Saturday, April 11, 2009

Our Curriculum - Science - Sorry ended up being really long.

I should be writing a weekly report right now. But instead I thought I would just venture into our next subject and talk about what we do. Today I thought I would talk about Science. Science hasn't ever been my favorite subject. I took as little science as I could get away with in High School and Collage. It just wasn't that exciting to me. Since doing school with my kids I am surprised at how interesting Science is and how much I missed as I grew up. Sure my daughter is only finishing 2nd Grade but already I feel like I have learned so much more than I had learned in school.

Just to give you a little about my science background...... ( I ramble on here so you can skip all this if you want.)

I don't remember studying science at all in Elementary school. I am sure we had a science book and we read through it and memorized facts and such. They obviously weren't that memorable.

In 7th and 8th grade my science teacher was rather strange and that is about all I remember about those years. I don't remember anything we actually studied, just that my teacher, Mr. Umland, was a bit crazy and would sometimes throw chalk at kids when they fell asleep in his class. He was also the only teacher ever to send me to the Principal's office (I was talking to the kid sitting next to me).

In High School most kids took three years of science. Since I took band and drafting every year I just "couldn't" fit in everything so I squeezed in the two required, Biology and Chemistry. Biology was all about copying down notes from the board and then spitting them out again for the test. We did look through microscopes a few times and handled real bones but mostly it was just read the book, outline the chapter, and copy down the notes. The next year I took Honors Chemistry (no AP classes in my school). Why Honors? I don't know, I thought I was smart or something. But Chemistry made not a lot of sense to me. I honestly don't know how I passed it. The teacher would give us partial credit on tests. If you answer wasn't correct but if you at least put in the correct formula you got half right. I think I passed because of this partial credit. I usually could remember the formula but didn't have a clue about why you used it or what information when where. Sad I know. And my teacher worked so hard with me. He had me stay after school a number of times to explain things better to me. He happened to also be my families home teacher and even taught my Sunday School class each week. He must have really been tired of teenagers!

Then off to college I went. At BYU they require Biology, Physical Science and a Natural Science. I took Physical Science the 2nd semester of my freshman year. I actually did well in the class but really had to work hard and lucky for me my roommate took it at the same time and we studied together.
For my natural science I took Nutrition which was very interesting to me and I still think about many of those things I learned in that class. Then the very last semester of my years at college I decided to finally take biology. The teacher was very excited about the subject and his lectures were interesting but they were given in a huge lecture hall with hundreds of other students. Interesting but again mostly regurgitation.

So that is it. My entire science carrier up until learning with my kids.

When Sophie was about 3 1/2 we started doing Five in a Row. We really loved these unit studies based on Children's books. We would discuss the little bits of science that came up in the different books each week. I was often surprised by what they pointed out for us to do. When doing Mike Mulligan and the Steam shovel you studied steam and when the little boy in Ping jumps into the Yangzee river with a barrel on his back you study boyancy. We also kept an animal notebook. All the different animals from the different books we read went into this notebook and we studied about them. I would print out pictures of the animal that I found online. She would cut them out and past them into her notebook. We got an information sheet from Enchanted learning and we either just pasted it in or wrote down some of fun facts that we read on that page or from other books we read. Sophie liked the animal notebook so much we did many more animals than we found in the books. It was a great way to bring science into our studies during preschool and Kindergarden.

When first grade rolled around I decided to follow the 4 year cycle that is outlined in the Well Trained Mind. I like having direction in our studies but haven't bought any set curriculums for Biology, which was the first grade year, and Earth Science/Astronomy this 2nd year. For each of these years I took the list of subjects to study that were outlined in WTM and just got books from the library on those subjects.

Here is Ian's Brain Hat that we got out of the book Easy Make and Learn Projects the Human Body

We do simple projects like lapbooks once in awhile and I have at times bought supplement books or found great lapbook links online to help us along the way. So far it has worked out alright. I can't say it has been great. Science does at times get pushed to the back burner or skipped when we get busy doing other things. But I know my kids are learning all sorts of science. I get a lot of science books from the library and have bought a number of them to keep on the shelf. My kids read or look through them all the time. My kids current favorite is How Science Works. A Great find at the library's used book sale. Maybe they will just teach themselves science.

Next year we supposed to do Chemistry. If you read my science history you know chemistry isn't a subject I am particularly good at. The WTM doesn't give a lot of direction on this subject as far as topics that should be covered and since I need all the help I can get with this subject, I think I am going to actually purchase a program. Kristiana at La Scuola d'Argento has been very helpful and has sent me some links for some great elementary school Chemisty programs. Thanks for all your help! I haven't decided yet what I will follow. I may not follow any and just take ideas and book recommendations from them. Which is what I usually end up doing.
Here are two programs that I am still looking at.
Elemental Science- this one looks simple and easy to use. I am seriously considering it.
Neo Science. I wouldn't buy the whole package but the guide would be helpful. The book recommendations look interesting, I am looking to see if my library has them.

I think a molecular model kit will make its way to our house for next year. I think my kids would really love this.

One of the many blogs I read just had a post about chemistry today and she has also put together a whole lapbook page with all sorts of resources she is planning to use with her daughter over the next year with Chemisty. I bookmarked it and will visit it often during the next few months as I plan more fully what we are going to do.

We also do a lot of Nature Study. I am so grateful for Barb at theHandbook of Nature Study blog who has made nature study so easy, and interesting for us. We love participating in the Outdoor hour challenges and have learned so much about the plants, insects and animals in our neighborhood. They are a great resource for anyone who wants to do more in Nature study and just needs a little direction. The challenges can be adapted to any age level and any area of the world. The actual Handbook of Nature study is no longer daunting but has been so interesting to me as I read it and then point out things to my kids.

Just for fun the kids also go to a science workshop where they can do more hands on Science projects. They seem to enjoy it and look forward to it each week. I tend to call it "Science club" and consider it extra curricular. I figured it was a fun way to spark a love of science.

So that is Science at our house. I am sure as the kids get older and as we get into higher grade levels we will follow a more directed curriculum (Apologia looks great!) but for now this is what we have done and what I am thinking about for next year.


Sherry said...

Thanks for this post. I'm going to check out some of your links. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I helped you! I think I am going with Elemental Science plans. I already have all the books it uses and then some. That molecular model kit looks really great though. I'll have to look into that.

My science background is about like yours. I did like chemistry in high school though. We had a great teacher and I really understood it, although I still don't remember much. Science at BYU was a joke. I took them all in spring terms with friends and somehow survived the 100+ classes too.

Alison said...

Cooking illustrates a lot of chemistry basics. I get a catalog of nutrition/food education materials that has some books with food science activities for kids. I'll pass it along next time it comes.