(Vivienne, doing the best work of Scientist: loving God’s creation.)
As I was slugging through my B.S. in Biology, and working in the pharmacology department at Merck, I had no idea that my education would find its glory days when two little scientists entered our family. Amazingly, God orchestrated my education for the sakes of an aspiring nurse and an aspiring pediatrician (no joke) who didn’t even exist when I was memorizing formulas in the Science Library at all hours of the night! (You might not have to look far to discover some way in which God prepared you to foster the natural interests in your own children? Tell me all about it! I love those stories.)
Because our girls have a natural interest in Science and I have some Science experience, this is an area of study that flows fairly naturally in our homeschool. (Don’t believe me? Do families typically perform heart surgery on dolls or celebrate First Aid Birthday parties?) The girls love to read nonfiction books about science; they enjoy the Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science; and they regularly dig into fascinating experiments and wonderings that result in learning!
Even though I do decorate with prints of lettuce varieties and butterfly species, I believe that God gives all children a natural wonder and enthusiasm for His creation regardless of their parent’s expertise, interest, or choice of curriculum. All we have to do is let them inspire us and join them in the learning!
We just finished a month-long study of horses, using a lapbook unit from In the Hands of a Child, which the girls loved every minute of. (We did this because they are so into horses now; we have about 10 imaginary horses roaming around our house as I write.)
Next, we’ll be getting 17 chickens next week, so we will study… you guess it: Chickens!
We also have a garden to plant from seed, which will provide hours of experimentation, observation, hard work, and eating our specimen. (Now that we live on a farm, our lives especially revolve around an appreciation for the wind, water, soil, and animals. We are digging in!)
After that, Vivienne has begged to study the Solar System. We’ll pull Ryan’s old telescope out of the attic and maybe even have a “1-hour Sleep Out” on our porch as we look up at the star-studded sky from our farmhouse. (More on the Solar System unit later! I discovered all kinds of gems online… ‘can’t wait to share ’em.)
Come Fall, we’ll follow the “God’s World” science topics provided by Ann Ward in Learning at Home (mostly biology-related topics). We’ll lug home books from the library, follow our noses to interesting experiments, and even do some dissections. (I found a complete dissection kit – frog, crayfish, and worm included – at a yard sale! Ryan didn’t seem to think it was the “find of the century!” as I glowingly reported upon my return home.)
We do lots of experiments with candy and kitchen ingredients. Vivienne has loved a Science kit that she received as a gift a few years ago, and we still use the large plastic test-tubes and pipettes. A dear friend made a test-tube rack out of scrap wood for the girls, which we use regularly. We’ve done simple experiments from Usborne books, and the FIAR curriculum. We rotate a fascinating magnet set onto our bookshelves, allow the girls to experiment with watercolors and nontoxic paint, keep a Nature Box in the garage, and are available to answer questions – and ask our own from time to time.
I have a feeling that this joyful topical study of Science will suit us just fine through elementary school. If I find that we are skimping on Science and losing our natural curiosity, I’ve got some excellent recommendations in my back pocket:
* Our Classical-homeschooling librarian recommends Jeannie Fulbright’s Exploring Creation studies (these are related to Apologia).
* After the elementary years, though, I will look into Apologia’s Science curriculum, since it receives so many solid endorsements as a thorough and excellent Christian Science curriculum.
So, I propose this in search of a solid Science curriculum:
If our children are naturally curious (and they probably are!), and if we have time to give (and we hopefully do!), we shall…
* grow plants and animals
* read books, books, books
* watch, wonder, and wander
* measure, mix, and make a mess
* clean up, discuss, and create conclusions
* praise God from whom all blessings flow!
What are your thoughts concerning Science in the younger years?