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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Science that kids (and Moms) actually like!


Discovering Nature and Science Series

     I don't like messy, time consuming, projects coming out of my ears science.  It feels forced.  I hate it. I DO LIKE science that is real, applicable, and natural.  Not that all those messy, time consuming projects don't have their place or can't be fun but..... seriously, there has got to be a better way.  And there is.  Queens Homeschool Science Books.
     We have been using Queens curric in our homeschooling for 9 years now.  Queens is "Charlotte Mason in a workbook" and it's AWESOME!

     So many homeschoolers that I talk to seem to be having such... consternation, with science.  They are afraid of it.  Overwhelmed by it.  Plain ole ignoring it!  I get it.  I tried many different science programs and felt like most of it had toooooooo much information and toooooooo many applications.  I didn't like it and after the initial happiness from doing the first one or two projects, my kids didn't like them either.  I think they too, felt like there was information overload.... Or it was lame.
Having fun with Mary's Meadow
     Currently, Queens has 14 books in their "Discovering Nature" series.  Of Those I have:

Ones I do not have yet:
Mary's Meadow
      Queens science is Christian based but is still science.  Sometimes, I feel like, many Christian curriculum's get so "overly Christian" that you can loose touch with the learning part of the curriculum.  Queens is not that way.  It's Christian for sure, but you are not going to be overwhelmed with "christian-ese" and lose touch with the educational aspects.  (Hoping I stated all that right.)

     One of the things I love about Queens is that they are "open and go".  Just open the book up and get going!  No teachers manuals needed!  And it's laid out so that you cover one lessons for each day of the school year (180 days or 36 weeks).  This makes it very easy to implement and keep on track.

     Another things I love is that it is easy to use with multiple kids/grades/ages.  The books are not listed by grade but by suggested grade ranges, e.g. :early elementary, middle school, junior high, highschool, etc.  It is very easy to grab whatever level fits the best range of your kids and to use one study for all of them.  This is also handy for kids that are already sensitive to grade levels and would get upset if they saw they were in a "4th grade book" while they are in the 6th grade.  No worries, it's upper elementary!  Crisis averted!

     The books are designed for personal use and if you use them that way, your children get a wonderful "scrapbook" like keepsake when they are done.  We could not always afford that.  We use one book for all kids and when it gets to the application, they create their own pages on regular white paper.  They hole punch and add their pictures to their science notebook and away they go.  This way, we do not break copywrite rules.
     HOWEVER!  IF YOU BUY THE DIGITAL COPY then you MAY print off as many copies of the book for personal family use.  But bee forwarned... it can be a lot of paper!  We did this for "Every Herb bearing Seed" and it's ginormous!  BUT!  It's a great deal and a great way to do it!

      The way each book works is like this:  There is a REAL STORY that goes with each book (the Parables in Nature book is a collection of parables and not a continuous story). These stories are so good that my kids have actually read the science books for their personal reading time!  The stories are in the books and go with each lesson.   Each week works like this:
we used an art lesson from
art hub for kids on youtube for
one of our applications.

  1. Day One: Read the story.  Each week, on Monday, is a new chapter.  Each chapter is around 2-4 pages long.
  2. Day Two:  Application
  3. Day Three: Application
  4. Day Four:  Application
  5. Day Five: Application
     Very easy to do, easy to implement and enjoyable!
     Queens is big on teaching kids to love finding  answers and researching.  I taught my kids how to navigate this by hooking my computer to the TV and showing them "how to research" and use the internet.  We also would get books from the library. We use YOUTUBE a lot too, to look up things and add to our learning.
     There are some little projects that come up but they are all easy and doable.  The highschool ones have more than the younger grades and they are more involved, hands on stuff, but it's still not "rocket science".  They have a list of supplies for projects and.... there is prolly a youtube video of someone else who has done it too, if you need to default to that.
     The stories are all enjoyable and the chapters are not overwhelming.  As the books progress into higher grade levels, the stories get longer, words get smaller and application get more "meaty".  (More research, writing, doing).
     
     Okay, so here is how I use them =)
     We block schedule, so we only do science on M/T.   We also One Room Schoolhouse, which means I teach across the board and can alter the applications to each childs' progressive academic level.
     Now that I have so many varying grades, I break them up into groups.  High school, Junior high, middle school and elementary.  I teach the 3 youngest and then each buddy group gets their book and does their lesson together.  Afterward, they check in and they show me their work and give me a break down of what they learned.  If you teach one book over a wide range of kids, pick something mid level.  One year I bought for my oldest but, taught to all of them and it was hard.  The stories were too long for my little people.

     With my little guys sit on the couch to listen to the story and then I read.  I will often pause and
bring up pictures for them to look at of things as we read about them.  If the story is about a lion, I will have a lion up for them to see.  (Many times it's just google images).  Then we will do one or two applications.  The next day we will do the remaining applications and then maybe watch a youtube video and or play a game or do an art project I make up.  It all kind of depends on what the applications are and what I might do to either keep them the same or make them different.  Because I am teaching 3 different grade levels, what I might have my 5 year old do could be different from my 8 year old.  For instance, if the application says to "list four things turtles eat", my 5 year old would just draw pictures but my 8 year old would draw pictures and write the names of the food.  As you can see though, I don't need a lot of brain power to alter things.  The application they have is a solid springboard!

Our Animal Friends
     Queens is not only fun and packed full of learning but it is also inspiring!  One year, my 12 yearold daughter Mg was so inspired by gardening due to Mary's Meadow, that she opened her own business and profited over $600 in one summer!  This year, my younger crew is learning about animals through veterinarian stories.  We bought supplies at the $tree and made a vet kit.  They love playing animal doctor!  My second oldest loves herbs and natural health and is always making her own teas and healthy things from what she is learning in her book!  You know the curriculum you are using is good when it inspires your children to learn more than what is even presented!

     We have only struggled with 2 books, both highschool ones.  Behold the heavens and Further Investigation.  Behold the heavens was a little hard for us to do in a part of the US where it is cloudy, raining and/or cold throughout many months of the year.  It was hard to find a clear night to be able to see the stars and in the warmer months it stays light out for so long that it just didn't work.  Besides that is summer and who wants to still be doing school?  We used the computer and star programs to help. She got it done and worked through her frustrations with the weather.  So not a book problem but a sky problem.  The Chemistry one my girls just didn't like.  The story was great but they just didn't really like the area of learning.  This was a preference issue and nothing more.

     The only other qualm I have ever had is that many of the stories in the books have seasonal themes running through them but they usually start in winter and end with fall.  But a typical school year starts in fall and ends with summer.  This made for a few challenges with a few hands on things but we easily worked them out.

     Below I have featured a sample of at least one book from 4 different levels of learning- so take a look!   Each picture features ONE WEEK of school.   Beyond that, I am done sharing with you all.  Hope you enjoyed it!
EARLY ELEMENTARY
     
     

MIDDLE SCHOOL


JUNIOR HIGH


HIGH SCHOOL



1 comment:

  1. We like these too :) A Nature Walk with Aunt Bessie was a perfect match for my daughter last year. Let the Rocks Cry Out is a bit more challenging and I have been known to tear out/cross out pages that I find irrelevant. I did not do that in the Nature Walk. But, there is plenty of good stuff in there. I trade between Apologia Young Explorer series and Queens Discovering Nature. Nice blog entry :) Its fun to see how others use the same materials. AND, you are the one who suggested these great science books to me!

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