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Has anyone used the Environments Thematic Curriculum from Arbor School?

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Looking on the Arbor School site I saw that they have released a thematic curriculum titled Environments. Reading their philosophy I'm interested to look into it more--- here is the TOC (I don't see any samples yet but I sent a request)-- 

Chapters and Contents Unit 1: Campus Niche
  • What is a niche (or microclime)?
  • How can you tell one niche from another?
  • How do different types of plants reproduce?
  • What special features allow particular animals or plants to thrive in different spaces?
  • What are the challenges of mapping a 3-dimensional world on a 2-dimensional page?
Unit 2: Oregon Habitats
  • What is a habitat?
  • What unique features distinguish each habitat?
  • What are adaptations?
  • How do creatures adapt to their particular habitats?
  • How do plants adapt to their particular habitats?
  • What are the relationships between and importance of producers, consumers, and decomposers?
  • What is a food chain?
  • What is the importance of plants?
Unit 3: Human Body
  • How do different people think differently?
  • How do our bodies process nutrients, air, blood, information, and waste?
  • How does each system in the body interact with others?
  • What are the mechanisms that allow one particular body system to function?
  • How does the human eye work?
  • How is the human body similar to and different from creatures you have studied before?
  • How does the brain use different parts for different tasks?
Unit 4: World Biomes
  • What is a biome?
  • How does a biome differ from a niche and a habitat?
  • What creates bands of biomes around the globe?
  • How do wind currents shape global climate?
  • How does the axis of the earth affect global climate
  • How and why do animal and plant adaptations develop over time?
  • How are humans impacting the environment?
  • How are people and cultures shaped by the biomes in which they reside?
  • What is a map projection?
  • What are the challenges of mapping a three-dimensional globe in two dimensions?
Unit 5: Oceanography
  • What guides the classification of ocean invertebrates into phyla and class?
  • How can we piece together the parts of a totally new system into a comprehensible whole?
  • What is the generating power behind tides?
  • How do tidal zones reflect niches?
  • What systems have ocean invertebrates developed for digestion, defense, reproduction, and respiration?


This book is listed for 4th-5th grade. If you look under the curriculum tab you can see the topics covered in the other grades. Since they started publishing with the 4th-5th grade level and labeled it year 0 I'm not sure if they plan to do the previous years. There are a few topics that seems specific to Oregon but mostly it appears it would work for anywhere, considering how well we like their Math books I'm anxious to see samples. The topics of study for the other grades are:


Kindergarten- Signs and Seasons- 

  • Plant Cycles: seeds, roots, & shoots; flowers & fruits; decomposition; seasonal change; Earth & Sun
  • Water Cycle & States of Water
  • Critter Cycles: animals preparing for winter;
    frogs, butterflies, & chickens; variation by taxonomy
  • Human Cycles: houses around the world, human body systems, Winter Solstice
  • Independent Projects

1st Grade- Journeys

  • Sink & Float: boats and the physics of sailing, imaginary journeys, the Mayflower
  • Physical Geography: maps & navigation
  • Migrating Animals: whales, salmon, caribou, Arctic terns
  • Greek Mythology: the journey of Odysseus, The Golden Apple
  • History of Arbor School
  • Independent Projects
2nd Grade- Change and Continuity
  • Geology: geologic history, the rock cycle, earth science, mapping 
  • Electricity & Magnetism
  • Weather: clouds, the water cycle, wind, temperature, storms
  • Time: clocks & calendars

3rd Grade- Communities

  • North America: physical geography & paleontology 
  • First Americans: the Kalapuya & other North American tribes
  • Colonization & Human Migrations
  • Westward Expansion: Lewis & Clark, the Oregon Trail 
  • Early Settlement of Portland
  • Portland Bridges

4th Grade Environments- See above


5th Grade Inventions and Discoveries

The Ancient Western World: Sumer, Egypt, Greece, Rome

Early Developments in Writing

  • Counting Systems
  • Building Principles
  • Astronomy
  • Mythology and Epic Poetry
  • Ancient Architecture
  • Density, Mass, and Volume

The Middle Ages and Europe

  • The Rise of Islam
  • The Three Estates of Medieval Society
  • Arthurian Legends and Historical Fiction
  • Tessellations and Stained Glass

6th Grade- South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and China; Pattern & Diversity

  • The rock cycle
  • Plate tectonics
  • Paleontology and the fossil record
  • Evolution
  • Genetics
  • Simple Machines and Fundamental Mechanical Principles

The Renaissance in Europe

  • Brahe, Copernicus, Galileo
  • The Mathematics of Science
  • The Printing Press; Portraiture
  • Optics; Mapping; Biography
7th Grade- Americas; Energy and Motion
  • Newtonian Mechanics
  • Electricity
  • Waves (light, sound, water)
  • Renewable energy

8th Grade- Eurasia; Systems & Structures


  • Invertebrate biology
  • States of matter
  • Atomic structures & molecular bonds
  • Chemical interactions
  • Human body systems
  • Engineering & strength of materials


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