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Reading List that ties in with Mystery Science

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Hi Everyone,

I am knee deep in planning mode right now, so please excuse my repeat questions.   Tonight, I am trying to decide between BFSU or Mystery Science for my first grader.

Mystery science looks much easier to use, but I guess I still feel like it doesn't look at in depth as BFSU.  I am wondering if I could supplement it with a reading list.  Has anyone put together such a list in the past? 


Thanks again for all of the help today!


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I'm pretty sure that the last couple of mysteries we've done had a supplemental list of books, activities, and videos. There may not be many books on the list, though. 

Mystery Science is lots easier to use, and, no, it's not as in depth as BFSU. I think Mystery Science is plenty for a first grader, if you choose to do formal science at all. My kids really enjoy it, and there are a ton of little short mysteries in addition to the longer main ones. They like to listen to those too. 

We're mostly interest-led and read-alouds for science, but if we need a direction I like to use the flowchart in BFSU to decide what to do next. I also use BFSU kind of as a study guide for me, and then incorporate it into discussions. I wouldn't purchase it just for that, though (I already had it). And I'm pretty sure the flowchart is available free online, if you like the idea of moving between different strands of science in a sequence.

I decide on a main topic, get all the books the library has on it, and if Mystery Science has lessons that match, we do them too. So it's books, discussions, Mystery Science, any small experiments I happen to plan (and I don't always). Very informal. 


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Mystery Science is definitely easier to implement - which is why we used it consistently compared to the year I (half--heartedly) tried BFSU.

Another difference between the two to consider is that Mystery Science always presents their lessons in the context of a story/problem which I think is an excellent teaching technique that aids in retention.  I'm sure you could also do that with BFSU, but it would require a lot more of your brainpower. 🙂

I was never prepared enough to have a pile of books on hand ahead of time, so I can't really help you there.

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For a first grader, especially with older children in the mix who also require teaching time, I would go with Mystery Science, hands down.  In fact, that's exactly what I'm doing this year😂

In terms of beefing it up with a reading list, my plan is to just pull out the applicable book from the Let's Read and Find Out series for each mystery as we go.   I feel like LRAFO books are perfect for that age, and I like the continuity of having a series like that as a "spine" to guide me.  This makes it less likely for me to fall down the rabbit hole of researching the PERFECT book for each and every mystery- although sometimes that can be fun, too 🙂 

I dabbled in MS with my K and 3rd grader last year, and I would recommend going by age and working up from there.   You can play around with the age ranges a bit, but some of the lessons designed for the highest grades definitely went over my Ker's head.  She still probably learned some stuff, but she got a lot more out of the ones that were targeted a little more toward her level.   It probably wouldn't have made as much of a difference for an older kid, although then I would probably receive complaints about the very young levels being  "too easy" 🙂 

Edited by maptime
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Hi Everyone,

Well, here are my plans for the year.

 I decided to do a biology year in keeping with TWTM way of teaching science.  I used that method with my older kids and it seemed to work well.  I also decided that *just* using the Mystery Science lessons meant that we would be missing out on some pretty basic biology information that I wanted my son to learn, so I incorporated a few elements of REAL Science Odyssey.   (That is what I used with my older children.).   So when you see the acronym FMN in my plans it stands for the "For My Notebook" information pages that come with RSO.   We are going to get a hardcover sketch book and use that to create a little keep sake book.  I print out the FMNs and have him use a glue stick to paste them down.   For each book we read, I will have him draw a picture in the sketch book about something interested he learned, and then I will have him give me a sentence or two orally and I will caption it for him.  (he's very much into art so he will like that).

My Lesson plans are divided into a few parts
I.  Unit 1- All living things are made of cells

II.  Unit 2-The Human Body

III. Unit 3 - The Animal Kingdom (I'm *just* covering vertebrates, I also have some 'natural selection' and trait variation topics throw in)

IV. Unit 4- The Plant Kingdom

I wish I could have touched on the food chain a bit.  But we ran out of time.   

Real Science Odyssey & Mystery Science Mash UP.pdf

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