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  1. #1
    Senior Member Arrived AddlepatedMonkeyMama's Avatar
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    Question Nebel's BFSU Science Book

    I am considering using Bernard Nebels Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, but our library system doesn't have a copy for me to "preview". Can someone who uses the book (for grades K-2) answer some questions for me? How do you use the book? Do you read sections aloud to the kiddos or is the info for the parents to use to plan their own lessons? How much time is needed to prepare for each lesson? Are the written material and pictures engaging for youngsters with short attention spans? My kids like picture books about science and doing experiments, but I'm wary of using something too textbook-y. I'd love to get a better feel for the book before I buy it. Thanks!
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 9 and son age 10.5.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Evolved Hampchick's Avatar
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    The book is definitely for the parents not the kids. There aren't any pictures and I have never read to the boys from the book directly. Amazon has a good preview. Also there is one lesson up on the publishers web site http://www.pressforlearning.com/ The format of each lesson is consistent so they'll all look essentially like the sample.

    It does take me time to prepare. I read through the lesson and then create a detailed outline of what we need to discuss, materials I need, and supplemental resources I plan to use. It takes me probably 4-5 hours to get my outline plus more time to gather supplies, books, and search the web. I teach from my outline and I'm forgetful, so it's detailed but still easier than teaching directly from the book for me. Probably not everyone needs that much prep time so it might be different for you.

    Most lessons are divided into several parts that you can do on separate days to account for short attention spans. The way I approach the lessons they tend to be discussion heavy which works well for my 7.5yo who gets things through Q&A, but not great for my still young 4.5yo so he mostly joins us for demonstrations and experiments. Speaking of...there are generally demonstrations with each lesson but not what I would call "wow!" experiments. Still, the kids have enjoyed the demonstrations and they do help with understanding the material.

    At the end of each lesson there is a list of picture books that can be used as supplements. They aren't required but I do find they help reinforce the lessons. I use what I can get from our library. Nebel doesn't list web resources but I can almost always find videos, games, or simulations online for more reinforcement.

    I don't think the book is text-booky since the kids never actually need to see it. We sometimes start our discussions over lunch, in the car, or on a walk. Somehow for us that seems to facilitate the discussion better than just sitting together would. Sometimes we get totally off tangent with the kids brainstorming about other stuff which is cool.

    One more thing if you use the book you'll want to know about the yahoo group that Dr. Nebel moderates. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/K5science/

    Wow, I think I just wrote a book. I hope it's not too much.
    -Hampchick (aka Dawn)
    Eclectic homeschooler of EJ (8) and JD (5.5)
    I sometimes blog: Meandering Homeschool

  3. #3
    Senior Member Arrived AddlepatedMonkeyMama's Avatar
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    Not too long at all! Thank you very much! I'm going to go look at that sample lesson. I've tried making my own science lessons before (reading from an outline and using demonstrations), but my boy doesn't like to be "talked at" for long periods. Maybe we could start with the picture books and then delve into more details from Nebel's book. I'll have to brainstorm about how to present the information in a way that will hold the kids' attention. I really hope that I can use this book. I've heard such good things about it and like the idea of a rigorous science curriculum.
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 9 and son age 10.5.

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    Senior Member Arrived dottieanna29's Avatar
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    I have this book. I love the concept behind it since I do agree that all disciplines of science are interelated. I like the idea of mixing things up rather than doing Life science one year, then Chemistry, then Earth Science, etc. That said, I found that it doesn't work for us without some heavy supplementation.

    I have a Biology/Environmental Studies degree (included a lot of Earth Science), dh has a Chemistry degree, so we are a VERY science-y family and I still found that I needed more guidance in order to actually get science done. My son is an extreme visual learner so just talking at him doesn't work well - he needs to see and touch things. The vague "look for learning opportunities" of some of the lessons doesn't work for me at this phase of my life. I'm so distracted with teenage/college issues, potty training issues and our planned schooling that I find I just can't do it. I do teach my son as opportunities arise but it tends to be totally random to what we are studying. I don't do well looking for lessons of a specific type at a specific time.

    What I am planning is to use BFSU to come up with a basic outline for the order to do topics and ways to note how they are related. I will use the lessons as a starting point but expand on them and add experiments, worksheets and readings using RSO, picture books and videos (we have every Magic School Bus dvr'd as well as many others). I think this will work very well for us.
    Dorothy
    Continuing to homeschool after returning to work.
    Mom to:
    Steph - sophomore (?!!) in college
    George - 8/2005
    Vicki - 7/2007
    Dottie's Homeschool Universe

  5. #5
    Senior Member Arrived AddlepatedMonkeyMama's Avatar
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    Thanks, Dottieanna. I've looked at RSO and Noeo, too, but the cost of those programs is a consideration. BFSU seems to require considerable prep time on the parent's part, but I like how the lessons build on each other. Why can't we have it both ways???
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 9 and son age 10.5.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Evolved laundrycrisis's Avatar
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    I have it. It is really just a lesson planning book for parents. It is a very, very good lesson planning book for parents, and I'm glad I have it..ironically I will probably use it more when they are well beyond the recommended age range for the book - our kids do things in their own time and they are not ready for these lessons yet. And although I used BFSU to write a very detailed plan for the year, I am also not in a situation right now when I can follow through with putting together those lessons, so I bailed on using it for this year.

    Instead I bought all the grade 3/4 textbooks from the My Pals Are Here series from Singaporemath.com. They are cheap and pretty nice, and I can read them with the kids. I figure with that, and our very large collection of Magic School Bus books, we can cover a science topic per week without me having to put much together.

    BFSU is very well written, and at some point I will buy the sequel that he just published, and hopefully use them both as an outline and put together some more advanced science lessons. But with this book, you do need the time to put those lessons together, and I just don't have that time right now.
    DS1 11.5 in 6th, DS2 9 in 3
    "The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine. "

  7. #7
    Senior Member Arrived dottieanna29's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AddlepatedMonkeyMama View Post
    Thanks, Dottieanna. I've looked at RSO and Noeo, too, but the cost of those programs is a consideration. BFSU seems to require considerable prep time on the parent's part, but I like how the lessons build on each other. Why can't we have it both ways???
    I know, it's driving me crazy that there isn't a comprehensive, secular science program that inter-relates the disciplines the way BFSU does. I was mildly concerned about the cost of RSO since my plan pretty much means buying all three at the same time but most of our other curriculum is free or low-cost and I figure if I get e-books we can repeat our plan with different books and videos in a few years since my kids are still so young. I figure (other than the 2nd Nebel book) I won't need to buy anymore Science curriculum until Junior High.

    Corrigan - I also wrote up lesson plans and this is where 20 years as an executive assistant who loves to plan, came into play. First, I have an Excel file with every Science and History/Social Study topic I currently want to cover (probably 2-3 years worth at this point). It basically starts with a world overview - Habitats/Animals, Geography and Cultures/Countries. Then I'll start Science with a plan from BFSU and History with either Ancients or US (or both, can't decide). Each row has separate columns for the topic, the spine book (BFSU/SOTW/any encyclopedias I have), picture books, videos/weblinks and a brief description of activities with links if needed. I then take that information and put it into a detailed Word document outlining exactly what to do. First heading point is Supplies Needed and second heading point is Books to order from the library. Then each activity/book to read/discussion is listed as a separate bullet point in a somewhat logical order that mixes up reading/writing/sitting activities with more active craft/experiments.

    Now to just stop planning and start doing.
    Dorothy
    Continuing to homeschool after returning to work.
    Mom to:
    Steph - sophomore (?!!) in college
    George - 8/2005
    Vicki - 7/2007
    Dottie's Homeschool Universe

  8. #8
    Senior Member Arrived AddlepatedMonkeyMama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dottieanna29 View Post
    Now to just stop planning and start doing.
    I need to stop doing and start planning! I have the rookie homeschooler's "We're Not Doing Enough Syndrome". I think I have better slow down and come up with a plan for science. I like the idea of using BFSU's schedule with RSO's readings plus picture books and videos. The purchasing will probably have to wait until after the tax refund comes, though. I have some winter nature study topics that can tide us over for a couple months while I figure this out.

    I'm trying to concoct a chronological history plan, too (rookie homeschoolers "Bite Off More Than You Can Chew Syndrome"). I'm not satisfied with the random stories from history approach that we have going now (Ambleside Online). I'm hoping to do use the Usborne History Encyclopedia and SOTW with as many extra books and videos as I can get from the library. We're going to start Early Man and the Ice Age next week, so that's probably enough new curriculum for now anyways.

    Thanks again, everyone, for the tips and feedback!
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 9 and son age 10.5.

  9. #9
    Member Enlightened BackLitLeo's Avatar
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    We have the book, and I'm a fan. I use the lessons as a jumping point. My daughter needs more hands-on activities than BFSU supplies, so I search the web for experiments to go along with each lesson. I love that the lessons build on each other.
    Girl Child - 3rd grade
    Boy Child - Kindergarten
    Me - Along for the ride

  10. #10
    Senior Member Arrived AddlepatedMonkeyMama's Avatar
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    Thanks, BackLitLeo!
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 9 and son age 10.5.

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