I wrote this at the WTM Boards and I wanted to put it here to be a part of our digital scrapbook, a fellow homeschooler asked what I meant by literary science.
Literary science is what I'm calling the approach we're about to take with science, reading books that ignite the spark to explore more or just illuminate science in a different but deeper way than textbooks and modern day surface-level books can.
For example, from Our Humble Helpers by Jean Henri Fabre:
| "These curious particulars of the hen's habits," said Jules, "are quiet familiar to us all; we see them everyday with our own eyes. One only is new to me: hens, you say, swallow little grains of sand which takes the place of teeth for grinding the food in the gizzard. I don't know what the gizzard is and I don't see how little stones that have been swallowed can be used as teeth." |
"A short digression on the digestive organs of birds," replied Uncle Paul, "will give you the information you ask for."
Then there's the Thornton Burgess books, take any one of them and you can make a mini-study of it. From The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel, the reader realizes that Shadow the Weasel and Redtail the Hawk are deadly enemies of Chatterer and the reader learns about the habits and life of the animals that surround the Red Squirrel in story form. It is sort of sneaky, here's this animal story and you're learning something.
Just today dd7 read half of the first chapter of Mother West Wind's Children and she was narrating with excitement, wanting to tell me the story that she read because she enjoyed it so much but I know she also read about a skunk looking for beetles, rats have long, smooth, tapering tails and that Happy Jack Squirrel stores his nuts in a hole in a chestnut tree. Not to mention it's much better reading material than the series on the local bookstore shelf.
Or this excerpt from Seed-Babies by Margaret Morley
We're going to read about science and then dig as deep as we want from there and the part that melts my heart is the books that were written for children in 1850-1920 during the heyday of Natural Science, when it was the "thing" to talk a nature walk and observe a mosquito or to talk about the numerous experiments you're working on during a formal dinner.
Plus there are fabulous authors that write with passion in books we miss because we're looking to get science "done". I wouldn't have seen a Jim Arnosky book or even cared about reading about John Muir before, just whatever curriculum we were using and what books they recommended. Now I'm surrounded by books I can't wait to read with my children not because I want my children to learn from them (that will come naturally) but because I want to share the joy of reading these books with them. I want to explore too!
I'm working on a K-8 outline of science studies and then I'll fill with books I don't want to miss. I want it to flow with the seasons but also allow us to study what interests us and ensure we cover certain topics before 9th grade. I just read today in "The Educated Child" by William Bennett that a child's interest in science is dependent on the years prior to 3rd grade, that around 9-10 years of age if the spark for science hasn't been ignited, it probably never will be. I don't want this, science is God's expression and artistry- I feel it's such a crucial part of an individual's personality and character to look outside of themselves and see the wondrous world around them. I think power of curiosity and observation as well learning about God's creation are a few of the many beautiful gifts God has given us.
Okay, I'm rambling. Anyways, the short answer- read inspiring, informative literary books about science: books like above, biographies and passionate authors and go from there. Do experiments to see what the scientist saw, learn how to classify and observe.
This is my pet subject and I'm thrilled to be able to do this with my kids. I'm thrilled to be able to have the time to wonder with them and notice things. As parents, we are SO blessed.