Sharing ideas, teaching tips and resources for the homeschool journey.
Teaching homeschool science can excite a child's curiosity, inspire them to observe and teach them to record their findings. All this can be done simply and naturally without a textbook.
When the time came to introduce science into our homeschool I didn't know where to start. I settled on a popular pre packaged science curriculum. We completed the work but lost the sparkle for the subject. It was DRY and it lacked Australian content.
After I read Charlotte Mason’s ideas on science and I decided to give them a go. One week later I knew we were on a winner.
Many scientific subjects are covered using her methods.
‘Books dealing with Science...should be of a literary character, and we would probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text books. Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire, it is perhaps of no educational value. ’ Charlotte Mason
Her ideas have been the core of my children’s science curriculum in their early school years.
Teaching science does require some thought when incorporating it into the Australian National Curriculum as the two philosophies differ in sequencing of content. You can read more about this on my blog post Charlotte Mason and Australian National Curriculum-Science.
In NSW (and other states are moving towards this expectation also) there is an emphasis on following the set syllabus, NSW is based on the ANC but varies slightly. In NSW the Board of Studies wants homeschoolers to show how their chosen curriculum conforms to the NSW Board of Studies foundation statements and outcomes. For those of us who have to justify our curriculum to a particular government authority this is how I would approach the planning of my science curriculum. I would demonstrate my plan still uses the educational content of the ANC (or NSW Syllabus) the only difference is the change of sequencing using an immersion approach from Years 3—6, rather than a spiral approach.
Flexibility is built into the plan of the ANC (and the NSW Syllabus) as the desired learning outcomes are set out in stages even though they are presented in specific graded years.
Stage One —Kindergarten to Year 2
Stage Two—Year 3 and 4
Stage Three—Year 5 and 6
For primary school the NSW Board of Studies suggests 6-10% of your time should be spent on science. This equates to 1 to 2.5 hours per week.
Here is my suggested sequencing for the seven years of primary school. I have set it out in graded years but remember there is flexibility. I’ve used an immersion approach from Years 3—6.
For more specific recommendations see the graded curriculum guides.
Charlotte believed in a teaching from nature and teaching from living books. You won’t need a science textbook to teach this age group. These years are the years of observation and discovery with an emphasis on nature. Children are taught to wonder and you can basically loosely teach in all the strands from Foundation Year to Year Two.
These years the ANC has an expectation that you will encourage scientific recording skills. This can be done through nature journaling. You will also need to discuss how science helps us today.
Helpful books to use in these years.
The Wonderland of Nature and Journal – an Australian nature book (Biology, Earth Science)
Field Guides or Exploring Creation with Botany—optional (Biology)
Nature Stories—about animals and plants (Biology)
Science Living Books (Choose some Physics and Chemistry Topics)
These can be read over the three years in no particular order as the curriculum sees these topics should be covered over stage one but not necessarily over one year. I have used the ANC sequencing but remember there is flexibility.
Foundation Year :
Children are usually ready to start teaching science in a more formal way. Charlotte Mason encouraged a literary approach. This is where my recommendations will differ in sequencing from the ANC but over the four years the same five areas of science will be covered. These recommended resources are presented from a creationist world view.
You will need to demonstrate that you cover all the major areas of science in the ANC but you can doing one science specialty a year for four years (immersion method) rather than doing all four subjects every year for four years (spiral approach).
Helpul Books to use in these year.
I love the Exploring Creation by Apologia series. This series is popular with many homeschoolers. The author is a Charlotte Mason fan and has written seven books. They are written at a 5th grade reading level so for year three and four you will have to read these books aloud to your children. They develop scientific skills and discuss science as a human endeavour in context with the subject being studied. You do not need to do all the series. Choose books that cover the four strands of science. You can find out more from the Jeannie Fulbright here.
The John Hudson Tiner Exploring Series books are also great (I have saved some of these for early highschool as they can be read in a term).
Year Three: Exploring Creating with Astronomy (Space Science)
Year Four: Exploring Creation with Zoology (1 or 2 or 3) (Biology)
Year Five: Exploring Creation with Physics and Chemistry (Physics and Chemistry)
Year Six: Exploring the World Around You (Earth Science) Exploring Creation with Anatomy (Biology)
The Australian National Curriculum (ANC) breaks science teaching into three areas of study.
Within each school year a mixture of topics are chosen for study. The curriculum states that these topics are interrelated and that scheduling of topics can be taught at the teacher’s discretion. So for those who cover topics in a different order don’t worry, I am sure if you demonstrate that you are teaching in all areas this will satisfy the assessors.
The Wonderland of Nature is our recommended resource for teaching science understanding in the early primary years. It covers many of the topics suggested from Foundation to Year Four. It specialises in nature study (observation) but also covers subjects like electricity, sounds, atoms, rocks and magnets. It was written for Australian children and can be studied by a few ages at once.
|A Bush Calendar is one woman's journal of treasures she finds in nature over one calendar year 100 years ago. If you want to study seasons in southern Australia this book is full of observation and delight as Amy Mack trapes through the NSW bush recording her findings on a month by month basis. It begins in August as the first inklings of Spring begin to emerge. I love this book!|
Nature Stories help you teach habitats, living things, and life cycles. We have some good suggestions and a few free downloads of old hard to find Australian stories and many suggestions of where to look for more.
You'll also find my blog has some examples of how we have done homeschool science in our home.
For a list of more living books see our booklists for ideas.
Science sounds like such a technical subject. It brings to mind experiments, chemicals, analytical thinking, microscopes and scientific research. All these topics are a part of science and when your children are young you can begin introducing these topics to them in a very natural and enjoyable way.
For those of us who practice nature study, science skills are easily encouraged with observation, record keeping and documentation in nature journals and field trips.
What about experiments?
Simple experiments can be devised when studying different topics. However observation is the skill that you are trying to develop in the early years.
Labelling objects, recording the phases of the moon, noticing the direction of the winds, all help develop scientific skills.
Nature Study Notebooks are an excellent resource for teaching young children how to record their findings.
Nature Journaling with Kids is a resource to help you incorporate scientific observation into your homeschool.
This resource can be bought seperately or with The Wonderland of Nature Journal - a guided nature journal excellent for children.
“You're making Australian nature study accessible to mothers like me, who easily become discouraged because we're never quite sure how we're supposed to go about it. The Wonderland of Nature Journal is something I can just print out, pick up, and work through with my children without hours of preparation. If I want to use one page, I can do that; but if I want to work through the whole book in order, I can do that, too. I like the simplicity of using one core book (Wonderland of Nature), but the flexibility of the extra pages you include at the end, so that we're not limited to using it with that book. I like the fact that many of the Discovery ideas actually have us going outside to study nature, and that the questions are ones that have us thinking rather than reproducing answers parrot-fashion. It's an excellent way of kindling an interest in nature study, with enough direction for those who need it, and room to go way beyond what is written on the page.” Ruth Marshall Wonder to Wisdom 1/3/07
Science biographies illustrate the influence great men have had on science through human endeavour. They also demonstrate the development of science inquiry skills as observation, questioning, planning, processing and evaluating are used in real life examples.
For a list of science biographies see our booklists.
In our scope and sequence we have suggested some ideas to help you plan your science curriculum for each grade.