Sunday, November 22, 2009

science - how we do it.

Princess Doc doing her mad scientist impression - her grandmother made her that white coat for her third birthday, I think we need to invest in another one!

I was reading The Gentle Art of Chaos blog and she was talking about science. My comment was getting a tad long, so I headed over here and blogged instead! You see, I love science, it is my favourite subject after Bible and English. I get deliriously excited about experiments and Latin names and tables of elements!! My biggest challenge is to focus myself and not get too carried away - starting to make a volcano on the kitchen table at 5pm is NOT a good idea!

So this is what we plan to do in a nut shell.

Each season (we 'structure' things loosely by season here and take Summer off, works for us) I pick a science topic and a nature topic - our next ones will be Birds and Human Biology with a hygiene and germs focus. During the term we keep our learning journals and do any funky paper things or record keeping in there (a whole post in itself that I will get back to another day). I will also grab a number of books on the topics from the library as well as de-shelving our own books to store in a basket in the lounge room to encourage us to leaf through them. I will often choose a "spine" book to help structure things too.

At the end of the season, we have a week set aside as Science Week where we do any messy or involved crafts or experiments and excursions all at once. So we get the joy and mess but only one week of clean up sessions! I am betting that science week will be one of the highlights of our 'term' and will create strong positive associations with the subject, making the kids FAR more likely to be as excited as their mother about tables of Elements and Latin names!! This structure also means that when I find a brilliant resource, rather than getting carried away and tossing out what we are currently doing or trying to pile it in on top - or putting it aside and loosing it - I can file it away under the year and season we will need it. Then when I get to doing birds, I open my bird file and pretty much all the work is done for me!

Here are our six year rotations:

Science Focus

Year 1
Human body/biology (hygiene, immune systems, skin), Geology, botany

Year 2

Astronomy/space exploration, Human body/biology (skeletal system, teeth, muscular system), Microbiology/magnification

Year 3
Meteorology, Human body/biology (digestive/urinary systems, nutrition), Marine exploration

Year 4

Human body/biology (respiratory and circulatory systems), Technology/engineering, aerodynamics and human flight

Year 5
Human body/biology (nervous system, 5 senses), Astronomy/space exploration, electronics

Year 6
Physics, Human body/biology (endocrine and reproductive systems), chemistry

Don't let the big "science" words scare you! At the age my kids are, Chemistry will be freezing stuff and melting it, combining bicarb soda and vinegar and baking yeast bread. This will give them an idea of how matter and chemical reactions work. They don't have to be charting the molecular structure! We do not have to cover EVERYTHING in that topic because we will get back to it again, eventually! My job is to teach some of the basics and ignite a passion. If I do my job right, they will be spending their free time checking this stuff out themselves.

Some good Science links are:

The Exploration Station
At Home Science
It's a Boy's Life - the science posts
Chemistry Lapbook
Home Chemistry
Candy Experements

Nature Focus

Year 1
Birds, rocks and minerals, wildflowers and insects/invertebrates

Year 2
the skies (astronomy), Mammals, garden flowers and weeds

Year 3
climate and weather. Trees, marine life

Year 4
Reptiles, flowerless plants, birds

Year 5
trees, insects/invertebrates, food plants

Year 6
fish, amphibians and reptiles, mammals/marsupials

The nature rotation is a tweaked version of what they use for the Ambleside Online curriculum. The Handbook Of Nature Study Blog gives some great ideas, but I have needed to tweak and change to make it more relevant for Australia - aside from the fact that I have a compulsive need to tweak and change, it is a sickness I tell you! Downunder Literature has some brilliant spine texts for Australian nature study and we often use the Bush Calender to help inform our nature journalling. For more on how we do nature study take a look at other posts with the tag "nature" but I will get back to that later too.


  1. Fantastic!!! I love the idea of putting all the messy stuff in one week. I appreciate the detailed list too. I'll have to go back through it and add some new subjects to my own list. I'm looking forward to further posts of what books you use and such.

  2. Glad I could be of some help :-)