Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brand-New Science Curriculum: Elemental Science

image This week’s Homeschooling Theme has got to be “The Road Less Travelled.”

Hence, our new math curriculum:  JUMP Math, a Canadian offering nobody has ever heard of.

And now, a similarly “off-the-beaten-path” choice for next year’s Grade 1 science curriculum:  Elemental Science.  Not much I can say about this one – I can barely get a decent cover shot  (either that, or it’s the world’s SMALLEST science text).

These books, created by a homeschooling parent, use classical methodology to cover science subjects in the order suggested by the authors of The Well-Trained Mind.

Does that mean I’m turning my back on nature study and Charlotte Mason?  Nope!  Just adding one more thing we can juggle to bring it all together.  This series relies heavily on methodologies that are already familiar from Charlotte Mason, such as a “spine” of living books (ie textbook-free learning), short lessons, observation and narration.

The lessons seem low-key and kid-friendly, which is what I was looking for.  Another science series, Apologia Science, has a ton of texts for this level and I just got confused looking over them all.  I got the sense that Apologia was just too detailed for what I’m looking for, which is a good first-year overview of biology.

When it arrives, this one’s going in the “learning bin” – the big Ikea bins I  keep all our homeschool stuff in.  It’s ostensibly for next September, although if all our stuff arrives earlier, I may start a little earlier.

image I’m not unhappy with our science curriculum for this year, by the way.  In case you’ve been paying attention and realize we ALREADY have a science curriculum.  We do!   We have been using Living Learning Books Level One Science:  Animals, Human Body and Plants.

This is basically the same material that will be covered in the Grade 1 biology curriculum, so why – you might ask – am I planning on doing it twice?

1) Well-Trained Mind suggests aligning the “Science:  Biology” year with the “History:  Ancient” year – ie Grade 1.  We haven’t done any history this year, so it would be a good time to start both.

2) You can never have too much biology – it’s very foundational, and I don’t regret anything we’ve learned this year!

3) I feel that Elemental Science will cover these topics in more detail, and provides more specific support and activities, while Living Learning basically offers colouring pages for each topic. Naomi’s not all that into colouring pages, though she does them happily.

So our second year of science will echo our first, albeit in a different order.  There’s a lot to be said for cyclical learning, and the fact is that when we began this year, she was 5.5, and when she’s 6.5, she probably won’t remember a lot of the concrete details of it.  Ditto for GZ, who was 2 when we started.

I have had fun introducing them both to science through experiments, fiction and non-fiction readings, videos, narrations and other gentle techniques.  I definitely plan to finish out our SK year with Living Learning Books:  the plants unit coincides nicely with the start of spring, when I want to spend a lot of time studying plants anyway.

But I’m excited to see a way of remaining with familiar topics a little longer while taking it to the next level, learning-wise.

For more information about Elemental Science, please visit their website or Yahoo Group.

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