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  1. #31


    I had the “always shopping” annoyance with RSO, too. and solved it by having “Science week” where we did an entire unit all at once. One shopping trip. Although all the supplies are easily available, they often werent sold at Sprouts, and it would require a special trip to the “junk-food grocery store”.

    Im sure you will find stuff that works for you!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

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  3. #32


    I have tried the library books idea n my kids loved this approach, even the youngest 4 years old was so in it. But problem is, being from science background will this approach provide a solid foundation for 4th grader? Which science encyclopedias do you think are must haves?
    Regarding teaching the classics, how easy it is for any literature study? Or something like that where we can do our own books but lesson plans are built already. My daughters will love to pay a trip to the library and get their favorite books.

  4. #33


    Quote Originally Posted by MapleHillAcademy View Post
    Also meant to mention, you can get lab kits for many popular homeschool science curricula from Home Science Tools. That would eliminate some of the tedious gathering of supplies for experiments.

    Another option for science you might consider is just getting science books from the library to read and study. You can get whatever books they are interested in or choose a topic and get books for them to study. Have them make notebook pages about what they learned from the books. Then if the book mentions an experiment they might like to try, you can do it or just get a subscription kit from somewhere like Steve Spangler to do experiments. Hands on science is great for kids to experience science but the experiments do not necessarily have to match what they are learning in books. If you are concerned about making sure they get a little of everything science has to offer, use a general science encyclopedia as a spine to guide your studies.
    THIS THIS THIS EXACTLY!! As a science educator (middle and high school level), my opinion is that the best thing you can do through elementary and middle school is to feed the students' interests, not force-feed them what some curriculum wants them to learn. To be honest, much of what they learn they may not retain forever, but done right, they WILL retain the fun of exploration, experimenting, collecting, etc. There's time for formal study of the sciences in high school. This is how we approached science in our homeschooling; both kids ended up taking a year or two of dual credit science classes at the local university while still in high school and did just fine.

    In terms of books from the library (or used on Amazon,etc), I suggest Exploratopia (400+ experiments--my kids loved this one so much I eventually bought it because we almost always had it checked out from the library), kitchen chemistry books like this one or that one, We had more success with the one by Virginal Cobb, but check what is at your local library to get a flavor for what they have. (Pun intended!!)

    I also suggest using Home Science Tools if you need to purchase anything not readily available. This will take some planning on your part as you'll have to allow for shipping time. Keep in mind that if you have a local homeschool community, you may be able to resell the materials.

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University graduate: BS in Computer Science, minor in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  5. #34


    You can also see what is available for science out and about in your area. Some libraries put on science sessions for kids-robotics, basic circuits, kitchen chemistry. State and national parks have science programs as well, usually focused on environment, geology, botany, or specific animals. Check out what local museums may have.

    Get your kids on board, at least the older one. What would she like to learn? You'll get a TON more cooperation if the child thinks have have some say in the decisions. Just don't be demoralized if the interest does not last. Let them explore!

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University graduate: BS in Computer Science, minor in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  6. #35


    Like Inmom said, elementary and even middle school science is less about skills and more about exposure to ideas and people in the science community as a whole. Ideally, if a child develops a love of science before high school, doing the mathematics based science in high school and college should come easily because they are not already turned off to science thinking it is hard or complicated because the nitty gritty and calculations based science were introduced too soon. Conceptual science presented in an interest led way is plenty through 6th or even 8th grade. Some science books intended for elementary school students are surprisingly sophisticated. Let's Read and Find Out science books should be great for your younger daughter. For your older daughter, some of the upper end Let's Read and Find Out books should still be relevant for her. Our library has a huge science selection of books, you might check your library and see what they have and just check out a few that look interesting and see what appeals to you and your daughters.

    As for an encyclopedia, I am the wrong person to ask lol, I love them all! We are currently building new bookshelves to house our ever growing collection of children's books even though my youngest is 6 years old, I plan to have them available to grandchildren should I be so lucky. ;-)

    Some of our favorites have be the DK Smithsonian encyclopedias that are topical. The Kingfisher or Usborne encyclopedias are good general reference encyclopedias whether they are for history or science. The DK Eyewitness books would be great for an advanced 4th grader or middle schooler. They tend to have lots of text which is why I would save them for middle school. The Janice Van Cleave "....For Every Kid" science books are great for finding experiments for specific topics and most libraries have them. Also take a look at what books curriculums like Build Your Library use for science in any given grade. For example, in 4th grade BYL has these books scheduled:

    The New Way Things Work (this is another great encyclopedia type book, btw)
    Gizmos & Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions That Work (& Knowing Why)
    Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
    What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors
    The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia

    You don't necessarily have use BYL, you could just use these books as jumping off point for studying physics and inventions. Or you could spend the $40 to buy BYL and just use the science lessons. I don't think $40 is too much for a science curriculum that is all planned out for you even if you don't use the rest of the curriculum outside of the science lessons.

  7. #36


    For Teaching The Classics...

    I think you will probably be fine if it is what you want. The only other one I can think of where you can use your own books but the lessons are more or less planned is Drawn Into The Heart of Reading by Heart of Dakota publishers which is again a Christian publisher but I've known secular homeschoolers who happily used the lessons successfully. I have not used either but heavily considered TTC.

    What I ended up doing was reading Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence Goldstone myself and applying the ideas to my own kids and what they were reading. They talk about setting up a book club for kids and parents in Deconstructing Penguins but I never did that. I just used what made sense to me and discarded the rest.

  8. #37


    Inmom my daughters love stem toys, they already have a lot of them, like circuit kits, robotics toys, etc. We do visit museums, libraries and park.I am liking your ideas and big thanks to you and MapleHillAcademy. For me teaching science on my own is so much easier than teaching literature. In science I can come down at their level while teaching. But while doing literature with my older one I am not able to think at her level so I try to get more from her making her loose interest in it and feeling it a burden even though I try hard to lessen the work she needs to do.

  9. #38


    I think teaching science as interest based and being guided by books all the way through to early high school age is just fine. I have a science background (chemistry PhD and work as a science editor) and my husband is also a scientist (biochemistry PhD and works as a research scientist), as is my mother (chemistry masters and ex highschool science teacher) who my kids spend lots of time with. So we love science in our family.

    When we first started homeschooling, I thought I would need a curriculum for it. So I tried Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, which is great but very time intensive to organize and can be daunting to navigate as it is not organized in a linear fashion. It has great book lists though to use a jumping board of what to search for at your local library based on interests/topics. And the PDFs are quite cheap to buy.

    So then we tried RSO. We started with chem. And I know it is one of the more popular ones, and I am not saying it is bad, but for us it was a drag. Both for me, who obviously loves chemistry, and my daughter, who is a keen science learner. It turned into one of those curricula that I was just making her do to get a decent amount of it finished so that it felt ok to have paid for it. We just found that the links between the learning and experiments were often absent or tenuous and it just made the experiments seem kind of empty and a waste of time. There were some experiments that were good, but enough of the above sort that we both ended up disliking it. So we interspersed it with interest based science readings/research. Really should have tried the samples first as RSO have good length free samples available.

    So my advice would be based on our mistakes: just try book/interest based first and see if it works; and then if you want to try more, use the free samples that are available before investing.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

  10. #39


    For science I am quite enthusiastic about starting this approach, I always try to involve my oldest one at least in curriculum decisions. She is loving it and is excited to be homsechooled with middle sister. For english still I don't feel confident in trying this approach because of previously described reasons. Nowadays I am trying hard to be at her level.

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