As our children continue to get older, I encourage independent learning. I love resources that not only help them learn on their own but actually teach them how to use resources to help them learn. Surfing the Net: Science from The Critical Thinking Co. is a resource that helps children use the Internet to learn science!
The Critical Thinking Co. offers award-winning educational products for grades PreK-12+ in a variety of subjects like reading, math, science, writing and history that go beyond just learning the subjects and encourages children to use critical thinking.
For our Critical Thinking Company review we received the Surfing the Net: Science Physical Workbook. It is a paperback book containing 250 pages of inquiry-based worksheets for free Internet videos, articles and games recommended for Grades 3-6. It covers a variety of Science topics many of which are new to us, an although they are definitely learning new topics, the key focus of Surfing the Net: Science is teaching them how to find information on the Internet.
We have been using the Surfing the Net: Science Workbook with both our older children (ages 7 and 9) who are currently at the 3rd Grade level. Because of their special needs, they are delayed readers, though, so I knew this wouldn’t be an independent study, but I knew it would be a great introduction because as they are advancing in their reading and using the Internet more (our daughter has particularly made major advancements in reading this year) they will need to know how to use it efficiently for finding answers.
The Surfing the Net: Science book starts with a simple (but very thorough) 2-page introduction on how to use the book. It explains how each topic covers critical thinking inquiries in five different capacities, how it can be used in different ways for the different age and even designates the more challenging questions.
Surfing the Net: Science is divided into 6 Sections:
- Ecosystems and Habitats
Each Section is then divided into more focused topics. There are 6-8 topics per section. For example, the Animals Section is divided into Amphibians, Animal Cells, Birds, Fish, etc. It shows all topics covered on the Surfing the Net: Science page. Each topic is between 3-5 pages. Because we were working together, it would take us a little longer to complete a page because I would ask them the questions, have them answer and then write down the answer. Sometimes we would complete the topic in one day, but other times we would only do one page per day. Generally 30-45 minutes is our stopping point because after that our kids lose interest. We have been using it as our main Science curriculum 3-4 days per week.
The Activity Layout always begins with a key word search. In the Introduction it notes the importance of the key word search because, as we know, search results can get overwhelming. It includes a link to a video lesson that is helpful on using key word searches, and I highly recommend watching it!
Additional activities are marked by icons that note to either Watch a video, Play a game, Search for images, View an animation, Use a website, Use an interactive website, Take a quiz or Read an article. The author spent a lot of time selecting the resources for this workbook. She noted that she chose not to include YouTube links because although there are educational resources on YouTube, they can be unreliable and there can be many videos that are inappropriate for children.
I think that’s an important point here – Surfing the Net: Science isn’t designed for just free surfing of the Internet. Even if your children are older and may be surfing the net on their own, they are guided to the appropriate websites either with your assistance or directly by the book itself. There are even links for the activities available online rather than having to type them all in, though I find it’s important to practice the key word searches. I think practicing key word searches, though, is definitely something to do with parent supervision!
Pages 183 – 250 of the book are the Answers. If you’re like me, you probably often learn a lot of new things yourself when teaching your children (which I love!) so having an answer key is always helpful!
Overall, I have found Surfing the Net: Science to be a great Science curriculum for our kids. It’s really challenged them to think beyond just learning science to how to get the answers. Although I do help them with it, I challenge them to tell me what key words I should use and, of course, to answer the questions, do the activities, etc. I like that it is teaching them how to use educational resources on the Internet.
For more, be sure to connect with The Critical Thinking Co. on Facebook, Twitter and Google+
Members of the Schoolhouse Review have been reviewing a variety of products from The Critical Thinking Co. Check out their reviews by clicking on the banner below!