Myrna Martin has created a series of guides for teaching earth science. Level 1 courses are for children in grades three through six. Level 2 courses are for grades six through twelve. A separate series of activity books can be used with children of all ages.
For Level 1, there are four core courses: Earth Science Kit, Rock Cycle Kit, Volcanoes Kit, and Earthquakes Package. The first three are called kits because they each include a set of rocks that will be used as part of the study. Each course has 12 lessons with a hands-on activity and a quiz for each lesson. Each kit includes one textbook in your choice of print or digital format. Purchasers are given permission to reproduce student pages for the family or classroom; these are pages for activities, notes on the activities, and quizzes. You might also want to provide each student with a copy of the glossary for easy reference.
Basic kits include the textbook and a set of rocks. "Complete" kits add a DVD with the author providing an introduction for each lesson as well as some additional information not in the textbooks. Each course can be completed in as little time as one month with students completing three lessons per week. All four courses are also sold either individually or together as a set.
For Level 1, there are also four Rock and Mineral Identification Kits: Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Minerals. Each of these courses is similar in design to the core courses with optional DVDs, 12 lessons per course, a set of rocks, hands-on activity in each lesson, and a quiz for each lesson. As with the other courses, these might take as little as a month each to complete. There is quite a bit of new vocabulary to absorb in these courses so I would recommend saving them for the about fourth grade and above. Many activities have to do with visual identifications and comparisons, but students also perform other identification tests such as scratch/hardness tests and estimating the specific gravity of the different rocks through experimentation. These kits might be used on their own or alongside other courses.
Level 2 courses might be used for grades six through high school. The six courses available for this level are Earth Science, Rock Cycle, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, The Oceans, and Space. (Earth Science, Rock Cycle, and Volcanoes courses are kits that include rocks.) While these courses are similar in design to Level 1 courses, they have more information and more challenging activities as well as both pre- and post-tests. Each should take about six weeks to complete. Three courses can provide one semester of high school credit, and six courses equal a full year's credit for Earth Science.
An answer key and a glossary are included at the back of each of these Level 1 and Level 2 books. There are also teacher's manuals available for each course that include the pages of the student book, quiz pages with overprinted answers, and a "Teacher's Notes" page for each lesson with lesson objectives, brief description of the activity, a list of resources needed, vocabulary words and definitions, and lesson alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. While these are useful, they are not essential. (Teacher's manuals are not included in the sets.)
There are seven titles in Ring of Fire's Activity Book series: Earth Science, Rock Cycle, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Dinosaurs, Simple Flying Machines, and Water Water Everywhere. Each Activity Book has 15 lessons and is available in print or digital format. Most activities begin with "Notes on the activity," usually a brief paragraph providing some scientific context or background for the activity. For each activity there is a list of required materials, and step-by-step instructions. A page is provided for parents to write notes regarding the activity. A few additional suggestions follow for "Extending the activity." Activities in these books are very similar in style to those in the core courses. However, courses mentioned above that include rocks also include activities for sorting, classifying, and identifying rocks. Other activities in both the courses and the Activity Books might be science experiments (usually relatively simple), drawing, arts-and-crafts type activities, or creation of a custom game board. The Activity Books are all about learning by doing. You can use the first four Activity Books alongside the courses with the same titles, but that might create an imbalance with too many activities. You can always use the Activity Books on their own since they are not dependent upon the courses. While the publisher recommends these for all ages, most of the activities seem geared toward children in the elementary grades.
In all of these courses, students complete some written work as they record observations and analyses and as they label drawings or other artistic creations with scientific information. Quizzes and tests have students fill-in-the-blanks from word banks at the bottom of the quiz page. Given the vocabulary-intensive nature of these courses, this isn't as easy as it sounds.
The author has also written a Rock and Mineral Identification Field Guide that I think will be especially useful for older students.
Ring of Fire courses make it easy for parents without a strong background to introduce their children to earth science through a combination of information and hands-on activities. This is also a fun, low-pressure way to introduce children to informally-applied scientific method. (Note: there are no mentions of evolution.)