Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Astronomy Review: Signs & Seasons

The following is a copy of the review I posted on an online bookstore website for this resource:

While this book is geared more for middle and high schoolers, my elementary son is already gaining a LOT from it.
I am a Montessori-trained teacher and prefer to avoid most textbooks for many reasons - low quality; lack of correct information; textbooks are usually beyond tertiary sources while primary sources are most appropriate for children's learning; and more.
But this is one textbook we will use again and again. At 8, my son is reading through it with me to gain an overview of astronomy; we combine it with our own personal studies according to his interests and my requirements as his homeschooling mother. We will likely go through it again at age 10-11; then again in middle school - as review and to cull its depth further, as much of the information is quite deep (a typical elementary children would not have the interest my son has in this textbook - but this is an interest of his).
The "average" elementary child will not be ready for this book - but a homeschooled child who is very interested, or a Montessori student, will be quite ready for it - probably around age 9 or so. Even then, it should be re-visited at an older age, because much of it will not be absorbed the first time through. It is THAT rich!
Montessori elementary children with a deep love of all things astronomy will appreciate having this book as a read-together text, coupled with many hands-on experiences (such as looking for the things described in the book, as well as some of the field activities in the back of the book, and following their own interests).
Montessori elementary children with a limited interest in astronomy will prefer to utilize this book in the upper elementary years (ages 9-12).
Definitely useful for middle schoolers of all ages.
I only WISH the public schools I attended would have provided an astronomy class of ANY sort, let alone THIS book. We had blips of astronomy here and there - nothing like this. I took an astronomy course in college and this text would have been the best foundation for that course. I loved it, but was easily overwhelmed.
There is an optional field guide, separate from the text, to flesh it out for high school credit. Do not let the negative review stating this is not a high school textbook throw you off - this book is indeed excellent for high schoolers, but yes if you want a full credit for it you will NEED to flesh it out for the simple fact it is a textbook. NO textbook should be the be-all-end-all in gaining a credit for school - and this textbook is no exception in that regard.
Those who might say this book is not deep enough for high schoolers should consider the importance of spending TIME with the material, doing the field guide suggestions, working with the field journal - and experiencing the annual cycles of astronomy (and sometimes multi-year), while also exploring it within its historical context and development, in such a way that true DEPTH is reached. Not just racing through, taking a test and being done.
Signs and Seasons IS the exception in that it provides a well-balanced, well-laid-out approach to classical astronomy - astronomy without the use of fancy tools (although telescope and binoculars are pointed out as useful in their proper places) --- something all of us should have experienced in our lifetimes.
Black and white (but wonderfully done!) illustrations keep the price of printing to an affordable range so that this book is accessible to many more people.

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