I'm doing this science curriculum with D, aged almost 8, but I think that children 2-3 years on either side of his age would get a lot out of it too. I wanted something that was as open-and-go as possible, so I also ordered the science experiment kit....finding anything on this island is a bit of a crap shoot so I'd rather have everything ready beforehand!
Janice Van Cleave's Science Around the World, and the DK Encyclopedia of Animals (for a younger child, or one who struggles with reading, they authors suggest the Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals).
I also asked our amazing librarian to get me the first month of additional reading suggestions through inter-library loan - you don't have to borrow these, but D is an avid reader and was very happy to continue the learning in his spare time. John Lithgow's book "Who's In Your Class?" was a bit hit - is there anything that man can't do?!
Sassafras Science is set up like this: There is a story book that takes you through the entire curriculum, one chapter at a time. The main characters are 12 year old twins who have failed science and are sent to live with their crazy scientist uncle for the summer. The uncle and his sidekick have invented invisible ziplines that, used with a caribeener that they program the coordinates into, zips the twins at the speed of light right to the place they are studying. There is also, of course, a villain trying to stop them from learning.
Along with the story itself, I ordered the teacher's guide and the SCIDAT log book where D can record his "findings" along with the twins. There is a lapbook that you can use in place of the logbook but I had other lapbook plans for this year, and I love the open-and-go format of the TM.
My only complaint (and it's a small and niggling point) is that for a leftie like D, the paperback form of the SCIDAT logbook made it difficult for him to write at times; I would have preferred a ring-bound version of this but worked around it by removing the cover and 3-hole punching these into a binder instead. The binder format also gave us room to add in copywork, coloring pages, and other goodies as we went along. (And yes, the copywork is suggested for each chapter -they truly have thought of everything!)
Here are a few of the things we did in the first couple of chapters.
The story was usually read aloud by either myself or K, 22, because everyone wanted to hear it. Then there was often a section of pages from the encyclopedia to read - D read this to one of us so that he could discuss it with us as he went.
Next, he filled out the new knowledge in his SCIDAT logbook. D struggles with handwriting - he can read at late elementary/early high school level but I would say that his handwriting is more at K-1 level. Because of this, he filled out the smaller portions and dictated longer pieces of information to a "scribe". (We are working to improve the handwriting problem, a leftover from the month in hospital last summer, but in the meantime this seems like a solution that allows his to share his learning with minimal frustration.)
|We sat in the shade to read most days, so D had a LOT of "help" with his work.|
|Sometimes, too much "help". Notice the goat helpfully trying to eat the encyclopedia. And the dog waiting to wrestle with the goat. Not visible in this one are the 20 chickens who love to sit on D's shoulders, lap, or books, also super helpful.|
We divided this chapter (#2) by topics, so D's first notebook page on day 1 was about the grasslands in Kenya, second day was about lions, third day looked at cheetahs instead, etcetera. I think that we will probably continue to stretch the chapters out in this manner, at least for the coming school year, and it's still plenty meaty done this way.
We did a super cool science demonstration to show how the eyes of big cats seem to glow in the dark. We all wedged ourselves into the rather small bathroom in the dark to check it out! (And yep, the flashlight was included as part of the science kit for this one.)
|See the "eye" glowing on the left?|
D, who has been exceedingly difficult of late and throwing fits over pretty much everything, is completely in love with this curriculum! He is happy to get it out, ready to carry it outside, and willing to write in the SCIDAT logbook with only minimal grumbing and attitude. He hasn't even "misplaced" his pencil case for two weeks!
Have you tried any of Elemental Science's curricula? How did you and your children like it? I'm taking notes for future years!