“Funtastic” Science Unit Studies (Crew Review)
About Funtastic Unit Studies
Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers is written by Susan Kilbride, a homeschooling parent who wanted to help other homeschool families. This 201-page softcover book is packed with science activities to use with students ages 4-13. There are 20 chapters altogether, with the first half containing units geared toward 4-7 year olds, and the second half being for 8-13 year olds. The book covers a wide variety of science topics:
- The human body
- stars and planets
- simple machines
- and much more!
Each topic is presented as a separate chapter made up of several parts, each of which contains multiple activities. A materials list is provided at the beginning of each chapter so you can gather everything you’ll need for the activities before you begin the unit. There’s no set time frame for how long it takes to complete a unit, providing lots of flexibility for families.
Two free sample units (one for each age group) are available to download from the Funtastic Unit Studies site.
Our Experience With Funtastic Unit Studies
I have to admit, this book wasn’t quite what I expected when we were first offered this review. When I hear the phrase “unit study” I envision something that integrates multiple subjects around a single topic. While some units in this book did occasionally integrate stories or picture books, for the most part they were really just about science. So as an issue of semantics, I would say that these are “science units,” rather than “unit studies.” I realize that’s a minor point, but I think a lot of homeschoolers might have a similar understanding of the term “unit study” so I want be clear about what this book actually contains. That said, once I had let go of my original expectations, I was pleased and impressed with the wide variety of activities presented to help do a thorough study of the topics in each chapter.
Although the chapters are designed to build upon one another, it’s possible to skip around to follow students’ interest, and that’s what we did. First I went through the book and marked which chapters I thought would capture my children’s attention the most (as well as looking through the extensive materials lists to see which ones we could do without having to buy a ton of supplies). We chose to skip the unit on dinosaurs and prehistoric life because it would have required a lot of editing to give a more accurate picture of early history as revealed in the Bible. There were still plenty of other fascinating topics, and we skipped around within the first ten chapters (the units designed for ages 4-7) to touch on things that we haven’t already spent a lot of time studying already.
Our first unit was Chapter 8: Health. It starts out talking about teeth, and since Elijah had a dentist’s appointment that week, I figured it would be a good tie-in. We talked about why it’s important to brush out teeth and did several of the related activities. The kids were really excited to make their own toothpaste. The book suggested flavoring it with peppermint or strawberry, but since that wouldn’t appeal to any of my kids I opted to use vanilla. As they mixed the ingredients, Ian commented that it smelled like cookie dough, and they couldn’t wait to go try it out. They were all in for a rude awakening when they actually tasted it, and like the book said, they had a much greater appreciate for their “modern” store-bought toothpaste after that.
We still had a week left in our review period after we finished the health unit, so I decided to check out some of the activities in Chapter 6: Fun With Magnets. All the kids really enjoyed this unit, though most of our magnets were still packed away after our move, which limited which activities we could do. Still, they were able to learn about attraction, the power of magnets, magnetic fields, and induced magnetism. (Well, Ian’s probably the only one who really learned the terms and the concepts, but the little ones all had a lot of fun experimenting and learning in their own way.)
My Overall thoughts on Science Unit Studies
If you’re looking for fun ideas for teaching science, this is a great resource. There are so many activities included in this book!
What I Liked about Science Unit Studies
- Wide range of science topics covered
- Lots of activities with clear instructions and well-presented information to help students understand
- You don’t necessarily have to do every activity but there are so many you can easily choose several that will work for your family
- While there is helpful information in the book, the bulk of the learning is done through hands-on activities, making it very appealing for students
What Didn’t Work for Our Family
- Extensive materials lists may make it difficult for some families to do many of the activities.
- Lots of the activities involved food that my picky eaters wouldn’t come near, which limited which ones we could do.
- As I mentioned above, there are some evolutionary references that we would edit before using those units with our children.
- While many topics are covered, it’s not a comprehensive curriculum that systematically explores all areas of science.
This isn’t something I would use as our sole science curriculum, simply because I prefer a more systematic approach. However, it’s definitely something I will use to supplement our family’s science program as various topics come up. Other families might find this is a great fit for covering all their structured science needs, at least in the elementary years. Check out how other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew used Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers with their families by clicking on the banner below!