Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 3- Social Studies and more Science


This week's curriculum fair takes a look at social studies (history) and science.  I will confess that these are two areas where I have had the most difficulty finding a good fit for our family.

First, history:
When we began our homeschooling journey, we were using mostly ABEKA materials (as I said in my very first post).  I really don't like ABEKA (or any traditional text book I've seen) for history and science.  They tend to be very dry and a mere recitation of facts.  So, in the very first kindergarten and first grade years for my oldest, I skated by with some reading here and there and a cute little book from Christian Liberty Press called History for Little Pilgrims.


By the time we finished up with that, I had been influenced by some of my classical friends that world history was the way to go.  Because I couldn't find a curriculum I was totally happy with, I made my own.  I was young with young children and lots of energy.  I still had my years of teacher's education and my experience with teaching second graders fresh on my mind, and I set out to conquer the world.  It was lots of fun.  I based my unit on lots of Usborne books- which I had in abundance as I had started selling them on the side.  We all enjoyed that year, but I quickly realized that it was not going to be a long term solution for us because it was so time consuming.
Again on the recommendation of my classical friends, I started with Story of the World. We began the first volume when my oldest was a fourth grader.  I read aloud or we listened to the audio CDs.  We all enjoyed the stories, and I liked the way that it covered the time periods of world history.  My only concern was that it was so "neutral."  History was never presented from a Christian worldview.  Even though I could make those connections myself for the kids, I wanted more.


So, this year we began with Truthquest.  I was much happier with that. It is not a text book but is a spine with reading lists of real living books for each time period.  And, best of all, it is from a Christian worldview.  So, while the kids are learning about the time period in history, they are also learning why worldview is important.  I was so excited with Truthquest!  But, after a few months, I realized the problem.  Many of the suggested books are not available in my library.  They all had to be requested, and many were not even in my library system.  And, because of the rules for checking out books, if I requested a set of books, picked up the books, and didn't finish them before they were due back, I had to turn them back in and request them again.  So, it was very difficult and time consuming, and I found myself always without the books we needed when we needed them.





So, by default, we've come back to Story of the World.  We are on the last volume which covers the Modern Age.  I am really hoping to find something different before next year when it would be time to cycle through and begin ancient history again.  I've heard wonderful things about Mystery of History, so I plan to check it out in person at the homeschool convention this spring.

And science:
I found myself in the same predicament with science text books- too dry, a list of facts, lots of memorization. The same year I developed our history curriculum, I used Usborne books to study science by developing my own plan.  As with history, it worked for that year but wouldn't be a long term answer for us.
I came upon Answers in Genesis many years ago when I was teaching in a Christian school and heard Ken Ham speak at a convention.  I knew I wanted to use their materials for much of my science because I am so impressed with their literal, six day creation teaching and their emphasis on the importance of worldview.  Early in our homeschooling life, I found their science books that can be used for elementary grades.  We enjoyed those, and I was especially impressed with the worldview, but I didn't feel that they were complete enough.  They seemed too shallow.


I supplemented for a while with some other resources- Apologia's elementary books (which I loved but thought a little difficult for the age),  a very hand's on, project, science curriculum that I picked up at a used curriculum fair, and library books.  But, I wanted a complete curriculum that I could love.
This year, based on recommendations from Simply Charlotte Mason, I started with Apologia's General Science.  I am reading the material aloud for the most part, so even my younger girls are listening and learning.  I absolutely love this material.  The depth of the reading is amazing.  They are not just memorizing a bunch of facts spouted off.  They are hearing the whys of science, and most importantly, learning that being an intellectual in the field of science and being a Christian who believes in a literal six days of creation and a young earth are not mutually exclusive. For this year, I am doing almost all the reading and am teaching Kathryne and Charles to take notes.  I plan to transition to them doing more of the reading on their own before Physical Science next year because I think that will be too much for Ashlyne and Rachel to listen to.  Then I am hoping that next year, Kathryne and Charles will do the Physical Science on their own, while I begin one of the elementary Apologia books with the younger girls.



So, science is something I feel really good about right now.

I must add in here my experiences with the Weaver curriculum from Alpha Omega.  I used this curriculum- which covers all subjects except math and phonics- one year in the midst of my older children's elementary years.  Weaver is a wonderful curriculum and I've known many families who love it.  If you love a unit study that is complete and all planned out, you should probably check it out.  It is perfect for multi-aged families like ours.  My only problem with Weaver is my inability to stick with something without supplementing.  It was waste for us because I like the flexibility of supplementing with other books or leaving out things I don't like.  Because I really wasn't going to use the whole package, I ended up paying for the full Weaver curriculum and still wanting to buy the other things I wanted to supplement it.  Not a very frugal, financially conscious idea.  If you are thinking about a whole package curriculum, see if you can put your hands on one for a while to see if you really are going to like it before investing much money.



The key to both science and history for me is worldview.  I do not want any curriculum that just presents facts and says "this is the way it is." I want my children to always be able to think and formulate opinions and defend those opinions.  I think history and science taught in a vacuum as a list of facts is meaningless.  Knowing the whys and the worldview is what makes those subjects alive and vital. (Just my two cents worth.)

Here are some other families and what they have found to work for science and social studies:
Science and Worldview by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings
http://www.oramblings.blogspot.com/2012/01/science-and-worldview.html

Nature Study as Science by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic
http://crunchycountrycatholic.blogspot.com/2012/01/nature-study-as-science.html

Curriculum Fair–Exploring Our World by Angie @ Petra School
http://pebblekeeper.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/curriculum-fairexploring-our-world/

Paths of Exploration by Jen @ Forever, For Always
http://www.foreverforalwaysnomatterwhat.com/2012/01/paths-of-exploration.html

Learning Geography at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama
http://www.modest-mama.org/2012/01/learning-geography-at-our-house.html

Mapping Out Our Social Studies by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
http://homeschoolheartandmind.blogspot.com/2012/01/mapping-out-our-social-studies.html

The Fascinating World Around Us by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family
http://www.fencedinfamily.com/blog/2012/01/the-fascinating-world-around-us/

More Heart of Dakota Praises by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
http://schoolinginthesun.blogspot.com/2012/01/more-heart-of-dakota-praises.html

Our History by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool
http://www.gchomeschool.com/2012/01/this-weeks-topic-our-world-social.html

Playful US Geography for First Grade by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
http://everydaysnapshots.blogspot.com/2012/01/playful-us-geography-for-first-grade.html

Heart of Dakota-The Fine Details-Part 3 History by Lynn @ Ladybug
Chronicles http://ladybug-chronicles.blogspot.com/2012/01/heart-of-dakota-fine-details-part-3.html

Exploring Our World Through History & Science by Brenda Emmett @
Garden of Learning
http://myhomeschoolgarden.com/2012/01/16/exploring-our-world-through-history-science/

Two History Must-haves by Letha @ justpitchingmytent
http://justpitchingmytent.blogspot.com/2012/01/history-must-haves-maps-and-timeline.html

Learning About The World Around Us by Laura O from AK
http://daybydayinourworld.com/2012/01/learning-about-the-world-around-us/

Social Studies and Science - What do we do? by Joelle @ Homechooling
for His Glory
http://homeschoolingforhisglory.blogspot.com/2012/01/social-studies-and-science-what-do-we.html

3 comments

  1. This is great, Leah! Thank you for sharing your journey through science and social studies with the Virtual Curriculum Fair.

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  2. Another Apologia fan! I have heard only good things about this program. I am going to have to seriously consider it for the future!

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  3. Looks like a great plan for science. I've also not found anything for history that totally meets our needs, so I'm still putting things together.

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