Science - 1st Grade
Items listed in this section tend to be complete science programs with a teacher and student component, requiring few supplements besides science supplies.
Much like their math program, McRuffy Science is gentle, hands-on, and uses manipulatives and games to explore and reinforce science topics and ideas. Unlike other curriculums at this level, which are more self-directed with brightly-colored textbooks and basic workbook questions, this program is more teacher-directed and manipulative-based, with little "busy work." McRuffy Science incorporates state and national curriculum standards, while developing scientific knowledge and thinking in an active way. Each kit contains a teacher binder, a student workbook and a resource packet. There are 33 weeks worth of lessons, with science taught two days a week. The authors have allowed that "extra" three weeks for various field trips, review, and "extras" that are sometimes hard to sneak in with a full-to-the-brim schedule. Life science, earth and space science, and physical science are all represented here. Each grade level contains 22 multi-lesson units, and cover topics like weather, the five senses, length, volume, life cycles, and pushing/pulling in Kindergarten; to comparing area, movement, magnets, states of matter, mixtures and electricity in First Grade. There is some topical overlap between K and 1, but the lessons contain different content. At the end of the last lesson in the unit, a short unit evaluation is included for review.
The teacher's manual is the "heart" of the program, and lays out each lesson clearly for you. Each lesson in the teacher's manual contains an objective, a list of materials needed, any preparation that will need done beforehand, a teaching portion, and a conclusion. Lesson content is scripted for the teacher's convenience, with questions and discussion portions in bold (answers are given for some questions). The materials needed are fairly common household, craft, science or math manipulative items including pattern blocks, paper clips, iron filings, a magnifier, wire, a bell, food coloring, a calculator, balloons, seeds, a ping pong ball, marbles, mirrors, and other objects. McRuffy also sells pre-made kits with many of the items included if you want to go that route. The full-color workbooks are spiral-bound and contain student pages that are used with some of the lessons. Again, the activities included in them are not so much "seat work" as they are simple, non-exhaustive activities to be done together. The resource packets contain posters, game boards, charts, and cards for the games. These are full-color and contain illustrations, photos, and charts. The game boards and some of the charts are laminated for reuse. The cards to the games will need to be cut apart before play. Compared to other curriculums I have seen at this level, I like that this one emphasizes necessary concepts like measurement, size, and graphing right along with more "fun" topics like the five senses, weather, and animals. The use of manipulatives, simple activities and games makes the program fun and keeps things varied and exciting. While there is not much reading required for the student, or a text to read from, the topics of each unit are clearly listed in the Scope and Sequence in the teacher's manual, so it would be pretty easy to locate library books and books you may already have on the shelf to complement each topic. Also, because the program doesn't depend on the child for a lot of independent work, you and your child will be exploring science together, which I think will be a very enjoyable experience. - Jess