2015/2016 Curriculum Choices
We’ll be highlighting some of our curriculum choices for this year over the next few weeks, and you can see them all listed on our Curriculum page. For the 2015/2016 school year, we are homeschooling fifth grade, ninth grade, and twelfth grade. It is our thirteenth year! My senior was in kindergarten when we started. And guess what? It still feels like an experiment each year! I love the freedom and flexibility to cater our curriculum to our individual children and meet their learning styles and interests.
Our youngest is interested in weather. Well, that’s really putting it mildly–he talks about the weather every single day. He is not a fan of storms or even the hint of a storm, so weather seems to be on his mind a lot since we have many cloudy days this time of year. We had a terrible hail storm a few years ago, which damaged our house and car pretty severely, and we recently had a strong thunderstorm with some type of twister that took down hundreds of trees all around us. These events have further intensified my son’s desire to understand weather patterns and how storms work. So, in order to adapt our science curriculum to his interest in studying the weather, my research led me to Science Starters: Elementary General Science & Astronomy from Master Books.
This science package includes a Parent Lesson Planner, a set of three Water & Weather books, and a set of three The Universe books.
The Parent Lesson Planner contains a daily schedule for all 180 school days, tests and quizzes for each unit, answers, and a master list of all the supplies we need for all the projects and experiments in Water & Weather and The Universe. The daily schedule gives me a place to add the dates and grades for each assignment, and a checkbox to mark when they’re complete. It also shows both the day number and the week, so it makes transferring everything to my master record book a breeze. The publisher grants permission for the pages to be reproduced for one homeschool family or small classrooms of 10 or fewer students, making the Parent Lesson Planner economical. This curriculum package is suitable for grades 3-6, and is easily adaptable for use with multiple students.
Each set of science books contains a Teacher’s Guide, a textbook, and a Student Journal. The Teacher’s Guides contain tiny facsimiles of the textbook pages, objectives, notes, and guided questions. The Student Journal is a workbook format activity book with questions from each Investigation and spaces for the student to write and draw his responses. The textbooks are really nice. They are full of color photographs, colorful text, concise blocks of information, and thought-provoking questions that move beyond merely comprehension, but ask the student to think deeply about the concepts he is learning. There is also a brief glossary within the book that helps for reference.
The chapters are called Investigations, which is great, because this teaches kids that they are on a path of discovery, and they are encouraged to be the investigators, not passively being fed information. The colorful presentation and hands-on focus of the Investigations create enthusiasm for learning science.
My children are all hands-on learners, so they really benefit from doing experiments and projects. Each Investigation in this course includes a project, and I won’t lie, some of them require a lot of stuff. However, most of the items are things we already have on hand, with the exception of a few specialty ingredients like Plaster of Paris, which required a trip to the hardware store. The Master Supply list is a life saver, and I just zipped through it and compiled a box full of supplies before we stated our semester. You could skip some projects and still get a lot out of this course, but I have found that my son enjoys the projects so much, they make him look forward to doing science each day. Science is all about discovery, so doing the hands-on activities solidifies the concepts and creates young scientists.