While we do use a hodge podge of science curricula, Nancy Larson Science is our "main" curricula. We may not always get to the extras, but we get our Nancy Larson lessons done.
When we first began homeschooling, I saw several science curricula options and I thought for sure that we would use those in our homeschool. We tried some of them and they weren't hugely successful for several reasons - they took too long, they were too complicated, they had too many supplies to purchase, they weren't developmentally appropriate and much information was quickly forgotten, or they just simply did not get done at our house.
I've finally been successful at science. It's all thanks to this program. I can fit science into our schedule and we actually complete and lessons on a regular basis. The best curriculum for your family is simply the one that gets done. And this is it for us!
We aim to do science 2-3 days per week but my kids ask to do a lesson daily, so I often comply. This means that we might finish a level before our school year is over. I try to take some weeks off and simply do extra reading on our topic, using the reading list provided by Nancy Larson Science.
I'll give you a little glimpse into a lesson with Level 2 (for Curly) and Level K (for Bee and Tiger):
Level 2 - Lesson 47 - Identifying the fulcrum, load, and effort of levers/Identifying how 2nd and 3rd class levers function
We began the lesson by reviewing the levers we learned about in the previous lesson - hand truck (or dolly as I call them) and scissors - and discussed how levers make work easier.
Then we talked about how a wheelbarrow is lever while looking at a picture. I had Curly identify the load from looking at the picture. We talked about how you move a wheelbarrow and the type of effort needed. Then we talked about how a wheelbarrow is different from the hand truck in the previous lesson. She noticed that the fulcrum is in the front while the load is behind the wheel.
Next we looked at a picture of a nutcracker and discussed the place for the load, fulcrum, and effort. Then we examined tweezers, a stapler, a hammer, and a baseball bat, discussing the different locations of the load, fulcrum, and effort. (I never thought about a baseball bat being a lever! New info to me!)
After our discussion, Curly got out her small physics booklet and we worked on the page for the day. We looked at the diagrams of the various objects and Curly labelled the load and effort and highlighted the fulcrum on each object. Then we discussed which were 2nd class levers and which were 3rd class, examining the differences of each. After she understood the differences, we looked back at the previous lesson of 1st class levers and compared and contrasted the 3 types of levers.
She completed the lesson review about the types of levers the next day.
Curly's favorite lesson so far was the lesson where she chose someone to interview about the different types of simple machines that they used. She chose to interview her Pops (my dad). She called him and asked him the questions on her interview form. She asked about the types of electric or battery-operated machines he used in his daily life. Then she asked about times when he used an inclined plane, a wedge, a screw, a lever, a wheel and axle, and a pulley. She wrote down the examples he provided and they had a cute little discussion of about the various machines she had studied. She was very excited to show me her results! Hearing her tell me about the interview allowed me to see how well she understood the concepts and the various types of machines.
Level 2 Breakdown
So far in level 2 we've studied
- properties of liquids, solids, and gases,
- magnetic attraction
- physical properties of minerals
- gravity, mass, and friction
- simple machines
- properties of sound
- properties of light
Level K - Lesson 39 - Observing and describing mixtures of liquids
This lesson began with a review of the previous lessons. We discussed how we had frozen various liquids until they became solids. Then we talked about how we had let them melt and become liquids again.
Then we mixed sand with water in a bottle and made observations about the buoyancy of sand - not at all buoyant! Then we shook the bottle and saw the sand mix with the water and then settle back to the bottom.
Next we mixed oil and water and made observations about the buoyancy of oil - which was very buoyant as it floated on the water. We then shook the bottle to create a mixture and then watched it separate.
We shook a bottle of salad dressing to observe it as a mixture. Then we added food coloring to a bottle of water and watched our new mixture. We also mixed powdered drink powder in a bottle to create another mixture.
Some of Tiger and Bee's favorite lessons were the lessons about using our senses when we tasted sweet, salty, sour, and bitter foods in a fun taste test. They also loved the lessons when they learned different ways to describe matter through making observations of the foam blocks included in the kit.
Level K Breakdown
So far in Level K we've studied
- the different parts of the body
- the five senses
- the different food groups
- good hygiene
- characteristics of pets
- describing characteristics of objects
- characteristics of sea shells
- how to compare the mass of objects
- identifying objects that are bouyant
- making and separating mixtures with solids and liquids
- forces that move objects such as wind, magnets, and gravity
Here's why science is fun (and it's fun for me too!):
Everything is included - No shopping trips for me. I don't have to hunt down strange and random supplies. Nope, the main things are all in the box and I just grab a few household items and we are ready for our lesson!
Very little prep is needed - I don't have to spend time looking over lessons and making lesson plans. Everything is very clearly laid out in the teacher guide - to what supplies we need and what papers from our notebook to tips for planning ahead for later lessons.
Instructions and lessons are clear - Yes, this program is scripted. No, I never, ever thought I would use or enjoy a scripted program. But I very much do! Have you ever tried to explain physics concepts to a 2nd grade in words they understand? I have, and I do a very terrible job. With this program I just read from the guide where the language is geared for your student and the concepts are put in terms they can understand. I never have to worry about how to present a lesson or a topic.
The program is developmentally appropriate - The program does not contain very detailed experiments or complicated demonstrations. The lessons are presented and with each lesson there is an activity or demonstration. All of them can be performed by your child. This means that I'm not the one setting up for the demonstration, doing it, and then cleaning it up while my children watch and quickly become bored because there are too many steps. No, the child can complete the activities and they are the ones who get the hands-on learning.
The lessons are short - The lessons do not take us more than 20 or 30 minutes (which does not count any additional reading we do on a topic). This means that science can easily fit into my schedule. This science gets done at my house!
The lessons are incremental - Each lesson builds upon itself within the program. You learn one concept on Monday and then the next lesson takes that concept one step further. However, we never experience information overload!
My kids remember everything - I am amazed at the concepts that they retain and I love seeing them apply those concepts in other situations. Just this month, Curly launched into an entire explanation of sound waves and decibels after complaining that her brother's iPod was too loud.
We really enjoy the hands-on activities with Nancy Larson Science. They clearly illustrate the lessons while the lessons seamlessly build upon each other. The program uses scientific vocabulary pared with developmentally appropriate explanations. It is easy to teach and simply gets done! We look forward to our science lessons!