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Confused about curriculum going in depth on one topic

1009 Views 21 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  theretohere
There is something I don't understand about some types of curriculum. Take this Science curriculum for example, found here: http://www.christianbook.com/Christi...|1123931|60624

This is a 28wk curriculum for ages 6-12. So it is an in depth study of astronomy. There are also other topics such as land animals and sea animals and botany. I have heard GREAT things about it and would like to use it in the future. However, then how do my children also learn other basic things for science, like weather, the senses, life cycles, etc. Would it be like I need to teach 2 science curriculums? From what I can tell, it doesn't look like this set of curriculum would teach everything throughout the carious books (everything as in, whatever the book is specializing in PLUS core knowledge stuff).

I wouldn't be able to just teach a specialized science topic in depth, like botany or astronomy, and then skip things like weather or matter and energy.

How does this work?
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Yes, you'd have to do two separate ones.


You could focus on one topic one year and explore it in greater depth, then focus on a new topic the next year. That way kids get to look at something in depth, rather than just a touch of this and a touch of that, without going into detail on anything. If you google "classical education" you'll find a lot of info on that particular strategy. I don't know anything about it other than what I've googled, but the idea is to cover one topic in depth, then cycle back to it a few years later.

Edited to clarify...
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Okay, so then yes - a science curriculum like that could be used which would study something in depth, but you'd still have to find a way to teach other basic science stuff, right? Like things I mentioned already for elementary like weather, matter and energy, life cycles, etc. Those are all things I remember learning in elementary and I know they need to be learned! And wouldn't be learned if you just used the science curriculum I posted. But it seems like that science curriculum is a full year curriculum. I have heard great things about it...but doesn't that make it even more work to, in essence, be doing 2 sciences then?
We do three year rotations here in science. I think you could easily get away with doing one of these each year in the early years, while fitting in other science as it comes up in daily life. The next 3-6, spend more time in the general science areas - biology, chemistry, and physics.

Most everything learned in grades 1-3 can be easily picked up through other sources and daily life. Make checking the weather/temperature a daily to-do each morning and use that to graph in math or discuss what you think is going to happen. Matter and energy can be understood through basic toys and at the park. We're reading a Wrinkle In Time right now which has piqued an interest in matter.
You probably want something more like general science.
http://www.sonlight.com/science.html

You might look at World Book's typical course of study to decide what science is covered in elementary school and what you really need a curriculum to teach.

I personally have not bought a full science curriculum for my 9 year old dd yet. I've found that most topics early on were easily covered by her endless questions about everything, her love of non-fiction books at the library, and direct observation of the world around us. I think doing a year long study of anatomy or astronomy is fine without doing two curriculums. I don't think it means everything else will be skipped if you focus on a topic.
This year I planned a bit more and for the first half we learned mainly about different habitats/environments. The second half of the year we are learning more about how things are made. We also have a science experiment book.
We are just looking at getting a science curriculum for next year.
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Originally Posted by J2 View Post
Okay, so then yes - a science curriculum like that could be used which would study something in depth, but you'd still have to find a way to teach other basic science stuff, right? Like things I mentioned already for elementary like weather, matter and energy, life cycles, etc. Those are all things I remember learning in elementary and I know they need to be learned! And wouldn't be learned if you just used the science curriculum I posted. But it seems like that science curriculum is a full year curriculum.
Well, yes, but won't your kids be in elementary school for more than one year? There is a lot of time to learn about science.

But also, don't feel compelled to cover every potential topic there is. No one can know ALL the science there is to know; everyone, including scientists, picks and chooses what to learn about. IMO, the most important thing science education does for elementary-age kids is to cultivate a sense of wonder about the natural world, and a spirit of scientific inquiry as well as an idea of the tools and techniques scientists use. With those things, they can learn everything else whenever they want to.
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Well, yes, but won't your kids be in elementary school for more than one year? There is a lot of time to learn about science.

IMO, the most important thing science education does for elementary-age kids is to cultivate a sense of wonder about the natural world, and a spirit of scientific inquiry as well as an idea of the tools and techniques scientists use. With those things, they can learn everything else whenever they want to.
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I say go with what is most likely to interest your kids. If they're always asking questions about the weather, then go with something that teaches about weather. If they like fish, go with something marine. Or whatever. And if they don't learn about weather systems and cloud types until they're 15... so what? How many of us can still tell a cumulo-nimbus from a... from a... see, I can't even remember the names of any other types right now lol...

In my (admittedly somewhat limited) experience, these "basic" things end up being covered somewhere along the way within the context of these "specialized" topics. You can't do physics, or even chemistry, without a basic understanding of matter, for instance, so any decent curriculum will cover that stuff.

The Biology-focused program we're doing right now has tons of stuff on life cycles.

I think what might be tripping you up is just an expectation of science being done in a certain order, which is only because that's how public schools have typically divvied it up. Honestly, it's quite arbitrary. But you're expecting all of science to be divided into certain categories, and this curriculum is dividing it into a different set of categories. That doesn't mean that things will be left out, just that they might not be where -- or when -- you would expect them to be.

All that being said, I don't think there's anything wrong with a "general science" approach either. But I do agree that most of the BASIC elementary stuff gets covered just through everyday life. With DS we did a few dollar-store science workbooks along the way, but really not much. This past year with Biology is the first time we've done any formal science curriculum, and he's (technically) in grade 5. He knows plenty about weather, matter, energy, life cycles, the senses... and a HECK of a lot more about dolphins, whales, and marine life in general than I've learned in my entire LIFE.

No marine biology "curriculum" yet either. Just his own interests.
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I know you're doing elementary, not high school, but even in middle and high school kids take separate classes every year. Biology one year, chemistry another year, physics another year. That's how I did it in high school and that's also what I did in middle school, except that it was biology, chemistry and physical science (instead of physics). It's only in elementary school that kids are ever given a big chunk of all kinds of science, all mixed up and thrown together. I think when they're that little it probably doesn't matter how you do it.
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Originally Posted by LilyGrace View Post
We do three year rotations here in science. I think you could easily get away with doing one of these each year in the early years, while fitting in other science as it comes up in daily life. The next 3-6, spend more time in the general science areas - biology, chemistry, and physics.

Most everything learned in grades 1-3 can be easily picked up through other sources and daily life. Make checking the weather/temperature a daily to-do each morning and use that to graph in math or discuss what you think is going to happen. Matter and energy can be understood through basic toys and at the park. We're reading a Wrinkle In Time right now which has piqued an interest in matter.
Same here. We rotate the specific science field each yr, just as we rotate the time periods in history each yr.
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I own this textbook and started using it with my kids this year. It is a great book and is well written. I found that we could complete one chapter a week versus one chapter every two weeks like the book is laid out. However by the time we finished the planets my kids were burnt out on astronomy, so we stopped there and did not go on to learn about the stars. I figure we will get to that later. We are now using Life Pac General Science and enjoying it. Would I recommend the book? I don't know. While I liked it the kids did not have the attention span at such an early age (5, 8, and 11) to spend an entire year on it without getting burnt out. Also like you said they do not learn about so many other important science topics. At this point we do not plan to use any of the other Apologia books for science.
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You would probably like Sonlight science. They do concentrate on certain areas, the core 3 for instance is Into to Biology, but they cover a lot of different concepts. We did (most of) the Science 3 this year and DS learned about food webs, taxonomy, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians, life cycles, adaptations, light, energy and sound.
We've used Apologia's Astronomy, took some time off to spend a year on Earth science (I made this "curriculum" up because there wasn't anything geared toward their age group for Earth science) and are now we're using Apologia's Zoology 1. You wouldn't have to do two curriculums for science at all! If you cycle through all of the books, spending a year at a time on an in-depth subject, your child will still learn all of the same things in elementary school, but have enough time to really interact and experiment with the material that's being presented. These books are based on the immersion approach rather than the spiral approach to learning.

Here's an excerpt from the intro to the Apologia books:

"The Immersion Approach: Is it okay to spend a year on JUST a part of zoology? [or astronomy or botany]

Many educators promote the spiral or survey approach to education, wherein a child is exposed over and over again to minute amounts of a variety of science topics. The theory goes that we just want to "expose" the child to science at this age, each year giving a bit more information than was given the year before. This method has been largely unsuccessful in public and private schools, as National Center For Education Statistics (NCES) data indicate that eighth graders are consistently less than 50% proficient in science.

This method assumes the young child is unable to understand profound scientific truths. Presenting a child with scant and insufficient science fails to develop a love for the subject. If the learning is skimpy, the subject seems monotonous..."
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Originally Posted by Charmie981 View Post
We've used Apologia's Astronomy, took some time off to spend a year on Earth science (I made this "curriculum" up because there wasn't anything geared toward their age group for Earth science) and are now we're using Apologia's Zoology 1. You wouldn't have to do two curriculums for science at all! If you cycle through all of the books, spending a year at a time on an in-depth subject, your child will still learn all of the same things in elementary school, but have enough time to really interact and experiment with the material that's being presented. These books are based on the immersion approach rather than the spiral approach to learning.

Here's an excerpt from the intro to the Apologia books:

"The Immersion Approach: Is it okay to spend a year on JUST a part of zoology? [or astronomy or botany]

Many educators promote the spiral or survey approach to education, wherein a child is exposed over and over again to minute amounts of a variety of science topics. The theory goes that we just want to "expose" the child to science at this age, each year giving a bit more information than was given the year before. This method has been largely unsuccessful in public and private schools, as National Center For Education Statistics (NCES) data indicate that eighth graders are consistently less than 50% proficient in science.

This method assumes the young child is unable to understand profound scientific truths. Presenting a child with scant and insufficient science fails to develop a love for the subject. If the learning is skimpy, the subject seems monotonous..."
I thought I'd read that about Apologia before!
How have you liked it?
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So if you go through all the books it will, somewhere, cover various things like weather, life cycles, matter and energy, etc. All those things that are usually touched on in early elementary?
Well, I haven't looked at every one of them, but yeah, it seems pretty likely. We covered weather last year with our Earth science. Life cycles will be in zoology. Photosynthesis in botany, etc.

I have a love/hate realtionship with Apologia and none of it has to do with the immersion concept, which I am all for. I have issues with the preachiness of the texts. I'm a Christian, but I don't think there's really any need to force a "new Earth" vs "old Earth" thing on my kids right now, which is what I felt like the agenda was in Astronomy. In zoology its just a lot more like "isn't it cool how God made the animals," which is more my style. I love, love, love the hands on experiments and the easy to read nature of the books (as apposed to, say, Usborne, which is just a series of captions and impossible for me to read aloud w/o going crazy). If you can handle Usborne and want something that does immersion but doesn't have the insanely right wing slant, you might look at Noeo. It's still Christian, but not so...well...right-wing is all I can think of to describe it. But it uses a lot of Usborne (as does Sonlight Science), which I try to avoid as much as possible!!
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Originally Posted by Charmie981 View Post
Well, I haven't looked at every one of them, but yeah, it seems pretty likely. We covered weather last year with our Earth science. Life cycles will be in zoology. Photosynthesis in botany, etc.

I have a love/hate realtionship with Apologia and none of it has to do with the immersion concept, which I am all for. I have issues with the preachiness of the texts. I'm a Christian, but I don't think there's really any need to force a "new Earth" vs "old Earth" thing on my kids right now, which is what I felt like the agenda was in Astronomy. In zoology its just a lot more like "isn't it cool how God made the animals," which is more my style. I love, love, love the hands on experiments and the easy to read nature of the books (as apposed to, say, Usborne, which is just a series of captions and impossible for me to read aloud w/o going crazy). If you can handle Usborne and want something that does immersion but doesn't have the insanely right wing slant, you might look at Noeo. It's still Christian, but not so...well...right-wing is all I can think of to describe it. But it uses a lot of Usborne (as does Sonlight Science), which I try to avoid as much as possible!!

Hm, I went last night and read the online samples of Astronomy and I did see that they are Millenialists. That's not something we believe it. Is it that prevalent in the book, or something that we can work through/ omit?
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I'll be honest with you, it was a little much for me. It annoyed the crap out of me, so I started to pre-read the lessons (which is always a good idea, anyway!). It was easy to skip or to gloss over by saying "some people believe X and some people believe Y. Daddy and I believe what really matters is that God made the world, not WHEN he made it." So, yes and no. It is pretty prevalent, but it's pretty easy to skip/gloss over, too. It was just annoying to me. I'm not running into anything like that in Zoology and last year with our Earth science, that was one of the MAJOR reasons I did our own thing...I knew new vs old would be a big deal in any Earth science curriculum.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charmie981 View Post
I'll be honest with you, it was a little much for me. It annoyed the crap out of me, so I started to pre-read the lessons (which is always a good idea, anyway!). It was easy to skip or to gloss over by saying "some people believe X and some people believe Y. Daddy and I believe what really matters is that God made the world, not WHEN he made it." So, yes and no. It is pretty prevalent, but it's pretty easy to skip/gloss over, too. It was just annoying to me. I'm not running into anything like that in Zoology and last year with our Earth science, that was one of the MAJOR reasons I did our own thing...I knew new vs old would be a big deal in any Earth science curriculum.
Great, thanks!
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So I'm confused...the book states what? A new earth or an old earth? 6 literal days or millions of years?
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