Category Archives: Living Science Books

Men, Microscopes, and Living Things is Now Available

I am delighted to announce that Living Books Library has republished my favorite living science book: Men, Microscopes, and Living Things by Katherine Shippen. As you probably know, these ladies are my co-hosts on A Delectable Education, but they also run a private lending library with over 17,000 living books, most of which were published before 1970. It has been a long time dream for them to republish some of their favorite old living books so more families can enjoy them, and I am elated that the first book republished through this new venture, Living Library Press, is a LIVING SCIENCE BOOK!

Men, Microscopes, and Living Things

Get your copy of Men, Microscopes, and Living Things now at Living Books Press for $13.95 (plus $3.50 shipping,) and then come back and get a copy of the study guide I designed to introduce middle school and early high school students to biology through the pages of this lovely book.

Enjoy!

How Old is Too Old for a Science Book

Charlotte Mason commented that she had few living science books written in English to choose from. (vol. 6, p. 275) I sometimes reflect on this as I agonize over which book to use for a subject. We have so many to choose from! But recently I began to wonder if Mason would approve of using some of the books I like, because of their age. Would she say a science book that is over 50 years old is too old?

I have some good reasons to use books from the early half of the twentieth century. Primarily, that the quality of books for young people has dramatically declined since the 1960s when the government started federally funding libraries. As more money was available, the quality went down. Think of it like this, if you have a limited book budget in your house, you will be careful as to what books you spend money on. You’ll be far less likely to buy twaddle, if you know you won’t have enough leftover to buy what you need for your kids’ school year.

This question led me to do some research on the books Mason used. I looked at the 14 most commonly used science books from the P.U.S. Programmes between 1921 and 1933, for forms 3 through 6 (middle school through high school). Continue reading

My Favorite Science Biographies (Some of Them)

This week Charlotte Mason Institute posted an article I wrote called “Living Science Through the Lives of Scientists“. I hope you will take a few minutes to go over there and read it.

That which has become the dominant idea of one person’s life, if it be launched suddenly at another, conveys no very great depth or weight of meaning to the second person — he wants to get at it by degrees, to see the steps by which the other has traveled.” (Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p.97).

Biographies hold so much value when teaching science. I’ve seen it over and over again with my own kids. (They have been the guinea pigs for all of my science study.) It never failswe can use a rather hard biography, like Crucibles, and years later they will remember every scientific principle that was presented, while they can’t remember anything from the “list-of-facts book” two hours later. There are several reasons why I think this is the case, which I explain in my article.

In light of that article, I thought I would take a few minutes today to share some of my very favorite science biographies. Continue reading

Special Study – Minerals

Natural bodies are divided into three kingdomes of nature: viz. the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. Minerals grow, Plants grow and live, Animals grow, live, and have feeling. — Carolus Linnaeus, (1735)

Where to look for books in your library: J 552 primarily

Books:
True Book of Rocks and Minerals by Illa Podendorf (48 p.)
Rocks and Minerals by Lou Williams Page (32 p.)
The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky (IP, PB, gr. 3-6, 48 p.)
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (IP, gr. 9+, 496 p.)
Salt by Augusta Goldin (LRFO)

Field Guide:
A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough

Teacher background: HoNS*
Rocks and Minerals, p. 743-744
Minerals, p. 750-759

Object Lessons, choose from the following:

  1. Grow [LARGE]Alum crystals over the whole term. (Here’s how we did it.)
  2. HoNS 
    1. Lesson 211, Crystal Growth, p. 752
    2. Lesson 212, Salt, p. 753
    3. Lesson 213, Quarts, p. 755
    4. Lesson 214, Feldspar, p. 758
    5. Lesson 215, Mica, p. 758
  3. Janice VanCleave’s Earth Science for Every Kid by Janice VanCleave (chapter 2 only.) The following specific lessons would be good:
    1. Lesson 8. Salty, p. 24: To determine how salt beds are formed.
    2. Lesson 9. Needles, p. 26: To demonstrate how crystals form.
    3. Lesson 10. Deposits, p. 28: To demonstrate the formation of caliche deposits
    4. Lesson 11. Dripper, p. 30: To demonstrate the formation of stalagmites and stalactites.
    5. Lesson 12. Bubbles, p. 32: To demonstrate a positive test for limestone.
    6. Lesson 13. Spoon Pen, p. 34: To demonstrate a mineral streak test.
    7. Lesson 14. Crunch, p. 36: To demonstrate the formation of metamorphic rocks.
  4. Mineral Investigation Labs (for MS or HS)
  5. Adventures with Rocks and Minerals: Geology experiments for young people by Lloyd Barrow
  6. Break Your Own Geode *Is a geode a rock or a mineral?
  7. Make your own rock candy
  8. Place a small drop of various mineral solutions on microscope slides, then look at them through a microscope when they have crystalized. (see pictures below)
 

Other Resources:
Mindat.org – the world’s largest public database of mineral information with an army of worldwide volunteers adding and verifying new information daily. (Click on Advanced Search and then enter your state or county to search your “locality”.)

Rock and Mineral Playing Cards



*Note: HoNS = Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock

**Note: When you are studying “earth science” you will encounter more explanations of the evolutionary theory than when you are studying botany or elephants, for example. Older books have less inclusion of this perspective usually. My guiding line is that they not mock or attack the young earth view point. We can have a conversation about “millions of years”.

The following resources might be useful:

Creation.com – Engineer Goes Back to School: Don Batten chats with geologist Dr Tas Walker (Flood model solves geological puzzles)
Answers In Genesis – Radioactive and Radiocarbon Dating (video)
Dr. Ron Carlson – Origins (video, covers carbon dating)
  Dinosaurs, Flood Pt 1
  Dinosaurs, Flood Pt 2



Related:
Natural History Rotation
Natural History: Implementing Special Studies (full explanation)
Implementing Special Studies – An Outline

Special Study – Rocks

Every stone detective needs these things to work with:

  • A knife or a steel file for scratching the stones,
  • A piece of glass to make scratches on – get a piece with smooth edges so that you won’t cut your fingers,
  • A magnifying glass or hand lens for examining the stones closely,
  • An ordinary copper penny,
  • A piece of white tile – the kind that is used on bathroom walls or the kind that is put under hot dishes on the table,
  • A small bottle of plain fizzy soda water (or ginger ale or any soda pop will do)
  • A hammer for breaking your rocks open – possibly one with a flat end and a sharp end,
  • A rock chisel – not a wood chisel,
  • A sample of minerals and/or rocks

-From The First Book of Stones by M. B. Cormack

Where to look for books in your library: J 552 primarily

Books:
Rocks and Soil: Real Size Science by Rebecca Rissman (IP, PB, gr. P-1, 24 p.)
How a Rock Came to be in a Fence on a Road Near a Town by Hy Ruchlis (28 p.)
Rocks in His Head by Carol Otis Hurst (IP, PB, gr. P-3, 32 p.)
Let’s Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans (IP, LRFO 2)
If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian (IP, PB, gr. P-4, 32 p.) *love it
A Rock Is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston (IP, PB, gr. K-5, 40 p.)
The Big Rock by Bruce Hiscock (IP, PB, gr. 4-6, 32 p.)
Quartz by Zim (gr. upper elem, MS & HS)
A First Look at Rocks by Millicent Selsam (32 p.)
True Book of Rocks and Minerals by Illa Podendorf (48 p.)
The Story of Rocks by Dorothy Edwards Shuttlesworth (56 p.)
The Rock Book by Carroll Lane Fenton (432 p.)

Field Guide:
Rocks, Fossils & Arrowheads (Take Along Guides) by Laura Evert (IP, PB, gr. 4-7, 48 p.) *Nice introductory field guide for young children.
A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough

Teacher background: HoNS*
Rocks and Minerals: p. 743-744
Rocks: p. 744-750

Object Lessons, choose from the following:
First Book of Stones by Maribelle Cormack (with activities)
Science Book of Rocks by George Ten Broeck (with activities)
HoNS Lesson 209, Igneous Rocks: Granite, p. 747
HoNS Lesson 210, Calcite, Limestone, and Marble, p. 749
Break Your Own Geode *Is a geode a rock or a mineral?
Rock and Mineral Playing Cards
1) look for rocks 2) identify them 3) diagram and describe them in your nature journal 4) collect them

SPECIFIC STATE BOOKS

Under Ohio: The Story of Ohio’s Rocks and Fossils by Charles Ferguson Barker (IP, PB, gr. 4+, 56 p.)
Under Michigan: The Story of Michigan’s Rocks and Fossils by Charles Ferguson Barker (IP, PB, gr. 3+, 56 p.)
Under New England: The Story of New England’s Rocks and Fossils by Charles Ferguson Barker (IP, PB, gr. 2+, 72 p.)



*Note: HoNS = Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock

**Note: When you are studying “earth science” you will encounter more explanations of the evolutionary theory than when you are studying botany or elephants, for example. Older books have less inclusion of this perspective usually. My guiding line is that they not mock or attack the young earth view point. We can have a conversation about “millions of years”.

The following resources might be useful:

Creation.com – Engineer Goes Back to School: Don Batten chats with geologist Dr Tas Walker (Flood model solves geological puzzles)
Answers In Genesis – Radioactive and Radiocarbon Dating (video)
Dr. Ron Carlson – Origins (video, covers carbon dating)
  Dinosaurs, Flood Pt 1
  Dinosaurs, Flood Pt 2



Related:
Natural History Rotation
Natural History: Implementing Special Studies (full explanation)
Implementing Special Studies – An Outline