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Evan-Moor Smart Start STEM is a perfect resource for those wanting to start off strong in critical thinking skills.
It is also amazing for kids need more hands on learning.
The included projects would be a deliciously fun afternoon for any preschooler.
Video provided by Evan-Moor via YouTube
The Set-Up of Evan-Moor’s Smart Start STEM
This book is set up perfectly for young learners.
There are several units with several acitivities each.
Some exercises are include reading, writing, drawing, and circling.
At the end of each unit is a hands-on challenge, with a STEM journal to fill out. This is the first time I have seen a journal like this in a book for kids.
A quick tangent on why I love this so much, y’all. The difference between good science and bad science is the journal of the researcher.
Every researcher keeps a notebook where they record their reading/notes, their goals, hypothesis, and of course raw data. Good researchers are meticulous record keepers, and I love that Evan-Moor recognizes that.
It encourages kids to modify their invention, an integral part of the engineering process!
This section includes a list questions for you to ask to help them logically move from problem to solution. This encourages critical thinking and builds up our kids’ resilience in problem-solving.
At the bottom of many pages are little boxes with ideas about how you can take the learning further if your child would like. For example, the rock section encourages you to talk about the texture and colors seen rocks.
It’s a great way of adding vocabulary, exercise, outside time, and critical thinking.
Yep, that’s basically it. There is an answer key and some teacher resources.
The Good of Evan-Moor Smart Start STEM
First, the topics are definitely things my kids want and need to learn about! Parts of an animal, how weather is related to clothes we wear. This keeps engagement high!
Cayden begs to do “just one page” each time we work on it. He climbs up on to our counter to pull out the book several times a day. I know a lot of parents fear doing too much book work in homeschool. But this was just plain fun. No work involved.
Second, Cayden has already learned several new words from this workbook and can communicate more clearly!
His language and thinking have also improved in terms of deductive reasoning. It’s easier to make him wear his rain boots because he understands we wear rain boots to keep dry.
Third, the lessons are short. So short in fact, Cayden insists on doing every page in the unit during ONE sitting. That’s not a big deal, though. It amounts to about 30 minutes worth of work.
He doesn’t get tired and want to quit. Heaven help me if we have to wait to do the challenge at the end, too.
He feels so excited about what he knows that he is chomping at the bit to put his knowledge to good work.
Fourth, the book is colorful and includes several reading passages in each section.
Besides using them for their intended purposes, I have used these passages as part of our alphabet knowledge work, too. The letters are big enough that I can use the old ones for letter hunts (have Cayden circle all the As for example).
I also have gone through and underlined the same word several times so that Cayden can see that word is has the same letters in the same order every time. We have even practiced decoding (sounding out) several words during the readings with him.
Fifth, comparing and contrasting are major themes in this book. This is great because preschoolers need to start thinking about how things are the same and different.
This is a foundation in science, math, and reading. Personally, I don’t know of another skill that is as important. Other PreK science resources I have seen do not put as much emphasis on this type of reasoning, and it is something our kids need to be doing from the start.
First, I would have liked to see more hands-on activities other than the STEM challenges.
I would have been happy if they would have left out the circling, matching, and tracing words, and used cut/paste exercises instead. So many resources have our kids tracing and whatnot.
Cutting and pasting are definitely more engaging for kids and work the hands in different ways leading to stronger hands that in turn make better writers.
Second, I would like to see more pictures of actual kids in this book. Cartoons are great, but kids get more excited when it’s a picture of a real kid. Maybe that’s just my own personal preference since Cayden didn’t seem to mind.
On this thought, I would have also liked to see some tidbits about how some of these topics impact our everyday life just to make it more personal for the kids.
Wanting to read more about Evan-Moor’s Smart Start Series? Check out Smart Start Read and Write!
For example, I would have liked to see the animal unit talk about animals that we use as food or the plant unit talk about plants that we can or can’t eat. The weather unit does a great job of this because it places a great emphasis on how the weather impacts the way we dress.
Third, I found some of the STEM challenges to be less science and more craft, like making a rock mandala. Even though we had tons of fun building the mandala. And we stretched some math muscles (comparing size, shape, and color).
This book is perfect for parents who want to get their preschoolers thinking without adding too much book work.
Evan-Moor Smart Start STEM encourages our youngest students to think critically from the very beginning of their education. If you do one or two pages a day, it will probably only add 10 minutes max to school while being deep in value.
If you are serious about teaching your pupils science, overall, this is a great resource.