My daughter really enjoys Biology (she is already saying she wants to do it as a GCSE subject or in our case probably IGCSE), she even gets Biology linked books out of the library to read just for fun. But when we covered variation it just did not sit right with her. I could see that she did not feel as comfortable with the topic as she does with other Biology topics and I knew we needed to revisit it or find something to reinforce the concepts. So recently when I was on the Oaka Book site looking at some Chemistry resources I happened to spot their Variation and Classification topic pack and I immediately asked them for a copy. And total confession we are suppose to just be just focusing on Chemistry at the moment and leaving the other Sciences but I just had this gut feeling that we needed to go back and revisit the Variation topic. So as soon as our pack arrived we opened it and started going through it. And boy am I glad we did because she went from having that uneasy feeling about variation, like she was missing something to actually smiling.
So why do I think going back to a topic that we had covered and not just moving on with our current Chemistry was so important? Surely I should be trying to focus on Chemistry and not allow myself to get side tracked? How am I ever going to finish our Chemistry if I interrupt it?
Well, my thoughts are this – I would rather do something slowly, thoroughly and make sure that the kids understand it and can happily chat about the topic than race through and cover everything possible. It is giving them that confidence that they know in themselves that they understand something and that confidence then means they are not nervous to try and answer questions about it. And really we did the pack over 3 days and now we are going back to our Chemistry. So 3 days and we have managed to get rid of that niggly feeling that she did not really understand a topic. That is 3 days well spent (just to clarify when I say 3 days I mean we also did other learning activities in those 3 days, we just did this pack as our Science activity over the 3 days).
So what is covered in the Variation and Classification pack
- What is variation
- what is a specie
- Inherited variation and environmental variation
- Discontinuous variation and continuous variation
- Using bar graphs vs using Histograms and the Bell shape
- 5 major Kingdoms
- 5 Animal Kingdoms
- How to classify animals as belonging to each animal kingdom
- Vertebrates and Invertebrates
- Different invertebrates
- Taxonomic classification and keys.
The notes are in a summarized block format. Easy to read and really well worded. My daughter really liked the sections about the Discontinuous and Continuous variations and the graphs. I think this was what was causing the problem. And in these notes the concise, explanation was just what she needed.
The write your own notes are exactly the same as the topic booklet but with words missing which the kids need to fill in (if you have not used one of these packs before they use the exact same images in the topic booklet and right your own notes which helps to reinforce everything).
With this set we actually did the Classification section first (purely because I know my daughter knows all of this backwards and could answer it in her sleep) and then we moved onto working through the Variation pages really slowly. We would read about 2 pages together, discuss it, and then she would complete the Write your own notes.
Once we had finished we played the game (which is always a huge hit in our house).
I have been a big fan of these topic packs for a long time. We don’t use them in isolation we use them together with other sources but what I am finding over and over again is often these packs contain the explanation that is just so well-worded that we get that “light-bulb” moment.