If you’ve been around OLSH for a bit, you know we love our Evan-Moor products. Evan-Moor workbooks were some of the very first purchases we made when we decided to homeschool over 6 years ago. We still find that we gravitate toward them and are always excited to try out a new to us series of Evan-Moor books. We were gifted a copy of Skill Sharpeners – Science to review and couldn’t be more pleased to share.
This review is for Skill Sharpeners Science : Grade 5. Other grades may vary slightly depending on content but this review will give you a general idea of the layout, contents and overall direction of the workbook.
Science is probably my least favorite subject to teach (shhh don’t tell the girls). They love the hands on, messy science experiments that we sometimes get to do but those are few and far between. I think the massive amount of information and topics that can be covered for science is overwhelming. As a homeschool parent, I’ll admit I struggle when trying to figure out “what to teach for science”. Breaking down each area can be difficult – how do you know what to cover and how much is enough information?!
So when I received the Skill Sharpeners workbook I was a bit skeptical to be honest. I wasn’t sure how much a 140 page workbook could really help supplement our regular science curriculum or if it would even work with it.
Evan-Moor’s Skill Sharpeners are available for Pre-K through Grade 6. The book’s layout is probably one of my favorite features. The book is divided into 4 units:
- Unit 1 – Organisms and Ecosystems
- Unit 2 – Earth’s Systems
- Unit 3 – Space Systems
- Unit 4 – Structure and Properties of Matter
Each unit then broken into concepts. For example, Unit 1 – Organisms and Ecosystems includes these concepts:
- How Plants Get Food
- Food Webs
Each concept has multiple pages of reading passages, vocabulary practice, visual literacy activities, hands-on activities and application projects. The pages are very visually appealing and laid out for easy navigation. My 5th grader had no trouble working independently on many of the pages.
Pages include either a Concept or Skill notation in the margin to remind the student of that page’s focus. These snippets are a short 1-2 sentence overview of the page and allow the parent to easily scan the book to pinpoint specific concepts or ideas.
The reading passages are short, concise and easy to read. They include vocabulary terms in bold as well as a Define It! box at the top of the page with definitions. This was perfect for us as Amelia really dislikes having to look up definitions in the dictionary…yes, we still make her use a printed dictionary 😉
I was most interested in the hands-on activities as I usually dread having to prep for science experiments. The pages include an easy to find What You Need box that lists the supplies needed. For the most part, the supplies were everyday items that we had on hand. Next, the page lists directions that were very simple and easy to follow. The bottom of the page includes a What Did You Discover? section that prompts the student to think about the activity and the outcome they experienced.
There are plenty of photos and illustrations throughout the pages that have kept our whole family interested. There are also multiple puzzles, graphing exercises, writing prompts and diagrams integrated into each unit. The variety of activities was impressive.
The book includes a full color answer key with diagrams of each page and suggested responses. This was extremely helpful since A could refer to the suggested responses and compare them to her own responses if needed.
Tips on Using Skill Sharpeners
While we are using this workbook as reinforcement to our full science curriculum, I believe you could definitely use this as a foundation for creating your own science curriculum. I could see adding in some additional reading or resources and building an entire school year around the topics covered in this book.
I would suggest scanning the book prior to use and not necessarily working in the order of the book. Since you may be following a separate science curriculum and using this as a supplemental resource, you can hop around to best meet your needs.
While this series has an edition for each grade level, I believe you could use this for multiple grades together. Our 2nd grader was peeking over the shoulder of the 5th grader so we allowed her to work through some of the unit with her older sister. Even though some of the work is a bit above her level she really enjoyed the reading passages and hands-on activities.
Did you know that Evan-Moor gives you the option to preview an entire title on their website? Just click on the Take a Look Inside button on any product page on their website to check it out!
My Thoughts on Skill Sharpeners Science
Although I was pretty hesitant at first, I’m actually really impressed with the Skill Sharpeners Science workbook. Amelia really loves the variety and simplicity of the units. I love the low/no prep mini lessons and how well the book is organized.
I found it very easy to browse the topics in the book and pair other activities and light reading with the lessons. There was enough information to inform but not overwhelm. I feel that many of the reading passages and activities actually led to a deeper learning experience as we ventured to find more resources and media pertaining to the topics.
The Skill Sharpeners series includes many titles such as:
I’ve already decided that we will be ordering more Skill Sharpeners for other subjects since we were so pleased with the science edition. I hope you’ll take a peek and try one of the Skill Sharpener titles in your homeschool!