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
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Entries in science (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.

Friday
Oct172014

Weekly book shelf, 10/17/14

In Story of the World this week we checked in with the good people of Australia and New Zealand. One of the things I find most difficult about history is connecting all the corners of the world at once. It's all good and well to look at a thousand years of activity in Europe, or in Asia, or in the Americas, but to study them all concurrently is difficult. Even more difficult is making sure that the corners of the world that we have less written history from are not forgotten or treated as less than equal. For that reason alone, I enjoyed this book. 1000 Years Ago on Planet Earth is not stuffed with enticing facts, really it's full of over simplification, but it does kind of sew the corners together.

In science this week we practiced reading latitude and longitude, and explored the ways that these measurements of the earth were made. It was a pretty fascinating week. I've always taken such things for granted, but now I know the why behind the what. The Illustrated Longitude tells the story of John Harrison and his quest to create a sea clock for determining longitude at sea. This is an adult book, and the illustrations are mainly notes and sketches, but Calvin loved it.

Tom's Midnight Garden is a sweet coming of age story. Tom is packed off to his relatives when his brother comes down with the measles. Unhappy about being stuck in a small country town, one night Tom answers the call of a clock striking thirteen and discovers a secret garden where he make a lifelong friend. Mystery abounds, and ends with a large dose of magic.

 

And our end the day read is still The Subtle Knife.

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
Sep072012

BFSU B5: Food Chains, and D4: Biomes

One of my favorite topics! This is not anything new to Calvin, really, but we had a good time really talking about food chains, and getting more specific about biomes than we have in the past. In addition to reading, hiking, and watching some videos, I found great maps on this site: I printed this one to color in, and brought this up on the screen for copying.

Who Eats What? Food Chains and Foods Webs. Patricia Lauber (1995). A Let's Read and Find Out About Science, book. Honest, forthcoming, and unflinching with simple illustrations, some crayon drawings that will encourage a child to get in on the action themselves.

What is a Biome? Bobbie Kalman (1997). Very informative but without being too dense. Photographs and illustrations are realistic and make great aids. My only complaint is that it can feel a little scattered, with too many tidbits added outside of paragraph text, but it's no DK nightmare book, and I found it completely usable.

Staying Alive: A Story of a Food Chain. Jacqui Bailey (2006). Another unflinching look at life, this book looks specifically at the food webs of the African Savanna, which makes it a good book to connect the topics. Comedic illustrations and interjections keep things funny, but can be distractions from the important text. Again, not on the level of a DK book, just minor distractions.

Pass the Energy, Please! Barbara Shaw McKinney (1999). Rich illustrations and rhyming text set this food chain story apart from the rest. I've reviewed this one before. It's a beautiful look at the significance of food chains. The rhyming can be stilted in some areas, but the book is well worth reading.

Life On Earth: The Story of Evolution. Steve Jenkins (2002). A wonderful explanation of the process of evolution and overview of the ongoing nature of time with Steve Jenkins's fantastic illustrations of pieced paper. This is another book to which we have returned many times. We have it in our personal collection, purchased used because, unfortunately, it's already out of print. What were they thinking???

We also watched all the Schlessinger Biomes in Action videos, which were available on DVD from our library. Their science videos (like all their vidoes) are cheesy, but they lack the flashing lights, quick changes, and gimics of other, more recent children's videos that are so distracting while providing good information. Each video shows kids (middle school age maybe?) visiting world biomes, and also running some (albeit questionable) experiments in a school or home lab setting. Calvin enjoyed them all.