Do you remember the first time you jumped off a diving board? Were you scared? Terrified? When you developed the courage to face the (deep) deep end, and you plunged in, how did it feel?
I remember feeling that terror, doing it, and repeating it for hours after that first jump. I conquered it! There is something about taking the plunge and the exhilaration that follows.
Jump into Earth Party Unit Study
Now also an online course!
The Earth Party! curriculum and live online class both cover the same material and use a literature approach to study science. Many homeschool students are familiar with plants and animals — hiking, camping, traveling. However, most elementary-aged students do not spend 12 weeks dedicated to considering broad life forms from single-celled life through the animal kingdom until middle or even high school. In our recent summer Earth Party class, students learned interesting new information.
Fern Frond Discovery
Ferns do not have true seeds like many flowering plants. Instead they reproduce by way of groupings of spores (sori) on the backside of fronds, which look like small dots, or lines on the fern below. (Click for more information.)
Looking for Lichen
One 5th grade student, Toby, who went on a Hawaiian vacation during class, noticed lichen (all over the place!) for the first time. Lichen are a part of the fungi kingdom; they are a bell weather species for how a particular habitat is doing. More lichen points to a vibrant and healthy community.
A Feather Within a Feather
When another student looked through a microscope, he observed that on a single bird feather strand or “barb,” there was a structure of a feather; each feather contained a feather within a feather! Can you see this in the photo below?
We perform these microscope explorations and many others. Some examples include exploring life in mold and pond water, examining the inside of a chicken egg, modeling protozoa shapes, and more! Both the class and curriculum are designed to be hands-on science!
Cross-Chapter Exploration Projects
To culminate both the class and the unit study, students chose a project such as a Kingdoms Scavenger Hunt, Species Report, making models of forms of life (like the Marine Invertebrates above), or a project they design (DIY) that wrap up an exploration of each of the 5 kingdoms. Tristan picked this one, creating characters that are modeled after characteristics found in various kingdoms and invertebrates. I love his Queen Bee and Queen Ant!
With this unit study and class, students will gain a broad understanding of all forms of life; in many ways like a dive off the diving board — foreign, curious, all encompassing, exhilarating. As both the author of the curriculum and the teacher of this online course, I learn right alongside my students. If you have been homeschooling for very long, you will know what I mean. Homeschooling = life-long learning. When my students ask questions about the number of legs various invertebrates have, why various seeds take the amount of time they take to germinate, and what we have growing in our nail bed (look at your nails under the microscope!), it becomes obvious there are more questions than answers. And these questions — make a good class and study!
Should I purchase the unit study or sign-up for the class?
The answer to this question is really preference. Our classes are designed for grades 4-6, where the curriculum books can also be used for students in grades 1-3. Families that decide to use the unit study independently will be able to explore the curriculum in a self-paced fashion; if you have a 4th-6th grader and are looking for help with pacing, added study direction, or a group learning environment, the class is your best bet. A microscope, and the Student and Teacher books are needed for both options. Here are links for more information!