So we started Winter Wonders, the Down Load N Go from Amanda Bennett. I have to say that so far we are just so so impressed. I mean for our family and our homeschooling style. Others may feel completely different. Especially those of you who lapbook.
I do have to say though it only cost 8 dollars and is a great way to have an outline of what do for a unit study. So you can take what they have and build on it. You will have to build on it if you want any crafts or hands on activities.
Great book suggestions
Lots of links online
Made my planning of what to study about Winter easier
Many areas to study, so you can pick and chose what you like
Lapbooking Components for each section (we do not lapbook though because Caleb is not interested in it)
Suggests nature walks through out whole study
From a Christian perspective, although not a lot in this area
Very little hands on activities (I had to plan my own)
Many of the online links are just encyclopedia entries or very wordy articles (not great for the younger set)
Lots of seat work if you chose to do all the pages (we did not)
Pretty much no crafts
No specific nature activities except take a walk (I had to plan my own)
Here is what we have done so far:
We started with learning about seasons. What they are, how they are caused, and specifically of course about Winter.
We love many of the books suggested. You can see those over on my right hand sidebar. I also added in some we like and already own.
We watched a link to Bill Nye the Science Guy. Caleb thought this was pretty funny. I know nothing about this show except what we watched in the specific link. It was quite entertaining and presented great info at a child's level. ( I have not added this link since it is in the unit. I feel like it would not be right to put it here for free since it would be taking money away from Amanda Bennett.)
We did some of the worksheets: I liked the calendar ones where Caleb had to write his numbers, count and find out when winter started. Otherwise, really at this age we mainly discussed what they asked you to write.
Caleb was fascinated with the fact that the Earth rotates around the sun and is tilted. So I added a hands on demonstration with this. It really needed a visual to explain this. (this is also what the Bill Nye the Science Guy clip was about.)
Yes, the sun is totally out of proportion with the Earth. The sun is MUCH bigger than Earth. Caleb wanted something yellow though, and we only had this small yellow ball. He made sure to tell me multiple times it was smaller than the sun. As long as he know, I'm okay with it.
We of course took a nature walk. We specifically focused on trees in winter. There was a worksheet about this, but I did not care for any of the links they suggested. Instead I found a great book from the library, Winter Trees, by Carole Gerber. We read this and then took our walk. To be fair we have also done a pretty extensive study on Deciduous trees and why leaves change colors. So we knew lots of this info already and this was a great time to review it.
If you really wanted to learn about this subject the one worksheet and the links provided are for older children. But Shining Dawn Books has some exceptional nature studies about Deciduous tress and Conifers. I highly recommend them if you are interested in this area. They have lots of info, hands on ideas, crafts, experiments and nature study activities.
Here is Caleb with the fruit from a Sycamore tree. Such a pretty tree in winter. The bark is lovely shades of gray and white and brown. It has the coolest look too. It looks papery and it's peeling. Plus the trees are massive and tall with long spreading branches.
The fruit hangs on the tree all winter long and is very easily seen since there are no leaves. Great if you have kiddos that like to collect nature treasures. We brought some home and examined them more closely. It is made up of tons of tiny little seeds that have fluff attached to them.
In the spring the fruit splits and all of the little seeds are dispersed. We spent a long time discussing how God makes all of this work and why they disperse in the spring verses other seasons. Why not Winter, I asked. We talked about why the seeds would have fluff attached and now Caleb wants to plant one so we'll have a Sycamore tree in our yard. =)
We also decided we couldn't wait till spring to see all the little seeds, so we cracked one open with a hammer and took a closer look at all the little seeds with their fluffy ends.
Next up we will be talking about Snowflakes, Snowflake Bentley, Balto and the Iditarod. All of these are suggestions from Winter Wonders. I have been waiting a little to start this because we are having no snow right now. Crazy huh, we've had gobs, now its totally gone.
As for how Caleb feels about this so far. He has asked me to do a craft every time we have done school. Or an experiment. He does not like to see me pull out the worksheets. I have started reading the worksheets myself, and then we discuss what they ask while we are sitting in the rocking chair reading their wonderful book suggestions. Obviously I need to find crafts and/or experiments to go with each area of study. Too bad, since I specifically tried this out to cut down on my planning time.