Saturday, March 17, 2007

Science (Part Four)

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Five)

While we're on the subject of social studies, there are some books that cross over between social studies, literature, and sometimes even science: folk tales, myths, and biographies. They sometimes get pushed to the side if they don't fit neatly under one heading, but that doesn't make them unimportant. So far this curriculum isn't too strong on any of those, except for the Nigerian folk tales and a biography of Johnny Appleseed; but it would be something to keep in mind if you were looking for ways to strengthen this year's work.


There were several science resources in the thrift shop/rummage sale shopping bags; some of them were quite interesting and I posted about them previously. The biggest issue in using some of those vintage books wasn't just that they were too old, but that they were "too old"--meaning they'd be better for the 10+ age range. I thought about whether or not it would be fair to "fudge" once again and add a couple of books I'd found on previous trips.

I decided--hey, this is my curriculum and I will fudge if I want to. This poor brave homeschooler is already putting lots of creativity into English, math and social studies; let's make science as easy as possible.

Using the general theme of Research Ideas for Young Scientists (but keeping that book more for parent inspiration), I think the title of the year's curriculum should be How to Think Like a Scientist. In fact, that's the name of a terrific book by Stephen P. Kramer that you can probably find at the library, and if you don't mind "super-fudging," it would be a good book to use at the beginning of the school year. The thrift shop/rummage sale books are The Story of Sound, by James Geralton (heavy on text rather than experiments), Everyday Weather and How It Works, by Herman Schneider, Research Ideas for Young Scientists, by George Barr, Insects Indoors and Out (short chapters about various insects) by Hortense Roberta Roberts, and a butterfly colouring book. (There's also the informal nature study that's part of the social studies work, and there were some nature-related word search puzzles in the puzzle books.) The two books I added look too nice to be yard-sale finds, but I did get them last summer at a used-book sale (upstairs at a supermarket--sometimes books come in strange places). One of them is Science for Fun Experiments, by Gary Gibson--a fat softcover full of experiments on various topics, very kid-friendly. The other one is The Kids' Canadian Bug Book, a bit of a visual addition to Insects Indoors and Out.

The concession I made in using Science for Fun Experiments (hereafter to be known as S4Fun) was that I wouldn't include topics that required more than everyday materials; that ruled out the magnet and electricity units unless you happened to have those things on hand. However, there were still lots of things left to do in the book. (One thing I really like about S4Fun is that every experiment has a small "Further Ideas" box to encourage curiosity.)

So here are the year's topics, just as a demonstration of what could be done. Some weeks I've used more than one book.

How to Think Like a Scientist (library book), 1 week

Shape & Strength, 1 week

Materials (what things are made of), 1 week

Story of Sound plus experiments from S4Fun, 4 weeks

Floating and Sinking, 3 weeks

Weather book, 4 weeks

Kid's Bug Book, 4 weeks

Yo-Yo Science, 4 weeks (free printout from the Internet)

Bug Book and Insects book, 4 weeks

Weather book, 4 weeks

Magnets unit, 5 weeks (If you can’t get magnets, you could do the Pushing and Pulling unit instead.)

(This only comes out to 35 weeks, if I counted right, but that's okay.)

The last of these posts will cover the extras (and where that yo-yo science thing came from), and I'll explain how my additional thrift shop trip rounded things out.

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