We try to be a “science-y” family. It’s a pretty important subject — especially to my husband, who makes his living as a scientist! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while and saw my “curriculum preview” in last week’s wrap-up post, you might have noticed we’re taking a different direction with science this year.
For the past three and a half years, we’ve used BFSU (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding) as our primary science curriculum. Volume one of this program gives kids an excellent foundation in all the disciplines of science. I love how the author, Dr. Nebel, has a way of explaining concepts often not presented until late elementary school in a way that even 1st graders can understand. It’s not a program that’s “easy” to use, but after several years of using Vol. 1, I can say I know it well and can present most of the lessons with ease. I even used it as a basis for teaching a co-op class this past year.
By early last year, we had finished nearly all the Vol 1. lessons with Miss M, so I purchased an e-book of Vol 2. I was much more intimidated! While I was able to easily teach a few topics from it, like Simple Machines, a lot of the topics in Vol. 2 were things I didn’t learn about until high school or later, and I am not sure how solid my personal understanding is on some of them. My last biology class was as a freshman in high school, over 20 years ago. A number of lessons call for using a nice microscope, something we weren’t quite yet ready to purchase. There are fewer “fun” activities and much more lecture/discussion.
We filled in our science plans pretty well last year with a combination of a few lessons from BFSU 2, Sassafras Science Vol 1 – Zoology, and interest-led studies on various topics. I kept thinking, “we’ll be ready to do BFSU 2…soon.”
As I thought about next year, I had to face up to the fact BFSU 2 is not the curriculum for me. I have no doubt that given enough time to study and prepare, I could learn the concepts well enough from the BFSU 2 manual to present them. But I don’t think that’s how I need to be spending my time at this point. I also decided I wanted something with text that is designed to be read directly to or by the student, so that the main content delivery doesn’t rely on library books or a lecture from me — something that BFSU doesn’t provide.
While I like the BFSU approach of studying topics from several science disciplines in the same year, most homeschool science curricula are not set up in this way. I decided that this might be a good year to start a four year “rotation” for Miss M through the four main disciplines of science. We are going to start with Earth and Space science this year, then we will do Chemistry, Physics and finally Biology (not quite sure yet if Chem or Physics will be first, but I am excited about saving Biology for last when Miss M is a 7th grader and quite ready for dissections!).
I’ve decided we’ll use Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space as our primary curriculum this year for science. While I am not always very impressed with the quality of “Christian” science curricula (sometimes they seem heavy on the Bible and Apologetics content and lighter on the science content), I thought this looked pretty good. Since we believe in a young earth creation, I thought that especially for an Earth science text, I wanted to not spend the whole year saying, “This says ‘millions of years,’ but we know that God did it in a much shorter time frame.” My kids have definitely been exposed to science materials with this perspective, but I don’t want our main text to be coming from that angle.
Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space is divided into six units, each with a few lessons. We’ll be following those units/lessons, as well as adding in a few Earth/Space related topics I wanted to cover that aren’t in the text. This text will (I think) primarily be for Miss M (4th grade), but the boys will tag along as interested, and I will find library books for them.
Unit One: Creation/Earth’s Structure (2 – 3 weeks)
Unit Two: The Lithosphere (6-8 weeks)
Unit Three: The Hydrosphere (5 weeks)
Unit Four: The Atmosphere (5 weeks)
Unit Five: Earth’s Weather (6 weeks)
Unit Six: Beyond Earth (5-6 weeks)
That should take us most of the way to the end of our school year in mid-May. It also does not include our summer vacation out west (including Yellowstone!) where we will see first-hand many interesting Earth-Science related sights.
Miss M has also requested more nature study this year, so I am planning to set her up with some resources that will help her do that somewhat independently this year.
I am not abandoning BFSU all together — I still plan to use it for teaching my c0-op science class. I also want to incorporate content from BFSU each year for the boys — whether that is through informal discussions or doing a lesson or two here and there with them. I want to make sure they are getting that same good foundation in scientific principles that Miss M received.
I’m linking up with Blogging through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me, and with the Lesson Planning link-up for Science at Highhill Education.