Marvelous Monday – Science

    
     We are young earth, seven day creationists here.  You need to know that right up front.  Our children know that the history of the earth’s origins is found in Genesis.  They also know that they live in a fallen, sin-filled world and that some scientists have turned their hearts against God, pursuing and proclaiming their own version of “truth”.  I am very careful that my children understand the biblical account of creation before they are exposed to evolution.  Once their understanding is grounded in biblical truth, then we can explore the theory of evolution with plenty of discussion. 

     Some of what I’m going to recommend in this post will be from my own creationist point of view.  A good deal more of it will not.  When my children were very young, I simply skipped over text that I was not ready to expose them to.  Once they were reading independently, I was watchful of what I put into their hands.  As they matured, they were able to read most anything from the science/nature shelves, weeding out truth from theory on their own.  Don’t be afraid to bring secular science and nature books into your home.  They contain a wealth of really good information.  Just be cautious. 

     With that said, I can tell you that science is a fun, wonder-filled experience here, though I do not recommend any formal science study at all in the early years.  Instead, allow your children the freedom to explore and discover God’s creation on their own.  I let them bring stuff in the house.  Supply a magnifying glass, jars & baskets to store their treasures, and fun, age appropriate books to read about what they’ve found, with you reading aloud to the little ones.  When I say let them bring stuff in, I mean it.  Bugs and creepy crawlies included.  Two millipedes escaped in my home one night.  They were never discovered and I survived, after several days of peering cautiously into dark corners.  Then there was the “dead” paper wasp nest that was brought in one fall.  We put it in a basket on the shelf in the school room and enjoyed admiring it from time to time.  One winter day, with a good fire burning in the wood stove, the “dead” larvae began to wake up and emerge.  Again, we survived.  Will learned tons from these experiences, and I’m happy that he had them.  Really!

INFORMAL SCIENCE/NATURE STUDY WITH LIVING BOOKS
     We’re not big formal nature study folks, but for the early years (ages tiny – 8/9) exploring and reading about nature is all your children really need.  Favorite series for this age group include Ruth Heller’s wonderful World of Nature series.  These are colorfully illustrated books, with rhyming text to capture and hold your child’s attention.  Titles include Animals Born Alive and Well, Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones (animals born from eggs), The Reason for a Flower, and Plants That Never Ever Bloom.  I also love Heller’s A Sea within a Sea: Secrets of the Sargasso and “Galapagos” Means “Tortoises”, though they contain one or two evolutionary statements.  Judging by the shelf wear of these titles in my own home, they are some of the favorites!
     Though I’m not much for guided nature studies, there are two books that I especially like for help in this area.  These are terrific resources for parents (and grandparents), whether or not you homeschool.
     Handbook of Nature Study – Anna Botsford Comstock.  This is the “classic” nature study reference for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.  This is my “go to” book any time one of my children have a question .  Ahem, it’s my “go to” book any time *I* have a question!  Almost 900 pages long, this is a detailed, well ordered handbook, filled with black and white photographs, pen and ink drawings and plenty of detailed information.  Animals, plants, earth sciences – it’s all here.  For those of you interested in formal nature studies, Part One will give you all of the information you’ll need.
     Exploring Nature with Your Child – An Introduction to the Enjoyment and Understanding of Nature for All.  This is a long out of print treasure!!  Copies of this great book are still available at a good price.  This book is a resource guide for parents as they help their children to understand the natural world around them.  It is filled with lovely pen and ink illustration and covers a wide variety of subject matter.  I really like how easy it is to find a quick, simple answer to a question.  Not a lot of detail, but quite often just the right amount of information.  What does the inside of an ant colony look like?  Why does the tree have a knothole?  Why does the peacock fan out his tail?  The book is filled with great tips to enjoy nature with your child, too.  Bird watching basics.  How to capture various bugs, snakes, and animals for observation.  Starting a garden or growing things with your child. 
     I allow this rather carefree approach to nature continue as long as my children are interested.  However, I do begin to introduce them to various branches of science as soon as they are reading well on their own.  There are several series that we’ve enjoyed using for this science reading.  Sometimes I chose topics for us to read about together, and other times I allowed my children to choose their own topics.  Sometimes will do some drawings or crafts, or try an experiment, based on what’s been read,but for the most part, they just read.  The following series are books my children have enjoyed reading again and again.
     Let’s Read and Find Out Science – There are dozens of titles in this series, covering all sorts of great topics.  How does a tadpole become a frog?  Why is their lightning?  How does the apple tree grow from a seed?   Energy.  Magnets.  Ecology.  Planets.  It’s all here!  There are titles here that I wouldn’t want in my own home for various reasons, but as a whole, this is a wonderful series.  Some of these can be read by early readers, but all are appropriate for reading aloud.  While some are geared for a young audience, others contain enough information for your older readers, too. 
     Usborne Mysteries & Marvels series– These will appeal to your young independent readers as well as your older children (right on through high school age).  The books are filled with bright, full color, lavish illustrations.  Facts are presented in an enjoyable, topical manner, with illustrations for each entry.  Titles are available covering plants, animals, ocean life, birds, insects, reptiles and more. 
     The One Small Square series is exactly what it’s name implies.  Each title looks, in great detail, at one square of a particular habitat.  The coral reef book, for example, looks at a cube of about four feet wide, long and deep.  These books are beautifully illustrated.  The text is detailed and appropriate to read aloud with young children (ages 5 or 6 an up), or for independent readers about age 8 – 12 or so.  The information is given in good detail, and there are ideas given in the borders for crafts, experiments and activities to accompany the reading.
     We do own and use the Christian Liberty Nature Readers.  These graded readers, published by Christian Liberty Press, are available for grades 1 – 5.  Thoroughly Christian, these books remind us Who it was that created all of nature.  Illustrated with simple drawings, these tend to be favorites with moms; but some children are less than thrilled.  I’ve had mixed reviews from my own children on these, with one boy who loved them and the others opinion moving down the scale from there.  I have my children read these, at about the grade levels indicated by the publisher.
     I highly recommend all of the books in the Wonders of Creation series published by Master Books.  These books are beautiful, filled with colorful illustrations and photographs, and they embrace the Genesis account of creation.  I wish there were more books like these!  The series is geared toward your older students, the junior high and up crowd.  Titles that I’m aware of cover weather, waves, astronomy, the ocean, geology and fossils.  I’m having my fifteen year old (10th grade) read these right now.  He is learning a great deal and he’s enjoying the process.  Just this morning, as we were watching the storm clouds move in before church, he was telling me about storm clouds that look like anvils and how they occur.  Apparently, he’d read about these in The Weather Book this last week.  I laughed when he told me that these books are making his brain swell, but I love that he’s realizing how much he is learning from them!

CURRICULUM FOR FORMAL SCIENCE STUDY
     A more formal study of science is sometimes in order.  There are plenty out there to choose from, but I would caution you to avoid the textbook approach if at all possible, at least until high school.  I’ve yet to see a textbook science curriculum that inspires children to really love science.
     Here are my thoughts on the science curriculum that we are or have used. 
     Considering God’s Creation is a great study than can be expanded to be used with children from second through seventh grade, which makes it grand to use with several children at the same time.  This was written as a one year study, but I generally supplement this a good deal to stretch for two years or so.  The book follows the days of creation, starting with the universe and ending with humans.  Units feature songs and/or poems, Scripture reading and references, vocabulary, and games/activities to enforce the lesson. 
     Your child will compile a notebook as part of this study.  You can see a few sample student pages here.   There are plenty of worksheets to keep you on track, but don’t feel compelled to use all of them.  Use the ones that you and your child enjoy and that you feel are profitable.  We use the manual as a starting point, but once we’ve covered a topic from the text, I add plenty of good, living books to supplement,  If your child especially enjoys the notebooking aspect of this study, choose some hands on activities from Dinah Zike’s The Big Book of Books and ActivitiesFoldables for Grades 1-6 –  3-D Interactive Graphic Organizers, or something similar.  You creative types can probably come up with plenty of ideas on your own!  I use this in my own home, starting around third grade and working through it for a couple of years or so.
     I told you how much I loved the Beautiful Feet study guides in my Marvelous Monday – History post, but they also have a great History of Science study guide that I like.  I like to use this in my home after we finish Considering God’s Creation.  It’s a nice change of pace, as we study science through literature.  The study uses well written biographies and The New Way Things Work  to study several scientists and their discoveries.  An experiment pamphlet, available from the publisher, rounds out the study.  Appropriate for grades four through seven. 
     Apologia Science.   Apologia Science, especially for the high school years, has swept the homeschool community off its feet.  I remember when Saxon Math did the same thing a couple of decades ago.  There are some things I really like about Apologia.  It’s a thoroughly Christian approach to science, offering our homeschool students a biblical approach to physical science, biology, chemistry and physics.  The materials are well written, and the optional CD Rom (with videos, animated diagrams, etc.) is wonderful.  The text requires that your child think a bit for himself, which is always a good thing.  Questions throughout the chapter, as well as those at the chapter’s end, require thoughtful answers – no true/false, multiple choice stuff here.
     On the other hand, this is a text book approach.  As I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve yet to meet the science textbook that really inspired a love of science in a student.  I say this with a great deal of angst because I know that Kendra will be giving Apologia a positive review.  We dove into our first Apologia text with a great deal of excitement.  We’d heard wonderful things about Apologia.  I’d heard Dr. Wile speak at a homeschool conference, and was quite impressed.  However, after working our way through the first half of that text, I was no longer impressed.  The reading was dull.  The experiments (which are written with thorough instructions and normally use common household items) were predictable and uninteresting.  We will use Apologia through the high school years, but I will give my boys some pretty huge breaks as they work through these texts.  (That’s why Aaron is currently reading the Wonders of Creation books mentioned above).
     To be fair, there are several Apologia books written for younger students that I’m hoping to purchase for our own home soon.  I’ve seen these.  They are well written and lovely!   
      I’ll keep hoping for someone to write a creation based, homeschool science curriculum for high school that will further our children’s natural love of creation and  really spark an interest in the sciences in them! 
     Be sure to click over to Kendra’s site to read her Marvelous Monday review of Science curricula.

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27
 

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9 comments to Marvelous Monday – Science

  • Hey Cher-

    I can’t access my site or my email today, so I’m not sure if my post will go up or be accessible tomorrow.  You might want to let your readers know.

    On another note, we don’t love Apologia *that* much, so no worries 🙂  I just don’t know of a better option at this point…

    ~Kenj

  • I appreciate these posts you two are doing!

    Just to add another opinion, :), our family really does love Apologia that much!

    I have read the General, Physical, and Biology books myself. As another writing/reading/language kid, I have to say that I found the books engaging and interesting.

    My science hating daughter has actually enjoyed using her first one this yr; the General science. She has learned a ton.

    My 2 older boys also really enjoyed the books.

    Dawn

  • Okay. Dare I say my opinion of Apologia? I’ve kept this hidden from most for years. My eldest was a science geek growing up. He devoured every book we owned on science, mostly living books. He started Apologia Biology his sophomore year, soon after it hit the homeschool market, and dragged his feet. The only other times he showed such apathy in learning was with “fill in the blank” learning. He finally admitted that he found it dry. My other aversion to it was when I went to Jay Wile’s website, where he encouraged his students to go; he had a link to his opinion on immunizations, which was a list from the state. Now, I don’t mind people having opinions, but I felt that as an author, indoctrinating students without their parents knowledge was bothersome to me. Due to those two factors we chose to quit Apologia.

    We, too, use a copious amount of living books. Our favorite curriculum is Beginnings Publishing’s Rainbow Science. It’s aimed at Junior High. However, when my husband perused it, he felt that by learning this they would know much more than he ever learned in high school. It’s written by a homeschool Dad/Scientist and it is fun and interesting.

    I also ran across a new program called Real Science-4-Kids from Gravitas Publications.
    http://www.gravitaspublications.com/products/
    They are new and are adding more books all the time. As an illustration fiend, I just love the drawings. It has several levels so you can teach different ages on the same subject, with one of subjects, so far, working for older grades.

    Thanks to you and Kenj for these suggestions. Once again, it keeps me motivated, even after all these years!

    I will now get off my soapbox. 😉

    Loads of Blessings, Jean

    I

  • Thank you for all the book suggestions. It was incredibly helpful. After reading your review of Exploring Nature with your Child, I hopped on over to Amazon and was able to purchase it for $2 (plus shipping and handling) I was very excited. Thank you. 

  • Hi!  Thanks for these Monday Reviews — they are very helpful.

    I just waned to add that we have come to LOVE Apologia’s elementary line.  The author, Jeannie Fulbright, is just wonderful.  The elementary texts read like story books, or at least like a really warm, gentle expert writing you a personal letter.  I have not found them textbook-y at all (I have an aversion to textbooks!).  We’ve done Botany and Zoology I and plan to do Astronomy soon.  I feel that these books have taught my boys, and myself, so much — and have developed a love of learning in all of us!

  • Jean-

    Your soapbox is appreciated.  Step right up and comment again in the future!

    ~Kenj

  • @Deborah – That’s why I’m looking forward to buying some of the younger books myself!!  My daughter has a couple of them and they are terrific.  Not at all like the higher level textbooks.

    @hindsfeet11 – Now see – That’s why I was so surprised when you told me good bye yesterday and that you were going to be gone for a month.  I was planning on asking you if I could quote you as another not so happy Apologia mom.  You shared your story with me BEFORE I bought Apologia and I bought it anyway, my ears being tickled by all the positive press the series got.  I should have known that my living books buddy’s opinion would have more closely reflected my own.  sigh. 

  • My daughter **loved** Apologia. Until high school we used a more ‘living’ approach to science and once we chose to use a more ‘text bookie’ approach we chose Apologia. Lizzie has always been a science nut and this line of texts really spoke to her. She doesn’t go for lots of bells, whistles, color and such so what some refer to as ‘dry’ she referred to as ‘getting to the meat’ of the subject.

    Lizzie completed Apologia Physical, Biology and Anatomy/Physiology. Once Chemistry began though she dug her heels in the carpet and had a tough go of it. By Module 7 we made the decision to end. It really wasn’t worth the stress and tears. Dr. Wile said to ensure your child takes every science concentration to ensure they hate every science concentration – as all sciences are different. Lizzie hated Chemistry. But. She now sees the benefit of what she *did* learn in Chem due to some elements of the EMT program she’s part of. If she begins the pre-courses for the ParaMedicine program then she’ll most certainly need to take Chem. You may hear screaming and wailing over that little bit of knowledge. ;o)

    Of all the concentrations, Biology and Anatomy/Physiology were her favorite. Of course, one requires a certain math ability to go along with the science – Lizzie made it through Saxon Algebra 2 which helped tremendously. Saxon Algebra 2 is considered by some as a ‘dry text’. Lizzie loved it.

    No program is a one-size-fits-all for every student. I love how we were able to meet Lizzie’s needs/abilities/desires in this subject. Apologia fit that bill…for us. :o)

    btw………….I’m having a giveaway. :o)

    jAne at http://tickleberryfarm.blogspot.com

  • @ladyjanesjournal – Yep, there’s no one size fits all curriculum out there.  God made each of us uniquely.  It’s certainly been fun to see the differences between those who love Apologia and those who do not.  Kendra and I took on this Marvelous Monday plan hoping only that our experiences would benefit others as they weighed our reviews in considering what might work for their own families.  I LOVE that you, Jean, Brenda and a few other “older” (ahem), experienced homeschool moms have jumped into the comments here and at Kendra’s to add your experiences to our own.  Thanks!