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What does your science and history look like?


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I'm getting ready to have my first logic stage child next year and starting to think through how science and history will look.

For science I plan to use Berean Builders (I will also have a3rd grader and a kindergartener). My approach to science has been: read the text, do the experiment (if the day is going well, or youtube it, or just talk through the experiment), talk about it. Once every month or so they do an experiment page or answer the questions, but I've tried to keep the writing to a minimum to but destroy the enjoyment of science.  Do you have your child do tests in the middle grades? Papers? Of you use Berean Builders what do you do (any age!)?

History: I plan to use SOTW and also On the Shores of the Great Sea. Up to this point I read the SOTW text, we discussed, sometimes we did a lapbook page, we did a timeline piece when appropriate and maps.  Sometimes an activity. Next year I'll also have him outline the Kingfisher. What does your history look like? Tests? Papers?

I think I'm concerned I'll destroy love of science or history if I add too much. There is already a lot of other subjects that require a lot of writing. But, I don't want to short change ds either-if I should be requiring more I want to make sure I do it.

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Fifth grade this year.
Science: He requested chemistry.  We did Ellen McHenry's books: The Elements and Carbon Chemistry.  Our routine was like this:
Day 1. Read the text. Highlight main ideas and important information.
Day 2. Activity, organize highlights into outline.
Day 3. Activity, summarize orally
Day 4. Activity/game/video
Day 5. Summarize notes on paper
Day 6. Game or video
Day 7. Chapter comprehension check.
Day 8. Story of Science chapter (to go along with history)

History: we are using Human Odyssey (like SOTW).  I put together my own lesson plan of task cards for each week that included:
History reading
Week-long investigation/activity
Mapwork
Kingfisher outline
Related reading (math, women in history, or extra book)

Next year ds has asked for a less game & activity centered science, but still chemistry.  He wants more experiments.  We have a plan to use Story of Science still, but use Adventures With Atoms And Molecules and BFSU, and branching out to other sciences.
Next year for history we are figuring it out together.

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Science: We use BFSU, discussion style. We discuss the concepts and take rabbit trails to watch related YouTube videos or read related books and articles. I do not give any tests. I require a lot of narrative summaries and explanations from the kids during our discussions, in order to check comprehension. 

History:

One child (will be 6th) will finish SOTW4 next year. We schedule history 2/ week.  This child reads and outlines half the chapter one day, reads and write a written narration of the other half of the chapter on the other day. The written narration goes into a timeline.

The other (12) has been doing 4-6 week units on focused topics using the Lucent World History series, or similar books as spines. We also add in interesting articles, videos, etc.  This child either outlines and verbally narrates the reading for the day, or creates a pictorial narration and verbally narrates. They are expected to add one item to their timeline each week.  I asked for one paper this year, as an exercise in writing a formulating a thesis with supporting points. Otherwise no tests.

 We also read Hakim History of US concurrently, 3 chapters per week. For that, each child does a verbal narration..

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This was my first year with a logic age student.

For science we use Mr. Q. Each week my oldest read through one chapter of Advanced Earth Science on his own. The chapters are fairly short, but he could break it up any way he wanted. He was required to take notes on the chapter, which I then checked. At the end of the week, we would orally discuss some of the discussion questions. Each week I read a chapter of Mr. Q's Elementary Earth Science to all the younger kids. I had gone through and coordinated the chapters with the Advanced book, so oldest DS read his chapters in order, but I was not always reading the Elementary book chapters in order. We then all did one experiment each week - sometimes pulled from the advanced book, sometimes from the elementary.

My oldest is studying the same time period of history as the rest of the family, but using different resources. I am reading the Oxford University Press ancients series to everyone during lunch. Then, during his school time each week, oldest reads a couple pages from Kingfisher. His preferred method of output is Google drawings using images and clip art and speech bubbles to capture the main points of what he learned. He then also has to spend about an hour each week reading from supplemental sources on the topic of the week. I have gathered a large assortment of diverse books, primary sources and great courses lectures for him to choose from. Instead of taking notes on anything, he writes Anki flashcards about what he learns each week and adds them to his deck to be continually reviewed.

We are following the same plans next year with Mr. Q's physics books and medieval history sources.

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2 hours ago, wendyroo said:

His preferred method of output is Google drawings using images and clip art and speech bubbles to capture the main points of what he learned.

Oh-that is a really neat idea. Probably not for my oldest, but I'll have to pocket that idea for the next in line.

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53 minutes ago, LauraClark said:

Oh-that is a really neat idea. Probably not for my oldest, but I'll have to pocket that idea for the next in line.

I never would have thought my oldest would want to do something like that either. But once I got through to him that output of some kind was a requirement, he decided this was the lesser of all evils.

I think he mostly had fun with them. They are not exactly scholarly works or particularly artistic in nature - just Google image searches thrown together with thought bubble captions:

1286378865_HanDynasty.jpg.5f8c6f1d4d85c4065fcf6cf48f35da32.jpg

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Mine is in 4th. I will include logic stage plans in this post. We do not follow WTM to a T.

History. We do SOTW with the activity pages and Time Frame. I create a literature support list at the beginning of the year that looks like borderline child abuse, but is more a preselected list to choose from so I don't have to think about it later. I plan to follow the same plan for logic stage with CAP's new history program while implementing some of SWB's ideas from TWTM. I'm undecided as to how much or which ones right now. Oh, and the review cards at the back of the student pages go into ANKI after morning memorization.

Science. I do 2 things, 3 for logic stage. I require independent reading. CLE Nature Readers, Apologia (not intended for independent reading) Tiner. I read over breakfast. This has been Apologia but I will transition to Berean Builders soon. We will watch the experiments instead of do them and put applicable events in the aforementioned timeline. I view this as more of a history supplement than a science curriculum after the first year. My eldest will begin the 101 Series in 5th grade. He will likely do Apologia high school Astronomy and Health in 8th grade.

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Thank you all-clearly I'm nervous about these subjects because I keep bringing them up. I love picking my own curriculum for each subject and kind of making my own thing, but sometimes that has a weakness when I'm just not confident.  And I can't remember what I did in middle school. But it sounds like I'm on the right track -maybe add in some note taking in science (and I like the timeline idea!).

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18 hours ago, wendyroo said:

 

1286378865_HanDynasty.jpg.5f8c6f1d4d85c4065fcf6cf48f35da32.jpg

Okay, this is adorable!  I had to google: "Zhang Heng invented" to figure out that was a seismoscope, whatever that is.  (I thought it was a samovar.)  I for one would love to see your ds's powerpoint on how it works!    

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So, I'm using a program through the school because we plan to put him back in public school next year and I figured this will help him out.   I'm allowed to substitute and tweak things but I try to keep things as close as possible, so yes, there is a lot of writing (but since my son most likely has undiagnosed dyslexia, I scribe for him a lot, though he's writing more depending on the workload).

I am seeing the value of having him answer more questions in written form.  It's definitely improving his writing in general.   But still there are times where just discussing stuff seems to do well.

In science and history, I feel like some testing or review for understanding is really important now (even if it doesn't look like a "test"...for my son we are doing more tests that look like test to get him used to that, but if we weren't going back, other ways of assessing would still be fine).  I try to think, what are the essentials that I want him to walk away from this knowing?   And I find a way to test that, whether it's a project, a test, or written or oral questions.   If he turns out not to know, to help build his ability to find things in the text, I have him look it up (or if it's a more conceptual thing,  we talk it out, or I look for another way to explore it more like a youtube video or an infographic or demonstration). 

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Fwiw, my 5th graders have not been ready for the logic stage work described in WTM. They have all been firmly in the grammar stage up til about 7th , unless you count arguing and insisting on their own rightness ... that they are good at at an early age lol. But academically speaking, no. So take that into account with my answers.

In 5th we've done Human Odyssey with pretty good success. They read and we discuss and maybe they write a paragraph every chapter or so about something interesting they read. The paragraph almost never ends up being about something I myself would pick out as important to remember, just a cool fact or detail they remembered for whatever reason. No tests or other output.

For science I've used Berean Builders (and about every other science program under the sun, but that's a different thread ...) Read the lesson, do the activity, answer the review questions in a notebook, done. No tests or other output for that either.

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  • It has been a while since I had a logic stager, but I will have one again in a few years, so I will go through it again.  Both of mine did not do the exact same things all of the time, and sometimes we switched it up.  But for the most part for history, we stuck to SOTW logic stage suggestions.  So they outlined the Kingfisher encyclopedia, but not every chapter.  We would do it for awhile, focus on it together and do maybe one a month, sometimes, not even that much.  But we read each week.  They chose a topic to research further and they wrote a few paragraphs summary which was filed into their binder under the appropriate section (we used the WTM tabbed sections.) They each created their own timeline book as we went.  I used a blank timeline book from Miller pads and papers, around $10, so that they each had to spend time writing their own.  And they each had a Geography Coloring Book they had to read in and work in.  They worked in these books all the way through high school, and still never completed all that was there. But I have them read about and work in maps to do with what they were studying. They each had to do presentations, at least one a semester.  We usually did these at homeschool group presentation nights.  We did art around history as much as possible still in high school, choosing some really good projects that went with the studies. 
  • For science, we did different things.  I liked Memoria Press 6th grade science.  I liked the Tiner books as read alouds alongside whatever science text they used.  I did require writing in middle school, but since they did so much in history, not all that the books required.  My mdd really liked Apologia Notebooking journals when homeschool group did Apologia, so from those, we got into using Thinking Tree journals because we can use any Thinking Tree journal with any curriculum we are using, instead of having to do Apologia science. But co-ops always seem to use the Apologia.  The one year we did the  Berean Science, I really liked it.  It said grades k-6, but my dd used it in 7th grade because co-op was using it.  Because she was at the older level, I did have her do the older notebooking writing for every section, and she did every lab activity on her own at home, plus whatever they did at co-op. I would definitely use it again for upper elementary, early logic stage. 

 

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6 hours ago, 2_girls_mommy said:

They chose a topic to research further and they wrote a few paragraphs summary which was filed into their binder under the appropriate section (we used the WTM tabbed sections.)

I like this idea. I'm having him do his first research paper now, so we'll see how it goes.  And presentations are an interesting idea too-I bet he would like that.

@Momto6inIN: that is encouraging to know he might end up growing into the logic stage (minus the arguing-ha!)

@goldenecho: thank you-that's helpful to know what ps is doing. Dh is an elementary ps teacher, so I've felt pretty confident up to this point.

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We really do no output for either of those subject. 😬

They are fairly young, and I don’t want to destroy their natural interest in history or science. They both haaaate writing and worksheets. 
 

We basically just do living books through Sonlight and listen to SOTW on audio. Discussion. Leave loads of books around for independent reading. (Usborne, DK, etc.) It’s working well, I think, since they seem to know way more than I did at their ages going through public school. 

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51 minutes ago, Masers said:

We really do no output for either of those subject. 😬

They are fairly young, and I don’t want to destroy their natural interest in history or science. They both haaaate writing and worksheets. 
 

We basically just do living books through Sonlight and listen to SOTW on audio. Discussion. Leave loads of books around for independent reading. (Usborne, DK, etc.) It’s working well, I think, since they seem to know way more than I did at their ages going through public school. 

That is true-even at the elementary age they have way more history knowledge than I did. But, they don't know how to outline or take notes or write papers. I guess I really should make a list of skills I want them to know, because the knowledge portion is covered and I feel confident in that part.

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3 hours ago, LauraClark said:

That is true-even at the elementary age they have way more history knowledge than I did. But, they don't know how to outline or take notes or write papers. I guess I really should make a list of skills I want them to know, because the knowledge portion is covered and I feel confident in that part.

We did practice taking notes at some point. For us, it came up when we wanted to study something more complicated than usual -- it was the writing project DD8 picked at that point. 

It's a useful skill, although I think that if a kid can write fluently and can also summarize fluently, it's not hard to put together. 

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5 hours ago, LauraClark said:

That is true-even at the elementary age they have way more history knowledge than I did. But, they don't know how to outline or take notes or write papers. I guess I really should make a list of skills I want them to know, because the knowledge portion is covered and I feel confident in that part.

Right, that is true. My oldest is behind where I was at his age when it comes to writing in general, and certainly for note taking and research papers. He’s done very little of that, if any. Sigh. 
 

but he knows so much about history and science! 
 

tough. I guess when he gets more to the middle school grades I’ll focus on that. My main concern is that he’ll go to public school and be totally unprepared and be at a major disadvantage. Like, I think I can get it all done eventually if he is homeschooled for the long haul—we’re just moving a lot more slowly with writing/research/language arts, etc., but I think we’ll get up to speed eventually—but he would be sunk if, for whatever reason, he needed or wanted to attend traditional school in the next couple years. 
 

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21 hours ago, LauraClark said:

That is true-even at the elementary age they have way more history knowledge than I did. But, they don't know how to outline or take notes or write papers. I guess I really should make a list of skills I want them to know, because the knowledge portion is covered and I feel confident in that part.

Yes, I get that feeling too. Some people on WTM told me that Rod & Staff English book 5 taught outlining really well, so that's what we did (I got the book used). It did work very well. Writing and Rhetoric also teaches and practices outlining in book 3 IIRC, though not as well as R&S. But for us, for history, I just started doing a "one sentence in your timeline book" and/or a written narration -- a 1-paragraph summary of what you read, in a dedicated little history notebook. We only do history 2x/week and this was sufficient for us. However, we are now done with history and doing Logic instead, and my son told me that history wasn't his favorite this year. After all the work I put in assembling living books?? After all the fun resources I pulled together?? And yet science, which was new this year as I finally went with a textbook and workbook instead of assembling resources myself, he actually really enjoyed. What the heck? So I think we are going to try a set program or textbook for history next year. Alas. 

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27 minutes ago, Emily ZL said:

However, we are now done with history and doing Logic instead, and my son told me that history wasn't his favorite this year. After all the work I put in assembling living books?? After all the fun resources I pulled together?? And yet science, which was new this year as I finally went with a textbook and workbook instead of assembling resources myself, he actually really enjoyed. 

Sometimes when my kids say they didn't enjoy something, what they actually mean is that it wasn't easy and they had to actually think.

My oldest says he "enjoys" Dailygrams and SAT practice more than listening to and discussing living history books. Really? Because honestly Dailygrams and SAT practice problems are dry and boring. But when I dig deeper, I think he is really saying that he likes the easy predictability and lack of engagement that Dailygrams and SAT prep require. He can "phone it in" and still do fine. He makes a couple mistakes, I mark them, and as long as he gets them right on the second try he doesn't have to explain or discuss anything. 

Living books aren't nearly as neat and tidy as a textbook. They don't unambiguously tell you what to learn or think. You have to dig out and create meaning for yourself...and then your mom might come along and discuss it with you and challenge you to support your assertions. Yuck! 🙃

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2 hours ago, Emily ZL said:

Yes, I get that feeling too. Some people on WTM told me that Rod & Staff English book 5 taught outlining really well, so that's what we did (I got the book used). It did work very well. Writing and Rhetoric also teaches and practices outlining in book 3 IIRC, though not as well as R&S. But for us, for history, I just started doing a "one sentence in your timeline book" and/or a written narration -- a 1-paragraph summary of what you read, in a dedicated little history notebook. We only do history 2x/week and this was sufficient for us. However, we are now done with history and doing Logic instead, and my son told me that history wasn't his favorite this year. After all the work I put in assembling living books?? After all the fun resources I pulled together?? And yet science, which was new this year as I finally went with a textbook and workbook instead of assembling resources myself, he actually really enjoyed. What the heck? So I think we are going to try a set program or textbook for history next year. Alas. 

Kids...they are hard to please. Sorry, it's disappointing when we put so much effort into it. Some day, hopefully, they will appreciate it.

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5 minutes ago, LauraClark said:

Kids...they are hard to please. Sorry, it's disappointing when we put so much effort into it. Some day, hopefully, they will appreciate it.

I think there's some trial and error too! We are only finishing our 3rd year homeschooling. It's possible that he will dislike the textbook approach and suddenly become nostalgic for the other way. We will see!

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1 hour ago, wendyroo said:

Sometimes when my kids say they didn't enjoy something, what they actually mean is that it wasn't easy and they had to actually think.

My oldest says he "enjoys" Dailygrams and SAT practice more than listening to and discussing living history books. Really? Because honestly Dailygrams and SAT practice problems are dry and boring. But when I dig deeper, I think he is really saying that he likes the easy predictability and lack of engagement that Dailygrams and SAT prep require. He can "phone it in" and still do fine. He makes a couple mistakes, I mark them, and as long as he gets them right on the second try he doesn't have to explain or discuss anything. 

Living books aren't nearly as neat and tidy as a textbook. They don't unambiguously tell you what to learn or think. You have to dig out and create meaning for yourself...and then your mom might come along and discuss it with you and challenge you to support your assertions. Yuck! 🙃

Yes to all this. Sometimes, kids just want to dial it in, and I don't tend to let them 😉 .

I've been pleased that we've gotten back some test results this year that are helping convince DD8 that maybe my approach isn't torturing her about math for no reason 😉 . Because I'm sure that occasionally she also wishes we just did worksheets! 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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I have not seen any middle grades science curriculum that I found useful or inspiring. Memorizing vocabulary and definitions is not science. Filll-in-the-blank busywork isn't either.

Until the kids were able to use college textbooks for their highschool science, we read living books , watched documentaries, did nature field trips, visited the science center. My goal was to instill curiosity and a love of science, not squash it with curriculum.
For the record, DH and I are both physics professors and highly value science.

ETA: Other than in math, I did not give any tests in the middle grades.

Edited by regentrude
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