Elementary Zoology, a course created by Master Books, uses four resources along with the Elementary Zoology Parent Lesson Planner (PLP). The four resources are two books, The World of Animals and Dinosaur Activity Book, and two kits, Complete Aquarium Adventure and Complete Zoo Adventure. Every one of these resources is useful on its own as well. You can read my separate review of the Complete Adventure series here, and I provide some details for the Dinosaur Activity Book below.
The PLP for this course pulls these resources together using The World of Animals as a spine running through the entire course. Worksheets, quizzes, and a final exam are all based on that book, with other resources providing a wide variety of activities and learning experiences to enhance and expand what students learn in The World of Animals.
The course was designed for grades four through six, but some third graders might be able to participate in most activities. It can be used by a family or by a group class. The PLP grants permission to reproduce for your family or for a class of up to ten students. (Check with Master Books regarding a larger class group.)
The PLP charts out a suggested schedule for four quarters with nine weeks per quarter. While you can use the course while skipping the field trips, the field trips are likely to be great fun as well as capstone experiences that bring to life all of the information from the books. You might need to rearrange the course schedule to work around the timing for field trips so plan ahead as best you can.
The PLP has brief instructions at the beginning of the book. This section includes 40 bonus activities that you might use, so don’t miss these on pages six through eight.
The bulk of the PLP consists of reproducible worksheets to accompany pages read in The World of Animals. The schedule for most weeks shows assignments on three days per week. However, a reading assignment and the worksheet assignment are given together on two of those days most weeks. Students might well need two days to complete each two-sided worksheet if you require them to write out complete answers for the ten to fifteen questions. Activities from the Dinosaur Activity Book on most Fridays conclude the week with something more fun. Two full weeks are allotted to each Complete Adventure kit, and that replaces all other activities in this course for those weeks. Reproducible quizzes and an optional final exam at the back of the PLP can be reproduced. Quizzes are scheduled every four weeks. Answer keys for worksheets, quizzes, and the exam are at the back of the PLP.
While the entire course is premised on belief in God as Creator, The World of Animals is religiously neutral and the PLP questions, likewise, focus only on scientific information. However, the other three resources strongly advance a Christian outlook, including belief in a young earth.
The Dinosaur Activity Book feels like a coloring book with its newsprint pages. But it combines text with illustrations, coloring pages, dot-to-dots, mazes, puzzles, and cut-and-paste activities such as creating a flying Pteranodon marionette. The information in this book strongly supports a young-earth, creationist viewpoint, sometimes a bit heavy-handedly. While much of the information should be understandable for fourth through sixth graders, sometimes it seems over their heads. A section differentiating two groups of dinosaurs by hip bone structures on page 67 would be one example since it uses too many unfamiliar vocabulary words for young students. However, this page is important since the next page discusses an argument against the evolution of dinosaurs into birds based on hip structures. Although some of the information might seem a bit above grade level, dot-to-dots and many of the activities are likely to appeal to a younger audience. While all of the pages of the book are assigned in the PLP, I would suggest applying your own discretion as to which pages to use.
The Elementary Zoology curriculum set includes all five items, but you may purchase each item individually as well.