Making Science Fun With Unit Studies From Funtastic Unit Studies (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

When I think about my school years, fun isn’t a word that comes to mind in relation to science. In fact, I really disliked science because it wasn’t fun. At all. When I later taught second grade at the same small, private school, science consisted of reading out of a textbook a couple of times a week. That wasn’t very fun either. But in our homeschool, we’ve really enjoyed science. I’ve learned that I really do like science. And it’s something my kids have often looked forward to. The difference is that we love hands on science- experiments and projects. The hands on element makes it fun.

So when the opportunity arose for me to review Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers from Funtastic Unit Studies, I knew this was something we’d enjoy. This paperback book contains twenty unit studies. The first ten are written for ages 4-7, and the other ten are written for ages 8-13. (Of course as homeschool parents, we know that the ages are flexible, and the author says the ages are just a general guideline.) There are also tests at the end of each of the older student units and an answer key for the tests (and a few included worksheets) at the end of the book.

A review of a science unit studies book

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Susan Kilbride is the author of Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers. She’s a homeschooling mom with a degree in biology. Although she wrote the book specifically for homeschool parents to use, the units could all easily be used in a classroom as well. As I was looking through it, I thought it would be so much fun to do as a class in our local homeschool co-op. I used the book with Ashlyne- age 11 and Rachel- age 9. Information at the front of the book says that the units build on each other, so it’s a good idea to do them in the order of the table of contents, although it’s not totally necessary. I looked through the contents and gave the girls a few options that I thought would be good based on the prior knowledge they have. I let them choose a unit from those options to begin with. We chose to do the Chemistry Fun unit. It’s a unit intended for ages 8-13. And we’ve studied some chemistry and done some simple chemistry related experiments before. As well, they’ve done some basic chemistry in co-op.

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Fun ideas for teaching science

Each unit begins with a materials list. This was so helpful because (1) it helped me determine which units could easily be done with materials we had on hand and (2) it helped me to gather all we would need right away to save time later when we were actually trying to do the lessons. After the materials list, each unit is divided into parts. The different units have different numbers of parts. Our chemistry unit had eight parts. Although how you use the book is very flexible, I chose to make each part a “lesson.” And we completed one part each day we were doing science.

Science ideas for homeschoolers

In each part, there are activities. Some parts have only one longer activity and some have several shorter activities. Occasionally there is some explanation before you begin the activity and sometimes the explanation is simply woven into the activity. For example, Part one in our chemistry unit was “Density.” There was a brief explanation of the words “mass” and “weight”, referring to the previous chapter where they had already been discussed. Then there were two activities. The first had to do with weighing water and then cooking oil of the same amount on a kitchen scale. Explanation within the activity taught the kids that the water weighed slightly more because it is more dense. A second activity had the girls pouring oil, water, and molasses into a clear glass to let them settle out and see which was more dense. Again, the explanation was given throughout the activity.

Fun ideas for teaching science

Completing one part wasn’t a very lengthy lesson. It usually took us about 30-45 minutes. Part three, “The Difference Between and Mixture and a Solution” took a little longer, but I didn’t hear any complaining. In this activity (with no prior explanation), the girls were directed to begin mixing a few things together to create first a mixture and then a solution. They were introduced to the concepts of homogeneous and heterogeneous. At the end of the activity, as I read along, the girls discovered that they were making cookies! Cookies and science make for lots of fun.

Homeschool science

Fun ideas for teaching science

Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers is meant to be used with a parent or teacher, not as independent learning. For our science lessons, I read the activity and explanation aloud while the girls took turns doing the steps of the activity. This worked well because I could add explanation as needed. At the end of the chapters for the older kids, there are tests. We didn’t use the tests because I wasn’t keeping grades from the course. But if you need to keep grades, the tests are there and are a good review of the concepts used in the chapter.

There were many things I really liked about this book. I love the hands on approach to science. It fits perfectly with our teaching/learning methodology, and it was a great fit for us. I like that science is presented as both practical and fun. In our chemistry unit, the kids learned practical things, such as the way oil and water don’t mix and how different substances mix together in mixtures and solutions. All the while they were doing fun things like making cookies and creating slime with glue and borax.

Homeschool science

I love the materials list. Having everything laid out at the very beginning made using the book so easy. I like knowing exactly what I have and what I might need to purchase for a unit. I also liked that there were tests available. Even though I didn’t use them for a summer unit study, it will be nice to have them during our regular school year when I probably will be keeping grades.

I also really like the way the units are laid out. We used just one part each day we did science, but you could easily adapt it to do more if you were using it in a co-op or regular classroom. It’s also nice that the order is somewhat flexible. Although there are sometimes mentions of concepts introduced in previous chapters, it isn’t very necessary to have done them in order. This allows you to skip around and do units based on the children’s interest.

There isn’t much to dislike here. The one thing I would have liked would have been a little more actual information about the topic. Because I’m not a very good source of scientific information myself, there occasionally arose questions about the topic that I couldn’t answer. It would have been good for me to have a little more information or even a reading list that would lead us to more information.

I’m sure I’ll continue to use Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers. I may not use it as our primary science, but it will make an awesome, fun supplement, and I can bring in these fun activities as we’re studying different topics in our science curriculum.

The Facts

Company: Funtastic Unit Studies
Product: Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers (paperback book)
Age recommendation: 4-13
Price: $16.95
Connect: You can find free science units on this page. And there are other fun freebies from Funtastic Unit Studies here.

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Funtastic Unit Studies Review

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