Friday, November 23, 2012

Breaking It Down- Science

I began with “Beginning theories” (a logical place to begin) and moved on to the human body. 

From there, as recommended in The Well Trained Mind, we studied plants, animals, geology, the climate and now astronomy. 

Next we will go to chemistry, physics and technology. Each child jumps in wherever we are when they hit six or so; just like in History.

I use pictorial encyclopedias and whatever else I can find at the library to teach these subjects. I read a page or two per day to the whole crew, and then have them write a report on something we read about (about once per week).  

(Again, we now use Abeka and honestly, I think they are learning more. We still do many informal things and look up anything that crosses our path, but Abeka is giving the children a more structured and consistent education in those things we don’t run into every day, though those things we do deal with every day- animals, plants in our yard, the chemistry of cooking and cleaning- my kids have down pat. I do intend to move a more "Charlotte Mason" direction this coming year, focusing on nature study.)

We can do any experiments described in the books that use things I have around the house and that I think will help enhance our understanding. 

Keep a list of what you do and what happens. Many have their children write an additional report describing all experiments and what happened in them. You should follow the “Scientific method” as much as possible;

  • Ask a question (what will happen if…how does…etc.),
  • Form a theory (I think….),
  • Test your idea, and record the findings (It happened like I expected…I was surprised when…).
For areas that don’t lend themselves well to experiments you can start collections; bugs, rocks, leafs, etc. 

We sometimes keep a weather journal to go along with our climate study. Each child has a small shelf in the dining room to put science collections on such as the five prettiest rocks, plant clippings, or sea shells they can find or the baby lizard he caught and put in an old fish tank. These should be labeled. 

Look things up whenever you can such as that yellow bird on the fence or that really ugly bug in the bathtub. You can draw pictures to help you remember what they look like until you can get to the library (or, uhh, google, or take a picture of it and post it on your facebook page and ask your friends if they knwo what it is). This, then, doubles as art and encourages the children to be more observant of details.
“You know you are a homeschooler when your cat dies and you can’t decide if you should bury it or dissect it.”

You can check the biography, craft and video sections (don’t forget YouTube, Netflex, and Amazon Prime) for materials to supplement your main books. There is nothing like seeing a volcano explode when you are studying them and videos provide that experience from the safety of your own home. (Creation Research Institute has a video of Mount ST. Helens blowing up that I understand is fantastic.)

All papers are put into a science notebook. The notebook can also contain sections to list names and dates of important people and definitions of new words you run across in your reading and diagrams the children draw to go with what you study. Or you can have each child make a display or give a demonstration on what they have learned for grandparents, the church, friends, etc.

I am happier with this method of teaching science then I ever was with the traditional textbook method. I never felt they really learned the material in the texts. The sections did not go into enough detail and changed subjects too fast (besides being boring in writing style and pictures). Now we have time to really study things in as much depth as we want to, even if one area takes more than a year. It will probably take four to seven years to go through the science cycle, too.  

(Well, as I said, things change. Trying to pull together the other study got to be too much, not leaving enough time for other subjects or just getting left out all together. Every family has changes and cycles and as long as your children are learning, do what works for this time in your life.)

Science Categories:
Scientific Name
Creation, Evolution
Botany, Horticulture, Gardening
Biology, Zoology, People, Health, Nutrition
The Earth
The Sky
Climatology, Astronomy
Small Things
Chemistry, Housekeeping (Chemistry In Action)
Machines, Computers
Physics, Technology, Computer Programming


  • Read from your “spine.”
  • Keep a list of important people and dates.
  • Draw a picture of anything you saw today (birds, bugs, rocks, leaves, etc.)
  • Update collections
  • Record the day’s temperature, weather conditions, time of sunrise and sunset (listed in the newspaper as well as the Weather Channel on the internet).
  • Do any relevant experiments
  • Write a report on the day’s reading or experiment.
  • Read or watch any supplement materials.

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