Surfing the Net: Science ~ Schoolhouse Review

We have been doing a lot with science lately.  Maybe its the fact that the weather here is Wisconsin has been so nice, we just want to enjoy it and being outside is a big lesson in and of itself in science right?  Perhaps its because for my boys, learning happens much more smoothly when its something they can do. Feel, touch, taste, smell. Anyway whatever it is we were all excited to get the chance to review Surfing the Net: Science from The Critical Thinking Co., and when it arrived we jumped right in. No hesitation when it came to this one.  😀




This is a physical book. It is is intended for grades 3-6, and they do also have an ebook available if you prefer.  I used this with my two boys, ages 6 and 10, my daughter is 4 and was somewhat involved at times too, and you are allowed to make copies of the pages so this can be used with multiple children without needing to purchase individual books for each one of them.  Thats always a big bonus in my book!






Surfing the Net: Science is a workbook full of inquiry based worksheets; this also share lots of great online resources. Games, articles, videos…Lots of fun tools to keep our kids learning!  There are seven sections in all:


  • Animals
  • Space
  • Energy
  • Plants
  • Ecosystems & Habitats
  • Geology
  • Atmosphere


My oldest son jumped right in to the animals section; I loved how there are clear definitions at the beginning of each section followed by a variety of activities and critical thinking questions which encourage them to do some research on their own. For example, as he was studying invertebrates, he was asked to lists characteristics of echinoderms and arthropods.  As he was studying fish, there was a salmon dissection game for him to play and list the internal organs of a salmon as they are removed from its body (gross ~ perhaps it will help him when he goes fishing again next year and has to gut a fish? lol) This even helped him put together a fabulous, informative, speech about armadillos, for his speech and debate class a few weeks ago. So this really does help them learn how to search out the information they need.




My younger son has been fascinated by natural disasters lately. He loves to watch videos and read books on volcanos and earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados…SO he really liked the section on atmosphere. And while it was quite advanced for him, there were so many great links that were provided.  He learned about the importance of a barometer; he also watched “The Coriolis Effect Defined“, “Warm Air Rises…” and “Storm Chasers: Tornado Aftermath“.  He even saw video showing how volcanos form and (of course) we made our own volcano (above and under water).  This book even introduced him to his new favorite website, HowStuffWorks.  (I think its everyones favorite site right now actually.)




I have to admit, because of all the links within this one, I do think the ebook would be easier to use than the physical book. Thankfully, all of the links listed in the book are on their website so you can always go there and click through to the various activities.  But for my kids, its that one extra step.  At the same time it is encouraging to see them going that extra mile to see the video or play the game or dissect that frog.  haha But some days….Regardless I have to say I love how this company thought of that!



This is such an awesome material for science lovers. And even those who aren’t “into” science. What a great way to introduce kids to things they are unfamiliar with and perhaps spark a real interest in something new. Plus, its a very relaxed way to go about science; there is no need to go from front to back. You can begin with space, study one volcanos in the geology section, learn about weathering and erosion…Its easy to just let the kids follow where their curiosity leads them. Because no matter how our family may try, we are just not good with textbooks. So this fits our relaxed, somewhat child led home school.





This is an amazing company. With so many great materials to help encourage and inspire learners. We have used a variety of their books and continue to enjoy them.  I love how flexible and open ended their materials are; there is just so much you can do with the materials they offer. What better way for our kids to learn then by giving them activities that require them to investigate things themselves? As they say, let’s make sure we “Empower the mind!” of our kids.


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