Monday, June 5, 2017

The Book of Trees (Review)

There aren't a great deal of curriculum products geared toward botany, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review The Book of Trees from Memoria Press.  I received a copy of the reader, student book and teacher guide for this review.   This set is specifically geared towards grades 6-8.   The vendor recommends (and references) The Tree Book For Kids and Their Grown-ups, and the Peterson First Guide to Trees of North America to accompany this class and sells it with the curriculum package.  However, you can easily use the internet to research what you need to know if you prefer to take that route.   These two items were not included with my review package, so I went the internet route.

The reader contains 82 pages, broken into 9 chapters of information.   The last two chapters are considered "advanced work" and cover photosynthesis and respiration.    Black and white graphics and photos are spaced throughout the book as well.    Both the teachers guide and student book follow the same chapter/topic layout and offer a total of 21 lessons.  The teacher's guide is basically an answer key with complete copies of the student book with answers already filled in.   There is also a goals page and model lesson plan page in the teachers guide.

In addition to worksheets, quizzes and final exams, the workbooks/teacher guides also contains 15 tree observation reports.   The teacher guide has these filled out to show you how they should look when completed.   This gives a nice opportunity to get outside and do some nature study.  One thing that I don't like is that there are not blank quizzes in the student workbook.   The quizzes must be copied out of the teacher guide, and for those of us who don't have access to a copier without a trip to a copy center, this is a hindrance.

I decided to have Lindsey work through one lesson per week, and also complete one tree observation per week.  However a student could easily complete one lesson per day.  Each lesson in the workbook is only two pages, typically one page is reading and questions, the second page is diagramming and activity suggestions.  Activities range from lesson to lesson, such as collecting leaves, dissecting a flower, and a leaf pigment experiment, to name a few.  Lindsey and I both like the straightforward style of writing, and the graphics are easy to understand and label.    The tree observation sheets have space for her to doodle what the trees and or leaves look like and that gives her a nice little artistic break in the middle of the science work.
We've both really enjoyed this product.  It's thorough but not overwhelming or tedious, and like I said, it allows for some creativity in the tree observation sections.   Those of you who live in more urban areas may need to look a little harder to find 15 varieties of trees for the tree observation section, but you can always google if you don't have a park nearby.   The layout of the program and the  ease of teaching the course also lends itself easily to a co-op setting.

For more Crew reviews of this product, click here.

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