June STEM Review: The Magic School Bus Science Club

Summer slump is real. Kids get out of the habit of learning so quickly during the three months that school is out. Even as homeschoolers (who try to teach year-round), we slack off a bit during the hot weeks of June and July. That's why this series of reviews is so important!

We were asked to try out The Magic School Bus Science Club, a fun and easy way to get STEM and STEAM learning into your life. It is the perfect program for any child -- not just homeschoolers, and I was surprised at how little time commitment it took to do these kits.

The first kit we will be reviewing is the Fossils kit. Geared for kids ages 5 and up, we did the activities with our 13, 11, 7,-year-olds. (Kids need adult supervision for these activities, so I let my 4-year-old watch from the sidelines.) It came packaged as you see below, which is perfect because it comes through the mail if you order the kit as part of a subscription.

The activities were very straight-forward and generated a lot of conversation from my kids. Here are the main points of the kit and some thoughts on why I think it will work for all families:

1. Almost all supplies are included.

You have to read the directions, as some of the items needed will come from your house. I misread a few of them and assumed that the plaster of Paris needed for the molds needed to be bought separately (which is why one of the photos below is shown with clay). The kit does come with a small amount (enough to do the experiments), so read ahead to know what you'll need to gather. You should be able to do most -- if not all -- of the experiments with glue and scissors from your own supplies.

2. All worldviews are supported.

I always get a bit prickly when we do dinosaur or fossil studies. It's because we have a view of how old the Earth is, and we don't like to have to "revise" materials to suit our needs. The great thing about this kit is that is doesn't even go there. It talks about the process of how a fossil is made, but it doesn't get into time periods. It states the undisputed facts of the science behind the fossil and lets families tackle the age of the Earth on their own time. Bravo!

3. Experiments are simple.

This is the best thing ever for moms who like to "wing it" -- like me! Each experiment takes no longer than 10-15 minutes. We sat and did the whole kit in an afternoon and it was a nice way to stay out of the hot sun and learn something. I had some kids reading the text, others cutting, others gluing, and all engaged. I just read along and let the text and hands-on stuff do the teaching. Easy-peasy!

Here's what was covered in this kit:

  • Fossil formation
  • Plant fossil replica
  • Mold fossil
  • Cast fossil
  • Painting fossils
  • Fossil teeth
  • Types of fossils
Kids will learn the difference between types of fossils, what animals ate, and the process for how a fossil forms. They will learn what is and isn't a fossil. It's a great series of activities that promote critical thinking skills -- including classification and reasoning!

You can sign up to get this kit (as well as the others in the series) here. We will be sharing our experience trying one kit a month in reviews this year, as well!