A: We live Science

(Vivienne, doing the best work of Scientist: loving God’s creation.)

As I was slugging through my B.S. in Biology, and working in the pharmacology department at Merck, I had no idea that my education would find its glory days when two little scientists entered our family. Amazingly, God orchestrated my education for the sakes of an aspiring nurse and an aspiring pediatrician (no joke) who didn’t even exist when I was memorizing formulas in the Science Library at all hours of the night! (You might not have to look far to discover some way in which God prepared you to foster the natural interests in your own children? Tell me all about it! I love those stories.)

(Lia, just a tad too young for the microscope.)

Because our girls have a natural interest in Science and I have some Science experience, this is an area of study that flows fairly naturally in our homeschool. (Don’t believe me? Do families typically perform heart surgery on dolls or celebrate First Aid Birthday parties?) The girls love to read nonfiction books about science; they enjoy the Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science; and they regularly dig into fascinating experiments and wonderings that result in learning!

Even though I do decorate with prints of lettuce varieties and butterfly species, I believe that God gives all children a natural wonder and enthusiasm for His creation regardless of their parent’s expertise, interest, or choice of curriculum. All we have to do is let them inspire us and join them in the learning!

We just finished a month-long study of horses, using a lapbook unit from In the Hands of a Child, which the girls loved every minute of. (We did this because they are so into horses now; we have about 10 imaginary horses roaming around our house as I write.)

Next, we’ll be getting 17 chickens next week, so we will study… you guess it: Chickens!

We also have a garden to plant from seed, which will provide hours of experimentation, observation, hard work, and eating our specimen. (Now that we live on a farm, our lives especially revolve around an appreciation for the wind, water, soil, and animals. We are digging in!)

 

After that, Vivienne has begged to study the Solar System. We’ll pull Ryan’s old telescope out of the attic and maybe even have a “1-hour Sleep Out” on our porch as we look up at the star-studded sky from our farmhouse. (More on the Solar System unit later! I discovered all kinds of gems online… ‘can’t wait to share ‘em.)

Come Fall, we’ll follow the “God’s World” science topics provided by Ann Ward in Learning at Home (mostly biology-related topics). We’ll lug home books from the library, follow our noses to interesting experiments, and even do some dissections. (I found a complete dissection kit – frog, crayfish, and worm included – at a yard sale! Ryan didn’t seem to think it was the “find of the century!” as I glowingly reported upon my return home.)

We do lots of experiments with candy and kitchen ingredients. Vivienne has loved a Science kit that she received as a gift a few years ago, and we still use the large plastic test-tubes and pipettes. A dear friend made a test-tube rack out of scrap wood for the girls, which we use regularly. We’ve done simple experiments from Usborne books, and the FIAR curriculum. We rotate a fascinating magnet set onto our bookshelves, allow the girls to experiment with watercolors and nontoxic paint, keep a Nature Box in the garage, and are available to answer questions – and ask our own from time to time.

I have a feeling that this joyful topical study of Science will suit us just fine through elementary school. If I find that we are skimping on Science and losing our natural curiosity, I’ve got some excellent recommendations in my back pocket:

* Our Classical-homeschooling librarian recommends Jeannie Fulbright’s Exploring Creation studies (these are related to Apologia).

* Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations seems to embrace a Classical/ Charlotte Mason approach has been loving Nancy Larson’s Science curriculum. (Yup! Nancy Larson of Saxon Math.)

* After the elementary years, though, I will look into Apologia’s Science curriculum, since it receives so many solid endorsements as a thorough and excellent Christian Science curriculum.

So, I propose this in search of a solid Science curriculum:

If our children are naturally curious (and they probably are!), and if we have time to give (and we hopefully do!), we shall…

* grow plants and animals

* read books, books, books

* watch, wonder, and wander

* measure, mix, and make a mess

* clean up, discuss, and create conclusions

* praise God from whom all blessings flow!


What are your thoughts concerning Science in the younger years?

 

Posted in All Posts, Early Elementary Education, Farm Life, FIAR, Learning at Home | 9 Comments

A reader asked what I intend to do with Lia, my three year old, which made me realize that I haven’t used blog space to rave about another favorite resource in a long, long time:

Ann Ward’s Learning at Home: A Christian Parent’s Guide with Day-by-Day Lesson Plans Using the Library as a Resource.

This is an old, out-of-print GEM that you can still purchase from private sellers through Amazon (Click on the link above to find $10+shipping options; otherwise, you might only find booksellers asking $60 or more.)

I began using Learning at Home when Viv was (gulp) two years old and worked through it in spurts for the next two years. I hope to use it for all of our children (though now I’ve gotten *more* of a grip and won’t begin until Lia is a ripe old 3 1/2 years old).

Why do I love it so?

* Because it covers all of the beautiful basics that I want my children to know and experience!

* Because it does not require that I purchase many (if any) other resources.

* Because each day’s work requires 45 minutes – 1 hour, which can be broken up by topic throughout the day. For example, we will cover the Bible lessons together during our breakfast devotions, enjoy the art and story time all together in the afternoons, and use the Physical Education suggestions during play time. Ward gives specific plans for each 5-day week in a typical school year, with the fifth day assuming a suggested field trip or project. It’s not a huge time commitment. (Some critics complain that Ward requires too much prep work, which I didn’t find to be the case if I just used my creativity. Way back in her day – 1995 – she chose to make all of her learning resources out of old magazines and construction paper. These days, we can print out similar exercises online, pull-together little toys, or select puzzles from our shelves that enforce the same skills. When worse comes to worst, though, Ward’s homemade ideas are simple enough to prepare while watching a movie or listening to an online sermon. Just think of the wealth you are preparing for your child! If you were sending your child to school, you better believe a young teacher would be up at night, cutting, pasting, printing, and organizing effective lessons for your little one. You can do it, too!)

* Because the content is such that Lia will gain immense riches from it, but it will also apply and enrich Vivienne at the same time. (Not to mention myself.)

THE BEFORE-YOU-BUY BASICS:

During the week, we will enjoy the Bible lessons, which cover Bible stories as well as biblical truths like the roles of family members and noble character qualities. I plan on teaching the Bible lessons to both Vivienne and Lia since they are so enriching – exactly the good and true things that I want our daughters to know and believe. We’ll also memorize the suggested verses together. I will also overlap the Science topics (called “God’s World”), since Ward’s curriculum stays pretty basic (plants, the human body, animals, etc.) and Vivienne and I can expand these topics into units with experiments, lap-books, and supplementary reading. (The Well-Trained Mind suggests that first-graders study several units covering animals, the human body, and plant life. Perfect!)

The Reading lessons typically involve simple memorization work, poetry-reading, and step-by-step development in reading preparation (i.e. exercising left-to-right eye movement).

Art lessons are simply projects that correspond with holidays, seasons, and themes of study.

Arithmetic lessons are simply step-by-step developments in math-readiness (i.e. counting, making number books, spatial recognition, etc.)

Health and Manners lessons prepare the young student for chores, personal hygiene, and hospitality.

Physical Education lessons suggest basic developmental skills that I otherwise would forget to encourage in my children like jumping forward and backward over a line, running on tiptoes, skipping while music plays and stopping when the music stops, etc. Simple and fun ideas that most youngsters think is worth a million bucks.

Many of the Music suggestions and Story suggestions are dated (do you know the song “One More River?”, so I just google the week’s topic and steel great ideas from Jolanthe, Carisa, or Confessions of a Homeschooler. I also come up with my own snappy ideas now and then. (Wink.) The point is that we sing with and read to our eager little learners every week!

Keep in mind that many of Ward’s library book suggestions might not be available at your library. I had a hum-dinger of a time finding most of her suggested resources when I first started out, so I just developed our own book list, which is quite easy to do with today’s online library search options. Studying horses? Type in the general topic “horse”, specify “children’s books”, and gather a selection of fiction and non-fiction (the non-fiction books are usually organized by topic, so once I find one non-fiction juvenile book on horses, I’ve found the jack-pot. I keep a running list of “keepers” and look for them time and time again.)

I love this precious resource because it encourages me to intentionally build into my little ones day by day, preparing them for a lifetime of learning, praying, singing, and playing together.

Do you have a preschool resource that you love?

 

Posted in Book Reports, Early Elementary Education, Learning at Home, Preschool | Tagged | 2 Comments