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2nd grade science...using living books?

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I always seem to have a problem with this subject. I see the importance of it, boys like it, but I never seem to get around to doing it. Not good. So, I have been giving some thought to this and would love your gentle thoughts and opinions.


This year, I have found my groove...finally...with doing Barb's Green Hour Challenges. I am happy with this direction as it is very doable for me. It seems to *just happen*. I like that. The boys are getting a lot out of it. We are also reading the Burgess Animal Book, then the Bird book. We are learning a lot just by reading those fictional stories. But I am *feeling* like there needs to be more structure.


With that being said, I would like to do science, I think, in that manner. Here is what I have come up with...oh, and it may help to know that I do plan on using the Apologia Series starting in 7th grade. At least that is the plan for now. Oh, and we will always do nature study and would kind of like our science to correspond with this...I think. And my boys will be in K and 2nd.


Option 1...Stay with this what I am doing currently...the Green Hour Challenges, Nature Study, reading living books (would have to come up with a list), gardening, hiking, bird watching, ect. I like having the freedom and flexibility of doing science this way, but I am not sure the boys are getting enough. But do I *need* to do science in a formal way at this age. :confused:


Option 2...(along with option 1) I LOVE the looks of Noeo Science and the way they incorporate the reading and experiments for you. If I am going to do a "formal" science program, I need to have a plan laid out for me. The only problem with this program is the expense. For those of you who have used this, do the books seem readily available from the library? I will have access to University Libraries since DH is in school.


Option 3...(along with option 1) Apologia Zoology. I like the looks of this as far as it being all laid out for teacher. I like that it can be sued 2 days a week. I think, and correct me if I am wrong, would have to add living books into the mix, but it has great explanations and experiments.


I have checked out Living Learning Books science and do not like the choices in the reading material they listed in the sample they provided. I don't want to use Dr. Seuss, but something more "living". If I am wrong in my perception of this program, please correct me. It does look affordable.


If there is any other program that uses this sort of approach that I have not considered, please let me know about that too!


So, what do you think? Your thoughts are very much appreciated! Especially from those who are using more of a CM way of doing science. :)

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I think that if what you are doing now is working, and as you said it just happens (that is important ya know! :D) I would stick with it. If you feel that they need more (which I don't think they do) could you just add in a monthly hands on science experiment? Littles love those! ;)


I think monthly is a good goal....you don't want yet another plan that just doesn't happen, so monthly is quite realistic, I think. Maybe dad could be responsible for a once per month experiment time? Maybe get him a copy of the More Mudpies to Magnets book to use? Or how about one of those Young Scientist kit things each month or something?

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You have some wonderful choices. My opinions:


Yes, you can get the noeo books at the library. I think the experiment kits may be a little advanced for your kids, and I'd actually wait on them--I think, if I were going to that expense, I'd want my kids to really get all they could from it. I looked at noeo, bought it w/o the kits, and was a little disappointed--the manual is basically a reading and experimenting schedule, not much commentary at all. I wanted more than that. But the books are really nice, and I'm sure the kits are, too.


Apologia is very solid, and if you like notebooking and experiments, it might be a good fit. I think your littlest would just be along for the ride, tho. If that's ok, great.


I don't like LLB 1, same reason as you--I didn't think the book choices were giving enough scientific information about the animals (that section in particular). Good websites, tho. Again, the manual is just a schedule--not ever that, really. All the content is in the books. Some of the activities were good. Just not my cup of tea.


That leaves Option 1. I think it sounds perfect for you and your boys at this stage of your lives. Think of your goals--If you want them to gain information about the natural world in a natural/exploration way, be engaged and enthusiatic about their studies, and,if it seems to meet your needs, I wouldn't change. As far as lists of books, just go to the library once every couple of weeks, and see what's on the shelf. It'll probably take 10 minutes to generate a stack of books that will last all week. Mix in some of the One Small Square books, some field guides, and maybe occasionally peruse the Ambleside Online or other CM resource lists. If you want to go beyond biology/botany, you can get plenty of space-oriented books, rocks and minerals books, volcano books--all at the library. If you want to do Human Body, get Teacher Created Press' book MY BODY, and then support it with library books.


You can do this! It sounds lovely, to just continue in the fun and gentle way you are going. I'd save the really nitty-gritty stuff for when they are in 5th and above.

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I'm an advocate of do what you want. With that said here is what I do. Not trying to convert you but you asked about living books and I use them so here goes.


We do use living books here. There are so many wonderful picture books for science which I consider to be "living books". I am a book addict and my 2nd grader is my 2nd child so for years I have been book scouting at library sales and such and already have many living science books on hand.


My children also do outside classes with science, Audubon hands on classes and some other programs. They get so much hands on nature at those classes that my own nature study with just me with them has decreased.


We are not big on science experiments here. I do have books with experiments laid out. I own kits already. But I am being honest when I say we don't use all that we have on hand.


A book I also like which I bought years ago at RRC is unit study based using picture books as the jumping off point. It is like FIAR but for just science topics. THe books are by Carol Butzow. Science Through Children's Literature. You don't need it per se but I'm mentioning it in case anyone feels worried about covering a topic thoroughly when using picture books as the content material. (Butzow writes other books on other topics which are based on real books too.)


I also use Science Scope by Kathryn Stout as a check list of sorts to see if all we read with the picture books is "enough". Mostly I use it when I'm worried or feeling insecure, which is not so much right now but I did when I was using living books just for my older son.


Unfortunately my kids have been bored by the nonfiction centered Burgess books.


Some friends of mine love the Apologia books for elementary. For me, I feel like I own enough already, that for me to buy that and use it would be overkill.


Do what works. Enjoy it.

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How about just adding a little structure to the living books? If you want to use curriculum or a spine- go for it but I'll share what I've been thinking along these lines because your living book option is more like what we're looking to do.


With any thing you read about, let's take a chapter from Burgess Bird Book for an example:


Chapter 1 is Jenny Wren Arrives, there are plenty of different topics in the chapter to highlight and learn more about. Since it's the first chapter, it also allows you to keep a chart of the seasonal habits of the other birds in the book.


Why do birds migrate?

Which birds migrate? You can create a poster with your children to identify the birds in the book that migrate and make it as in-depth as you'd like, when do they arrive? Early Spring, Mid-Spring, etc.


What are the differences between male and female birds?

- Behavioral differences

- Visual differences

- Song differences


You could pair the Burgess Bird Book with a bird coloring book or a "how to draw birds" book and have your child write 1-2 sentences about the bird as you read about them in the book. You could have them gather items that each type of nest is made of or chart the type of nest each bird makes, really it can be endless.


And all of this is just using the Burgess book, you could make nature studies by hanging bird feeders and learn about the birds that feed in your yard.


The key to this is picking books that make this process easy, books the kids will want to listen to or read themselves and the content makes it easy to pull further studies from. The Dr. Suess books that Living Learning might be using (I'm not sure b/c I haven't looked) might be from The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library. I have "Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body" by Tish Rabe, I think this is great for the younger set and my dd7 would love to read on her own. It's engaging, fun and filled with learning. Check them out from the library to see for yourself.


:) I hope this helps,


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Life Science With Real Books by Susan Marra is inexpensive, has a book list, and has a plan.

Iow, it tells you what questions to ask, suggests activities, and builds a science vocabulary.

It suggests more than you will want to do-you decide how in-depth to go.

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Oh Ladies...thank you so much for taking the time to truly read my long post. I am going to think more on your suggestions as I read up on more of CM principals. You have given me great courage to continue on the path we are currently on.


Jessica...Your suggestions are fabulous and I like that approach very much. I just read your most recent post on your blog and it seems that you have addressed this. I am looking forward to reading more about the books you are waiting on.


Sophia...the book you suggested looks like a good one! I am going to do some further investigating.


Christine...we are involved in several activities organized by are Park system too. :) The boys enjoy them and I get to sit back and relax while someone else is teaching. I am going to look at the book you suggested in just a minute...Thanks!


Aletheia Academy...we are currently using her Language Lessons Series and enjoy them. I hadn't given her science items a thought yet! Thanks for the suggestion.


Chris...I appreciate, especially, your last sentence about leaving the nitty gritty stuff til after 5th grade. That is the way I am heading, I guess I just needed "permission". Guess I want to make sure I am not "short changing" my kids. Thanks for giving me permission!


Dawne...as always, I appreciate your insight. I like the idea of monthly experiments. My boys LOVE hands on learning. We already have a ton of experiments sitting, lonely on the shelf waiting to be done. I think Dad would jump on the wagon and help out with that!


If there are any other suggestions from anyone else, I would love your insights too! So much wisdom on these boards! :D

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Well, I vote for choice number one. I have a big list of animal related books, if you want one. Janice Van Cleave has out a ton of experiment/activity books that you can probably get from your library to add more hands-on work. When we're studying animals, we like to obtain real critters to raise and care for......



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