Friday, March 16, 2012

Review of Nancy Larson Science 1

I'm doing this review mostly for Chrissy, but you never know who might pop in here on a google search and find this review helpful to them too.  I'll try to give an overview as best I can and then throw in my opinions about it as I go along.
This curriculum was developed by Nancy Larson who has many years of experience in the homeschooling curricula. She is also one of the authors of Saxon math. I'm actually not that familiar with her other work, other than I know what Saxon Math is and I didn't particularly like it when I looked through it at the homeschool fair 2 years ago.
Ok, let's get into the meat of it.
We're currently using Science 1. It's recommended for ages 5 to 8. I would say that level 1 is definitely leaning towards the younger end of the spectrum. For us it has been PERFECT for Megan. It is EXTREMELY easy for Jake. Not to say that he's not learning from it, or not enjoying it; he is. But it's not challenging at all. I'm ok with that. He actually really likes it and begs for science every day. I think at this point (3rd grade) it's important to just keep them interested and not bored. I don't think he should be memorizing the periodic table. ;-)
The curriculum is separated into 6 units: Life stages of human beings; Observing Trees; Exploring sunlight, water and soil; Animals and their habitats; Human body; and Life cycles of insects.

 The teachers manual IS scripted. I know some people hate that and some people love it. For subjects like Math, I hate it. But for this, I think its ok. And actually helpful. I don't read the script word for word. The lessons are short enough and concise enough that a quick read through before giving the lesson is good enough for us.

 You can see in this example above just how scripted it is. "put your finger on the number 3..." I don't do that. Maybe if I were just teaching Megan I would. But I usually just make Jake do all the reading.

Each unit has an accompanying student workbook. This is where the 'reading' is and the activities are. There's usually some drawing and labeling to do with each lesson. My kids really find this fun. They love coloring :) 

There are also "review" pages that go along with each lesson. You can do these the same day as you do the lesson, or before you start the next lesson as a ;-). They're very easy. One nice thing is that usually one question is from a prior unit, so it helps them to retain what they've previously learned. There are also tests or "assessments" too. They are pretty much exactly like the review sheets. Sometimes they even have the exact same questions. For Jake they are laughable. Way too easy. For Megan it's perfect. 

 One of the best things about this curriculum is that you don't have to go looking for or buying anything extra (usually). Everything comes with it. This is a look at our box of "stuff".

There are a ton of these cards. Which seem a little "preschool" to me, but it is helpful to not have to look at a textbook or find a photo online. It's all right there for you.

 There is also several resource books and some insect cards: (also not pictured a set of real x-rays)

 Other things that come with the kit: A butterfly garden and ladybug hotel. These also come with 'coupons' to order butterfly and ladybug larvae. There's a bag of plastic bugs and spiders, a magnifying glass, some pine cones and a tree cookie. There hasn't been a whole lot of "experiments" per say with this curriculum. It's more like looking and observing. I'm guessing the next level would get more into actual experiments.

Ok so the long and the short of it:
Would I recommend it: Yes, for Kindergarten or 1st grade.
Am I going to purchase this again: Probably. My kids love it and they are learning. Level 2 looks pretty fun.
Drawbacks: It's very expensive. $225 plus $27 for the student materials. 
Advantage: Everything is included. Very little planning is required for the parent. Kids like it. 

I hope this was helpful. 


CAmport said...

SO HELPFUL!!!! I was sold on it until I saw the price. Yikes. May look into getting just the book/workbooks? Passing this review along to a few others that were curious. :D Can't wait to hear more reviews. I'm still debating on Geography...


Nicole said...

Thank you for posting this. I've been trying to decide if level K was way too easy for my 5 year old and after reading this, I think level 1 is going to be perfect.