Friday, September 8, 2017

A Big Fat Spotlight on the Big Fat Notebook Series

Have you seen the Big Fat Notebook series?  
If your kids are headed into middle might want to keep reading.
These books are touted as the complete middle school studies guide for their respective subjects -- a useful compilation of notes borrowed from the SMARTEST KID in CLASS (Double-checked by an AWARD-WINNING teacher).  

Now, whether that last statement is truth or gimmick, I do not know.  I'm not sure how they decide who qualifies as the "smartest kid in class."  What I do know is that The Big Fat Notebook series is a study aid...(drum roll) that my kids ACTUALLY WANT TO USE!

I'm going to let you absorb that for a minute.

I purchased the set for my two older girls (one in middle school and one fast approaching) and they have really loved them.  My 11 year old likes to look through them for fun and my 13 year old actually reads them along with some of her lessons at school.  

If you open one of these books, it doesn't take long to see why it is so appealing to the middle school mind.  Each book is set up as if you are reading the class notes of a pretty fantastic (and artistic) note taker.  The pictures and text are engaging, approachable, and easy to understand.  Here's an example of one of the pages from the the Big Fat Science Notebook.

Pretty fun, huh?!  Like you might actually want to look at this for longer than 10 seconds, right?!

All the books are like that.  
Here are a few more sample pages I got off the publisher's website.

Just looking at those makes my brain actually perk up a bit and my fingers itch to flip through them.  I've included the table of contents from each book below so that you can see which topics are covered in each book, though I have omitted the sub-topics in the interest of space. 

In World History... 
Unit 1: The First Humans: Prehistory-3500 BC
Unit 2: First Civilizations 3500 BC - 300 CE 
Unit 3: The Middle Ages: 400 CE-1500 CE 
Unit 4: The Renaissance & Reformation 1350-1650
Unit 5: The Age of Exploration 1400-1800 
Unit 6: Revolution and Enlightenment 1500-1865 BC 
Unit 7: The Era of Imperialism 1800-1914
Unit 8: World Conflicts in the Early 20th Century 
Unit 9: Post-World War II:  The World from 1945 to Today

In English/Language Arts... 
Unit 1: Grammar 
Unit 2: Language
Unit 3: Reading Fiction
Unit 4: Reading Non-Fiction
Unit 5: Writing

In Science...
Unit 1: Scientific Investigation
Unit 2: Matter, Chemical Reactions & Solutions
Unit 3: Motion, Forces, and Work
Unit 4: Energy
Unit 5: Outer Space: The Universe & the Solar System
Unit 6: The Earth, Weather, Atmosphere, & Climate
Unit 7: Life: Classification and Cells
Unit 8: Plants & Animals
Unit 9: The Human Body and Body Systems
Unit 10: History of Life: Heredity, Evolution, and Fossils, 
Unit 11: Ecology: Habitats, Interdependence, and Resources

In Math...
Unit 1: The Number System
Unit 2: Rations, Proportions, and Percents
Unit 3: Expressions and Equations
Unit 4: Geometry
Unit 5: Statistics and Probability
Unit 6: The Coordinate Plane and Functions

In American History...
Unit 1: Prehistory- Early 1600s
Unit 2: Colonial America, 1607-1780s
Unit 3: American Revolution and the Early Republic, 1776-1791
Unit 4: American Expansion, 1801-1861
Unit 5: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850s-1870s
Unit 6: Reshaping the Nation, 1850-1917
Unit 7: World Wars and Modern America, 1900s-1930s
Unit 8: World War II, 1930s-1945
Unit 9: Post-World War II Era, 1945-1980
Unit 10: American History...and Current-ish Events!

In the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I am not a proficient when it comes to any of these subjects, so I can't speak conclusively to the comprehensive coverage or complete accuracy of specific topics. I haven't read them all the way through and so I don't feel fully qualified to "review" them for this blog.  However, I found that from my own personal observations the Big Fat Notebook series did a great job of covering the basics while keeping things simple.  Ultimately, though, it all boils down to this...I was looking for something to help supplement my girls' education...something that would spur them along, liven things up, and give them something they could refer to if they needed a little refresher.  These have done the trick so far. 

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