My Form 3 (gr. 7-8) study guide for Astronomy is finally available! It uses the book The Planets by Dava Sobel (2006), which is a beautifully written book. I’ve had so much fun writing this guide and hope it is just as much fun for your students to use.
I think this will work well for your form 4 (gr. 9) students as well, in case you are looking for something for them, and my form 2 (gr. 4-6) astronomy study guide will be available by the beginning of August, so maybe your whole family can dive into the same science topic this fall. I’ll be using the book Finding the Constellations by H. A. Rey for the form 2 guide in case you want to get a copy of that now.
Science, a Vast and Joyous Region.––Science is one of these provinces. Here, the stars are measured, the ocean sounded, and the wind made the servant of man; here, every flower that blooms reveals the secret of its growth, and every grain of sand recounts its history. This is a vast and joyous realm; for the people who walk therein are always discovering new things, and each new thing is a delight, because the things are not a medley, but each is a part of the great whole. So immense is the realm of Science that one of the wisest and greatest travelers therein, who had discovered many things, said, when he was an old man, that he was only like a little child playing with pebbles on the beach. -Charlotte Mason, Ourselves, p. 35
Charlotte Mason tells us that the young child is “full of vivid interest. He has a thousand questions to ask, he wants to know about everything; he has, in fact, an inordinate appetite for knowledge.” Unfortunately, we soon cure him of all of that by “occupying him with books instead of things…and we succeed in bringing up the unobservant man (and more unobservant woman) who discerns no difference between an elm, a poplar and a lime tree, and misses very much of the joy of living.” (Parents and Children, p. 181-182)
If we are determined to follow Mason’s lead down a better path, we must remember that while books are an essential part of a Mason education, things can be very instructive as well, and the more we find a balance between the two, the more intelligent and observant our children will become.
Object lessons are a wonderful way to gently guide a child to carefully examine a given object (a thing) in order to find out all he can about it through the use of his five senses. In fact, when the child’s senses have been exercised and his interest aroused, he can most effectively retain what he is discovering. Continue reading
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
Last week I left you guessing as to my favorite science biography. It is Men, Microscopes, and Living Things by Katherine B. Shippen later reprinted as So Many Marvels. I have never found another book that covers the subject of basic biology so engagingly and so thoroughly.
In honor of it being my favorite, I have written my first science study guide to accompany it. Learn more about this study guide, including a list of the biology principles that are introduced through the combined use of this living book and several other resources by visiting my Middle School Biology Study Guide page.
This is the first but I hope to offer several more in the future. In fact, I am working on three others already, including one for elementary students, and another for high school students.
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 fails — we 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