When you’re homeschooling multiple kids at different levels, an open-and-go curriculum can be your best friend. Having everything you need to offer hands-on science lessons with zero prep makes homeschooling feel like a breeze. Here are the top four reasons why we use BookShark curriculum for teaching science in our homeschool.
I received free access to BookShark Science Level D and BookShark Virtual for review purposes and I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and I am not required to post a positive review.
Why We Started Using BookShark Curriculum
Science has never really been my strongest subject. While I find it immensely interesting (for the most part, anyway; there are certain topics I could do without!), I also find it super overwhelming.
When I sit down and try to list out the vast array of science topics that I want my kids to learn about, the scope of the challenge paralyzes me. I have no idea where I would even start if I was trying to put together my own homeschool science curriculum, especially for my older kids.
For that reason, we spent a number of years doing a small co-op with another family. The other mom would teach science to our kids, while I taught English language arts. This worked really well as we both got to stick with the topics we were most comfortable with.
The past year-and-a-half limited our ability to get together for these lessons, though, and we had to find another strategy.
When I discovered BookShark’s science curriculum, I knew it was the homeschool science solution I was looking for.
In this review, I’m going to cover four reasons why I’m sold on the BookShark science packages. While my review specifically looked at BookShark Science Level D, we have also used BookShark Science Level H, and the delivery mode for each package is identical, so my general feedback about our experience is applicable to the other levels as well.
To get a quick overview of BookShark Science D (ages 8-11), as well the as BookShark Science curriculum in general, take a quick look at the video below. Then scroll down to read the top four things we love about BookShark curriculum.
1. BookShark’s Science Curriculum is Literature-Based
One of the things that caused me to disengage from science in middle school was the dryness of the textbook we used (not to mention the equally dry teacher and the multiple-choice tests that required us to memorize useless strings of text from the book word-for-word. This is not a useful approach to learning!)
I’ve always known that I wanted to take a different approach to teaching my kids. As I grew up and started reading about science and history topics for fun, I realized that you can learn from what Charlotte Mason referred to as “living books” much more easily than you can from textbooks designed to drill facts into your brain.
BookShark embraces this literature-based approach fully and helps us to fill our children’s shelves with books that they actually enjoy reading. And as anyone who has read such titillating books as Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site knows, when kids love a book, they want to read it again and again, naturally absorbing not only its words but the lessons it offers as well.
For example, the following books are included in the BookShark Science Level D package.
- The Usborne First Encyclopedia of Seas and Oceans
- Did You Know? Science
- BookShark Science D Experiments Book
- Fossils Tell of Long Ago
- Traits and Attributes
- The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip
- What Makes a Magnet?
- Electrical Wizard
- Bringing Back the Wolves
- National Geographic Kids: Robots
Check out the full scope and sequence of all of BookShark’s Curriculum Packages.
2. BookShark Science Comes with Everything You Need
Each yearlong package includes several interesting standards-based topics and includes everything you need to teach science including:
- Instructor’s Guide, which covers a step-by-step plan for what you’re going to do each day
- Activity sheets with answer key
- All of the books you need (literature-based)
- Book of experiments
- All the supplies you need for your experiments
Our family is so busy. With four kids moving in different directions all day long, I need homeschool curriculum solutions that are simple and sustainable. I don’t have time for even the most basic level of preparation like making photocopies or cutting things out.
When we start our homeschool day, I need to know that everything is all ready to go, or we’ll be trying to play catch up all day.
BookShark’s programs make this super easy for me. I can even grab our lesson plan and our current book and complete our lesson at the park or on the go. It’s that easy and flexible.
Take a look at the Instructor’s Guide Samples so you can see exactly how the days are broken down for you.
3. BookShark Incorporates Lots of Hands-On Activities
Most knowledge is best learned and retained if we can get some hands-on experience putting the concepts into practice, so why would we ever want to rely on a science curriculum that expects kids to learn science only by reading about it and answering questions?
They need as many hands-on activities as possible.
When kids participate in hands-on science experiments, they not only solidify their knowledge of the specific scientific concepts they’re studying, they also develop reasoning skills necessary for scientific thinking, such as:
- Inductive reasoning: drawing a conclusion based on specific observations
- Deduction: predicting a specific result based on a general theory
- Experimental design: creating a set of procedures to test a hypothesis
- Causal reasoning: identifying the relationship between a cause and its effect
- Concept formation: learning to categorize items into classes
- Hypothesis testing: conducting tests to determine whether a hypothesis is true or false
- They begin to see the world around them through a different lens and understand better how things work.
Hands-on activities help the concepts they’re studying to become real to them. It’s not just something they read about in a book or heard about from their parents; they’ve actually seen it in action.
They become more curious and learn to ask better questions. They take what they know and apply it to new situations to develop theories.
These skills are relevant not only for the study of science but in so many other areas of life as well.
BookShark’s Science curriculum packages are loaded with hands-on experiments to reinforce the lessons. Each week’s lesson includes a science lab where students complete one or more experiments.
The Science Supply Kits provide nearly all the materials you need to conduct all of the experiments. Each week, the notes in the Instructor’s Guide include a list of items you may need to gather for the following week. The items you’ll provide are usually common household items, such as water, salt, glue, food coloring, scissors, tape, etc. No more hunting for oral syringes, copper wire, bulb holders, and solar panels the night before your science experiment.
The Activity Sheets include hundreds of questions, charts, and illustrations to help students retain what they’ve learned. (Program includes sheets for one student; extra sets for additional students can be purchased separately.)
Learn more about BookShark’s approach to science.
4. BookShark Virtual Keeps My Homeschool Organized and On Track
This year, BookShark introduced a new feature that I think will make homeschooling so much simpler for many of us: BookShark Virtual.
BookShark Virtual is an online platform that enables students to access their reading schedules, view Story Maps, take assessments, and receive instant auto-grading results. Parents and teachers can track and review student work, customize assessments, and message students directly from a computer or mobile app.
Packed with features that homeschoolers need, BookShark Virtual is a very welcome addition to our homeschool planning and tracking process.
It allows us to:
- Enjoy easy recordkeeping & grading
- Upload student work
- See 36 weeks of schedules
- Keep track of completed assignments
- Encourage independent learning
- Document student work
- Provide feedback and leave messages
- Export PDF portfolio of completed work
BookShark Virtual is accessible via mobile or desktop!
The best way to understand BookShark Virtual is to try it yourself. The first three weeks of every Virtual course are available for free just like the Instructor’s Guide samples always have been.
Watch the demo videos to get your bearings, and then take it for a spin. Let your child take a peek, too!
Want to Try BookShark?
Enter the contest below for your chance to win a BookShark Science curriculum package of your choice and access to one virtual seat, or learn more about BookShark here.
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, veteran homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives, homes, and homeschools. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading with her kids, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes. She lives in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, Ben, and their children.