Review of Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU)

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

I knew purchasing Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) by Bernard Nebel was my biggest gamble in terms of curriculum.  But it had such rave reviews I had to try it.  This will not be one of those.

I should have passed.

I ordered the K-3 Level.

It is very difficult to implement.  My library had only a few of the recommending reading to back up the lessons.  I felt the lessons were either too easy or too hard.  There were no pictures.  It spoke directly to the parent, not the child (which I knew ahead of time) but it was still disappointing.  It is page after page of possible conversations to tell the kids and possible questions they might ask.

For me, my little kids never asked the possible questions.  They just didn’t.  In homeschool we learn the material and do the lessons.  They ask questions but not the ones Dr. Nebel proposed.

I have no passion behind the book.

We are almost finished with the entire book so I stuck with it.  But that’s because I took the general lesson and made it my own.

To be honest, I used mainly the Core Curriculum by E. D.Hirsch to do my lessons.

Conclusions:  I cannot recommend this book/curriculum.  It sometimes rambles about things I think unimportant.

For example, it says all the time, “Your child (ren) might ask such and such” which my children NEVER asked such-and-such.

It has no pictures.  It is self-published (I know this because I almost chose the company Mr. Nebel chose for some of my work) which says a lot about the curriculum.  I would pass.  I will definitely be seeking something else for the next year.

It bills itself as a curriculum for 3 years and I just don’t see how that’s possible.  My kids are smart and need the extra stimulation, which this course is disappointingly missing.  It also addresses National Science Education (NSE) Standards at the end of every lesson which means nothing to me.  I could care less about standards as a homeschooler.  It also addresses classroom settings.

The author needs to chose or separate the curriculum.  Either for homeschoolers or traditional educators.  Integrating both is time-wasting on both sides and down-right annoying.

I like the general concept behind this book:  integrating all science subjects.  This is why I bought it.  But science must be fun, exciting, and hands-on, which this dryly-written book is definitely not.

It is my least favorite book to do and my kids don’t like it either.

I did join the Yahoo support group but had to unjoin because of all the emails, mainly of homeschoolers asking how to implement the curriculum (this should be a sign to Dr. Nebel).  I would sometimes get upwards of 20 emails a day!  I just couldn’t keep up!

Review of Literature Selections Level 1 Offered by Shurley Grammar

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

While perusing Shurley Grammar’s website, I saw Literature Selections Level 1 offered and decided to try it for only $10

I wish I hadn’t.

There is nothing special in here.  It’s literature selections with questions asked at the end.  None of them are classical and the modern ones are nothing special.  I was hoping for analyzation of famous literature but none are present in this book.

Definitely won’t be buying any more of these books.

Conclusions:  Save your money.  Do your own readings or look elsewhere.

Review of Shurley English Homeschool Level 1 & 2

Introductory Note:  I purchased all of these on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

Review of Level 1:

I bought the Teacher’s Manual and the Student Workbook as a package.  The Teacher’s Manual has most of the teaching.  The Student Workbook has all the activities.

I bought this for my first-grader and almost returned it before we even started and I’ll tell you why:

The first five chapters are devoted to classifying.  I thought it lame.  A typical first-grader should know how to sort.  So I called and was ready to return it but in the end decided to try it.

So I skipped the first 5 chapters and started on Chapter 6.  From there on out, it’s been great and what I’ve expected.  It comes with a CD of jingles that the kids love and recite the rules of grammar to.  Sometimes I thought it progressed slowly so I would do 2 lessons in 1 day, especially in the beginning.

When they introduce writing, I think Shurley goes too fast.  It expects a paragraph a day.  For me, this was too much so we only did a paragraph a week.  We have a separate writing program though that we do that has writing every day.  See review HERE.

But I also had my first-grader do Level 2 alongside my second-grader so they could be on the same grammar level next year so she had already done much of the writing.

Also, because we skipped the first 5 chapters, we will be done incredibly early (not something I like) so I feel this was a waste.  But I will have her do Level 2 along with her sister but this is my case.  If you just bought Level 1, you will be without grammar for a bit at the end.

Review of Level 2:

I bought the Teacher’s Manual and the Student Workbook as a package.  The Teacher’s Manual has most of the teaching.  The Student Workbook has all the activities.

What I expected for a Second-grader.  The writing portion is a bit redundant but we are also doing IEW so I think I am skewed because of that.

It comes with a jingle CD as well.  Every chapter has a vocabulary section where the kids look up words which I love so they get to know a dictionary.  Level 2 is exactly like Level 1 just a bit more advanced (not much though) and introduced sooner.  Same format.  Same material.

There is also no place to write out the sentences or contractions in the books so be prepared to  use your own paper.  We used the whiteboard for this which worked well.  But at least for the contraction section, it would have been a time saver to have it written out for the students.

I wish they would have spent the extra money as well to put a reference section in the back of the Teacher’s Manual with definitions printed out.  Instead, I fold the pages down so I can find where in the book they talk about a subject pronoun for example so we can refer back to it.  I wouldn’t waste my time even looking in the Student Book.  It’s confusing enough as it is.

What I absolutely cannot STAND about these books:

I’m assuming in an effort to save paper and keep costs down the company has arranged the Student Book in very confusing sections.  You have to constantly flip to different parts of the activity book to do activities and sometimes multiple sections within the same lesson.

For me, I’d rather pay the extra $2 or whatever to have it all laid out in an easy-to-follow format that was easy on the eyes with the chapter sections all together instead of split up.  These books have no pictures or color.  Anywhere.  Great for teachers.  Not so great for the kiddos!

Conclusions:  My old charter school does Shurley English so I thought it would be easy on my oldest since she already knew the format.  I am glad we did Shurley English this year but I am not for sure we will use Shurley English next year.  I am looking into Thompson Grammar to be honest right now and will make my final decision in the spring.  My kids have mastered the material and I’d like to try something new.  Plus, I just don’t know if I can do another whole year of the Student Book.  And I would like some color.

I think there is a balance between saving costs and making the material enjoyable for the kids in a fun, easy-to-follow format.  I think Shurley Grammar has not found that combination.