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, rather than a spiral approach.
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. For highschool science is given an equal amount of time as math and English.
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.
This is how the National Curriculum splits the topic of science into strands:• Living World (Biology)
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.
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.
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.
Use these Stage One Outcome Guide to help you plan your science curriculum.
These books will help you meet the requirements for Stage One science.
The Wonderland of Nature and Journal – an Australian nature book. It will cover your biology, earth science and some physics and chemistry topics and give you opportunity to use your scienctific skills with nature journaling.
“I have just looked at the Wonderland of Nature set, may I congratulate you, it is absolutely FANTASTIC!!! I am thoroughly impressed and inspired. More excitedly I have the books you also recommend. It is a goldmine you have put together. I can’t rave enough.” Erin Hasett. 2007. Read more testimonies about this set.
You can also Nature Stories—about animals and plants.
Finding Living Science Books on various topics can grab your child's interest on physics and chemistry topics.
These can be resources can be used over the three years in no particular order - you have three years to complete them.I have used the ANC sequencing but remember there is flexibility.
Children are usually ready to start teaching science in a more formal way around Year 3 or 4. 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).
Use our science outcomes checklist Stage 2 and 3 as a guide for planning.
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.
Exploring Creating with Astronomy (Space Science)
Exploring Creation with Zoology (1 or 2 or 3) (Biology)
Exploring Creation with Physics and Chemistry (Physics and Chemistry)
Exploring Creation with Anatomy (Biology)
To teach technology we have used a book about inventors and inventions. There are many available from your library.
Once again the National Curriculum for Highschool teaches a spiral approach to science until Year 10. In year 11 and 12 students can stop learning science or they can also choose science electives in Chemistry, Physics and Biology.
In order to help you plan your science curriculum I've listed some resources that you can use to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum. There are other options but I've only chosen my preference. These resources are produced by Christian authors and have a creationist worldview.
Exploring The World Around You by G Parker -This is also used as a geography book.
For children who really enjoy their science they may prefer to stick with the Apologia Biology, Physics and Chemistry books. These take a year and could be used for Year 11 and 12 science.
In our scope and sequence we have suggested some ideas to help you plan your science curriculum for each grade.