Nature Study for Science

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  • Christie


    It’s been some time since I have posted any new topics on here, but I do have a question about science and nature study. I have had my two older children ( ages 13 and 8 ) keep a nature journal for science, and in it they copy a nature poem; either made up, or one they copy out of one of our various poetry books, and they note the weather for the day, add a sketch, etc….Also, we are reading a living science book right now aloud, and this concludes our science lesson for the day. I am wondering though, if this is enough???? Sometimes I wonder if I should be having my 13 year old working out of a science text. I do have “Patterns of Nature” worktext for my 8 year old, that she works in occasionally, but mostly we just stick to the living books and nature study for science. If any one has any advice on this topic, please let me know. We cover so many “fine arts” subjects when using CM, and I am trying to keep with the short lessons, and using living books ideas, but just wondered because I noticed on the curriculum guide on this site, they have Apologia physical science for 8th grade.

    Karen Smith

    Good question, Christie. Whether or not nature study and reading living science books are enough depends on what your goals are for your kids, how in-depth the living books are, how much of the scientific field you cover with the books, how knowledgeable you are in the sciences, and how interested your kids are in science.

    If your goal is to have your kids attend college, then I highly recommend Apologia or some other science text for the high school years. I like Apologia for several reasons. First, the books are written from a biblical worldview. Second, the books are written to the student in a conversational style so there is little preparation for the parent. Third, the material covered in each book is fairly in-depth. Apologia also offers support online.

    Whether you start physical science in 8th grade or 9th grade should be determined by your child’s interest in science. If you have a child who is not particularly interested in science then starting in 9th grade will still allow him to cover through physics before graduation. If your child is interested in science and would like to study a certain branch of science more in-depth then you should consider starting physical science at an earlier age so that he can have an extra year or so to cover the more advanced books.

    Using a textbook does not mean that you can’t continue nature journals and reading living science books. You can use the textbook as a guide of what to cover, but search out good living books to make it more interesting. It all depends on how confident you are in choosing books that will give accurate information and how much time you have to search out and plan a study. Also, depending on what branch of science you are covering, you may or may not be able to find good living books. For example, there is an abundance of good living books at all levels for studying some aspects of biology. However, I think you would be hard pressed to find good living books dealing with chemistry.

    I hope that helps answer your question.


    My oldest four are girls and are not focused on college at all. That being said, the oldest two took their time going through Apologia’s Exploring Creation with General Science book. (In fact, they actually completed it AFTER graduation!) We have goats and I felt they learned a lot of science just hands on–literally! 🙂

    Science has always been my area of weakness, although I wanted to do more. Sounds like you’ve gotten into a good routine with it! My third daughter is very interested in botany, but she wasn’t really wanting to go through biology. She is actually using the Jeannie Fulbright Botany science book recommended for elementary. This dd is 16 and in the 10th “grade”, but the detail and extra effort she has put into it make it more than just “elementary level” to me. She is finishing that up soon and then wants to do the Astronomy one by the same author. Although I think the Apologia books are great, I must admit the Fulbright books are more to my girls’ liking! They are my “litmus test” for twaddle at homeschool book fairs! LOL!

    I loved Karen’s advice–see where your children’s bents are, and if they are headed for college, you could gently introduce the textbooks. My fourth dd who is 14 is interested in chemistry, but I KNOW she could not handle a chemistry text. I found Real Science 4 Kids, and am considering investing in the younger age book, but not the teacher and lab book, etc. From what I saw, I think she could read through and do some of the experiments on her own without being totally overwhelmed. Hey, *I* might even finally learn some chemistry with that one! It’s the most CM-compatible one I’ve found–but I’m no expert!!! And it probably is not “college-bound” quality. Anyway, just something to throw in the mix! (I know, thanks for confusing you, huh!)

    Here’s a link if you’re interested (they have samples you can see):

    Have a good weekend!



    Thank you both so much, Karen and Trisch. I have since looked over some of Apologia’s curriculum, and it does look very good. I was browsing the pages of a Christian Book Dist. homeschool catalog today, and noticed the books by Jeannie K. Fulbright too, that you had mentioned as well to use in younger grades for science, that looked really good.( which as Trisch mentioned, could be used for older children as well!) They back the Charlotte Mason method too. But, I will continue to use our living books, and nature journals of course, and I plan on ordering the Botany science book because we are planning our garden to start in the spring already, and I think this book will compliment our hands on gardening great! Thanks so much! Perhaps in the near future, I will order the Physical science for my oldest!

    Have a great week,


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