Our family enjoys unit studies, especially nature unit studies. We use them when we need a break from our core curriculum and want to do something fun, yet still educational. We have used several brands of unit studies and have our favorites. Those we gravitate toward are the ones who have the most “extras” to offer.
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Recently, I asked my friend Leah from CurrClick.com if she could recommend a fun nature unit study to do this fall with the “extras”. (here’s a tip – It’s great having veteran homeschooling moms to ask these things!) Leah recommended the Nature Explorer series from Shining Dawn Books and even made a copy of the Peaceful Ponds unit study available to us to review!
Lots Of Great Features And One Drawback
I have to admit, when it cam right down to it, I had a hard time writing this review. We loved it so much, but I didn’t want to sound gushy. This study has so much to offer and we just touched the tip of the ice berg in what we could do with it! To be sure I don’t go to crazy with my review, here are somethings that I really liked about the Peaceful Ponds unit study:
- Ideas are given on how to use this study no matter what your homeschool style
- Background information is given to prepare parents to teach/facilitate the study
- TONS of observation and research ideas
- Lots of fun, educational hands-on activities
- Literature lists
- Writing ideas
- Art and composer study references
- Notebooking pages
- Tips for including younger and older students
What might be a drawback for some, is that this is definitely not a “open and go” or “day by day” study. The parents will have to do some prep work and decide which activities the students will do. We just chose those that would fit into the couple days at my parents’ pond that we had. Personally, I like to be able to pick and choose. I’m not even sure how long it would take to do every single activity. Peaceful Ponds would be a great multi-year study or a study to do in each season. There are lots of options.
The weather around here has been over 100 degrees for weeks and the ponds are very low, so that hindered us from being outside somewhat. However, using Peaceful Ponds as a guide, we were still able to do some very interesting things.
In the shallow water of the pond, we were able to see different kinds of plants and algae growing in the water. My daughter grabbed some with a stick and we looked at them with the Discovery Scope. The dark green algae in the picture above looks and feels like green slime, but when we looked at it with the scope, we could see the individual leaves of the plant. (Please excuse the bad picture! The actual view was much clearer!) We, also, looked for larvae in the still, shallow water with the viewer capsule that came with our Discovery Scope. I couldn’t get a picture, but it was so cool for the kids to see little things swimming in that seemingly clean, clear water.
Because of the drought, the pond was very low. This gave us a great opportunity to see what is normally covered by water. We saw dried vegetation, dried mussel shells and quite a few wolf spider looking for lunch. The mussel shell find was a great follow up to our mollusk study that we did as part of Beach Week.
This hot weather made the literature, art and music a welcome addition to our study. It was something cool to do inside! My son is a Monet fan, so tying that in was neat for him. And, the library is always cool and a hit with my daughter.
Another amazing feature of the this comprehensive nature unit study is the price. You get a 62 page jam-packed download for only $8.95! A seriously great deal! You can hop over and download your copy right now.