Rose and I are doing Well-Trained Mind-style science this year, her first grade year. Have I mentioned this is my last time teaching first grade? I might cry if I think about that too much. Anyway, we started the year with a fun human body study, and now we have moved onto animals. For our spine, I chose The Complete Book of Animals. On my curriculum page, I said we were also going to use the Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia, but The Complete Book is just so complete (ha ha) that we are using it all by itself.
How the book is set up: The Complete Book of Animals is an encyclopedia, workbook, and activity book all in one. It is by no means an exhaustive survey of the animal world, but it includes most of the animals kids would be interested in learning about, plus a few that were new to us. There are sections for Arctic animals, Central & South American animals, African animals, and so on. Other sections include insects, reptiles, farm animals, pets, and animals that live in the water. There is also a section on science and animals which includes information on classification, the life cycle of a frog, animal adaptations, and other basic stuff. The book wraps up with a "facts and fun" section, including a board game you can cut out and play.
What's included: Each section has a good variety of activities in it. There is a separate page for each animal, with a colored drawing and a paragraph or two of interesting information. The writing style is more encyclopedic than literary, but Rose enjoys reading facts, so it works well for us. After the text comes the "Think and Learn" section, consisting of three or four questions about the reading. A line is provided for the child's answer and at least a couple of the questions are fill-in-the blank or one word answers. We do the questions orally and I think they help her to pull out important information from our reading. Every few pages there is a little activity to do....things like word searches, coloring pages, pull out storybooks, dot-to-dots, and hidden pictures. Rose enjoys doing most of them; we skip any she doesn't feel like doing.
How we do it...We generally cover 7-8 pages of the book, two times a week. We read about the animal, discuss what she remembers, then read about the next animal. We usually spend about 20 minutes reading, discussing, and doing activity pages. This book lends itself well to practicing narration skills because the readings are so short. After we read I have her choose one of the animals and tell me what she remembers. I write her narration down and we file it in her science binder. We do a narration about once a week.
To me, this feels like plenty of science reading and we don't usually add anything to it. The Complete Book is certainly a no-frills program, but it is cheap, nicely laid out, and Rose enjoys it, so it is a win around here. Plus, this year, I really wanted no-frills! The only thing missing are experiments, but she generally participates in her siblings' science experiments and sometimes we work on a Magic School Bus science kit. I think we will cover most of this book in the next few weeks, then end our year with a short plant study. Assuming spring ever arrives that is!