Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in age 8 (2)


Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. II thread plan

After spending the early part of September reviewing BFSU vol. I, in October we'll be continuing our science journey with Elementary Science Education, or BFSU vol. II gor frades 3-5.

Here is my previous note about the BFSU books from my Vol. I thread plan post:

I love these books, but not everyone does, because these aren't the kind of books you can crack open for the first time on the morning you expect to run through a lesson together. These books do require planning ahead, and sometimes studying ahead, depending on your own science background. Since I studied Evolutionary Biology in college I already have a very strong science background, but these lessons are so well described that they lend themselves to learning together.

First, though, a bit about what these books aren't: they are not workbooks or text books; they are not intended to be handed to a student; they don't have tests, questions, pictures, or diagrams; they are not scripted.

What they ARE, is a series of well thought out lesson plans that guide teachers and students through the basic tenets of science by following the scientific model of "show don't tell".

Lessons plans in these books are intended to be taught in a few sessions over one to two weeks, depending on the depth of the lesson and the depth of your interest. Each lesson opens with an overview, a breakdown of the parts of the lesson with suggested time expenditure for each part, and lists of necessary background knowledge, expected knowledge outcomes, and necessary materials.

Every lesson has suggested demonstrations and hands on activities as well as suggestions for general conversation. Most lessons also suggest ways to go deeper into lessons when the interest is there.

At the end of each plan is a list of suggested reading materials.

The lessons are divided into four different topic threads (the nature of matter, life sciences, physical science, and earth and space science), and all lessons in the three books are connected via a flow chart that shows a suggested order of attack and demonstrates how certain lessons flow into others and which are necessary prerequisites to others.

It is easy, although a little time consuming, to sit down with the flow chart at the front of each book and make a plan of action for the school year, whatever that means to you. Where possible, we tend to focus on the Life Science and the Earth and Space Science threads in the spring and summer when the weather is nice, while in the fall and winter we focus more on the Physical Science and the Nature of Matter threads. This is what I think works best for us, but there are many ways to plan the order of delivery while still keeping to the suggested flow order, so you can do whatever works best for you.

Here, then is my plan of action for covering the lessons in Elementary Science Education: BFSU Vol 2

October 2014
(connecting concepts to our recent trip to California, and the season change to fall)
D-10: The Water Cycle and its Ramifications
D-11: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Movements of Tetonic Plates
D-12: Mapping the Earth; Latitude and Longitude
D-9: Cause of Seasonal Changes

November 2014
(connecting to the fall season)
B-16: Fungi and Bacteria I: Their Role as Decomposers in Nature
B-17: Fungi and Baceria II: Decomposers vs. Food Storage and Preservation
B-18: Fungi and Bacteria III: Decomposers vs. Disease and Health

January 2015
A-11: Atomic/Molecular Motion I: Evidence from Brownian Motion and Diffusion
A-12: Atomic/Molecular Motion II: Relationship to Temperature
A-13: Atomic/Molecular Motion III: Heat and Pressure

February 2015
A-15: Will It Sink or Foat? The Concept of Density
A-16: How Metal Ships Float/Making a Hydrometer
A-17: Heat, Volume, and Density


March 2015
(connecting to our trip to the tropics)
A-18: Convection Currents: Observation and Interpretation
D-13: Climate and Weather I: Wet Tropics and Dry Deserts

Break for side study of bird migration and species identification


April 2015
B-12: The Life of Plants I: Growing Plants for Fun, Food, and Learning
B-13: Cells I: Microscopes, Observations of Tissues, and the Cell Theory


May 2015
B-14: Cells II: Cell Growth, Division, and Differentiation
B-22: The Life of Plants II: How a Plant Grows Its Parts


June 2015
B-15: Cells III: Integrating Cells and Whole-Body Functions
B-19: Microscopic Organisms I: Their Multitude and Diversity
B-20: Microscopic Organisms II: Single-Celled Organisms; Kingdom Protista


Break for summer observation of species and habitats in the wild


2015-2016 school year (order planned, but not yet placed on calendar)
C-8: How Things Fly
C-9: Center of Gravity, Balance, and Wobbling Wheels
C-10: Movement Energy and Momentum
C-11: Mechanics I: Levers and Discovery of the Underlying Principle
C-12: Mechanics II: Inclined Planes, Pulleys, Gears, and Hydraulic Lifts
C-13: Electricity I: Electric Circuits, Switches, Conductors, and Non-Conductors
C-13a: Electricity Ia: Static Electricity, Sparks, and Lightning
C-14: Electricity II: Parallel and Series Circuits, Short Circuits, Fuses, and Ground Wires
C-15: Light I: Basics of Light and Seeing
A-14: Concepts of Chemistry I: Elements and Compounds


Year 3 school plan (2014-2015, age 8)

We continue homeschooling through the summer, just with a lighter load of table work and an emphasis on life learning, and I count our years from mid-June through mid-June, so when I say "the 2014-2015 school year", I mean June 2014-June 2015. I do this because Calvin's birthday is in mid June, plus this is about when we launch our different summer schedule.

June 2014-June 2015
Age 8 (public school grade 3)


We love the Michael Clay Thompson series from Royal Fireworks Press. We originally used Susan Wise Bauer's First Language Lessons, but Calvin flew through that entire series and we both wanted something more rich and holistic. The MCT series certainly provides that. Since Calvin already had a great background in grammar, having finished the entire FLL series, he flew through the MCT Level 1 books in just a few months last spring and he really couldn't get enough, especially of the poetry and Latin root lessons. We took a break over the summer, but will pick it back up full swing this fall. We also use a supplementary spelling workbook (for vocabulary building and handwriting practice as much as for the spelling), and journal writing.

We started with the Math-U-See back in the pre-school or kindergarten age and it has served us well. The curriculum makes great use of visual aids and continually builds on and reviews previous topics. We use three supplementary workbooks that practice logic based math as well.

We started with Spanish last spring using the Flip-Flop Spanish book. This was a pdf file that I purchased on CurrClick and printed at home, and while I would never consider it a well rounded language lesson book, it was a pretty light and fun way to get started with some vocabulary before settling down into the nitty gritty. The nitty gritty is more where we are starting this fall with Spanish for Children.

As with so many others in the homeschooling community we have been plugging along with The Story of the World, and I plan to continue in this way with a few changes. Prior to this year we have been spending lots of extra time on various civilizations and time periods. For each civilization we studied we went into details about their mythology, their origin stories, and usually sought out examples of early (very early) literature traditions. This year, with the exception of the Norse mythology that is coming up, I plan to speed up our journey through this curriculum.

No changes here. We are still using Building Foundations and loving it. The only change I wish to effect this year is the addition of some supplementary living science reading.


June 2014-June 2015
Age 8 (public school grade 3)


The Michael Clay Thompson series, Level 2:
Grammar Town, Paragraph Town, and Practice Town
Building Poems
Caesar's English
Poetry for Young People series
Spelling Workout Level F (to be completed in January)
Spelling Workout Level G (begin in January)
Reading, both alone and aloud, choice and assigned from a long list of classical books

Math-U-See Zeta (complete in October)
Math-U-See Pre-Algebra (begin in October)
Logic Liftoff, grades 4-6 (complete in January)
Orbiting with Logic, grades 5-7 (begin in February)
Logic Safari Book 2, grades 3-4 (complete in January)
Logic Safari Book 3, grades 5-6 (begin in February)

Spanish for Children Primer A

The Story of the World, Volume 2
The Story of the World, Volume 2 Activity Book

Building Foundations in Scientific Understanding, Volume II, Grades 3-5

Drawing with Children, by Mona Brooks
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series, by Mike Venezia

Piano Adventures Level 3B series (complete in March)
Piano Adventures Level 4 series (begin in March)
Boychoir of Ann Arbor Preparatory Choir