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How do you do science without a curriculum?


vaquitita
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I'm just not happy with any science curriculums I've used or looked at. All I really want to do is read library books, watch science videos and do some occasional science kits. But I feel like I need some direction/organization, and I'm not sure how to do that. And then I wonder do we need to write/document what we do? Or can we just skip that and have fun?

 

We used RSO last year and it was too much worksheets and blah blah blah.

This year I have McHenry elements and we've done the first chapter. The kids were mildly interested for a couple activities, but their overall reaction was Yawn! They went into it very excited, they love science, but came out if it disappointed. And when I made them do a notebook page at the end that sealed it as a flop, in their eyes. :) My 9yo doesn't want to write anything. My 11yo made notes/pictures on a couple things that interested him as we went along (chemical formulas) and maybe that would have been good enough. I feel like it would have been.

 

Do I just look at topics covered in chemistry and have the kids grab library books on those? Or maybe if I just drop the notebooking? I know part of their disappointment was the lack of a science experiment/demo. I do have those planned to, but not every time.

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I'm just not happy with any science curriculums I've used or looked at. All I really want to do is read library books, watch science videos and do some occasional science kits. But I feel like I need some direction/organization, and I'm not sure how to do that. And then I wonder do we need to write/document what we do? Or can we just skip that and have fun?

 

We used RSO last year and it was too much worksheets and blah blah blah.

This year I have McHenry elements and we've done the first chapter. The kids were mildly interested for a couple activities, but their overall reaction was Yawn! They went into it very excited, they love science, but came out if it disappointed. And when I made them do a notebook page at the end that sealed it as a flop, in their eyes. :) My 9yo doesn't want to write anything. My 11yo made notes/pictures on a couple things that interested him as we went along (chemical formulas) and maybe that would have been good enough. I feel like it would have been.

 

Do I just look at topics covered in chemistry and have the kids grab library books on those? Or maybe if I just drop the notebooking? I know part of their disappointment was the lack of a science experiment/demo. I do have those planned to, but not every time.

 

You've answered your question. :-)

 

1. Read library books, watch science videos, do some occasional kits.

2. Look at the topics covered in chemistry and have the kids grab library books.

3. Drop the notebooking.

4. Do more experiments.

 

You're welcome. :hat:

Edited by Ellie
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I use BFSU as my framework. I did use the first volume more as a curriculum with lessons, but it really fits better as a framework. The book teaches the parent/teacher how to break down concepts, what rough order to teach them in, and gives book lists.

 

So we do the books, documentaries, and kits setup that you talk about, with me using BFSU as a reference book. And, no, I don't bother documenting.

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I'd just have them pick books on things that interest them. Maybe get one of the basic experiment books and do some projects that go along with whatever they're interested in. For documentation, take photos of projects, or have them create posters or presentations or whatever they want, or tell them to write something once every couple of weeks. Even if they don't like to notebook, sometimes they just have to write something.

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I don't really use a curriculum, but I also like to have a bit of a framework.  It just helps me organize my thinking, and also I don't end up doing the same things over and over again.

 

So - I generally stop and think before each school year on some thematic and other aspects that I might like to cover.  There are a lot of elements that go into that which are a somewhat intangible.  I think about what is appropriate or very appealing for the ages I am teaching, and whether we can cover some things together.  In general, for elementary school, I'm inclined to teach in fairly concrete topics.  So - I probably would not teach a unit on "chemistry" though we would likely talk about chemistry topics within other topics - say, within the context of geology, or looking at lakes and rivers, or something else - not necessarily calling it chemistry.  This is related to my philosophy of teaching science to kids which I feel should begin with ideas and experiences located in their natural context.

 

But also when planning I think about what my kids know or do not know, and what might be timely (I did a human body theme with my dd when she was 10 as it seemed a good time to address that topic.)  I'll consider books I have, or documentaries, or local opportunities that would fit at the moment.  One year we did astronomy because we were visiting an area that was known for it's good night time visibility for our vacation.

 

I also don't commit to everything being thematic in that way.  I might pick one or two major themes for the year, but I'll also intersperse things that are just more seasonally timely, or that present themselves, or that we would just like to do.  We always try and visit several regular places for nature study every year, and I think that year to year familiarity with a particular place and ecosystem is important. (And it gives a great option for days or weeks when you are too busy to plan much.)

 

Once I've sat and thought about this, I typically see if I can put together something of a resource list, and a general outline for trips we'd like to make, and some weekly reading, and so on.  I don't tend to assign books in a very rigid way, I might say I expect dd to read a science text say, twice a week, and we'll go through the ones I've picked out in what seems like the best order.  (Last year she read all of Fabre's insect book that way, parts of a general biology text, and parts of The Amateur Naturalist.  Then we ran out of time - if we hadn't I'd just have added another text.)

 

It's all a little ad hoc, but it seems to work for elementary science for us.

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I don't always use science curriculum, either.  Here's what we're doing this year:

 

8 year-old - I ask her what she wants to study and she tells me topics (like we just covered human anatomy).  I go to the library and pick out a ton of books about the topic.  We read the books together.  We also have Discovering Critical Thinking through Science Book 2 and we are pulling experiments from the book -maybe once a week?  They're mostly physics experiments.

 

11 year-old - this kid actually is using a curriculum for science this time - Apologia Anatomy and Physiology.  She also does experiments from the Discovering Critical Thinking book with the 8 year-old.

 

9th grader and 8th grader - I don't know if I will ever do this again....it actually ended up being more work than just doing a high school curriculum...but they are doing a homemade Integrated Science with living books.  I have books covering Astronomy, Earth Science, Weather, Biology and Chemistry.  They are reading through their books and doing written narrations based on their reading.  They are also doing labs that we put together on different topics that go with their reading.  It's actually working great for them - I'm able to cover topics that I know they have gaps in...but it's a lot of work for me (well, and anxiety, because now it's "high school" and there's the fear of "is it enough?" etc).  I think the problem is I planned too much.  I think they are reading like 3 textbooks worth of information...  Also, we have a bombed a couple of labs, because I'm putting them together myself.    

Edited by Evanthe
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I tried the McHenry Elements with my dd around that age, and we just didn't find it very engaging.  

 

Personally, I would put your 11 and 9 yos together into a good solid science with some actual meat, maybe the BJU 6 with videos, and do your read aloud + kits approach with the youngers.  I'm doing a read aloud + kits approach with my ds this year, and we're organizing it around the topics for the homeschool zoo days classes.  

 

Have you looked at GuestHollow to see if any of her things fit?

Edited by OhElizabeth
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I didn't use a science curriculum until my kids were high school age (and then it was outsourced because they were beyond what I could teach them.) We chose a spine for the year (either a list of topics or a section of the Usborne Science Encyclopedia.) We read books, watched videos and documentaries, went on field trips, etc. We did very little writing because I wanted to encourage a love of the subject and my older kids were very writing averse. We saved writing for actual writing instruction. One thing that helped keep us on track was that another mom and I formed a science club for doing hands-on experiments. We agreed upon a list of topics and a schedule - meeting twice a month. Then each of the moms would rotate hosting and leading the activities. We would close the meeting talking about our experiments/activities, asking leading questions to help the kids think more deeply about the topic and gain some insight. We also subscribed to magazines (a common gift from the grandparents). Ranger Rick, Cricket, etc for when they were small. Science news by late elementary, middle school. Both of my older kids took science classes for science majors at the local college by they time they were juniors in high school and went on to major in the sciences in college.

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lol, Vaq :-)

 

(and LOL)

 

Do those things you said. Read/ watch/ do....and go outside. Write it all down, briefly. And at the end of the year I bet you will see cohesiveness in what you have done.

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I can tell you what not  to do.

 

Do not spend hours upon hours upon hours (well into the wee hours of the night, for months at a time), writing your own science curriculum.

 

Just don't.  Because by the time you get it done, and begin to implement it...you'll hate whatever topic it is.  

 

 

So...I started out with where you're at...just wanting to read some good living books, watch quality docs, or whatever...and complete lapbook pieces to document and seal what we've learned.  

 

But because I need accountability for myself, I had to write it all out.  I started with identifying which topics I wanted to cover....and then fleshing them out a bit.  I created an outline that delineated in which order we'd cover stuff, which days, etc.  Then I began looking for good info on the topics.  Like this year, we did Earth Science with an introduction to Chemistry and I had to do some research on many of the topics.  

 

Once I was satisfied with the CONTENT, I set out to find resources.  Websites, videos, books, activities, lapbook elements.  I made my own lapbook elements when necessary.  

 

I've done this two years in a row and am burned out from it.  But I probably will do it again for next year.  Because I just haven't found any science programs I thoroughly enjoy.  

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We use the core knowledge sequence to guide our science and history.  If you go to their website you can see the 'sequence at a glance' that lists everything that they recommend each eyar for K-8, and you can see what topics you haven't covered yet. We've liked it because it is a guide to subjects, but we choose how much detail to include and what methods to use based on the interests and abilities of the student.  Since we've used it all the way through (my older child has used it K-5 so far) we just see what it recommends each year, but you could also use it to see what gaps you might want to fill in the next few years.  For us, it's structure without being too confining, and it leaves time for us to pursue areas that we're interested in.  

 

 

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Just a general comment about planning things out in detail:

 

I think that it is really ideal if possible to take a shortcut with that, because it takes up so much time and energy.

 

The fact is that you have so much time in the year.  And there is not some master list of Things THat Must Be Done or Else.  So - if you know how much time you have to spend on a topic, you really just need to keep coming up with good material to plug into those times.

 

A simple example is that for history, I know we have two reading slots for our history spine per week, two for related materials to those chapters, and one for related map work.  I knew how far I wanted to get in the spine over the course of the year, so I simply divided out chapters per week, and came up with two.  No need to make a detailed plan for each day as one simply follows another.  I did have a look at my own resources for the other two days, but i also can easily go to the library as topics come up and collect some resources that we can use as we choose on those days.  I have map resources put aside that I can pull out as needed on a weekly basis.

 

Not only does this approach reduce the time spent on detail, it really made a difference in terms of not wasting time if we needed to make changes, and it made it easy to be flexible because there wasn't all this effort that would be wasted.

 

I've increasingly found myself using this approach for content subjects - because it isn't like there is any point at which you are "finished" with content.

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So...I started out with where you're at...just wanting to read some good living books, watch quality docs, or whatever...and complete lapbook pieces to document and seal what we've learned.  

 

 

 

But, you can do this without long-term planning!  Long-term planning stresses me out, too.  I'm not even doing long-term planning for high school.  We started in July with the entire school year planned out.  Within a few weeks, we had wandered off on a rabbit trail.  This happens to us EVERY year.   :glare:   I just refuse to do any more long-term planning.  It ends up being a waste of time.  We do so much better when we fly by the seat of our pants.

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But, you can do this without long-term planning!  Long-term planning stresses me out, too.  I'm not even doing long-term planning for high school.  We started in July with the entire school year planned out.  Within a few weeks, we had wandered off on a rabbit trail.  This happens to us EVERY year.   :glare:   I just refuse to do any more long-term planning.  It ends up being a waste of time.  We do so much better when we fly by the seat of our pants.

 

 

Believe me, I SOOOOO wish I could fly by the seat of my pants.  If I allow myself to go off on rabbit trails, nothing ever gets done.  I have to be disciplined and strict with my own schedule.  I guess I could blame my ADHD self, but yeah...I would make a terrible Unschooler.  

 

Believe it or not, having a tightly planned long-term schedule actually HELPS me to go off on rabbit trails because I have that framework to return to.  I do it with our regular academics, too.  I plan half a year at a time, but because I'm regulated in all of the academic areas, I have the flexibility to modify as needed without the whole thing falling apart around me.  

 

Still though...the long-term science planning had me beat last spring.  I started it in February and didn't really finish it until the end of April.  And it was a LOT of nights of getting up very early in the am (like...2 am) so I could have uninterrupted time.  

 

When it was done, my husband looked it over and was like, "Dang...you should market this and sell it...you could make a killing."  But no...much of it would need to be refined so that others would understand the short notes I left for myself here and there, lol.  Plus, a lot of it was resources I gathered from all over the place...and I'm sure copyright laws would apply.  

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Well, mine is in second grade, I don't have experience with jr. high science, but we just pick a topic she's interested in. This semester it's states of matter. So I spent a few afternoons online putting together the semester. First I scouted out appropriate books and ordered them (the library and I have an abusive relationship.) I find my books through teacher blogs mostly, and then use the Amazon "look inside" feature, as well as the recommendations at the bottom for similar books. I also pull down our Usborne science books and bookmark the relevant pages. I go to BrainPop and youtube and spend some time browsing the available videos for ones that are actually good, and bookmark them. Then I start compiling my list of activities, from teacher blogs, the books I've ordered, and pinterest. For states of matter, we have dozens of them, but they're all pretty small-scale and not requiring of any special equipment. I'll go to education.com or teachers pay teachers and pull up some worksheets or something. I often find really great notebooking stuff to go with our history/science units on TPT. I throw out what I don't need and print the rest. Then I see if there are any museums to go visit (our children's museum has an area to do with states of matter) or if I see any events through homeschool groups this year that would be fun to incorporate (none this time, but for astronomy there were several!)

Then I loosely order things. Which books, videos and experiments to do first, how the field trips will fit in. A big key is to order anything you need for the unit ahead of time, so when you're all in the mood for something or following a rabbit trail, you can strike while the iron is hot.

 

And then from there we wing it! I know everything on my list needs to get done in the semester and we do things when we feel in a science mood, or when I feel we haven't been getting to it enough lately. Since it's not on a set schedule, we always feel free to rabbit trail away....

I do history and science like this and they're the most fun subjects in our house. The whole family gets involved and she retains so much of the information.

 

Edited by Sk8ermaiden
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I use BFSU as my framework. I did use the first volume more as a curriculum with lessons, but it really fits better as a framework. The book teaches the parent/teacher how to break down concepts, what rough order to teach them in, and gives book lists.

 

So we do the books, documentaries, and kits setup that you talk about, with me using BFSU as a reference book. And, no, I don't bother documenting.

Exactly this.

I generally use bfsu to get a scope of what/how to teach, then I use other books like the tiner, mchenry, random encyclopedias and science textbooks I've acquired. We do quite a few documentaries as my kids retain well that way. I don't record anything but we do narrations from science readings once a week and random projects/drawing in journals as we feel like it. Right now my kids are working on posters about cells as we just finished the unit, for example.

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Haha some of you put way more effort into this than I want to. :D

 

I guess I want a framework because I think chemistry? Uh... mix stuff together and stuff changes and um...... (insert crickets chirping) LOL. OK eventually I also think of atoms, periodic table, and states of matter. But then I wonder if that's enough.

 

There are grade level lists out there of stuff to cover, but I'm trying to combine three kids.

 

That's also the reason I'm not asking them what they want to study, I would get three different answers. :)

 

I've considered using an usborne encyclopedia as the frame work, but I hate, hate, HATE reading those out loud. ;)

 

I'm glad to hear someone else had their kids not connect with McHenry elements. :)

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Well Trained Mind science sections can give you a framework for a science study without a curriculum. It gives you the guideline for what to study each year, suggestions for encyclopedias and books and experiments to use, and a description of what types of schedule and output to assign.

I will check this out, thank you. That might work.

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I use BFSU as my framework. I did use the first volume more as a curriculum with lessons, but it really fits better as a framework. The book teaches the parent/teacher how to break down concepts, what rough order to teach them in, and gives book lists.

 

So we do the books, documentaries, and kits setup that you talk about, with me using BFSU as a reference book. And, no, I don't bother documenting.

Hmm this sounds interesting. I wonder if my library carried bfsu. I'd like to check out

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Hmm this sounds interesting. I wonder if my library carried bfsu. I'd like to check out

If they don't have it, you could also get the PDFs. I use the PDFs exclusively, but a lot of people buy the $5 PDF to see if they like it, then make a choice on hard copy. http://outskirtspress.com/webpage?isbn=9781478738695

Edited by Syllieann
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There are grade level lists out there of stuff to cover, but I'm trying to combine three kids.

 

That's also the reason I'm not asking them what they want to study, I would get three different answers. :)

 

I've considered using an usborne encyclopedia as the frame work, but I hate, hate, HATE reading those out loud. ;)

 

 

I don't believe that science has a grade level. :-)

 

I also don't believe it's always a good thing to ask the children what they want to study. Because (1) as you say, multiple children equals multiple answers, and (2) if they haven't studied "science" they might have no clue as to what they want.

 

ITA with you about the Usborne encyclopedia. It's the kind of book that you innocently leave lying around so that someone might accidentally pick up and read. :-) There are other Osborne books, though, that have way cool hands-on activities.

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Haha some of you put way more effort into this than I want to. :D

 

I guess I want a framework because I think chemistry? Uh... mix stuff together and stuff changes and um...... (insert crickets chirping) LOL. OK eventually I also think of atoms, periodic table, and states of matter. But then I wonder if that's enough.

 

There are grade level lists out there of stuff to cover, but I'm trying to combine three kids.

 

That's also the reason I'm not asking them what they want to study, I would get three different answers. :)

 

I've considered using an usborne encyclopedia as the frame work, but I hate, hate, HATE reading those out loud. ;)

 

I'm glad to hear someone else had their kids not connect with McHenry elements. :)

 

I'd use grade level expectations for your oldest child. And modify as needed for the capabilities of the younger kids.  (since you want to teach them all together)

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I've mostly only done science with my youngest (from ages 6 - 8), though I did do a month with my 11 year old when we thought we were going to homeschool.  I was trying to keep up with the public school requirements while integrating with history as much as possible and doing lots of experiments, which basically wore me out..but it was great while it lasted (we only did a month...long story).  I combined the first part of Bite Sized Physics (http://www.sciencejim.com/books.html) with some experiments in the free resource Experimenting With the Vikings (http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00001940/experiment-with-the-vikings).

 

OK, so both of those were curriculum based...but before that, with my youngest, none of it was.  Here's what I did.

 

Dinosaurs and Weather

Really, I just winged it...we read books, I looked up activities on pinterest that we did, and we watched videos and went to museums.

 

Caves:

This was the best unit I've done.  First, we visited a real cave.  Then we used Donald Silvers One Small Square Cave book and did the activities suggested in the margins some extra activites I found on pinterest and videos and stuff.  I really liked using the book for a spine.  We read one section (about daily) and then did activities related to it.  That's the way I suggest doing units.  We've done that for history too.  Find a book with nicely organized sections and read one section and then do activities related to it.  Works so simply. 

 

(The reason we've only done those three topics is that we started a co-op with a great science teacher, so for the second year we did that). 

Edited by goldenecho
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Lots of good ideas above!

 

Our school philosophy doesn't involve teaching science as a course until the pertinent math has been mastered, which is usually calc. We are essentially a Robinson family at heart by much more teacher intensive and eclectic in our materials selection ;)

 

Basically we do science with the kids a lot, but not as a partitioned subject. So it's good and documentaries (we keep LOTS of good science books around and my kids hunt out all the usborne, DK, and science periodicals we strategically move around the shelves. Our main program, Trail Guide to Learning, integrates a fair bit of science into the discussions of books and people and that has sparked great conversations. Even our Battle books and normal reading selections tend to create a fair bit of investigation. A little Magic Schoolbus never hurt anything either.

 

And I almost forgot the most basic part - go outside! Observation of the natural world is HUGE for curiosity and understanding, both.

 

Somehow my kids learned about animal kingdoms, the water cycle, solar system, and even natural selection without having worksheets and titled as such under a science half hour. It's really amazing how much comes about through a holistic approach to humanities and strong math skills - they're meeting the basic grade standards for heir ages easily.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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We are really loving Mystery Science. I think they are still offering a year subscription free so it's worth checking out. 

 

There are units organized around topics. Each unit has about 4-5 lessons. Each lesson has a video. The videos are really well done and interactive. They will pose a "mystery" and then the video will pause as the kids are encouraged to think about possible answers. Then the video will continue and explore the topic. There is a short activity to do with each lesson. We've done one on plants so far and it's been great. The activities were fun and meaningful for the most part. The mystery was usually something that my 2nd grader truly didn't know and my older two did. But the videos always had something new for each of us. 

 

Each unit has a suggested grade range. So far, I'd say they are geared younger. I'm using them for my 2nd and 5th grader but the 8th grader often chooses to watch because they are interesting. 

 

It gives me a little structure/framework but keeps things fairly loose. The units are short enough that I'm letting each of them pick the topics they want to do and they know that even if they don't want to do that they can pick the next one. We got a bunch of library books out also about plants, are going on a field trip to the Botanic Gardens tomorrow and did a few extra experiments/activities. But all of that was interest led. 

 

Anyway, it's working great for us so far and with the free trial has been totally worth it. 

 

 

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This had me thinking we do a lot more science than I realized. Books, going outside, check. Documentaries too tho we could do more there. Just adding science kits to that other stuff might be all I need.

 

But then I think back to last year... one of the best parts was when we studied the solar system. I ditched the RSO plans. Read a book on solar system to them and then for the next month gave then each a book on each planet, in order, and we created a (mostly) scale solar system on our hallway wall one planet at a time as they read about them. We watched a few documentaries in there too. It was great. Now I made up my own thing, but I don't know if I would have thought to do it if RSO earth and space hadn't scheduled solar systems next. :D

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One thing I've done that has worked pretty well is doing something like one science "project" a year, along with regular reading, time in nature, and such.  I am so not interested in "experiments" or kits, so I really don't tend to go into that stuff, (though lately my eldest is into reading books of experiments and such and has roped me into helping her with a few.)

 

But, for example, we might collect some data over a period of time, analyze it in some way, and write a short report.  This is for upper elementary age.  The idea is not just to be hands on with something we are learning about, but to practice collecting and measuring carefully, and the idea that you can then look at the collected information and draw conclusions.  So - maybe keep track of moths we see, or types of trees in a given area, or collect rainfall amounts for a period.  Then maybe make a graph, or something similar. 

 

It's straightforward and not sophisticated, but it involves working carefully and thinking about things.  And we usually do it in the summer when we aren't doing other school.  I think it's more useful than a lot of the kits and such that are often used.

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I've recently tried your suggested method with my two middle schoolers with great success. We decided to wing chemistry this year. I've been using "living" books to engage them on the topic and have been trying to emphasize certain facts through the process. I started with "Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat" (a history of pellagra) to get them engaged on the topic. Next, they read Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacs. We watched some youtube videos to show them the experiments described in Uncle Tungsten and now I'm reading aloud Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry by Bernard Jaffe. We mixed sulphuric acid (special drain cleaner) and sugar together for a great demonstration.

 

My boy went from thinking that chemistry was boring to loving it. He has set himself up the humblest lab you can imagine and has been lighting every flammable substance he can find and mixing them together with abandon and then lighting them :o  (obviously we're watching this carefully)! He says things almost daily like, "imagine if I found another element" or "maybe I could discover a new antibiotic." It's so nice to see his excitement. His sister isn't quite so excited but she's retaining what I've been teaching and that's headway for her. She normally takes things in one ear and out the other when it comes to science material.

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Now I just need some time to sit down and figure what it is I want to cover and look thru what I have to decide what I want to use. There are parts of mchenry that seem totally engaging and others that seem like they'll flop. Maybe I just need to find library books or videos to cover the material in some of the chapters. I have the wonder book of chemistry by Fabre, I read the first couple chapters and I think my kids will love it. I need to look thru my rs4k books again. I have both k4 and 5-8 chemistry textbooks. My kids really enjoyed the k4 geology and astronomy books last year.

 

I just need to figure out how to organize this mish mash of materials I have, or at least what order to do them in.

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I bet you could do documentary based science unit studies too.  All my kids love the "How We Got to Now" videos (if you have netflix they're on there).  They follow a certain topic  and follow how advances in that topic changed civilization.  Their topics seem really simple:  Light, Cold, Clean, etc.  But for instance, "cold" follows the development and uses of refrigeration.  Clean shows how we got to our modern sanitation system.   Light...well, that one is obvious. It doesn't sound half as interesting as it is.  Like for light they go over early lighting implements, whale oil, the development of electricty, the portable bright light used in photography (which initially was created by a small explosion), to fiber optic cables and such today that use light.  I could see watching easch, or sections of it, and then finding books and experiments to learn more about every part of it. 

 

 

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I bet you could do documentary based science unit studies too. All my kids love the "How We Got to Now" videos (if you have netflix they're on there). They follow a certain topic and follow how advances in that topic changed civilization. Their topics seem really simple: Light, Cold, Clean, etc. But for instance, "cold" follows the development and uses of refrigeration. Clean shows how we got to our modern sanitation system. Light...well, that one is obvious. It doesn't sound half as interesting as it is. Like for light they go over early lighting implements, whale oil, the development of electricty, the portable bright light used in photography (which initially was created by a small explosion), to fiber optic cables and such today that use light. I could see watching easch, or sections of it, and then finding books and experiments to learn more about every part of it.

That sounds interesting. I'll check it out. Thanks!

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Such good ideas.  I loosely use BFSU and we go a few months rocking science.  Then it falls by the wayside for a while.  I want to do better because my kids love science.  My question is how do you guys find good documentaries / videos (for science or any subject)?  I feel like we go through a bunch of duds which kills the love for my kids.  

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I got a copy of TWTM from the library... and it's actually pretty helpful. I'm not going to use the suggested books, but I like that it has a very short clear list of what topics to cover for chemistry. Valance... nope, not on the list. :) But atoms, molecules, electrons, protons, neutrons, nucleus, periodic table are all listed (gleaning from both the 1-4&5-8 lists).

 

Does the science info vary much between editions? I think I'm looking at the 3rd edition.

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My question is how do you guys find good documentaries / videos (for science or any subject)?  I feel like we go through a bunch of duds which kills the love for my kids.  

 

I like to ask on these boards for "favorite documentaries for  _______" -- or -- "need ideas: educational videos for ____ that your family really loves". :)

 

Start a new thread for each subject for which you want documentaries, and explain that you want engaging, entertaining, interesting ones, and ones that have been a hit with other families.

 

Also, some children really love documentaries and educational videos and enjoy most anything. Other children may not find documentaries very interesting -- and if that's the case, then you'll want to be very judicial in how many documentaries you include in your schooling, and shoot for those that are highly engaging. It's okay! Not all students learn best from documentaries, and if documentaries make your students tune out and get bored or dislike a topic, then clearly, documentaries are not the best learning tool for your family. :)

 

I personally love documentaries, but my kids are only so-so with them. However, they have always enjoyed non-fiction videos -- in pre-school days, they loved those videos like A Year on the Farm, There Goes a Bulldozer series, as well as the Eyewitness video series, the Let's See How They Grow series, and Kratts Creatures.

 

In the elementary grades, DSs really enjoyed entertainment-based educational shows such as: Magic School Bus, Bill Nye, Popular Mechanics for Kids, Mythbusters, Liberty's Kids, and shows like Cyber Chase (math topics, but in an animated adventure format). While we didn't know about it at the time that DSs were of the right age for it, Brain Pop would have probably worked well -- short bites of educational info packaged with humor.

 

Also, feature films set in the historical time period we were studying worked well as a sort of visualization of the cultural aspects we had been studying. We mostly used those films as "fun finales" to a unit of history. At most, I might throw in an occasional comment (maybe 2-3 comments total) to point out something as we watched. And I might ask afterwards if they saw anything they recognized from our readings about that time/culture, but just casually, along with, "What did you think of that movie?" or, "What did you like in that movie?"

 

We didn't tend to do straight documentaries until middle / high school grades, and it depended on the documentary. For example: while DH and I thoroughly enjoyed Ken Burns' Civil War documentary series, and while DSs wouldn't have minded one hour of it, the total ten hour series would have been more than they would have had patience for. However, in middle school, they liked the How Things Are Made series, and in high school, PBS: Nova episodes worked well, as did some of the American Experience episodes.

 

Mostly just mentioning our own experiences to see that things can change over time, and you can gently guide towards longer more formal documentaries for when your students are older, if documentaries aren't their cup of tea right now... :)

Edited by Lori D.
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I found this site googling how to teach math and science without a textbook http://www.edutopia.org/teaching-without-text the article has resources at the bottom such as  The Sourcebook for Teaching Science website.  I also found this site http://thesciencepenguin.com/2015/01/adios-textbook-9-ways-teach-science-without-book.html

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I have pretty much stayed away from science curriculum until my children were ready for high school science.  Library books, videos, and activities did a good job preparing them for future studies.  I organized the resources into unit studies for my kids to use, sometimes they did things independently.  

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I am also struggling with this topic. I started out with a textbook but found the quality lacking. I switched to the Usborne and Kingfisher and oh my, as dry as any text I have ever read. For 3rd grade Space and Earth Science, I wrote my own. We are doing some reading, making a solar system and have watched a few short YouTube videos. DS is not into writing (dysgraphia) so no notebooking or worksheets. I do quiz orally at the end of each lesson. At the beginning of each lesson I do a recap or have DS do the recap. As he comes up with questions we search them out either on the web or in one of our books. In the Elementary years, I have taken the approach in science that it is all about exposure. 

 

I am loosely following these guidelines for k-8 instruction. I am leaning toward a couple of topics per year vs. little bits of each per year.

 

https://www.georgiastandards.org/standards/Georgia%20Performance%20Standards/Physical_Science_Revised_06.pdf 

 

For grades 3-4, DS is enjoying the short little books such as The Shocking Truth About Electricity, The Solid Truth About Matter, The Gripping Truth About Forces and Motion, and The Attractive Truth About Magnetism. Each booklet covers a topic (Matter, Electricity, Forces & Motion, Magnets etc) in easy to read language for my 3rd-5th-grade student, the Lexile score is around 640. He can read this independently which builds his science confidence. I was able to borrow one from my library, then purchased all of them on Amazon. Each book is about 32 pages long, includes web safe sites to view, additional reading lists, and a glossary. All you have to do is preview the suggested reading selections & websites, maybe add a few more like Usborne or Kingfisher, a biography or two, and write a lesson plan. They are written with humor and pictures which my DS really likes, he is 8. I could see using the Max Axiom series also, I am just not sold on the graphic novel just yet but as an additional read, okay. 

 

I plan on using the above with some kits from snap circuits, and Engino, magnets and kitchen fun. Each book is 3 chapters. So 1 chapter every other week, plus additional reading, websites, vocabulary, and kits. I would expect us to do 1 book every 6 weeks.

I am in pursuit of a good chemistry program for elementary years. I was looking at Real Science Odyssey Chemistry.

 

I used TPT for the human body...

The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole: A Teaching Guide by Amy Mezni Human Body Unit and Interactive Notebook

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Human-Body-Unit-and-Interactive-Notebook-1906219

My DS still talks about the brain hat 1 year later.

Five Senses https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Five-Senses-129053

Loads of fun, especially for a group, but I did it with my DS8. I paced this with the Magic School Bus 5 senses book.

I also used Discovery Kids Human Body, text for older but the pictures were awesom.

Time for Kids Five Senses, some great pictures and graphics on how the senses work.

When we revisit in a couple of years I want the full-size interactive body printout. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Human-Body-Systems-Human-Body-Unit-Human-Body-Project-2170465

 

 

 

 

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I am also struggling with this topic. I started out with a textbook but found the quality lacking. I switched to the Usborne and Kingfisher and oh my, as dry as any text I have ever read. 

 

 

 

 

I have a shelf full of highly-recommended textbooks and every time we tried to work through them, we weren't impressed and we all became bored.  I think textbooks just glaze over too many topics.  

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Do you mind a Christian program? I know you asked for non-curricular ideas, but I just want to throw this out there, because it is so easy to implement that I don't have to come up with any of my own ideas or lesson plans. BJU Science Distance Learning DVDs. It's as easy as popping in the DVD and giving the kids the textbook and activity manual to complete as they watch the program. It's very in-depth, and has just the right amount of projects which don't require off the wall supplies, mostly just basic household supplies, and the projects don't really have to be done if you don't mind your kids just watching the demonstrations on the video. We love doing the projects, though, because we don't do a lot of hands on projects otherwise, and we have most of the supplies at home, or can get them very easily. My children have learned sooo much from this program and tell people that science is one of their favorite subjects.  

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Ugh, to teach science.. the leverage point for me was when I realized that *I*, the teacher, have to be interested in the ASPECT of the science that I want my kids to learn. When I realized that, I scanned for things I always wished to know but haven't learned, like parts and functions of the human body, it's bones, it's glands, it's lymph system, it's brain..  and started our journey from there. Being interested in it myself enabled me to connect with the books, dvds, you tubes, activities, textbooks and anything else that could support my *interesting* subject. Following my own interests have given me the necessary *pegs* on which then I was able to hang new knowledge and more importantly, it allowed me to foresee what pegs my students needed, plus have given me the insight into how to *install* these pegs in them.


 


So based on this line of thought I would say: first DEFINE the parts of science that YOU want to learn, those subjects you are eager to catch up on, from the whole sea of science. And from there it's a little easier to navigate. If you'd steer to this place, then from this place you will experience a spell of materials in your direction.. sometimes it will feel like stuff just falls into your lap. The right stuff. Your *alignment* will kind of create a vacuum that keeps filling. Your choice is supported by *nature* and what is needed is provided. (However, some of the time you/I/someone will still have to dig; to be actively seeking for the materials.. while also keeping strong intention on finding them..)


 


I discovered that when I go by my heart, first I figure out what aspect of science I want to know, I then evoke some interest in my boys, and science becomes a *private-self-directed* journey. Untangled and un-confused by the sea of available curricula. Sounds enjoyable.


 


 


 


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