It is worth noting that student pages are only included in the student packet, and these are not reproducible.
Level 1 focuses on life science: animals, the human body, and plants. Boy, has she got the little ones' interests pegged! There are 36 weeks of lesson plans included; 20 weeks on animals, 10 weeks on the human body and 6 weeks on plants. Each unit is composed of a teacher planning checklist, lesson plans, library lists, Internet links, project directions, and a coloring page. The teacher planning checklist is found at the beginning of each unit, and features a list of materials needed for the activities, as well as tasks to do before beginning (reviewing links, gathering library books, etc.). Most of the required materials are household items or are easily found at the grocery store or local discount store. The lesson plans consist of four days of activities, including the suggested readings from the core books. Activities on the lesson plans may be checked off as completed, and several blank planning areas are also included for your own ideas. The library lists include suggested non-fictional books, fictional books and videos on the topic being studied. Although she doesn't expect you to be able to locate and read EVERY