I recently had the opportunity to review the Oceans: Mysteries of the Deep book and workbook in the Foundations of Science series by Tan Books. The series features a number of texts, including Plants, Space, Earth, Animals, as well as Oceans. In addition to a book and workbook for each topic, there is a video series and audiobook that you can purchase.
The Oceans text is very attractive, featuring striking photography of the underwater world. There are many visual aids contained within the text to help clarify the written text and to help with comprehension. The text is well-written by Dr. Timothy Polnaszek, PhD, an assistant professor at Belmont Abbey College. In the introduction he states that the text is designed to “cultivate interest in the natural world” as well as to “instill curiosity and a love of learning.” One can safely say that the goal is achieved in this book.
The topics covered in the Oceans book include freshwater ecosystems, estuaries, what makes up an ocean, the intertidal zone, the neritic zone and continental shelf, coral reefs, the open ocean, the ocean floor, the history of oceanography, and ocean conservation. Each chapter has a “Foundations Review” which recaps the main ideas of the chapter. The end of the book features random facts about the ocean and a glossary with key terms.
The workbook features a place to take notes on the chapter, short answer and multiple choice questions, and assorted other activities. Parents or teachers will most likely want to pick and choose activities based on the age and ability of the children they are teaching.
According to Tan, this series is designed for grades 1-5. My impression is that it would be most appropriate for grades 4 through 8. While younger children could no doubt learn from the text (especially if presented in a family or co-op setting where children of many ages are learning together), the vocabulary and material are geared to older children. Even adults will learn much in these pages.
This is a Catholic faith-based science curriculum. The connections between faith and science are made primarily through special two-page spreads sprinkled throughout the text.