Teaching your children science can be daunting and over the past few weeks I’ve gotten a lot of reader questions about science and how we implement the specific science program (Apologia) that we’ve chosen for our family. So for today’s 4 moms question and answer post, I’ll be focusing on science questions.
Here is a brief history of our science choices. When our children were young we primarily used nature journals for science. Eventually did a couple years of Sonlight science in addition to the nature journals and then last year we found Apologia, we haven’t looked back.
We choose Apologia for a number of reasons. Some of the primary ones are:
- Apologia is firmly grounded in the Genesis account of creation.
- We’ve had several friends who’ve had children go through Apologia’s high school science program and move into high level college science programs and say that they were more than prepared by the rigorousness of Apologia.
- It’s a terrific fit for our family.
In response to a FB post where I mentioned that Nick (3) said that some seeds weren’t “dormant anymore”, Jamie N Josh asked, “Would you mind suggesting what would be best from Apologia Science for a 4 and 5 year old?”
With a 4 and a 5 year old, I would suggest lots of outdoor play with perhaps (if they are interested) an introduction to the idea of nature journals (without the writing). Reading aloud living books about science can provide more structure if you feel the need for that. We like Among the Pond People (link goes to a free Kindle version) and others by Pierson. They are also available free online at the Gutenberg Project.
If you just really want to tackle Apologia at this time I would think that any of the Elementary level books would be appropriate as they are all written for grades K-6. When we started I let the children pick the one that most interested them.
Amanda asked, “ I keep hearing about Apologia science and would love to try it. Could you give me some ideas on which one to start with and any tips on getting the most out of it?”
As I mentioned above, I let our children pick which of the Elementary Apologia books they wanted to start. I appreciate that, since they are all written for grades K-6 there is no need (or even a bit of pressure) for me to teach 8 different levels of science to our 8 different school aged kids. Since we began with Astronomy (the first day of creation), we are now just going through in creation order.
I know a lot of people just have their children read the Apologia book for the elementary levels, but our kids (and probably yours too) love doing the experiments. For our family it has worked to order the supply kit from Home Science Tools. These kits come with everything you need to complete all the experiments in the Apologia book.
Implementing Apologia Science in the home
Junior and senior high
Our junior and senior high science students complete their Apologia Science independently. They set their own schedule, read the book, do the experiments, keep a lab book and a notebook of definitions and concepts learned.
Elementary – the yearly plan
Since we homeschool year round, our schedule looks a little different than most.
When we are doing Apologia science, we really focus on science and do it every day. During our science focus we tend to back off on our history studies so that we really have the time to dig into the science material. Most of the children’s writing assignments are science related, our outings and field trips are science related (watching meteor showers, visiting a green house etc.), dinner table discussions are science related and even some family purchases and family fun nights are science related.
Since we’re spending more time working on science, we will finish a level of Apologia in less than the state mandated 180 day school year. This allows us to then move our focus to another subject. We’ve found that this more focused approach allows our children to retain and apply more of what we are learning, I suspect because they are thinking more clearly about science during their free time without the distraction of so much other new information.
Adults understand the value of focusing learning on one new thing at a time. We think that this can also be true for children and as we’ve moved away from the more traditional model of every subject every day (we still do several subjects everyday, but we now have focused times that we study science, art, music, geography and to some extent history) we’ve been pleased to see our children applying science (or whatever the current focus is) into their everyday more often. (Hence, why Colby (5) exclaimed that the plum he was eating was an angiosperm. Perhaps if he’d learned that science fact in addition to several history facts and a couple new grammar facts, his brain would have been too full to pull out one of those things to apply to his lunch.)
Elementary – the day to day plan
We don’t do all of this in one day, we just work until I think their minds are full and then we pick up the next day wherever we left off.
We begin by reading a portion of the Apologia text book. After we’ve read we discuss what was introduced and have the children take turns narrating. If something puzzled or interested us, we take the time to do some further research or have more discussion. The children who are old enough keep a science journal where they write a synopsis of the material covered and also keep lists of vocabulary and terms (angiosperm, bryophyta, etc.).
After we’ve read, discussed, researched and written the children do the experiments in the book. (We purchase the supply kits from Home Science Tools.) They do these as a group, but independent of mom. This gives them the opportunity to work together, follow the written directions and ensures that their perfectionist mommy doesn’t tell them they are doing it all wrong when, honestly, they are usually doing it just right. Occasionally they’ll have a flop and need to go back to determine what went wrong, but that’s a good part of the process.
Tracy wondered, “Do you use the notebooking journals as well?”
We haven’t purchased the notebooking journals, with 6-7 children working through the elementary level this year it’s simply not economical. We do have our children create their own science journal.
Amy said, “My 6 yr old would LOVE to study zoology & botany, maybe we can do it too?”
Yes, I think a 6 year old would enjoy the zoology and/or botany. Probably just doing the reading and experiments would be great for that age. Also, don’t be afraid to wait a bit on this more formal science instruction.
What have you used to teach science? What tips and tricks do you have to offer?
Visit the other moms of many for more answers to your questions:
- Smockity Frocks – Connie talks about keeping rack of drinking glasses, making money blogging and testing for homeschoolers.
- Life in a Shoe - KimC answers your big family questions
- The Common Room - Headmistress talks about spanking, blog names and adult children and independence.
For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.