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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Science is Vexing Me

I have all these fabulous ingredients and I cannot seem to come up with a recipe that smells and tastes good.

Here's what I'm tackling with, I want

-Nature Study: formal and informal
I want my children to develop keen observation skills and patience as well as a curiosity.

- Scientist Biographies: on-level and as read alouds
I want to start reading biographies of scientists within our history time period. Tapestry of Grace provides this for me to a certain extent, but I've decided I want to illuminate the fascinating lives of the scientists, inventors, and visionaries more often. The quantity of persons to cover within a time period will dictate how often. This was sparked by reading "To Space and Back" by Sally Ride aloud. It drew us in and we all loved it.

-Literary Science
I want to read, I want my children to read...there are so many wonderful books out there, old and new! Camille and I read Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream by Robert Burleigh and we loved it. Camille was drawn in completely, she identified with Audubon when he made note of how the forests where being destroyed so that people could make houses. Camille asked, "Why do they destroy the animals' homes?" I started to answer her, "People need homes too," but I realized how trite that sounded so I told her that as people grew more advanced, they wanted more things and the old things weren't as good anymore. We could live in a house with no electricity but would you want to? She said no but then she asked me if by having electricity we were hurting animals. "I'll have to look into that."

-Solid science academics with experiments
I have looked at curriculums for grades 5 and above because I need a plan for K-8 and I haven't found any that I love. Exploring God's Creation is close because it involves some of the natural science we want to cover but it also has a major slant. I have a few copies of Prentice Hall Science Explorer and now they seem so dull and wanting for enthusiasm. If I had never seen the literary science books, I would have been perfectly happy with Prentice Hall.

I have read about science studies in The Well-Trained Mind, Teaching the Trivium, The Educated Child/Core Knowledge, Ambleside/Mater Amabilis, and Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum (Berquist). I have my state's standards for education also.

My other problem is that if I could figure out the ingredients, I don't know what order they should go in!
Here's the myriad of choices before me:

Option 1
Let literary science lead; use books we want but by appropriate age level.
Fill in with nature studies, self-led everyday and 1 formal outing a week.
Read scientists' biographies that correspond to our history time period, this may not always match what we're learning in science though.

Option 2
Use a curriculum spine, preferably something narrative but if not available then something we'd at least enjoy.
Supplement with living books about topics in curriculum
Nature studies informally
Scientist biographies with history time period

Option 3
Let Nature Studies lead, read about topics with living books that we're observing, using The Handbook of Nature Study by Comstock.
Read scientist biographies within history time period, alternate with literary science read alouds

The problem is that ALL of these options would be great, well with the exception of the curriculum led option but that would depend on what we use for curriculum. I want the kids involved in 4-H and to participate in science fairs & competitions when they are older and I will be requiring them to write an essay when they reach that point in their studies.

Yep. I'm vexed.



Anonymous said...

Sorry to add another option but have you looked at Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding by Bernard J. Nebel? I guess it is supposed to be for K-2, so it would be more for Danny. It also may not be what you are looking for but I think it looks great and am excited about using it with my kids in a few years. I've been looking around for a while and nothing completely clicked with me until I found this. I've just started reading it and seems to be very hands on, interactive, and "real life." It looks like it will build a great foundation for further science explorations and allow for me to add my own extras to it.
Lisa in the UP of MI
P.S. I plan on nature studies to be an important part of our science studies too.

my5wolfcubs said...

All those options would be great! I have no right answer for you, but I just posted a poem on my blog that I think you'll appreciate! :) I should have dedicated it to you!

Which Prentice Hall books did you get? I was looking at the Chem and Physics ones for my 6th grader next year.

Chris said...

Option 4
Relax! teehee
Are you saying you need to have these options for 3rd grade, or for 5th and after?
For now, I'd stick with what you are doing--nature walks, living books, occasional experiments. You have two kiddos who are engaged, excited about learning, and being fed a wonderful diet of God's creation. You are giving them what they need right now. You don't need to plan for next year because you've already got it going. Is there something unsatisfying about what you are doing now? You don't need more. You've already got a feast spread out before your children--now let them eat.
Relax. You are doing fine. Why do you think you need to jump ahead? Be where you are. Be present in this moment. There is time to plan when it is closer to 5th grade.
Said in love.
Chris in va