Hands-On Science that Kids Love: a BookShark Review

Our family was given this product in exchange for a fair and honest review. Any views expressed are my own.

I have a confession to make. Last year, I bought a highly recommended science curriculum and had all the best intentions of using it, but I opened it up, got overwhelmed, put it up on my shelf, and it’s still there – gathering dust.

It was our fourth year of homeschooling, and while I’m sure it’s a great resource, it was too much of a divergence from our flexible, literature-rich, cuddle on the couch and explore the world together style of homeschooling. We went back to our nature walks and rabbit holes and science-themed picture books and board games.

This year, BookShark came out with a science curriculum, and it was exactly what I was looking for.

  • flexible
  • literature-based
  • hands-on
  • low-prep
  • secular
  • student-led

What’s Included in BookShark Science:

My oldest is an advanced 6th grader, so we chose level F for this year. I love that BookShark utilizes the spiral approach to learning – that the creators understood how kids actually learn: through repeated exposures that bring them into deeper and more comprehensive understanding of a topic.

Each BookShark Science Package includes:

  • An instructor’s guide, including a suggested schedule and worksheets
  • A book of science experiments
  • A box of supplies needed for the experiments
  • A paper packet for data taking and follow up with the experiments
  • High quality, full color, engaging science texts from some of the leading publishers.

When our boxes came, my kids were SO excited. They kept asking to get started – when we were going to “do science”. When I opened the material, I breathed a sigh of relief. This was doable. Everything was well-organized and intuitive and fit our style of learning.

How BookShark is Organized

All of BookShark is organized around a 4-day week, and their science curriculum is no exception. Everything is clearly laid out, labeled, and easy to find. The instructor’s guide has the answer keys right next to the student pages, which are labeled with the pages from the corresponding literature. Everything is intuitive. It’s really open-and-go.

The experiments are great because they’re made for the students to do, not simply watch a demonstration. They also require some work by the students – honing their fine motor skills in the proecess. Almost everything is included. We had to skip a couple weeks and go from lesson 1 to 4 because lessons 2 and 3 required liquids not included in the kit, but they were easy to find at the local Walgreens.

Experiment #1 involved building a catapult out of lollipop sticks and other included materials. I did have to supply the hot glue gun. The kids really enjoyed the activity, and what I appreciated is that the last step is to think through the design and improve it. My oldest made his catapult taller with a longer arm, and my younger two experimented with triangle bases instead.

Experiment #4 involved creating a hand out of foam, straws, and string (with lots of hot glue) to look at muscles, tendons, and how the body moves. This was a big success, and the kids were excited to show their relatives and friends what they had built and what it showed about the human body.

Now that I’ve been to the store and picked up the materials, we’ll go back to the other weeks.

Ultimately, the best curriculum is the one that works. For our family, this year I’m excited to see how BookShark gives us the tools to explore scientific principles together.

Not sure if this is for you? Check out their products online!

There’s also a GIVEAWAY (Until October 11, 2011 – US only) of a complete package, including their virtual option.

Hands-on Science that Kids Love: A BookShark Review, includes experiments and high quality literature

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