November 17, 2011

Heart of Dakota Science

As some of you may remember I used Apologia Science last year.  While I was very impressed with their curriculum and intend to return to it in a few years, it was not for us this year.  I wanted a more visual science curriculum with a bit more variation. 

Also, I wanted T and J to be able to join in and understand what was being taught.  Apologia spoke to a much older audience, used hard vocabulary, studied one topic all year, and the experiments were much too complicated for my style.

So, after deciding to use Heart of Dakota for Z's history this year I gave their science a look.  I researched the books they included for science and read through the teacher manual.  I liked what I saw.

Now, after about a quarter, I am very pleased with that decision.

The first unit (the first four or five weeks) in Bigger Hearts for His Glory focused on the seashore.  We primarily used One Small Square: Seashore.  The kids loved this book and I thought it was simple while also being fun.  I did add Pagoo to our reading, which turned out to be an awesome educational supplement to this unit and an enjoyable story that went very well with our study.

But what I was very impressed with was how great the experiments and demonstrations were.  I could pull the necessary items together within a couple of minutes and there was virtually no prep work.  However, the lessons taught were still very essential concepts that I wouldn't have necessarily thought of demonstrating in a hands-on format.  The simplicity has allowed the kids to remember what we did and what it taught and it has kept my four and five year old's attention.

For example we used sugar and water to demonstrate how the water (in the form of rain and waves) can change the seashore over time.  In addition, we used glitter and lotion to demonstrate germs on our hands and how it takes warm soapy water to remove the bulk of the germs.

In both of these cases I have seen my children imitate the experiment to some degree and I have heard them repeat the essential lesson to one another after many days have passed.  This is successful learning in my book!
We also do a notebook page once or twice a week about something we read.  I appreciate that Heart of Dakota includes an applicable verse with nearly every notebooking assignment.  And the assignments themselves allow for creativity and are simple enough for J to do her own version.

The book we are using currently, in the eighth week, is Science in Colonial America.  This book is much less of a 'living book' and the kids are not all that enthralled with it.  However, the hands-on part continues to impress.  And while I don't like this book quite so much, it is not long, and I know that we move on to much better materials soon. 

All in all, Heart of Dakota's science curriculum has been a great fit for our family this year.  We will continue on with studying the ecosystem of the woods, Thomas Edison, and science as it relates to Colonial and Early America.  And I am looking forward to it.


Mary said...

We enjoyed the One Small Square books :)

Diana said...

Sounds like you have hit on something great for your family. With Lake Michagan so close.... The lotion and glitter idea was a good object lesson, and yes if they are talking about it several days later, it was a good lesson. Hope it cont. to go well for all of you and that you have few bumps in the road as you travel.