Ideas for second grade science and general worry - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 06-17-2010, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, this is a question about science for second grade, but also a general worry on my part about how we're schooling in general. I'm never convinced we're doing "enough" or "Cool enough" stuff. What we do seems good for us, but then I see other kids his age and younger, and they're all lightyears ahead, developmentally and academically (homeschooled or not) and I worry that I'm not doing enough to teach him.

My son is a different type of learner- was devel. delayed, but now on grade level with a lot of help in most areas. Book work is quite challenging for him, but I do make him do some math/phonics/writing for practice. He absolutely lights up when we do things like science experiments, hands-on projects, field trips, but immediately begins yawning and laying his head down when we do any type of written school work.

So far for science we're been unschooling- he's so interested in birds, flowers, trees, volcanoes, earthquakes, astronomy. Basically we have tons of discussions about all of these things and look up his questions online and read books about them, and follow news stories and find it on the map whenever there is an earthquake, volcano, tsunami, etc. We go on occasional field trips when I can manage it. We've been doing this for about 2 yrs now (and obviously before that, but officially hs'ing for 2 yrs)

So I feel like we should move on to something "official", or take it to the next level of difficulty. Everyone else seems to have these cool curriculums, projects, experiments and I really have no ideas, or specific themes to follow. I can look up random experiments online but I feel like I want something cohesive to relate to what we're reading about. I am so not a creative person, I am so by-the-book, all I can usually think of to do is read about stuff.

Any good websites, books to recommend for easy, fun experiments in these interest areas? I also have 2 other kids and simply living life and keeping us fed and dressed is about all I can do- I have about zero prep time or time to buy lots of materials.

Or maybe we're fine, and I should just keep following his interest and not be so hung up on making it schooly. Help!!!
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#2 of 18 Old 06-17-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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I've struggled with science, probably since it isn't a strong interest for me. We're going to use Sonlight Science 2 this year. My kids have asked for more science, and I like that Sonlight has an Instructor's Guide that organizes it for me.

I found a used set that is complete. I've only looked through a few of the books, and haven't watched the DVD yet. I already know that I'll need to replace their books on dinosaurs with something that matches our beliefs better. (Sonlight approaches science from a creationist point of view.) We have a shelf full of dinosaur books, so I won't need to buy anything extra.

I also like the One Small Square nature books and the Usbourne science experiment books.
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#3 of 18 Old 06-18-2010, 10:26 AM
 
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My dd loves science, and so far I've enjoyed letting her help pick the topics we'll do for the next few months. Last year she wanted to learn more chemistry (it was second grade) at the begining of the year, so I got a book from Rainbow resource .Super Science concoctions by Jill Hauser. Later in the year we did units on dinosaurs, gears- with a Lego kit, and some Magic School bus science kits.

I know my local schools do very little with science in the early grades, .so I don't worry about comparing ourselves there.

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#4 of 18 Old 06-18-2010, 07:36 PM
 
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We used McRuffy color math this year and when my DD saw the science she begged me to order it so we will be using it next year. If it is anything like McRuffy math it should be very hands on. It is designed to be a 2 dya a week program so I heard a few complaints that kids finished it before the end of the year. We do a lot of science though, so I like the idea of it only being 2 days. This gives us plenty of time to explore interesting topics deeper with out feeling "behind".

I also can relate to feeling "behind". My DD is probably right on average, but I swear it seems sometimes that all homeschoolers should work 3 grades ahead....
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#5 of 18 Old 06-19-2010, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the science (and math!) ideas. I will have to look into those books (in all my spare time ) I feel so bad b/c I will give him choices within the subjects we need to do, and he'll say "science experiments!" and I can't think of anything but reading about stuff and looking things up. I just need to have ideas and materials ready to go so when he chooses it, I actually have something ready to do.


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I also can relate to feeling "behind". My DD is probably right on average, but I swear it seems sometimes that all homeschoolers should work 3 grades ahead....

I know- what's the deal. I can't believe I feel bad that my previously developmentally-delayed child is doing grade-level work appropriate for his age. But seriously, every single kid we meet his age is reading chapter books fluently and is several grade levels ahead in math.
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#6 of 18 Old 06-19-2010, 10:18 PM
 
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You know, I think the stuff you are doing is better than book work in science for a child that age. Natural history is, IMO, the most important science for younger kids, and it can almost all be done in a hands on manner. It is much better to go to a pond and find frog spawn and see what happens to it than to read about it in a book.

You might enjoy the book "The Amateur Naturalist" by Gerald and Lee Durrell. It has sections about habitats, but it also has hands on activities and experiments and tells about keeping a nature journal. Gerald Durrell was a very interesting fellow, and his biography My Family and Other Animals is well worth reading. It could even be a good out-loud read later on, and they made a movie of it as well.

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#7 of 18 Old 06-20-2010, 12:14 PM
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For second grade, I will be ordering Building Foundations. . . but we really like to just follow dds lead. For her, that includes lots of gardening. She is a natural with plants and animals and is always curious and ready to learn. The Building Foundations is more for me and we will use in mostly in the winter months.

Amy

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#8 of 18 Old 06-20-2010, 05:40 PM
 
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For second grade, we did REAL science odyssey Life Sciences. I loved it because my guy loves science. We do many things as you describe. This book gave a foundation in some holes along the way and it was a lot of fun and hands on. We still do all the other stuff but this was a really enjoyable process and I believe my son learned oodles from it. Things I wouldn't have picked to flow together and build on each other.
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#9 of 18 Old 06-21-2010, 02:26 PM
 
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I second REAL Science. We expand on it a bit by opening a science encyclopedia, or internet links. But my 5 and 7 year olds really enjoy the activities and I like that the whole thing takes 15-30 min. Enough fun to hold their attention, enough info to make it feel worth while for me.
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#10 of 18 Old 06-28-2010, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for the recommendations! I am slowly looking at all of them. REAL Science looks good! The earth and space odyssey one looks like they'd enjoy it. I like that it's hands on with only a short reading section. We already do a lot of reading and looking stuff up, so some help with hands-on activities is what's most needed!
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#11 of 18 Old 06-28-2010, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, another question: what do you really need with the REAL Science- just the loose leaf guide, or do you need the entire kit? Are the materials used in the experiments household items, or would I need to run around and buy stuff, so it's better just to get the entire kit?
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#12 of 18 Old 06-28-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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Someone recently recommended this. We're unschoolers. It looks good. http://www.noeoscience.com/

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#13 of 18 Old 06-29-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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Follow his interest! He's little; it's more important to keep it fun than to cover anything specific.

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#14 of 18 Old 06-29-2010, 04:26 AM
 
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double post
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#15 of 18 Old 06-29-2010, 04:40 AM
 
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It's impossible for a child that age to get "behind" - he has many years ahead in which various things will easily fill in. If he just has fun and enjoys informally learning and thinking about science in whatever ways happen to come along for him and his interests, that's what will build a good foundation. I think what you're doing is just perfect! It doesn't need to be "cohesive" in order to stimulate his imagination and keep his love of learning alive, which is the important thing.

For experiments and fun hands-on activities, you can find wonderful books of ideas in the FUN-Books science page, and in Vicki Cobb's Kids' Fun Page. There are also lots of good websites listed in my science page that have experiments and hands-on activities of all kinds.

And don't pay any attention to those around you who are rushing along - they're not going to get anywhere faster than you and your son, and those children are not going to be any better educated by the time they're all in their teens. Lillian
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#16 of 18 Old 06-30-2010, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Follow his interest! He's little; it's more important to keep it fun than to cover anything specific.
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It's impossible for a child that age to get "behind" - he has many years ahead in which various things will easily fill in. If he just has fun and enjoys informally learning and thinking about science in whatever ways happen to come along for him and his interests, that's what will build a good foundation. I think what you're doing is just perfect! It doesn't need to be "cohesive" in order to stimulate his imagination and keep his love of learning alive, which is the important thing.

For experiments and fun hands-on activities, you can find wonderful books of ideas in the FUN-Books science page, and in Vicki Cobb's Kids' Fun Page. There are also lots of good websites listed in my science page that have experiments and hands-on activities of all kinds.

And don't pay any attention to those around you who are rushing along - they're not going to get anywhere faster than you and your son, and those children are not going to be any better educated by the time they're all in their teens. Lillian
Thank you That is my gut feeling- that he's enjoying what we learn, and anytime I've "forced" it, tried to do topics and activities that he isn't into, he's bored and doesn't retain it. What has been most memorable have been the activities we've done from Five in a Row that went along with books he's liked, or things like setting off rockets, or books we've read about what he's interested in.

I live in an area where even the children of the MOST relaxed, non-pushy parents have kids who are professional opera singers by the age of 6, fluent in many languages, play instruments very well, read several grade levels ahead- and these aren't stressed out kids, they are just "normal", happy, 7 yr olds. So even though we're doing what feels right to us, it's hard not to compare when my kids mainly dig in the dirt and have fun and are read to! But I know you're right- I always have to talk myself down and constantly reassure myself!

Thanks for the great ideas, Lillian!
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#17 of 18 Old 06-30-2010, 10:14 PM
 
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I wouldn't worry. Continuing to take a relaxed, interest-led approach to science is fine--it may well be the best way to do science in the elementary years.

I'd wanted to use R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth and Space this year, but we have no money for curricula so I had to adjust my plans. We'll be doing the free astronomy course at http://www.kidsastronomy.com/academy/index.htm
with experiments from Janice VanCleave's Astronomy for Every Kid (which I found a while back at a used bookstore and so already had on my shelf). We may get to an Earth Science unit at the end of the school year, or we may not, but it's astronomy that DD's been asking to learn the most for some time.

As long as you keep it hands-on, you probably can't go wrong with science. I've seen people have great success and fun with the Magic Treehouse books, with using the Magic Schoolbus books or TV show as a jumping off place, using a more formal curriculum, or just following rabbit trails.

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#18 of 18 Old 07-01-2010, 09:18 PM
 
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Quote:
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For second grade, I will be ordering Building Foundations. . . but we really like to just follow dds lead. For her, that includes lots of gardening. She is a natural with plants and animals and is always curious and ready to learn. The Building Foundations is more for me and we will use in mostly in the winter months.

Amy
I have a 7 yr old DD who would be 2nd grade in the fall if she were in school. She sounds similar w/ only wanting to do hands on. Seat work is torture. Have you read anything about right-brained learners? You might find some comfort there.

I also bought Building Foundations and keep meaning to start it, but my kiddo has been so busy with her own interests that I've held off. She is in love with bugs, slugs, worms, and snails. She knows a ton from endlessly observing, interacting and researching them. I love the BFSU book though. I love that it fosters actual understanding and the concepts build on each other and the book is cheap and you can go at your own pace. I think it is a great fall back for filling in anything her interests don't naturally cover.

Janice VanCleave books are awesome for easy, fun experiments! Seems they sometimes don't go deep enough into the whys for my kiddo though. My DD has also loved all the Magic Treehouse and Magic Schoolbus books.

I just wanted to give you a little virtual support with the general worry and feeling behind. I straddle the unschooling fence, myself but I feel it's important to make sure my DD is getting in a minimal amount of math/reading so she doesn't get too far behind grade level. Even though I don't really believe in that whole system, I still feel like a failure if she gets behind. She is at grade level, (probably just barely) but not advanced by any means in the traditional academic subjects. However, she is a phenomenal artist, extremely in tune to others' feelings, knows a ton about animals and her environment and just has a very mature understanding about the world that blows my mind.

She's also verging on sensory processing disorder with how sensitive she is in certain situations and to certain things. Clothing is a huge issue. Her uniform is croc shoes, PJ pants and a huge T-shirt and she won't let me brush her hair more than a couple times a week. Sometimes she won't speak to strangers and other times she won't stop talking to them.

It can be very hard for me not to stress when my child's strengths aren't things most people value, and if I compare her to other children of similar age that we know, she is SO very different. The most important thing is that she feels good about who she is, and supporting her strengths instead of weak areas seems vital to that.
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