Book Review: Differentiating Instruction with Menus: Science

51ngmwuarelScience….is hands-on and can be as fun as you can make it. Science teachers work real hard to teach complicated ideas in science to you children. This book is a great resource that many of those teachers need to get. Differentiating Instruction with Menus (Science) covers Physical, Biological, and Earth Science. Laurie took some of the most important topics of each and created some great menus for them.

These menus will help to deepen student engagement, and interest in science. Everyone of us have had students who has a desire to learn everything, and wants to learn it now. Well, this book and the series, will help you with those students. By creating a choice board, a menu or tic-tac-toe board you allow students the freedom to learn multiple topics over a selective period of time. Students love the fact they can pick and choose what they will learn, and what products they will do to share their learning.

I would encourage all teachers and home school parents to check this book out along with the whole series. These books contain so much information to help you not only use the menu, but you can use the information to make your own menus.


Book Review: Complex Systems in Our World

20160330_171221-1.jpgThis is part 4 of 4 in book reviews. These books are written by E.L. Strauss published by

 Part 1: Global Explorer.

Part 2: Chaos Theory Uncovered

Part 3: Our Universe Revealed

Complex Systems

I have always been interested in patters, and in relationships. Complex Systems in Our World helps to explain the science of relationships. Complex systems theory is “a transdisciplinary field of study concerned with the organization and functioning of different phenomena. The field examines the principles common to all complex systems, with the aim of discovering patterns and principles that can be applied to all types of systems, at all levels, in all fields of research.”


Like the other three books in their series, Complex Systems in Our World is structured similar. It starts by looking at interconnections, and emergence, moves to types of complexity, and finishes with superorganisms and thermodynamics. I enjoy the Questions we Ask and What we Uncover sections that help to guide the reader through the book. The outline of each chapter isn’t a traditional outline. Instead it is a series of questions that the author poses to get the reader thinking about the material they will interact with.

The book has great pictures to help the concepts of systems and their complexities. The activities that the author has connected to the material is challenging and makes the reader use their critical thinking skills.


I think Complex Systems in Our World is a great book to help students to understand how relationships work in the real world, and how communities, cities, and the environment are connected through these systems. This is a great resource for students. This book is best suited for high school students who want to get a more in-depth education of complex systems. The vocabulary is challenging. Complex Systems in Our World also requires you to use critical thinking in some of the activities that are presented to the reader.





Book Review: Our Universe Revealed


This is part 3 of 4 in book reviews. These books are written by E.L. Strauss published by

 Part 1: Global Explorer.

Part 2: Chaos Theory Uncovered

Our Universe Revealed 

I am a big fan of Cosmos. I love listening to Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson explaining the mysteries of the galaxy. If you like that show and many others like it, then you will love this book.

Our Universe Revealed is a great book that covers a multitude of topics including Antimatter, Dark Energy, Quasars, Supernovae, and Einstein’s Theories, and more. This book covers the study of Cosmology: “the scientific study of the large-scale properties of the universe; the field endeavours to use the scientific method to understand the universe’s origin, evolution, and ultimate fate.”


I love how this book is organized and structured. When you open Our Universe Revealed , you see there are a list of Questions we Ask, and a list of topics in the What we Uncover section. This gets the readers engaged in what will be coming up in the sections ahead. I also enjoy that before each chapter starts the author lays out a small time line of questions that the reader should keep in mind as they read. I believe this is a great way for students to get their critical thinking skills started.

Our Universe Revealed starts by looking at stargazing, moving to the beginning of the cosmos, how the universe is structured, and finally Relativity. I like how Our Universe Revealed has great pictures, illustrations, charts and graphs that help bring clarity to the reader on the subject at hand. Students will find these to be useful. The author also uses some illustrations made by artisits which are colorful, and detailed.


For someone who is interested in learning more about space, the galaxy, and parts of the universe then Our Universe Revealed is for you. It is very good at giving details, explaining different equations (such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Hubble’s Law to name a few), and explaining how the universe works.

After reading Our Universe Revealed, I came to realize that I had learned a lot. In the back of the book there is a list of topics that students, adults, and teachers who want to learn more about the cosmos could check into. This book is only 127 pages in length, and can be read in just a few short sittings. It also has the opportunity to be a jumping off point for science students to take a topic and go in-depth further than what is in the book.

Our Universe Revealed is a great book to use in addition to the science curriculum that is used in school and in homeschools. This book is best suited for high school students who want to get a more in-depth education of space. The vocabulary is challenging. This book also requires you to use some critical thinking in some of the activities that are presented to the reader.

Overall, Our Universe Revealed is a great book. I hope that you check it out, along with the others in this set.


Book Review: Global Explorer

This is part 1 of a 4 part series of book reviews from E.L. Strauss from Thinxygen Publishers. I would highly recommend checking out their website along with their other books.


Global Explorer: The Southern Hemisphere

What to go on a journey? Want to dive to the Great Barrier Reef? Want to see Ayer’s Rock? Want to see ancient salt pans that look like glass when they are wet?

Then open this book! This book will challenge you, stretch you, and help you develop your logical thinking and problem solving skills.


This book covers the three most diverse continents you find in the southern hemisphere: Australia, Africa, and South America.


In the Australia section of the book the author discusses many aspects of the country along with their flag, how large the continent is, and some historical facts. The author also discusses the animal population on the land and in the ocean, and the environmental concerns of the Great Barrier Reef created by humans and by sea creatures. The author writes about the aborigine people of Australia. She not only gives us facts, but gives us some of their Dreamtime myths, and invites us to interpret what we see from their myths, and to take a different look at the Uluru inselberg that the aborigine people see as sacred.


In the Africa portion of the book the author focuses on Namibia and the Namib Desert. Here the author discusses the size and scope of the Desert. She also explores the unique geologic formations of the Desert, plant life and, unique animals that live there such as the Oryx. What I lied about this section is the author gives a small section on how to survive in the desert on little water.

The other area that is focused on is the Skeleton Coast, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, the salt and clay pans of Namibia. I believe these areas are not covered as much in most science or geography books enough.

South America

In this section the author focuses on two major areas: Bolivia and Patagonia. In the introduction to this section the author does touch on other countries and languages spoken in South America.


Salar de Uyuni a salt desert formed when parts of Lake Minchin, a prehistoric lake dried up. This ancient salt desert has different uses for modern people. It was pointed out the book that NASA uses this area to calibrate their satellites, and there is an abundance of lithium that is used in cell phone batteries. Again the author invites us to interact with the reading and create our own salt crystals.


In this section the author talks about the history of the area, and some of the myths that took hold here for centuries. One of those myths were giants living in the area. From journals from Magellan, the people he encountered were much taller than the average person for the times. It is thought these people were roughly 6 feet tall. These people the Tehuelches were tall, but the myths spoken back in Europe were these people were giants over 15 feet tall. The author shows how people who live in different climates can be different sizes. She also grow through the math, and invites the reader to also check out the math for themselves with data she provides.

What I love about this book

I love many aspects of this book. What struck me first was the first few pages where the author writes a series of questions that the reader will hopefully answer through the reading. This gets the reader engaged and prepped.

There are great color pictures with short explanations on them. Some pictures are warm and inviting, and some are vibrant and bright. The pictures are chosen to help bring more depth of knowledge to the reader about what they just read.

There are exercises that the reader is encouraged to participate in such as finishing a food web in the Barrier Reef section, and using their imagination to chart out similarities and differences in the Dreamtime section in the Australia chapter.

There are also sections of the book that the author encourages the reader to interact with the material they just read through Desert Survival 101, making salt crystals, and how to collect water in the desert.

Each chapter ends with a short quiz to help reinforce the material that was shared in the chapter.

In short, this is a great book for middle school gifted children. It uses vocabulary words from geography, geology, earth science, and biology. It also uses a more advanced vocabulary in general. It is a great book for children who love to read about far off places, peoples, and environments. I would recommend this book to students in traditional schools, and those who are homeschooled.

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