Thursday, July 03, 2008

Great advide for Elementary Science

I recently was feeling very clueless as to what direction I wanted to go with Science for our new school year. I have a terrible track record at finishing what we start with Science. It's not that my kids don't know any science, they really do! But their knowledge has been gained from their own interests, asking questions, watching science videos, talking with their dad, reading books on their own, etc. We've always enjoyed nature together and they each have a nature journal. I've just not been consistent with it.

I wrote the following to a group of friends and below is one of the responses I received. This lady has been my mentor for over seven years now. I've never met her in person, but she has blessed me over and over again. Some of her words of wisdom are printed out and saved in my homeschool binder, the one I open most days of our school year. Her words are there for my quick reference on the days I need reassurance that all will be o.k. and I just need to remember what is important, what really matters. I aspire to be gentle and wise, as she is. Here's a bit of our conversation:

I never seem to finish any Science that we start. And I really think it's because I just don't have a whole lot of interest in science other than natural science. It takes too many of my brain cells right now, isn't that horrible to admit?!

Thank you for admitting that you really don't like science except for natural sciences. I'm that way too, that's why generally for the grade school years, we did nature journals and observations. (did you guess I'd say this?)

Some ways to do this to keep it interesting for the varied interests of your family.....

Ask the kids to choose something to study. Let's say they choose frogs. Give them free reign to find books they want to bring home from the library about frogs or pond life. (Pond life might be more fun since some of the children can study frogs, some dragonflies, some turtles or fish, plants and etc.) Let them do their own thing with their info. Maybe one will want to just read and tell you about it. Another might want to go sit at the pond every day for a week or two or maybe study the pond for an entire year, noting the changes in a pond. Some may want to journal or draw pictures or take photos.

When the frog/pond thing wears out, let them choose another topic. Fruit, changing leaf color, rodents (maybe you have a mouse in the house!), weather, birds.... Whatever they choose, let THEM decide how to study and show their skills. Again, the library is a good jumping off point with books that may lead to other books and ideas.

Some of my kids liked experiments. Any of these topics could lead to experiments --tadpole eggs to adult frogs, looking at pond water under a microscope, identifying leaves from the trees on your land and so on.

Have you ever done the Backyard Bird Watch from Cornell University? That might be a fun "science" project for the whole family or for the kids to do together.

I preferred to always have a book case of field guides rather than a bookcase of textbooks, but that's just me. I saved the formal science texts for high school and that has worked pretty well for us.


You can find Jody at Homemade Living where I found her 7 years ago. I remember reading there and it being like a huge breath of fresh air. I copied off everything in case for some reason I couldn't get to her website again. Her words have shaped our homeschool more than anything else. I take her book recommendations seriously! And I now recommend those same life changing books to other moms.

Jody also has a blog about her ranch life at Gumbo Lily.


Gumbo Lily said...

It's truly been a joy sharing with you these past 7 or 8 years. You inspire me too, Bessie, and I love hearing about the special interests each of your children has.

Isn't it something how smart your children are with a slower, more natural way of learning? It says a lot.

Happy Days Ahead!

BessieJoy said...

Thanks so much for your kind words. You are always such an encouragement!

ohiofarmgirl said...

Can I add one more thing? I have learned that I needed to enjoy my children more and teach them less...what I mean a blink of an eye they are gone and in college. It is such a sad and happy time all in one.
When my kids needed to know something thats when they learned it. My daughter loved biology but I wish we had spent less time on that and more time doing things together because she knew everything she needed when she entered school and if she was in doubt she would find the answer or call me from school and we would go over it again....I guess what I am saying is I wish I could do those days over and spend more time talking and laughing and listening to books together....JMHO. Thanks for listening. Dianntha

BessieJoy said...

Thank you, Dianntha, for the advice/comment! I will take it to heart. My oldest will be 12 in a few days and he's now tall enough for me to look him straight in the eye. I sometimes have almost a sense of panic at how fast time is going by! I do realize these are precious days, but probably not like you "know". I try to pay close attention to my friends with older children. I value their opinions. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me!