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Suggestions for a grade 3/4 Science "curriculum" or kit that will last the year?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I'd like to get one that's highly hands on, not alot of copy work, age-appropriate reading so he can read it to himself and to me aloud, and not based on Creation. We are Christian, but we believe in Intelligent Design and evolution. The curriculum doesn't have to be religious at all.

 

I don't mind if it is computer based either, but I'd like it to be easy for me to follow and prepare for. I will be very busy in the New Year and going forward. Even a website with an organized plan, book recommendations, and project ideas may suffice.

 

Thanks!

 

post #2 of 27

I thought Intelligent Design was a form of creationism, incompatible with evolution? Just trying to get a sense of where you're coming from and what you're looking for. 

 

TOPS might be a good choice if you're not creationists.

 

Miranda

 

 

post #3 of 27

Intelligent Design can just mean "God did it", but not necessarily "God did it in 7 days, literally."  ID is often used, though, as a sneaky way for creationist curriculum to try to pass it off as "scientific".  In practical terms of what individual people believe, ID can simply mean that God or a creator is the originator of the physics of our universe.

 

You might be interested in NOEO.  The company is Christian, but uses secular materials.  It doesn't deny evolution, but in the guidebook it will say things like, "this week the readings will be looking at evolution.  You might like to be prepared to discuss your family's beliefs at this time."  So a family that is creationist could choose to read the materials and say "this is the scientific view of things, but here is what we believe and why we believe they're wrong," or simply choose to skip that section entirely.  That's how NOEO toes the line -- it includes evolution and sexual reproduction, etc, but gives a 'warning' when it's coming up so families can choose how to approach it.  But the reading materials themselves are completely secular in origin.

 

There is not a lot of copywork, even though it's based on Charlotte Mason methodology.  It focuses on the narration side of things rather than the copywork.  Basically, each day there's an assigned reading (and/or sometimes an experiment or project) and then the child writes a summary of what they read or learned.  There's no 'fill in the blank' or 'question and answer' sheets which can be mindless busywork.  And there are several available response sheets they can choose from for their summaries... including DRAWING.  Full-page writing, full-page drawing, or a half-page (top section drawing, bottom section lines for writing) each.  This was PERFECT for my son when we started using it, since he was intelligent but a weak writer, who loved to draw.  He could barely put a sentence together on paper, but he would draw this immensely detailed pictures with just little notes underneath filling in a few notes.  I could easily see from this that he understood the material even if he couldn't write an essay about it, and this was a big 'eureka' moment for me, when I realized that we could work on his writing skills completely independently and separate from his science skills and there was no need to conflate the two!  

 

The readings are entirely age appropriate and quite enjoyable, generally there's an encyclopedia as the core text and several 'living books' or other fun books as supplements.  There are lots of hands-on activities, the amount of which does vary slightly depending on which course you get.  And it's very, very easy to use.  The heart of it is really just a schedule -- telling you which readings to do in which books each day, and when to do the experiments etc, so that it forms a coherent year-long program.  

 

My son did Biology II a couple of years ago as his first foray into formal science studies.  This year (he's 13 now) he's doing Physics III -- and has on his own stopped using the drawn response forms... this past summer *he* decided he was ready to write more, so we're doing a formal writing program now and he's catching right up!  We also have Physics I which will be for my daughter to use, likely next year (it was sent to us by mistake and they told us to keep it!  Bonus!)

post #4 of 27

Oh, okay. I'd never heard the "God as evolutionary clockwinder" belief described as Intelligent Design. I'd always heard ID used to describe a particular type of creationist dogma. You learn something every day.

 

Miranda

post #5 of 27

I swear I have looked at every science curriculum on the planet for this age group! We are a sciencey family and quite fussy, in the UK when I was growing up, what science there was was entirely hands on discovery quite basic stuff (growing seeds, on wild days maybe a bit of chromatography) and this is what I'm after for my kids, but with a bit more explaination.

 

I think if you want something he can read himself,and which is quite "work through the books", there are two good options: Singapore Science, or Galore Park. We ordered these and started with them but both were too work through the books and I am now selling them on.

 

There is also the Real Science 4 Kids stuff (I know there are two, the one here is the one I've looked at http://www.realscience4kids.com/), looked really good online but we haven't actually tried it. We largely didn't get these for practical reasons, and also because we don't really work systematically through curricula of any kind, we go more for 8-10 week units, mainly determined by what my kids actually want to do, and see what happens, where we go next, etc.

 

If your approach is in any way similar, I think the stuff on this site is great http://www.ellenjmchenry.com/ . She has bible study on there so possibly she is religious. We are very much not religious, and I have not had a problem with any of the material on the site. Currently using the carbon chemistry for kids, which is really good. The thing is, although there is a lot of material there and it does go fairly deep, its presented in a way that makes it very easy to find lots that needs more exploring. Not sure how it would work for a kid to look through on their own, but to work through with a child its a lot of fun. You very much get the sense that she is a homeschooling parent with a lot of enthusiam but also knowledge.

post #6 of 27

My kids love Supercharged Science, its pricey but its something you can pretty much hand over to them and they call when they need help. http://www.superchargedscience.com

post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post

Intelligent Design can just mean "God did it", but not necessarily "God did it in 7 days, literally."  ID is often used, though, as a sneaky way for creationist curriculum to try to pass it off as "scientific".  In practical terms of what individual people believe, ID can simply mean that God or a creator is the originator of the physics of our universe.

 



This is right, thanks for explaining that for me. Basically I believe in  the scientific viewpoint 100% (including man from apes, etc.) but that doesn't prevent me from believing that God designed it to happen that way. We are not 'religious' we just believe in God (we don't go to church or even really read the Bible much, but we discuss God and how he wants us to live, helping the poor, being kind, etc.).

 

post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post

 

There is not a lot of copywork, even though it's based on Charlotte Mason methodology.  It focuses on the narration side of things rather than the copywork.  Basically, each day there's an assigned reading (and/or sometimes an experiment or project) and then the child writes a summary of what they read or learned.  There's no 'fill in the blank' or 'question and answer' sheets which can be mindless busywork.  And there are several available response sheets they can choose from for their summaries... including DRAWING.  Full-page writing, full-page drawing, or a half-page (top section drawing, bottom section lines for writing) each.  This was PERFECT for my son when we started using it, since he was intelligent but a weak writer, who loved to draw.  He could barely put a sentence together on paper, but he would draw this immensely detailed pictures with just little notes underneath filling in a few notes.  I could easily see from this that he understood the material even if he couldn't write an essay about it, and this was a big 'eureka' moment for me, when I realized that we could work on his writing skills completely independently and separate from his science skills and there was no need to conflate the two!  

 

The readings are entirely age appropriate and quite enjoyable, generally there's an encyclopedia as the core text and several 'living books' or other fun books as supplements.  There are lots of hands-on activities, the amount of which does vary slightly depending on which course you get.  And it's very, very easy to use.  The heart of it is really just a schedule -- telling you which readings to do in which books each day, and when to do the experiments etc, so that it forms a coherent year-long program.  

 



Thanks for the suggestion and the detailed review. That is so very helpful. This sounds good to me. One question though: my son is 8, and will be 9 in March... he hasn't done much (or any really, apart from a few workbooks on his own) formal Science. Should I start him with a level 1 or a level 2 do you think? His reading/comprehension is higher than grade level.... but like I said, no formal science training to date....

 

 I am in absolutely no way trying to avoid discussions on reproduction or sex as we've been discussing that openly for years. My son is the same, he is very intelligent, highly skilled reader, etc and he loves to draw, but he does have fine motor issues so his printing and drawing are rudimentary. I cannot read his writing and he himself can't even read it back to me, unless he's memorized what it says. Small simple point form sentances and drawings would be great for him. I'll check this program out. Thanks again!

post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

 

There is also the Real Science 4 Kids stuff (I know there are two, the one here is the one I've looked at http://www.realscience4kids.com/), looked really good online but we haven't actually tried it. We largely didn't get these for practical reasons, and also because we don't really work systematically through curricula of any kind, we go more for 8-10 week units, mainly determined by what my kids actually want to do, and see what happens, where we go next, etc.

 



We're not really "work through the book" types at all. Normally we unschool almost completely and my son just tells me everyday or week what he wants to learn about such as "dolphins", "snakes", "clouds", "storms", etc. But since I will be taking on a new child in my home daycare (an 11 month old) and I have 3 children of my own and am pregnant, I will be too busy come January to function this way with him. I am quitting daycare when I am due in the Spring and again, I will be too busy because of the new baby. My son has agreed that he'd like to try a curriculum and is very motivated to learn more about science and other "subjects" (even that word bothers me!). What I would really need though, in order to help him with structure, is a schedule. If it is just an internet program with experiments, lesson plans, etc. that I still need to organize and schedule, etc. then we wont even end up using it. I'm going to check out realscience some more as a preliminary look has grabbed my attention (I like how they are not of a particular philosophy but are "friendly" to all). Thanks for the suggestions!

 

post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Satori View Post

My kids love Supercharged Science, its pricey but its something you can pretty much hand over to them and they call when they need help. http://www.superchargedscience.com



I've seen this on the homeschool buyers co-op though it's not being offered right now. It does seem pricey for what it is, considering you don't physically gain anything that can be passed down or any equipment/materials for the experiments. I'll see what the price is like for the co-op and think about it. I do like that it will be something that I can just hand over to him.... though I like learning along with him when I can.

post #11 of 27

can I just say one thing about supercharge science? A big reason why we didn't ever go with it was that it seemed like a lot of the positive reviews found scattered over the internet were probably coming from those on commission from the company. Out of curiosity, I signed up for their affiliate program-they have a really well thought out, well targeted marketing strategy-and tbh it was a bit shocking to get their promotional email coming to one address and their affiliate emails to another. They do encourage you to do stuff that I think is unethical, like writing a great review of the product while hiding that you are actually on commission from them.

 

I do think their stuff is probably pretty good, but I think the price is really too high for us, especially as we are quite a science-literate family. II was really excited when I first saw it, but then realised that, from the reviews, it really looked like NO ONE was reviewing it unless they were on commission. Also I really don't like the "buy now you have one day left" pressure.

 

Have you looked at robert krampf ? http://thehappyscientist.com/ he sends email experiments to your inbox and they are easy fun things using normal stuff you'd have around anyway. Also he is free.

 

(ETA sorry VeggieLovinMama not suggesting you are on commission from them!)


Edited by Fillyjonk - 12/31/11 at 5:01am
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

can I just say one thing about supercharge science? A big reason why we didn't ever go with it was that it seemed like a lot of the positive reviews found scattered over the internet were probably coming from those on commission from the company. Out of curiosity, I signed up for their affiliate program-they have a really well thought out, well targeted marketing strategy-and tbh it was a bit shocking to get their promotional email coming to one address and their affiliate emails to another. They do encourage you to do stuff that I think is unethical, like writing a great review of the product while hiding that you are actually on commission from them.

 

I do think their stuff is probably pretty good, but I think the price is really too high for us, especially as we are quite a science-literate family. II was really excited when I first saw it, but then realized that, from the reviews, it really looked like NO ONE was reviewing it unless they were on commission. Also I really don't like the "buy now you have one day left" pressure.

 

Have you looked at robert krampf ? http://thehappyscientist.com/ he sends email experiments to your inbox and they are easy fun things using normal stuff you'd have around anyway. Also he is free.

 

(ETA sorry VeggieLovinMama not suggesting you are on commission from them!)


That's odd, I didn't even know they had an affiliate program. I speak for myself when I say its a good program. I learned of it from the TWTM boards and I don't recall ever seeing a referrer ID, just a straight link to the website. Its $37mo but when I think about some of the other stuff were using that's pretty cheap but the charter school foots the bill not me:)

 

post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

can I just say one thing about supercharge science? A big reason why we didn't ever go with it was that it seemed like a lot of the positive reviews found scattered over the internet were probably coming from those on commission from the company. Out of curiosity, I signed up for their affiliate program-they have a really well thought out, well targeted marketing strategy-and tbh it was a bit shocking to get their promotional email coming to one address and their affiliate emails to another. They do encourage you to do stuff that I think is unethical, like writing a great review of the product while hiding that you are actually on commission from them.


Interesting! I manage a local homeschool email list and recalled emails from one mom a few months ago about a science program that seemed a little uncharacteristically persuasive, so I went an scoured the archives only to discover that yes, it was supercharged science and yes, there was indeed a referrer ID within the links she provided. 

 

Miranda

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeggieLovinMama View Post

 One question though: my son is 8, and will be 9 in March... he hasn't done much (or any really, apart from a few workbooks on his own) formal Science. Should I start him with a level 1 or a level 2 do you think? His reading/comprehension is higher than grade level.... but like I said, no formal science training to date....


Tricky, since that's right on the margin.  His reading is advanced, but his writing/drawing is a bit "behind" (for lack of a better term).  With this program, I'd personally go with reading/comprehension level over writing level.  Because the response sheets are exactly the same with all of the levels, and the type and amount of response expected is entirely up to you and your child.

 

So I think I'd suggest first deciding whether he's most interested in the Physics, Biology, or Chemistry aspect first, and then try to have a look at the books that are being used in that course for level I and for level II.  See if they're at your library, or just look them over through amazon.com, just to get a feel for their reading level.  And then decide if the level I books would be 'too simple' or the level II would be 'too hard'.  Don't worry too much about the lack of prior formal science training... level 2 is not dependent on level 1 as a pre-requisite.  

 

Someone else mentioned Ellen J McHenry -- and she is also *awesome*.  My son's worked through her "Elements" course and loved it.  He really got enthusiastic about elements and chemistry through that course: we bought him a gift of a coffee table book with glorious photographs of each element in its pure form as well as what it's used for, info about it, etc., based on his interest!

 

post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post

 

Someone else mentioned Ellen J McHenry -- and she is also *awesome*.  My son's worked through her "Elements" course and loved it.  He really got enthusiastic about elements and chemistry through that course: we bought him a gift of a coffee table book with glorious photographs of each element in its pure form as well as what it's used for, info about it, etc., based on his interest!

 



Thanks for the advice. We decided on the Biology level 1. I bought all the books except one on amazon.ca since they give me free shipping that only takes a couple of days. I did order the experiment kit and one book I couldn't get from amazon from them. The shame of it is, my library (or any in my city) had NONE of the books for the course! BUT, I have 3 younger children (well, one is baking) and they will be able to use the course after using the books, so that's a huge bonus since the course and the books cost about $200 total. Thanks a lot for recommending this program, it looks great and I hope my son will like it :)

 

I will check out the Elements course too, for the future. My husband is a PhD in Chemistry/Physics, so that is something that will interest all of us. He's just not the type to develop a program for homeschooling program for the kids (plus he's too busy), but I'm sure he'd enjoy looking through it with ds. Can you tell me the name of that coffee table book you speak of? It sounds fantastic!


Thanks!

post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

can I just say one thing about supercharge science? A big reason why we didn't ever go with it was that it seemed like a lot of the positive reviews found scattered over the internet were probably coming from those on commission from the company. Out of curiosity, I signed up for their affiliate program-they have a really well thought out, well targeted marketing strategy-and tbh it was a bit shocking to get their promotional email coming to one address and their affiliate emails to another. They do encourage you to do stuff that I think is unethical, like writing a great review of the product while hiding that you are actually on commission from them.

 

I do think their stuff is probably pretty good, but I think the price is really too high for us, especially as we are quite a science-literate family. II was really excited when I first saw it, but then realised that, from the reviews, it really looked like NO ONE was reviewing it unless they were on commission. Also I really don't like the "buy now you have one day left" pressure.

 

Have you looked at robert krampf ? http://thehappyscientist.com/ he sends email experiments to your inbox and they are easy fun things using normal stuff you'd have around anyway. Also he is free.

 

(ETA sorry VeggieLovinMama not suggesting you are on commission from them!)



Interesting. I wouldn't doubt it because the site has one of those pop-ups that say "WAIT, you're leaving?" and offers you something to download I believe in exchange for your email so they can bug you to buy it some more probably. I'm sure it's probably great for lots of people. I just do think it pricey for just an online video program that you don't have access to for a lifetime. If you buy a curriculum or the like, then you have it for life and can possibly pass down or sell later. I find that a few things from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op have reviews that are questionable. I once bought the IXL math program b/c of the reviews and the site was TERRIBLE! So boring and waaaay too expensive for what it was, which was just multiple choice math questions basically with no instruction or anything of value. Needless to say, I requested my money back and learned a very valuable lesson! That's why I'm checking here for advice.

 

post #17 of 27

Well shoot, I'm blind as a bat and didn't even notice that you're here in Canada too.  :)  Yeah, for my daughter's NOEO Physics I, we're getting about 1/3 of the books from chapters or amazon.ca, 2/3 from our library system (got lucky), and only had to order the kits.  But for my son's Physics III and Chemistry, I ordered the whole set from NOEO... some of the books were harder to find locally, or were no cheaper.  

 

The Elements book is http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Elements-Visual-Exploration-Every-Known-Theodore-Gray/9781579128142-item.html?ikwid=elements&ikwsec=Home

 

 

post #18 of 27

I have direct experience with supercharged science - and have seen her in action  (blanking on her name, but she sure looks like Ms Frizzle lol - in a good way).  My boys took part in her science camp this summer - we drove a very long way to get to it.  It was very worth the drive.  I've never seen someone sooooooo into science. She is an incredible ball of energy - that woman - people joke that she must drink rocket fuel for breakfast.  We haven't used her site much yet, as my son isn't reading, and he's super independent - but can't find his way around her site on his own.  But the camp - it was amazing.  *Everyone* had fun - even the son who was only taking part because he was bored.  We drove for the other son, who is super into science.  

 

I didn't know they had an affiliate program - but really it doesn't matter to me - she needs to make a living just like everyone else, and I applaud that she's found such an awesome way to do so.  I don't agree with the whole reviewing without saying you are affiliated part, but I know nothing about that.  I just think she's awesome and ultra inspiring to kids.  

post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post

Well shoot, I'm blind as a bat and didn't even notice that you're here in Canada too.  :)  Yeah, for my daughter's NOEO Physics I, we're getting about 1/3 of the books from chapters or amazon.ca, 2/3 from our library system (got lucky), and only had to order the kits.  But for my son's Physics III and Chemistry, I ordered the whole set from NOEO... some of the books were harder to find locally, or were no cheaper.  

 

The Elements book is http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Elements-Visual-Exploration-Every-Known-Theodore-Gray/9781579128142-item.html?ikwid=elements&ikwsec=Home

 

 



Tankgirl, I actually moved here (Ontario) from New Brunswick. My husband is from there as well as my extended family :) Thanks for the link for the book.

 

post #20 of 27

Cool!  Maybe we're even related.  ;)  

 

I moved from NB to NS for university, then to BC for more university, then to ON where I lived for nearly 10 years (Hamilton/Dundas), then finally back home to NB 3.5 years ago!  Definitely more homeschooling resources, groups, etc back in Ontario than there is here, so I'm sort of glad we got a good start while we lived there, so I don't feel left in the lurch here, I've got all my internet resources too.  :)

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