Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Critical Thinking Co. {Review}: Surfing the Net


Last Spring, we reviewed World History Detective Book 1 for The Critical Thinking Co. and they just recently sent us Surfing the Net: Science recommended for grades 3-6. The concept behind this 250 page book is for students to utilize resources from around the internet to enhance learning and record information in the full color activity pages in the book itself.




The book includes an introduction with an overview, how to use it, explanation of the activity layout, answers, and 46 activity topics in 7 sections:

  • animals-amphibians, animal cells, birds, fish, insects, invertebrates, mammals, and reptiles
  • atmosphere-climate, clouds, precipitation, severe weather, weather instruments, weather forecasts, and winds
  • ecosystems and habitats-deserts, food webs, forests, grasslands, oceans, rain forests, taiga, and tundra
  • energy-electromagnetism, energy and conservation, fossil fuels, hydroelectricity, nuclear energy, and solar and wind energy
  • geology-erosion and weathering, minerals, rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes
  • plants-plants, plant cells flowering plants, non-flowering plants, fruits and vegetables, trees and shrubs
  • space-our solar system, the sun, the moon, constellations and stars, space exploration, asteroids, meteors, and comets

Activities include a brief introduction with websites that offer more information (sample pictured above), key word sections-students use key words to complete the questions, charts, and diagrams provided, 


and the remaining components utilize videos, images, websites, quizzes, games, animations, interactions, and articles from the internet. Each web address provided is educational, interesting, from trusted sites, and age appropriate.


After going to the web address provided, kids are asked to complete the corresponding pages.


Sample pages are available here for you to see  more examples of what is expected in the book.

To begin, it is recommended that you watch a video lesson on using key words to complete searches, so that students can avoid information overload. This is a helpful video even for those that do not have the book. Freebies are always a bonus.

Our Experience
When we first were deciding about participating in this review, I thought I would be able to use the activities for some of the topics to enhance our learning from what the kids were already reading about or about our nature study topics. Which would have worked, as many of the topics were both provided in the book and in the kids' work.



In the end; however, I decided to let the girls pick sections to work through and Li asked if he could pick too. Since all of the lessons seem to stand alone, we ended up working on the activities for fish, weather forecast, forests, volcanoes, and our solar system. We found that with the number of sites to research and pages to report on, we could complete one complete activity a week, so for example we would work on forests for the entire week, splitting up the websites and questions, based on the times we had open. In this way, we could work for as long as we needed or take breaks as we needed. Sometimes we would work for over an hour, others for 20 minutes.



Some activities we worked on together and others (depending on difficulty), the kids would work on individually. Everyone wanted to take the "Shark Personality Quiz." We couldn't get the link provided for that one to play the quiz; however, we were able to find others online (some I wouldn't recommend letting your child work on and others had people and movie references that none of us had heard of or could relate to, so we had to be choosy).  Li was a white-tipped shark (to his dismay, he wanted the whale shark), Ceesa was the whale shark, and Jo-Jo was the nurse shark. All of the kids (even Wheel) like to watch the movies together and try out the games and animations.


Considerations
As with any book that utilizes websites for gathering information, there were several sites that had moved their pages or closed the page completely. A quick search brought up the moved pages and alternative options that provided us with the information we needed to complete the pages.

While we did not come across any questions based on evolution in our choices for study during the review, many of the sites that we were directed to were taught from an evolutionary model and based teachings on an old earth model. As a parent, you will want to watch videos beforehand, so that children are viewing things that are acceptable to your teaching choices.

In that same vein, we would recommend looking ahead from where your child is working to determine which sites are running, which are acceptable for your family's beliefs, and how you might find alternative information if the recommended links do not meet your needs.




Each site has to be typed into the search box by pecking out the address, although you may be able to find a large portion of them by looking at the main site and title of the page. Then you could type that into your search engine and access them more quickly.

We found that some of the games and movies would not play on our handheld devices. You may wish to use a computer to get them to work.

Since each activity begins with a key word search section, it may be advisable that you have your child use a kid safe search engine. One of my fellow crewbies recommended using KidRex and we were very thankful for that recommendation.




Recommendation
We'd suggest checking out all of the crew reviews for The Critical Thinking Co. by clicking our link below. The crew reviewed: Fun-Time Phonics!, The Basics of Critical Thinking, U. S. History Detective, Book 1, and Practical Critical Thinking and Teacher Manual, as well as Surfing the Net: Science. And you can check out our review mentioned above for 
World History Detective Book 1.


This would make a great teaching tool for those that want to teach your child how to be internet research savvy. And for those wanting to make the most out of time on the internet.

Wishing you homeschool blessings,


 

Click here to read more reviews from Schoolhouse Review Crew.
 


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