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BFSU users, i have questions!


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I bought this a long time ago (in the 3rd trimester, bad idea!) and was instantly overwhelmed. Its been sitting on the shelf unused for over a year. I was planning on continuing an unscheduled/unschooly science year again. I enjoyed it and dd learned a lot. However, she informed me this week that she wants a real science curriculum with labs.

 

So I'm looking at several different options, one of which is BFSU since I already own it.

 

If you've used it successfully, how did you do it? When did you plan the lesson? How long did it take to be ready to teach it? How did you go about covering the lesson with your child? How slowly/quickly did you complete lessons? Did you skip anything? Did you find moving around in the threads logically to be easy or difficult?

 

I'm just trying to get a picture of how this looks in the schedule, in the day, how much of my time it would take, etc. Depending on answers, this may not be the year for it. The baby still demands a lot of my time.

 

Thanks in advance for any insight!

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We love BFSU-- I've been using it with my 6 year old, but my 3 year old joins in with every lesson and actually many of the recommended books seem to be on a pre-K level.

 

I didn't overthink the flow chart. I just picked a thread to begin with and then leave a Post-It where we left off. I just check the "Required Background" as we move forward, and sometimes we have to jump into a different thread for a lesson or two and then return. So there are two Post-Its in the book at a time. I give the science lesson only once a week, and then on other days the kids can play around with whatever we learned if they want (and they often do want, especially when balloons or magnets are involved) or read related texts. I glance at each lesson's materials required a week in advance to be sure I'll have them )-- usually I do, although I make good use of a certain well-known website with speedy shipping when I don't. ;) I have a baby, too, and am not too fond of running out to buy supplies. I also put the library books on hold and pick them up at some point, often well after we've moved on to a new lesson!

 

I honestly read the lesson (or lesson segment) I am going to give when I wake up at 5 a.m. to prepare for the day and chug my coffee. I make notes for myself on index cards to make sure I remember to use the right language and cover everything. This takes about 10 minutes.The lessons usually don't take as long as the book budgets for them, and a lot of the time is independent time as the kids are involved in doing experiments or just playing with the concept learned.

 

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I found it much easier if I thought of that first book in terms of unit studies. There are several places where the lessons naturally fit together. I tracked how I put it together if it would be helpful: http://everchangingchild.blogspot.com/2015/02/building-foundations-of-scientific_9.html

 

ETA: I would take an evening and read through all the lessons in one of my units, usually the week before starting that unit. This let me get a better sense of what was going to be covered and how one topic naturally led to the next. Then I would skim the topic again either the same day I was teaching it or the night before.

Edited by Jackie
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I think of it like unit studies too! We are in the second book now after doing number 1.

 

When I'm planning I choose a series (A1-10 for example), for each term block - we do 6 weeks at a time. I read over the topic, order what materials/books I need and then decide how to go about it - splitting work/reading/experiments over the weeks. I especially look at the outcomes, and I see if any books I have cover the info (the recommended books at the end of each chapter have mostly been excellent!)

I really don't work too hard with it, we do the activity, discuss and read a book. The bfsu book is great for prepping me to teach.

I try to keep it fun and interesting and let the science speak for itself. We've just done cells and my kids were enthralled with the microscope!

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I found it much easier if I thought of that first book in terms of unit studies. There are several places where the lessons naturally fit together. I tracked how I put it together if it would be helpful: http://everchangingchild.blogspot.com/2015/02/building-foundations-of-scientific_9.html

 

ETA: I would take an evening and read through all the lessons in one of my units, usually the week before starting that unit. This let me get a better sense of what was going to be covered and how one topic naturally led to the next. Then I would skim the topic again either the same day I was teaching it or the night before.

Yes! Your blog post is extremely helpful! Thank you for sharing it!

 

Everyone's comments are making this feel more doable! Thanks everyone!

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One thing that helped me was to physically break apart the book.  On the advice of another BFSU user, I took the book to the office supply store.  For a few bucks, they can cut off the binding and 3 hold punch it for you.  I took it home, stapled together the individual lessons and put it all into a 3 ring binder. Then I could pull out 1 or 2 or 3 individual lessons at a time.  It just made it all much more manageable for me.  

 

I would plan out roughly 3 lessons ahead of time.  This includes ordering materials and putting books on hold a the library.  Since I used money from a charter school, at the beginning of the school year I'd go through the entire book and order everything I needed at once, returning materials to the school as I finished with it.  My favorite story is about how I had ordered elodea, a fresh water plant, for a future BFSU experiment.  Along with everything else, I put it up on a shelf and forgot about it until a few months later when I needed to use it.  By that time, it had died and turned all brown, lol!  So apart from living organisms, it makes sense to buy as much as you can at once.  (You can amortize shipping this way too.)  

 

Good luck!  

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I found it much easier if I thought of that first book in terms of unit studies. There are several places where the lessons naturally fit together. I tracked how I put it together if it would be helpful: http://everchangingchild.blogspot.com/2015/02/building-foundations-of-scientific_9.html

 

Jackie, this is great!! Thank you for sharing!!

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One thing that helped me was to physically break apart the book. On the advice of another BFSU user, I took the book to the office supply store. For a few bucks, they can cut off the binding and 3 hold punch it for you. I took it home, stapled together the individual lessons and put it all into a 3 ring binder. Then I could pull out 1 or 2 or 3 individual lessons at a time. It just made it all much more manageable for me.

I don't like 3-ring binders; it's a strange personal aversion of mine. But I did take my book to an office store and had them cut off the binding and spiral bind the book for me. It was so much easier to read, to flip through, and to leave open to a page I might want for reference! I almost forgot that it didn't just come that way.

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When we did book 1 I put together a checklist of the lessons in the order I thought made sense and then we just started in. At the end of each lesson I would skim through the next to see if I needed to pick up anything or put books on hold.

 

The 2nd book felt like a step up in information delivery, so for that one I started more methodical planning.

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I own and always wanted to use BFSU, but could never make it happen. I recently discovered Mystery Science, which I hear is based on or patterned after BFSU. Have any of you experienced BFSU users taken a look at MS? Would you agree that they're similar?

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I own and always wanted to use BFSU, but could never make it happen. I recently discovered Mystery Science, which I hear is based on or patterned after BFSU. Have any of you experienced BFSU users taken a look at MS? Would you agree that they're similar?

 

Yes, I'd agree that they have a similar feel.  A lot of the mysteries cover BFSU topics too.  

 

I'm one who tried unsuccessfully to do BFSU for 3-quarters of the year before giving up and moving on to MS.  I think BFSU is probably still superior when implemented as intended, and I wish I could have made it work, but it just wasn't happening in our house.  I might try again with younger kid(s) in the future.  For now we are seriously loving MS, but it's not in our budget to dish out $130ish (or whatever the price ends up being once they're fully established) every year for the next 9 years (I'll have at least one in 2nd-5th until 2025!) with nothing to keep/reuse/resell.

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