Monday, November 9, 2015

Crew Review: Eat Your Science Homework from Ann McCallum Books

I had never heard of Ann McCallum Books before it appeared on the Schoolhouse Review Crew's list of upcoming review items. It was fun to poke around her website and see all the wonderful, educational books for children that she has written. In the end, I was glad we were chosen to review Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds. We've used cooking to explore history before, but we'd never really used it for science before. Not to mention, I can always use some help finding hands-on ways to make science fun!

When Eat Your Science Homework arrived, the kids had fun flipping through it, looking at the six recipes and the science topics they explored. We had debates over which recipe to make first: Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna, Black Hole Swallow-Ups, Loop Whorl and Arch Cookies, Atomic Popcorn, or Invisible Ink Snack Pockets. No one was very interested in the Density Dressing and Veggie Sticks. I guess that sounded too healthy.

In the end the Invisible Ink Snack Pockets won for our first attempt at eating our science homework. I'm sure it's because the kids quickly realized it was basically a pizza pocket and they love pizza! I used store bought pizza crust dough because I was feeling a little lazy about making my own crust. The kids helped me fill each pocket. Our edges didn't seal very tight, but that didn't seem to matter -- for taste, or the experiment.

After we had filled the pockets and folded them shut, we mixed up our invisible ink paste. The directions for this were a little vague and I accidentally used a bit too much water. It only needs a LITTLE bit of water. We discovered that the kids needed to dip deeper into the thick paste and not the watery surface in order for it to show up. Our last pan turned out best, after two trial runs. When it cooked, the ink did show up. Do you see my TOS pocket in the front left corner?  The kids had fun labeling their pockets and then picking it out to eat afterwards.

Pizza is always good, right? But especially when you get to make it yourself and decorate the top of it. The kids did complain that the ink had a sweetness they could taste on their pocket. You might encourage your kids to keep their decorations light when they make theirs, and not to overdo it.

But how is that science, you might be wondering? Well, each recipe is introduced with a page that explains the science topic a little. In this case, the children learned about oxidation and the pH scale. They even learned a bit about ions, atoms, protons and electrons. In other words, it fit in perfectly with my 11 year old son's current Chemistry lessons!

Each recipe is concluded with a few more ways to explore the subject. We were given suggestions for different liquids to try as invisible inks on paper. We also learned the difference between chemical and physical reactions. As we talked about it, we also remembered the movie National Treasure and the scene where they're looking for invisible ink messages on the back of The Declaration of Independence. While that is a fictional movie, it brought up the fact that invisible inks were used historically ... just maybe not on The Declaration of Independence. It led to a fun discussion!

As you can see in the pictures, Eat Your Science Homework has colorful, cartoon illustrations by Leeza Hernandez. The illustrations help make the book fun, interesting, and inviting. It draws the children in, and gets them reading about each topic. It also gives them something to look at while you read aloud.

There are only 6 recipes in this book, but it can be used in many ways. You can use it as a resource to pull out when these topics arise in your science curriculum. You can use it for fun school days, if you like to have a Fun Friday once a month. You can use it for some educational fun during the summer, as well. I think that's my favorite, actually.

The book itself begins with an explanation of the Scientific Method, as well as safety tips for cooking in the kitchen. I like that she encourages them to experiment and develop a hypothesis after each recipe. The book ends with a two page review of the topics covered in the book, as well as a glossary of science vocabulary. The glossary can be used to prepare vocabulary quizzes or spelling tests, if you're really ambitious.

Eat Your Science Homework is a fun resource to add to your home library, whether you homeschool or like to explore science with your kids after school. The paperback version which we received is sold for $7.95 and the hardcover version is sold for $16.95. There are also two other books in the series: Eat Your Math Homework and Eat Your U.S. History Homework. You can read reviews about all three books at the Schoolhouse Review Crew website.

April E.

Ann McCallum Books Review

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