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This post on Friendly Chemistry was made possible with a copy for review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew. All opinions are my own.
Science tends to be a subject that can strike fear in the heart of the most ardent homeschool parent. Well, at least it can for those that had poor experiences with science when they were growing up. Of all the different subjects under the umbrella of science, chemistry really seems to have received a bad rep. Even my own early experience with this subject left me with a bad taste. Of course, what do expect when your high school science teacher’s idea of teaching was having another student put up transparencies of information for you to copy while she painted her fingernails and ate M&Ms?? And that was a morning class!
So, some might find it surprising to learn that I have my undergraduate degree in…. CHEMISTRY! (Was that a gasp I heard?)
Really! My Bachelors of Science is in Chemistry with a minor in Biology. It was during my honors freshman chemistry class that I found out it really wasn’t a bad subject. I started to question that feeling during Organic Chemistry the next year, but that had more to do with learning styles than subject matter. Even within the study of chemistry, I learned that there were great differences in subject matter. In case you’re wondering, I excelled more in analytical and physical chemistry where the problem solving has lots of math. Organic chemistry was hard for me as route memorization is not my forte.
When given the opportunity to review a chemistry program that could help the students learn without striking fear into their hearts (or the teaching parent), I jumped at the opportunity. P falls at the lower end of recommended ages and he was excited to sample the Friendly Chemistry program.
I think I read through the first 4 lessons in one night, flipping back and forth between the teacher and student guides. Each guide is in a white binder with the pages 3 hole punched. The student guide includes worksheets to be used while the teacher guide has tests that can be copied for your students. There is not any real overlap in content between the two guides. So, the teacher might want to grab their student’s guide to read the chapters ahead of time.
One thing that struck me as different from my past experience is the use of games to encourage learning. Some of the suggested games can be adapted for use with one student while others really lend themselves better for use in a group setting.
So, for this review, I took a two-pronged approach. I field tested the activities best suited for a small group in our local co-op group. Then, P and I spent time walking through the same lessons doing all the paperwork activities for each. Both experiences gave favorable results.
For the co-op test, I had students ranging from 4th to 9th grade. The few 4th graders did more observing and participated in some of the fun. Over a few sessions, we covered the first 6 lessons. Rather than read all of the student text aloud, I had summaries and quizzes to see what they already knew. Most of the time was spent on the hands-on activities. Some worked great and were especially well received, e.g. a game using small lego creations to have them work on both communication and observation skills. Others were less favorable, e.g. the spinning electrons ~ not because they didn’t find it fun, but because they quickly got out of control.
Here are a few pictures of the co-op students ‘in action’ with Friendly Chemistry:
In our ‘home test’, P has really enjoyed getting to learn more about the periodic table and will occasionally share his new found knowledge with younger brothers. Building elements out of play-doh is a fun, hands-on activity that has worked well with just one student or the larger group. Overall, his take on this program is that it really is ‘friendly’ chemistry.
While I would more strongly suggest using Friendly Chemistry in a small group setting, it is possible to use it with just one student. I think that to finish the material, we’ll be looking to form a small group. Sometimes experiments are just more fun with another ‘student’ than with mom.
Now I’m just left to wonder if Joey and will come out with a Friendly Physics program for high school students. That was always another subject to strike fear in the hearts of the college prep students in my high school. Oh, the stories I could tell from that class!