Topic | Science advice please

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  • homesweetschool

    As I started searching for an alternative for Science that would be a better Charlottle Mason style from what we are using currently, I came upon Outdoor Secrets and Jack’s Insects and got really excited thinking about using something like this instead.

    Are these books (Outdoor Secrets and Jack’s Insects) designed to be the only Science offered (plus perhaps other living books) until they are finished or do people often do this and something else at the same time?  I am trying to get a feel for what it might be like to switch over to a more SCM based Science plan.  


    Outdoor Secrets is a one year program (possibly could stretch to two years if you took your time and/or only did science 1-2x per week)  It is meant for grade 1 or grade 2, possibly stretch to grade 3, i.e. if you were using for a 1st and 3rd grader and wanted one program that works as a family subject, you wouldn’t exclude your 3rd grader from this.  At a grade 1-3 level you would most certainly not need to do any other science program although your overall science big picture would also include guiding and helping your children with a nature journal, to be filled in weekly (or more often if they like) after a weekly nature walk or nature explore time.

    Jack’s Insects I haven’t used (yet) but I believe it’s the same idea – a one year program that you would do when your children are in slightly older grades, i.e. grade 4 and 6, or gr. 5 and 7 perhaps.  I’m not an expert on this, but I would think you would not use an additional program during your Jack’s Insects year, as the idea would be that your child or children are immersed in JI.  Again, I’m not actually using JI yet, but this is my guess.  Certainly I have looked at many of the curriculum plans of ladies on this forum and if I recall correctly, the year that most of them use JI, it’s the only science they are doing.  Of course, the child is also keeping a nature journal throughout, so that is additional science and hands-on learning as weel.

    The years in between OS and JI (and after JI) you would build your own list of living books (by theme, each year, if you want some flow – i.e. living books on inventors one year, living books on astronomy complete with biographies of astronauts during another year, living books on meterology another year and a major focus on weather…you get the idea).  Lists of living books on all these subjects are plentiful and easily available all over the interent, not to mention here on SCM site via the curriculum planner (living books under science) and also on the forum by several ladies who are serious book list people.  Anyway, you get the books, and simply read and narrate.  Or, you could pick and choose from elementary science programs available on a year by year basis.  Many discussions/threads here on the forum about the Apologia courses, Science in the Beginning by Dr. J. Wile, and others.  For me, living books seem to be the only thing that guarantees a happy student and excellent retention…so it’s all we’re doing for the elementary years, until about 7th or 8th grade.  It took me a bit to come to peace with this, but as of now, I see my boys aged 10 and 11 learning and thriving with the living books model to such a remarkable extent that I just can’t see it any other way.

    Hope that helps a bit!



    Karen Smith

    A wide variety of living science books and weekly nature study are enough science for the elementary grades. Outdoor Secrets and Jack’s Insects are just two of the many living science books that could be used. Feel free to use other living books and nature study with them.

    The Outdoor Secrets Companion and Jack’s Insects Narration and Nature Study Notebook are designed to be used until they are finished. The Outdoor Secrets Companion and Jack’s Notebook give recommendations for living science books and nature study that go with the topics in each story or chapter. You could add in other living books and do more nature study simultaneously, but it may be too much. I recommend finishing the Companion or Jack’s Notebook, then choose another science topic to explore through living books while continuing nature study.


    Angelia and Karen, thank you so very much for your helpful feedback!!  It really helps me to get a picture of how it would look to use it.  For an 8 year old it sounds like doing Science twice a week with one nature walk a week would be about right?  For a 10 year old I’d assume doing Science three times a week with a once a week nature walk?  Or do you count your nature walk as Science for one of the “science” days?


    You are most welcome! 

    Yes, you would count your nature walk as Science and make that your science for the day.  Remember, after the walk your children will be coming home to their nature journal and (completely according to their own will, ideas and structure) will record what they observed while out on nature walk.  Remember you don’t do anything except provide the nature journal book (it can be simply blank paper in a binder, or a spiral bound sketch book, unlined); you might also help a young child (not yet writing well) with her entry, i.e. take HER dictation, but that would be all that’s needed.  All I do for my eldest children is remind them to put the date (they also know, now, to put an observation of the weather and they usually write the time we went out and how long we went).

    Children might also have “treasures” they collected during the walk and so coming home they might spend time looking at the item(s) more closely and figuring out how to store something, draw it, photograph, look up on the internet or in a field guide (you would help with the looking-up part, but let the child direct you as much as you can). 

    In short, it’s a real “hands-on” learning day about whatever they happened to see and find interesting while they were out – but there’s no formal “teacher structure” to it – CM felt it very important that record what THEY saw, in a way that THEY decide is meaningful.  You simply take them on the walk and provide the journal (blank page notebook) and assist only as the child wants you to.  Some weeks, the child is quiet and there’s not a lot of follow up (that you can see in a notebook); remember that this is OKAY; the child might simply be pondering it all in her head that week.  The following week could be a completely different story.  Doing the nature walk consistently is the key; over time, you will see your child making connections with what he/she is seeing.

    Blessings,  Angie


    So helpful Angelina, thank you ever so much!


    I am using Jack’s insect and Storybook of science for my kids this next year. They will be 3rd/4th or 8&9. Here is a link

    These are all at this site…

     Arabella Buckley,  The Fairy-Land of Science 
       Jean Henri Fabre,  The Life of the Spider 
       Jean Henri Fabre,  The Secret of Everyday Things 
       Jean Henri Fabre,  The Story Book of Science 
       Charles R. Gibson,  War Inventions and How they were Invented 
       Charles R. Gibson,  The Wonders of Scientific Discovery 
       Charles Kingsley,  Madam How and Lady Why

    These are all science living books. I checked them out on Amazon and you can read reviews and see what age levels they are great for. HTH


    Cdm, I am just reading these posts now and I see the books you are using for science from the Baldwin Project ie. The Stotybook of Science, The Life of a Spider….can you tell me if the information in these books are current and up to date. Meaning if these books were written a LONG, LONG time ago, some of the information may have changed and so I am wondering how current the info. is. I am not that great in science, so I may not notice if I need to correct any verbage.

    Thanks so much!


    These books look great, cdm2kk.  If Yesterday’s Classics has their ebooks on sale again for $50, I will buy them for my son’s kindle.


    I’m sorry I haven’t been on here much. I have not read these books as of yet. I am going to roll with the punches and see how it goes this year, but I have seen nothing but great reviews from multiple sites. HTH

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