Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: AIMS: Earth Rocks!

I am an improviser.

I love kiddie crafts!  Sometimes my improvisation looks better than the original, KWIM?

I do okay in the kitchen.  At least my improvisations are generally edible.

I am LOUSY at science.  It’s not that I blow things up – rather, NOTHING seems to happen.  I dropped out of Organic Chemistry lab before I could get a well-deserved F.  It doesn’t help that I broke 1/2 my beakers (lousy locker design) and the lab assistant barely spoke English.  I did luck out in that lab was a separate credit and I still got full credit for Organic Chemistry – but don’t tell anyone that.

Let’s just say – you NEED the right stuff to do hands-on science.  And with that, we’ll move on with our review.

I was excited for the opportunity to review an AIMS product – I think hands-on is the way to learn, and that is what AIMS is all about. We picked Earth Rocks! – geared for Grades 4-5, but about the level I like to do science with Esmé.  I’m all about proper terminology, and hearing a 5yo classify rocks as sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic just rocks my boat.


50 activities —336 pages Students explore soil, rocks/minerals, the water cycle and properties of water. In the section on Earth Changes, students will look at weathering and erosion. The Resources section has them classifying resources as renewable and nonrenewable. The book ends with a section on pollution.

Recommended Age:  Grades 4-5  
Price:  $29.95
For More Info/To Purchase:  AIMS Education Foundation
For More Reviews: TOS Crew

What Mom Liked:

  • The hands-on. Each chapter consists of a hands-on project for your kiddos to do.  This book is written for a classroom setting, but is easily adaptable for a single student.  Here is Miss Esmé working on a sedimentary rock experiment.  As much as it looks like a brownie recipe, I’ve never improvised with dirt, sand, and pebbles in the kitchen before.
  • Sedimentary
  • The notebook pages.  These aren’t specifically notebooking pages, but that’s how we use ‘em.  Esmé recently started a science notebook, and these printable pages are perfect to go along with our experiments.
  • Notebook
  • The rubber-band books.  Nicely summarized information easily held by little hands – each chapter has a rubber-band book printable.  The illustrations are perfect for coloring if your kids are so inclined.
  • The CD.  There is a CD in the back of the book with all the printables included in pdf format.  I LOVE it!  No bending book pages trying to make a decent copy – you can just print all the notebooking and rubber-band book pages off.  You can also print the instructions on transparencies if you are doing this in a classroom setting.
  • Materials lists.  Yes, the hands-on projects do come with materials lists.  So you can plan appropriately.  Just don’t be inclined to improvise…
  • Rock hunts. The course started off with a bang as we dug through rock piles, trying to come up with a decent sample set. Lots of hands-on fun out in nature! And I anticipate our summer will be full of rock-identification moments.
  • Fun for the whole family.  Even Flame the cat wanted in on the action…


There were a few things Mom did struggle with:

  • No color illustrations.  Which wouldn’t be a problem if I could remember my rock classifications from childhood days, but alas, my memory is failing with old age.  This was easily resolved by picking up a few illustrated rock guides from the library, but added a little challenge in the start-up phase as I tried to identify rocks using written descriptions.
  • No nice science laboratory.  With all the gadgets and rock collections and materials ready to go.  Making this a success takes a bit of planning and research.
  • Lack of detail in some of the instructions.  It doesn’t give specific instructions on making a super-saturated Epsom salt solution, for instance.  And I obviously miscalculated.  Chemistry lab failure through-and-through.

We are very much enjoying this and definitely plan to continue through the book.  However, I think this lazy improvising mom will need to stock up on science kits and materials throughout the course of this book. 

I am working on a set of rules for homeschooling moms, and just added this one:  Rule #203:  Always have a large quantity of Epsom salts and pipe cleaners on hand.  And #204:  SAVE your baby food jars. 

Disclaimer:  Thanks to AIMS Education Foundation 
for providing this book in exchange for an unbiased review, and to TOS Crew for coordinating the review.  All opinions are our own.



noiln said...

Chemistry is one of the disciplines of science. It colours our life with the discovery of different hidden colours of nature and all the things necessary for making our life happier. The study of chemistry is a must for the advancement of society and for making mankind happier. Chemistry is concerned with rocks, minerals, non-minerals, air, water, plants, animals, other materials of organic origin earth atmosphere, interstellar atmosphere.

nutschell said...

that sounds like an awesome book to share with your kids!
Happy A-Zing!