Curriculum Review of R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth & Space

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If you’ve been here before, you may know that I love using hands-on curriculum with my kids.  No surprise then, that we really enjoyed using R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey’s: Life (RSO) program. And this year, we will be using their Earth and Space curriculum and we are really looking forward to it.

We enjoyed the pace of RSO in the past. We used the first half of the Life curriculum twice per week on our own and the second half was done once a week with a small co-op group. Both were great learning experiences for my kids. The many hands-on labs were a big hit.

Topics covered in RSO Earth and Space:

  • Weather and seasons.
  • The Water Cycle.
  • The Earth’s Atmosphere.
  • The Earth’s Surface and Interior.
  • Minerals, Rocks and the Rock Cycle.
  • Erosion and Soil.
  • The Moon.
  • The Solar System, including lessons on each planet.
  • Stars and constellations.

Each topic contains a notebook page to introduce the topic and several labs.  This is what attracted me to this curriculum in the first place. Science is one of the topics that I strongly believe should be as hands-on as possible. I don’t have to work at getting my kids engaged. They hear “science lab” and they’re there, zooming to the table or the garden or wherever things are set up.

Features I love about RSO:

  • It can be used with kids of varied ages so I don’t have to have a separate curriculum for my 6 year old and my 8 year old. In fact, RSO is geared towards 1st through 4th grade. I’ve successfully used it with a kindergartener as well.
  • The lab experiments are easy to prepare for. Most of the items are household items or easily acquired via a trip to the store. The few items that you need to order are listed at the beginning of the book so you can prepare in advance.
  • Many of the lessons can be done outdoors. My kids love to learn outside.
  • RSO lists go-along books and websites if you want more resources to reinforce learning on a specific topic, they’re right there in your RSO binder.

So I mentioned that we are all about the hands-on labs.  Here are the examples of the ones we will be doing when learning about weather:

  • Measuring the temperature of water in the shade, out in the sun and in the house; then between hands, in ice water and at room temperature.
  • Making a rain gauge.
  • Measuring wind speed by making our own anemometer.
  • Making a weather vane to determine the direction from where wind is coming from.
  • Keeping a weather journal to collect data.
  • Learning the reasons for the change in seasons using an orange, a skewer, a marker and a lamp. (So looking forward to this one!)

And that’s just one example from part of this curriculum.

Most items needed for the labs, as I mentioned above, are things we have around the house (plastic drinking straws, pizza sauce, paper clips) or can easily be acquired at the store (plaster of Paris, hot dogs, steel wool).  There are a few specialty science items that you will need, but these are listed  in the front of the book:  a science thermometer, an inflatable globe, a rock and mineral kit, a scale and a reasonably priced set of binoculars (we plan to borrow these from my father-in-law).

This curriculum comes in a printed copy placed in a binder, or as an e-book, which you can print out if you like. I printed mine on my new laser printer (faster and cheaper than an inkjet).

You can also purchase the student pages. I have the notebook pages and lab pages copied and placed into a separate binder for each child so we are ready to go each week. Last year I didn’t do this and regretted it, as each Tuesday I found myself scrambling to make copies before we headed out to our RSO Science Co-Op.

So, if you don’t mind getting your hands (literally) dirty, doing experiments with your kids, having your curriculum ready to go, with the lessons building upon each other, then RSO might be a good fit for you.

I’ll be back throughout the year to show you some of our experiments with photos and descriptions.  In the meantime, if you’d like more information about RSO’s Earth and Space curriculum, you can download some sample pages from the Pandia Press website.

Linking up.

I received a copy of this curriculum from Pandia Press for the purpose of reviewing it. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinions in this post are purely my own.