2. As for elementary science, I follow a 2-program cycle, whereby I rotate between Elementary Apologia (Jeannie Fulbright) and Noeo. I suggest the Flying Creatures or Marine Biology first b/c all children love animals, then using Noeo Chem 1. Then hit the other animal science and Noeo Physics I. Then fill in with the Apologia Botany or Astronomy (the least exciting of the lot) and Noeo Biology or Apologia Anatomy. Ultimately you then cover Flying Creatures, Land Animals, Botany, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Anatomy over the elementary school years.
The Apologia books are Charlotte Mason in style, gentle read alouds, with suggestions for very simple experiments (generally using household items). We have found, b/c we are big readers, that we pick up books from the library on the same topic areas; i.e. if we're studying bears, we may pick up some bear books that are both fiction and non. The author suggestions total immersion and taking one year to finish one book...that proved a bit too slow and ended up causing us to be bored, so we've found that finishing one Fulbright book in 16 weeks works pleasurably for us. We then can complete a Noeo text by doubling up where possible, using the lesson plans Noeo provides.
Noeo is basically a lesson planned science curriculum that incorporates living books (Charlotte Mason in style and intent), and also follows the Classical Cycle so the child in even early elementary receives an education in Chemistry, Biology and Physics. The lesson plan book is only $20 and you can decide whether or not you want to buy the spines, or use the library. We have successfully used the library for all 3 Noeo levels, however I recognize I live in a very well supported library county. Noeo will incorporate experiment kits from several resources, those of course, you'll need to buy. In the middle school course (grades 7-9 actually), you can buy the Thames and Kosmos Chemistry kit at 50% off if you contact TK and get a "damaged" box, which in effect, means the box got bent up a bit, but the innards are undamaged! Great way to save $75! Noeo comes in 3 levels, the first ideal for grades 1-3, the second 4-6, and finally 7-9. I have found their book selections to be excellent, the program very easy to implement and enjoyed the experiments.
We enjoy keeping a solid notebook and re-reading "yesterday's assignment" as the opening to each day of science. It keeps the flow from day to day. We also like to lapbook as a review of each program. We spend the final week lapbooking, remembering and having fun. Both companies have excellent yahoo groups where you can not only find support, but many, many free files for ideas on notebooking, or simply supporting pages and suggestions on extra books for reading, movies, activities, and even for some of the Apologia, middle school lesson plans to go along with the elementary books -- you'll really appreciate that in a few years when you're big boy is really big and your sweet baby is just starting.
I encourage you, over time, to find materials that will lay out lesson plans for you in multiple grade levels -- eventually time will simple require you to do so. That's why we use and love Tapestry of Grace --- super solid history, outstanding high school, yet designed with the multi-aged family in mind.
That is my science plan after 6 years of creating unit studies on my own and being really happy to discover these. For what it's worth, we have used and did not enjoy:
My Father's World Science
God's Design for....
Real Science 4 Kids (I liked this, but find Noeo, in the Charlotte Mason approach, was more in-depth, and more enjoyable b/c it's less textbook (RS4K is very text book) and more living book)
Apologia Middle School and High School ---- Really boring, I'd encourage you to take a very hands on approach, even in middle school. We've switched to Noeo w/ increased lab work for grades 7-9)
Unit Studies -- while I worked my touche off to build great unit studies, I eventually found the other materials save me a ton of lesson planning time and help to reassure I'm completely covering important topic areas.
There is a program, called Essential Science (I think), might be Elemental Science (though I don't think so) that I hear spoken well of, but I refuse to look....I have no need to start all over again, I'm very happy with out Apologia/Noeo rotation :)
That's our plan! It took me a long time to find the kind of science that was just right.
DK, Usborne publish some Excellent resources. You do have to be mindful of evolutionary references, but only on occasion and you'll find in the end, you can train your children to recognize nonsense and appreciate their ability to do so, instead of just keeping a blind eye. I would never throw out the excellence you'll get from DK, etc. just b/c of a few ideological difference --- they're stuff is meaty and fantastic!
Don't be afraid to include science discover in your history time line, or throw in a biography or two (Noeo does this) as part of the science study.
Finally, HANDS ON --- HANDS DOWN! There is no greater joy than hands on science. Make the mess! It's so worth it!
Choose the Flying Creatures book in the Spring so you can enjoy all you're studying in real life! Do the Swimming Creatures book during a season where you may get to the beach. Spend cold winters indoors with Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy so you can enjoy the forced indoor time. Get a zoo membership when you do Land Animals, it really brings science alive!
HTH, holla anytime :) I LOVE, love, love to talk home schooling!
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- I love the Lord as much as a broken person can; love and loved by my husband; blessed by 5 amazing little people who have helped me to learn much about me; grateful to serve even more as God gives them to me; blessed every day to be a home school teacher; college student; I hope to change the world by loving as many people as possible, because there is nothing greater than loving another.