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-
  • SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    by MODERN CURRICULUM PRESS
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
Powered by Squarespace
Live and Learn Tags
Live and Learn Categories

Entries in BFSU (9)

Friday
Oct312014

Weekly book shelf, 10/31/14

In history this week, The Story of the World took us to the time of Tariq bin Ziyad and the Islamic invasion of Spain. One of the things I've been increasingly disappointed with in SOTW is its bias—its white, male, Christian bias. It's a continuous problem in all history books for children, really, so to this week's schedule I added some reading on the Islamic faith and what it means to be a Muslim. Muslim Child came highly recommended, oddly enough, by the SOTW. It is a collection, as it says, of stories and poems about the Islamic faith. It is written fairly well and illustrated with tasteful sketches in black and white, but it did come across as proselytizing, or felt a bit like propaganda to me. At least we are learning quite a bit about bias in general.

In science this week we tackled the world's decomposers (BFSU2 B16). For comparison of the various kingdoms, in particular the animal and plant kingdoms, we used Flowering Plants and Mammals from the Classifying Living Things series. For the main portion of our week study, though, we used Steve Parker's Molds, Mushrooms, & Other Fungi. All of these are great books for understanding the criteria that determine kingdom classification, and for deeper study of Kingdom, and more detailed, classification.

For his reading comprehension notebook this week, Calvin picked The Book of Three. It's the first in the five book series, The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. Taran, a young pig-farmer, is chasing a runaway pig when he meets a prince, and thus begins his quest to become a hero. Calvin was unable to put this one down.

 

 

Calvin was also reading Carl Sandberg's Rutabaga Stories. It was a favorite of my dad's when he was little, so when we found his old copy, Calvin decided to give it a try. It's a collection of stories that display Sandberg's talent for the truly absurd. And hilarious.

Monday
Sep082014

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

Tuesday
Jun112013

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. I thread plan

We are nearing the end of our journey through the first BFSU book, and I think a review of sorts is long overdue. I love these books, but not everyone does. 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. They require planning ahead, and sometimes studying ahead, depending on your own science background. Since I studied Evolutionary Biology in college I have a strong science background, but these lessons are so well described that they lend themselves to learning together for those who do not have that background, with maybe just a little extra planning time.

First, though, a bit more 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 subjects 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.

I first started with BFSU I a couple of years ago. At the time I picked it up and started with the first lesson in the book. It actually took me a couple of weeks to realize that the lessons were divided into the four different disciplines and were meant to be taught fluidly throughout. When I did figure that out, I sat down and spent some time with the book, creating a plan of action for us to follow.

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 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.

We started with BFSU in Marc 2012 when Calvin was 5 (turning 6 in June 2012). Following is the plan I worked out and implemented for the lessons in book 1.

BFSU Vol. I, grades K-2

March 2012
A/B-1: Organizing Things into Categories
B-2: Distinguishing Living, Natural Non-living, and Human-made Things

April 2012
A-2: Solids, Liquids, Gases
A-3: Air Is a Substance
A-4: Matter I: Its Particulate Nature

May 2012
A-5: Distinguishing Materials
A-5a: Magnets and Magnetic Fields
C-1: Concepts of Energy I: Making Things Go
D-1: Gravity I: The Earth's Gravity/Horizontal and Vertical

June 2012
B-3: Distinguishing Between Plants and Animals
C-4: Concepts of Energy III: Distinguish Between Matter and Energy
C-3: Concepts of Energy II: Kinetic and Potential Energy
C-2: Sound, Vibrations, and Energy

July 2012 and all through the summer of 2012
B-4a: Identification of Living Things (ongoing study)
B-4b: What is a Species/Use of Field Guides in the Field (ongoing study)
B-4: Life Cycles

September-October 2012
C-1: Concepts of Energy I (REVIEW)
B-3: Distinguishing Between Plants and Animals (REVIEW)
B-5: Food Chains and Adaptations (ongoing study)
D-4: Land Forms and Major Biomes of the Earth

November-December 2012
B-6: How Animals Move I: The Skeleton and Muscle
B-7: How Animals Move II: Different Body Designs, Major Animal Phyla (ongoing study)

January 2013
B-3: Distinguishing Between Plants and Animals (REVIEW)
C-5: Inertia
C-6: Friction
C-7: Push Pushes Back

February 2013
D-5: Time and the Earth's Turning (ongoing study)
D-6: Seasonal Changes and the Earth's Orbit (ongoing study)
D-7: Gravity II: Weightlessness in space, Distintion Between Weight and Mass

March-June 2013
Supplemental: Connect the Thoughts Lower School Science IV: Physics & Astronomy

Summer 2013
B-4a: Identification of Living Things (ongoing study)
B-4b: What is a Species/Use of Field Guides in the Field (ongoing study)
B-4: Life Cycles (ongoing study)

October 2013
A-6: Matter II: Air Pressure, Vacuums, and the Earth's Atmosphere
A-7: Air: A Mixture of Gases
A-8: Evaporation and Condensation

November 2013
A-9: Matter IV: Dissolving, Solutions, and Crystallization
A-10: Rocks, Minerals, Crystals, Dirt, and Soil

January-February 2014
B-10: Plant Science I: Basic Plant Structure
B-11: Plant Scienc eII: Seed Germination and Seedling Growth
B-12 Plants, Soil, and Water
D-8: Rocks and Fossils

March-April 2014
B-8: How Animals Move III: The Nervous System
B-9: How Animals Move IV: Energy to Run the Body

May 2014
(connect to spring and planting of vegetable gardens)
B-11: Plant Sci II: Seed Germinatin and Seedling Growth (REVIEW)
B-12: Plants, Soil, and Water (REVIEW)

Summer 2014
B-4a: Identification of Living Things (ongoing study)
B-4b: What is a Species/Use of Field Guides in the Field (ongoing study)
B-4: Life Cycles (ongoing study)

For September 2014
Complete book review

For October 2014
Begin BFSU Vol. II

Friday
Jan182013

Inertia (BFSU C-5)

Again we spent two weeks really reviewing and then absorbing this science topic. We had done the first four energy sections over the summer, but then we'd taken that knowledge and applied it to life science (how animals obtain, convert, and use energy and how energy drives the selection process behind evolution), so before we returned to the energy thread I thought we'd review a bit. Following that, we took what we knew about energy (that all energy boils down to some form of kinetic energy) and moved on to study inertia. Describing the concept being a property was probably the hardest part of this section, and while I am sure that he understands the concept at this point, we are still struggling a little to use the right vocabulary when discussing the topic, but we'll have more time to work on that as we continue with the concepts through the rest of the month.

So, inertia. A few books, a few demonstrations, and we were good to go.

Energy Makes Things Happen, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Another book from the Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science series, which Calvin and I both love. This book provides a good break-down of the different forms of energy and how energy is used and converted.

Forces Make Things Move, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Yes, yet another from the LRAFO series (because I refuse to keep typing out that title!), but it's really my go-to series.

Energy, Forces, & Motion, by Alistair Smith. This is one of those "Internet Linked" Usborne books. I have never tried the internet linked portion of any of these books, and I'm not sure I'd ever pay full price for one of them, but we bought it for twenty-five cents used and it was definitely worth that, even if for just a few definitions. I have a feeling it will be of more help in the future as it covers more than we were planning to just yet.

Friday
Sep282012

How animals move: invertebrates (BFSU B7 I, plus the major phyla)

We talked two weeks ago about the skeletons in our bodies and our similarities to other vertebrates, then over the last two weeks we moved on to the appropriate next subject: invertebrates. Plus, having already spent some time learning about Linnaean taxonomy, we also spent some time learning about the major animal phyla and how to identify members of each. We had fun drawing, coloring, reading, discussing, and even memorizing.

There are tons of books that would be good for this kind of study, and we used more than I'm listing here, but the following were some of our favorites.

Classifying Invertebrates is just one book in the Classifying Living Things series, and we used all of those that pertain to the animal kingdom. These books make a lot of information feel very accessible with high quality pictures to help make the point. Unfortunately, no books published so recently can escape the bright colors, disruptive text variations, and poor page design that plague youth non-fiction these days, but this series is better than some (DK) and does follow a natural flow. I liked them and can recommend them.

The National Audoban Society Field Guide series is another set that we used for this exploration. In particular we used their Insects and Spiders, Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds, and Mammals books. We own all of these copies because I've picked them up at used book sales over the years, and for our purpose this week they were wonderful because they have beautiful, high quality photos presented in a natural order that shows similarities between sub-species. That being said, we own a completely different set of guides for our own field work (The Michigan field guides by Stan Tekiela, and books from the Peterson Field Guides series).

The Handbook to the Orders and Families of Living Mammals, by Timothy Lawler, is actually a college textbook that I was unable to part with. Lots of information, presented mostly on a college level, and only a few sketches of animals and their bones to assist with skeletal identification. It is leftover form my very favorite college course (from oh so many years ago) and remains one of my favorite possessions. Either for this reason, or because I trust him with it, or simply because it is truly a college book, Calvin is obsessed with this volume and spent more than a handful of hours during the week pouring over it.

Fireflies in the Night is from the annoyingly titled but very well written Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science series. From what I can tell, the series was originally compiled back in the sixties, and even the revised versions are still wonderfully written. No dumbing down here, and no "eye-catching" gimmicks thrown in. The Stage 1 books, like this one, are pretty young for Calvin, but we still enjoy them. This is a go-to series for me.

Earl The Earthworm Digs for His Life, by Tim Magner. This is a really cute book that tells the life story of an earthworm searching for the meaning of his life. Along the way he recognizes, and of course tell the readers all about, the importance of each insect he passes by, worrying all the while that he has no important reason to be there. In the end, of course, we all discover that he is particularly important, and by that time we have also learned how he is born and how he functions. Sweet.