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The Ultimate Guide to Living Books for Science

March 14, 2017 4 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Living Books for Science

Here it is - THE Ultimate Guide to Living Books for Science!!

We have made no secret of the fact that we are fans of living books. They bring science to life in a way that nothing else can.

There are loads of options out there telling you how to use living books for history and even math, but not so many on how to use living books for science.

And so, we wanted to change that with this post - the ultimate guide for living books.

Think of it as your one-stop shop for learning how to use living books to teach science.

Here's what we will cover:

  1. The basics of living books
  2. How to use living books for science
  3. How to document your study of living books
  4. How to choose living books you can use for science

Sound good?

Great, let's get started...

The Ultimate Guide to Living Books for Science

The basics of living books

Here is our definition of a living book:

Living book (n) – A book that engages the reader and draws him or her into learning more about a subject; it is typically narrative in style and written by an authority on the material.

Living books are written by someone with a passion for the material or by someone who has experienced the story first hand.

The author pulls the reader into the story and presents the scientific or historical facts in such a way that the student hardly realizes they are learning.

Learn more about the benefits and downsides of living books.

living books

When choosing whether to use a living book or reference work for a particular topic, you need to decide:

  • How much time do I have to devote to this study?
  • And, how much material would I like to cover in that time?

Learn more about the differences between living books and encyclopedias.

How To Use Living Books For Science

First, you need to decide what role living books will play in your homeschool. Will they serve as spines or supplements?

living books spines or supplements

If you choose to use living books as your main spine for teaching science, you will need to create a schedule that includes the three keys for teaching science.

Here is the basic framework for what a week of teaching science with living books could look like:

  1. Read from your living book.
  2. Do a related hands-on scientific activity.
  3. Document what you have learned using.

You can see exactly what this looks like in the following posts:

  1. How to use living books with elementary students
  2. How to use living books with middle school students
  3. How to use living books with lapbooks

If the thought of doing experiments really scares you, did you know that living books and nature study go hand-in-hand?

Living books nature study

Learn more about nature study from the following posts:

If learning about science outdoors is not your thing, check out the following Pinterest boards for hands-on science activities that go great with living books!

Or you can stay up-to-date with our favorites by following the Sassafras Science Pinterest boards!

How To Document Your Study Of Living Books

When you study science with living books, it doesn't follow the typical "read a textbook chapter and then answer a few comprehension questions," which is a good thing.

But how do you document your study of living books for science?

We much prefer notebooking over worksheets!

Why Choose Notebooking over Worksheets?

If you are not familiar with notebooking, you will want to check out the following:

If notebooking seems like too much for your students, we highly recommend its playful cousin, the lapbook.

Have trouble choosing between the two? This should help you determine if you should use a lapbook or a notebook in your homeschool.

lapbook vs notebook

How To Choose Living Books For Science

When you are choosing a living book for science look for:

  • Books that will draw a student in and hold their interest;
  • Books that are educationally sound, meaning the facts are solid;
  • Books that will create a passion in your student for the subject.

The main purpose of using living books in science education is to engage your students with the material they are studying. Doing so, will build enthusiasm for the topic and will help them to remember what they have studied.

The Sassafras Science Adventures Volume One: Zoology

Our living books series began as a desire to make science fun and exciting. A dream to inspire students early on to love science!

We wanted to wrap scientific fact into a storyline that students couldn’t put down. One in which they would get so caught up in the adventure that learning science became the most exciting part of their day.

You can read more about our story or check out a few more options, check out this list of living books for science!

Well, There You Have it -

The Ultimate Guide To Living Books For Science!!


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