The Behold and See science series for grades one through seven has been among my Top Picks for a number of years. The entire series was written with Catholic homeschooling families in mind, and you can read my review of that series here. However, the newest addition to the series, level K, can be used by all Christian families with the exception of one paragraph, so I wanted to review it separately to highlight that fact.
In addition, while Behold and See K targets kindergarten level, it can easily be used with preschoolers as well as first and second graders. However, you’ll want to expand upon topics for students in the primary grades.
Nature walks are the mainstay of this course, although a section with Rainy Day Activities offers alternatives when weather or other situations make a nature walk impractical. Nature walks might take place in fields, woods, a forest, at the beach, or in the desert, but they might also be in your backyard or at a pet store, farm, zoo, animal shelter, garden nursery, aquarium, science museum, or other settings.
Simple lesson plans provide for one planning day and three activity days each week, although these are all very flexible. Each week’s lesson focuses on one particular living thing but also introduces a few related creatures, plants, or trees.
For each week’s lesson, you will read aloud the Creature Feature or Nature Feature from the course book allowing your children to study the pictures and ask questions. Next, you will read aloud about and look at pictures of related creatures or plants. Children listen closely as you read the second part since it asks them to identify the correct image that matches each description by drawing a brown circle, a gray square, an orange triangle, etc. around the correct image. On this same day, you can also watch one or more of the recommended video clips that you will find on a list at the back of the book. These video clips bring the topics to life, so be sure to check them in advance to select which ones you want to use as well as to discover if a link no longer works. Video clip URLs are provided for most but not all lessons. (It would be more helpful to have these posted on a webpage so that parents don’t have to type in the URLs.)
I’ve mentioned that children will learn about a featured creature or element of nature while also learning about related creatures or plants. For example, the squirrel is featured in the lesson on rodents, the oak tree is featured in the lesson on deciduous trees, the cow is featured in the lesson on farm animals, the duck is featured in the lesson on water birds, and the tiger is featured in the lesson on the rainforest.
The second lesson day each week is for the nature walk itself. Full-color Nature Walk Take-Along Sheets that you will remove from the book show drawings of a selection of items such as a plant, an animal, a reptile, an insect, or a bird along with items such as a tree stump, a birdhouse, a gray rock, animal prints, a cloud, or icicles. Each unique sheet gives children a number of items to search for on their nature walk. Additional suggestions are sometimes included. For example, one lesson adds an alphabet search (children hunt for items that represent each letter of the alphabet). Another lesson suggests a scavenger hunt while yet another adds an “I Spy” game.
On the third lesson day for each week, children can color the full-page image in the book while you read aloud from one of the many suggested fiction or non-fiction books listed on page 188 and 189. You can also read aloud the Bible verse that is at the bottom of each coloring page. I mentioned the one paragraph of Catholic content that I found at the bottom of page 62. It explains a legend of how the ladybug got its name in language best understood by Catholics. Non-Catholics can just skip that paragraph if they wish.
As you can see planning is required. Each week, you need to figure out the most suitable place to go for the walk, and you’ll need to acquire a read-aloud book of your choice. But planning can be done weeks in advance and shouldn’t be too difficult. Feel free to use lessons in a different order to suit the weather, available nature walks, or field trips.
The idea of nature walks is appealing to many homeschoolers, but keeping children tuned in while on a nature walk can be a daunting chore. Having the identification sheets or other activities helps children stay focused and observant. Children won’t find everything on their sheets, but you might have some great discussions about whether or not a certain observed item will count or whether there might be a potential substitute in your area.
Behold and See K seems perfect for homeschool families with younger children who want to explore the outdoors without making it too complicated.