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hockeymom
02-20-2014, 07:34 AM
We've been using Classiquest Biology this year for science, and while I do appreciate some aspects of it, it's become a bit...monotonous. To wrap up the year, I think we'll go rouge and make up our own unit on anatomy, plus linger longer on ecology.

Does anyone have some great resources for this age group? Because DS is writing quite enough for history, it doesn't need to be writing intensive. I think more exploratory would be good, though I don't quite know what I mean by that. So, some good books to read, a couple hands on projects maybe...doesn't need to be a lot, but more fun than just the same-old.

One project he recently enjoyed was reconstructing a rodent skeleton using bones from an owl pellet (so fun!). I have a cow eyeball to dissect and a lab for determining blood type. Any other ideas? He's not at all squeamish. :)

fastweedpuller
02-20-2014, 09:42 AM
I will be following this, Hockeymom: I wondered how you like Classiquest. (We'll be doing RSO Bio2 next year then probably earth/astronomy then chem through Elemental Science unless Pandia Press puts out more RSO).

I know Farrar came up with some physical science stuff for her kids; maybe skews a little younger but it might give you some ideas.

Does your son like to draw? I know that a book came out recently that *I* thought looked really interesting, here is the NYTimes review (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/health/in-medicines-michelangelo-dr-frank-netters-life-in-pictures.html?ref=bookreviews&_r=0)

Sorry I am not more directly helpful...

Peaceful
02-20-2014, 09:55 AM
We like The Way We Work by Macaulay.

Teri
02-20-2014, 09:56 AM
I was going to suggest RSO Biology 2. We are doing it right now. There is an entire section on anatomy. My kids have really enjoyed it. We are doing it with another family. It is set up to do 2,3 or 4 days/week, but we do a week's worth one day per week. It takes us 2-3 hours (with 5 kids, 2 families).

hockeymom
02-20-2014, 11:13 AM
I will be following this, Hockeymom: I wondered how you like Classiquest. (We'll be doing RSO Bio2 next year then probably earth/astronomy then chem through Elemental Science unless Pandia Press puts out more RSO).

I know Farrar came up with some physical science stuff for her kids; maybe skews a little younger but it might give you some ideas.

Does your son like to draw? I know that a book came out recently that *I* thought looked really interesting, here is the NYTimes review (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/health/in-medicines-michelangelo-dr-frank-netters-life-in-pictures.html?ref=bookreviews&_r=0)

Sorry I am not more directly helpful...

I like it as well as I like any program. It has a lot of upsides, but I just tend to prefer to wander off course as we feel like it and I have a hard time trying to balance that with what we "should" be doing in a book. I do feel like the encyclopedia heavy method is too light and not substantial enough for DS, which explains some of our straying. And like with any program we've tried, it's a bit repetitive; that combined with a case of the Februarys is leading me to think up a more fun unit.

hockeymom
02-20-2014, 11:18 AM
I was going to suggest RSO Biology 2. We are doing it right now. There is an entire section on anatomy. My kids have really enjoyed it. We are doing it with another family. It is set up to do 2,3 or 4 days/week, but we do a week's worth one day per week. It takes us 2-3 hours (with 5 kids, 2 families).

We used RSO in an earlier grade and found it too light. I haven't seen the second level but if it's a similar format, I'm afraid it won't go over well. I'm glad it's working for you, but I'm also not looking for a replacement curriculum to Classiquest, just some excellent books or project ideas as we stray away for spring. But thanks!

reefgazer1963
02-20-2014, 06:50 PM
We've been using Classiquest Biology this year for science, and while I do appreciate some aspects of it, it's become a bit...monotonous. To wrap up the year, I think we'll go rouge and make up our own unit on anatomy, plus linger longer on ecology.

Does anyone have some great resources for this age group? Because DS is writing quite enough for history, it doesn't need to be writing intensive. I think more exploratory would be good, though I don't quite know what I mean by that. So, some good books to read, a couple hands on projects maybe...doesn't need to be a lot, but more fun than just the same-old.

One project he recently enjoyed was reconstructing a rodent skeleton using bones from an owl pellet (so fun!). I have a cow eyeball to dissect and a lab for determining blood type. Any other ideas? He's not at all squeamish. :)

My daughter is 11 and we are using ClassiQuest Biology this year also. I started out really gung-ho about it, but am now disappointed with it and will be switching our science curriculum for next year. I also agree that the writing is extensive and since we do so much writing for history and Language Arts, I cut out the research reports and beefed up the reading with sources online. I also drastically increased the hands-on and experimental aspect of the course.

I actually thought the first few experiments with the scientific method were very well put together, but some of the experiments that referenced Janice van Cleeve's books were really lame and not worthy of middle school science (I've since discovered that I don't really like Janice van Cleeve's books, so I may be biased here). So what I did is added in more biology from an evolutionary point of view (I taught the simpler organisms and zoology from simple to more complex life forms). I already had a good microscope, so I bought 2 slide kits and we did a lot of microscopy work that related to each topic on hand. Here are some of the experiments we did:

1. Tested food for the 4 basic macromolecules of life.

2. Extracted DNA from strawberries with a kit I got on Amazon for $19. Built clay models of this also.

3. I bought agar and petri dishes and we swabbed various spots in the house for bacteria and grew them in a home-made incubator (cheap styrofoam cooler with heat lamp).

4. Collected pond water and searched for various protozoans.

5. Bought a dissection kit and a few representative invertebrate and vertebrate specimens for dissection (worm, grasshopper, clam, frog). Dissected them with an eye toward noticing what makes them more complex than their ancestor, and less complex than the animal above it on the evolutionary tree. Some specimens we did not dissect, we just observed and noted characteristics of that phylum (sand dollar, snail shell, starfish).

4. We cut out most anatomy because we chose to look at anatomy briefly as we combed through the animals from an evolutionary POV (it would have taken an additional 10 weeks to properly do anatomy, IMO). But I did have some ideas for A+P, had my daughter wanted to go that way. Anatomy ideas: 1) Buy one of those skeleton "hobby" kits on Amazon and study the bones, 2) Buy a cat/pig and a dissection kit online and use that to study basic mammalian anatomy, 3) Get a slide kit/microscope and study tissues, 4) blood typing kits are cheap, 5) Most butchers and slaughterhouses will give you a pig/cow heart (we live near Smithfield) for free, and will even keep the great vessels on it you ask, 5) Physiology experiments with live cockroaches/grasshoppers and little epinephrine.

5. I bought Ellen McHenry's Botany course for plants and will supplement with specimens I can collect around here. 'Cause now I'm all worn out from planning the biology year and am leaning on someone else's labs for a bit.

6. I bought some evolution books, and we'll finish up the year with a few natural selection experiments I have in my back pocket, along with looking at a fossil kit I acquired years ago, and constructing a timeline of evolutionary time using a simple rope and marking off the appearance of various life forms (this gives a really good idea of how recent we really are!).

7. We did some field trips earlier in the year to the Natural History Museum in DC, and we've got a zoo and botanical garden trip planned later in the year.

We're kind of science-y here. So before I've even recovered from this year (it's our first year homeschooling and it was hard and rewarding at the same time), I'm getting all gung-ho for chemistry next year, LOL!