Middle School Science: reviews and suggestions needed

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  • Wings2fly

    What did your student use for science in grades 5-8? What did you like? What would you do differently? Why did you use the books and topics you chose? Was your student well prepared for high school science?

    I know I want them to read some living books and do some nature study, but I do not know which topics and also if they should use a conversational textbook yet. And there are so many options out there. The more I look, the more confused and overwhelmed I get.

    If they do Aplogia junior high, can they do just Physical Science in 8th grade, or do they really need General Science in 7th grade too? Is there room in their schedules with these books and labs to fit in living books and nature study too?

    I am in great need of direction. My son is starting 5th grade and would like to do science independently, but has no preference for topic or books to use. And then I saw the new Wile books. We are doing Ancient History this year and Middle Ages next year and his science books would go nicely with it, using Science in the Beginning this year. But I wonder if there is room to still use living books too.

    Is there some kind of 4 year or 6 year science rotation, similar to history? What about studying the same science topics for the whole family?

    Thank you for any suggestions and advice.


    DD13 – has read loads of living books, Storybook of Science w/ journal, used 2 Apologia Elem. books with co-op (I personally don’t care for these and we no longer use them. Nothing wrong with the info. I just found it too textbook-y for our liking.), and online classes with Landry (Intro. to Marine Biology this year, Animal Care Science and ?? last year, Pre-Chemistry and Pre-Physics and Equine Health this coming year.) She will also have a 1 semester Lab Science class at co-op based on Apologia General and Physical books. Thus far she has done well in all studies and I believe she is well prepared. This coming year we will work on learning from a text, taking notes, and reviewing that vocab that is so necessary. I don’t think it was necessary earlier.

    DS10 – Somewhat lacking. Has had some living books (we did Outdoor Secrets and Companion in 2nd or 3rd), a gentle Physics mechanics semester, and this year he’s working through The Storybook of Science w/ a drawn/written journal. We will add more living books and likely use a God’s Design book set this coming year.

    DD7 – Living books grade K, Outdoor Secrets and companion Grade 1. Loves to play and experiment.

    I think we will all do some chemistry/physics to tie into dd13 for the coming year, but I don’t expect that to happen every year. I will likely utilize online classes for upper level science simply because I need to farm out something for my own sanity. 


    I have used the two upper level years of the series AiG bought which I can’t remember right now, because I’m old and I have already sold all the books.  I have used Apologia General Science.  We never did the physical science, because we were planning on doing real physics in 11th grade and we’d usually just recently finished the physical science part of that series I can’t remember.  🙂  One son did 6 different science based merit badges his 7th grade year.  My two oldest one year did Mythbusters experiments.  My son who just finished 8th grade, I designed a special course for him, involving an astronomy book (he loves astronomy) and then some extra things on scientific method, experimental design, scientific notation, etc.  There is lots out there to do.  


    My 6th grade daughter studied the history of medicine this year along with our ancient history study.  Here’s a list of the books she used:

    Galen and the Gateway to Medicine

    History of Medicine – Tiner

    The Medical Book 

    Pandemic Survival

    Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

    Phineas Gage

    Horrible Science Series

    She also did natural history/nature study using Tracking the Unearthly Creatures of Marsh and Pond (she illustrated and labelled one “creature” each lesson and ended up with a really nice book).

    We also did regular nature study and Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding lessons and experiments about once a week along with my younger son.

    She also spent a lot of time learning how to use a microscope and make slides.  She sketched what she observed in her science journal 1x week.

    For a fun project, she studied Green Anole lizards (we live in FL).  She found 10 lizards on our property and made a chart with their location, markings, time of sighting and named them.  She checked on them for several weeks to determine if they are territorial and observed their behaviour with other lizards and reported her findings.  It was a really fun project and we all learned a lot about them.

    We spent a lot of time at the beach studying tide pools and researching her findings throughout the year.

    This year, she will be studying the ocean and astronomy with living books and using the next BFSU book as well as some of the science books from the AO year 7.


    We have started using Noeo science courses this year and it seems to be good for the kids to be able to do more independently. They use a lot of different books. We have not had to many issues with them so far. Some are more living than others but they are learning from them and able to do all experiments so far as well as narrate. We supplement a bit with our own projects and videos here and there. It may be something you want to look into to see if it will be a good fit for your family.



    Wings2fly, I feel for you, and I am in much the same situation.  I can’t answer all the questions you start with in your post as I’m not there yet (I have an opinion on Sci in the Beginning, below, however).  My eldest is about to begin 6th grade and we need to move up a notch in science (we’ve done only living books thus far…any attempts I’ve made with textbooks have been met with blank stares or an otherwise disengaged state of mind:)  To your point, there are MANY options out there, but IMO, despite the fact that these are “conversational” textbooks, they still don’t hold a candle to the kind of retention I see in my boys via living books.  I will look forward to more advice from the forum on this thread!

    To your question on Science in the Beginning…hopefully suzukimom will see this and chime in as I think she is using it and liking it.  We used it for a short time, and while I did like it better than any other textbook we tried, it still met with the blank stares so I’ve shelved it for the time being (could just be something about my eldest two…hoping it might work better down the road with my younger bunch and this is why I”m hanging on to it…I do really like it).  As for the course being a good fit for independent use, I’m thinking probably not.  It seems, to me, very much written for the teacher/parent to take the lead and read aloud, stopping at the appropriate moments to engage conversation or move to the experiment.  It would take a lot of self-discipline for a 10 or 11 year old to STOP reading at the appropriate moments…to not to read the whole chapter.  Wile’s writing is stellar and he really builds momentum in the way he writes (we were all eager to know how it was going to turn out/what we were going learn!)   Again, this is why it would require self control on the part of an 11 year to stop at the right moment (often halfway into a page) and do the lesson as intended.   If an independent learner didn’t “pause” and learn via the experiment it might defeat the purpose a tad, or at the very least, lesson the thrill of discovery and scientific proof.  IMO.  I may be over-thinking this however, so again, hopefully suzukimom can give an opinion.

    HTH some.  Blessings, Angie


    Thank you all for sharing.  I looked into Noeo science for the first time.  I did get some ideas on how I could pull some books together, but I did not like all of the books they use, which seems to be a common problem when I look into science programs.  I like the idea of studying science along with history, like with the history of medicine.  I am wondering if Science in the Beginning by Wile (or some other book) would make a good family spine for 2 years, adding in age-appropriate independent living books.

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