Welcome back to season 9 of the Tips for Homeschool Science podcast where we are sharing both audio and video for a short season on classical education and homeschool science.
In this episode, we'll be discussing grammar stage science - your goals, the tools, and how to put it all together!
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00:00 - 00:26
Ah, the grammar stage, the elementary years. Today, we're going to take an in-depth look at what grammar stage science can look like. Hi, I'm Paige Hudson and you're watching the Tips for Homeschool Science Show, where we're taking the lofty ideals of teaching science and breaking them down into building blocks you can use in your home school.
Welcome back to season nine!
00:26 - 00:48
So far, we've talked about the basics of classical education and what makes a solid science program. Today, we're going to take a bird's eye view of the grammar stage - what that looks like and how we can teach science to our elementary students or grammar stage students, as the case may be. Grammar stage can mean different things to different people,
00:48 - 01:10
so I want to be very clear that these are the years when the students are learning the foundational basics. Typically, that's first- through fourth-grade. Like I said in a previous episode, this can be shorter or longer. So your grammar stage student may be a bit older than fourth grade, or they may be a bit younger than first grade when they're ready to move into grammar stage.
01:10 - 01:41
But the idea is that they are full of wonder, that they want to know about things, and they're questioning you with mom. What's this, Mom (or Dad)? What's that? Again, this could happen earlier or later. I like to compare a grammar stage student to an empty bucket that is waiting to be filled. These students have a natural curiosity combined with a high capacity for retaining information, which is exactly what we want to capitalize on!
01:42 - 02:04
So we're going to be playing to these strengths during the grammar stage years, and we're going to build their knowledge base of basic scientific facts. We can also work on skills of reading and writing and things like that. But again, we want it to be much easier than what they're capable of doing, so that they don't get bogged down in the skills but can really enjoy the science behind it.
02:04 - 02:26
So you have two goals for classical science at the grammar stage years. The first is to create an interest in the student for learning about science. The second is to fill the student's mind with interesting but basic scientific facts. In a nutshell, you want to spark a desire to learn about science. That's your main goal for the grammar stage years.
02:26 - 02:44
So how are we going to do this? Well, we need our three keys - we need to do, read, and write. First we'll do science. This is going to be through scientific demonstrations. We're going to work on our student’s observation skills, and we're going to also increase their scientific knowledge bank and help them actually see science in action.
02:44 - 03:10
If you want, you can use nature study to fill this area of science, especially during the grammar stage years. But basically, we want to present our students with the face of science. We want them to see science in action. The second thing we're going to do is read about science. Typically, a classical educator will turn towards science-oriented encyclopedias - books by Usborne, Kingfisher, and DK.
03:10 - 03:31
All of these books will present scientific fact in a visually-appealing way at the level of our grammar stage students. As classical educators, if we want to use things like living books, we can certainly add those. And I will put a link to a previous podcast episode we did about living books so you can understand a little bit more about those.
[Living Books for Science (Episodes 38, 39, and 40) - You can find them all here: Inspiring your students to love science through living books]
03:32 - 03:49
And then the last thing we're going to do is write, which is notebooking at this stage. So notebooking will engage both sides of the brain - we're going to have a picture and we're going to have some facts. The kids will have both the left and the right brain engaged, helping them to remember what they're doing and what they're learning about.
03:50 - 04:10
Now, as classical educators, we definitely want to check off the do, read, and write - those three things, non-negotiable, need to be a part of our plan, but we can also use a couple of other tools to enhance our plans for science. And the first of those will be multi-week projects, or projects that last over a couple of weeks.
04:10 - 04:33
So if we're learning about animals, we can do habitat dioramas, where we add the animals we are learning about, or we can do some kind of chart where we show the different diets that the animals have. The idea is that these projects are done over several weeks, and they are reinforcing what the students are learning. It's just another chance for them to see science in action.
04:33 - 04:53
But it's usually a longer project that takes a longer amount of time for them to see. Then, the second tool that we can use is memory work, memorization. So remember, we talked about capitalizing on their strengths. And one of the strengths of a grammar stage student is that ability to retain information - memory work is a great way to do this.
04:53 - 05:20
We can have simple poems or basic facts that you want your students to memorize. Remember that your elementary student is a bucket waiting to be filled, and memory work is an excellent tool for the classical educator to use to fill those knowledge banks. So the other key, when we look at our week, we want to make sure that these pieces fit together. We want what we do for science, what we read about in science, and what we write down in science to all relate.
05:20 - 05:40
And then we want any project or memory work that we do to relate to those three things. So we're always tying these things in together so that they will create pegs for our students to hang little pieces of knowledge on throughout the years. They'll be able to access those pegs later on. So a model week could look like this.
05:40 - 05:59
First, you'll use some marshmallows (or bread) and toothpicks to create a model of the spine. Then you'll read about the skeletal system in one of the books that you've chosen or that you have on your shelf. And then you'll have the student tell you about what you've learned about the skeletal system and write that down on a notebooking page.
06:00 - 06:25
Then you can have them work on memorizing the different systems of the body. For that particular week you can work on memorizing what the skeletal system does. And then finally, you could, for an overarching project you could have them add the skeletal system to a body, a sample of the body. So when you tie those five areas in together, the do, read, and write, plus the projects and memory work.
06:25 - 06:56
When you tie those in together, you're creating a stronger peg of knowledge for your grammar stage student. We really want to do that - where we tie these five areas in together. We're not just memorizing random facts or doing things that don't relate to each other or anything like that. We want to make sure that the classical science program we choose for our grammar stage student ties, the do, read, and write, plus the projects and memory work, and ties them all into one cohesive unit so that we can create the stronger peg of knowledge for a grammar stage student.
06:56 - 07:20
I hope that gives you a picture of how grammar stage science can work and what key components you need for it in the classical education model. I just want to add a quick word about kindergarten science. It's not absolutely necessary. It's really just something (to do) if your student wants to learn about science. If they are interested in the sciences, by all means do it.
07:20 - 07:43
It's a great way to get a jump start on building that knowledge base. But again, it should be fun because the goal of our grammar stage years is to spark an interest to learn more. We don't want to kill that spark or interest in learning science - we want to make sure that, especially in the early years, that science is simple and fun and enjoyable.
07:44 - 08:03
So that's a bird's eye view of grammar stage science in the classical education model. Next week, we'll be talking about the logic stage! Thanks for listening, or watching - I hope you have a great week playing with science.
Have you struggled with finding a science curriculum that fits the classical education model you want to use in your homeschool?
08:04 - 08:28
Rest easy! At Elemental Science, we have easy-to-use, award-winning science plans to help you teach classical science to your students. Each of our classical science programs will focus on an area of science all year long, giving you plans for weekly demonstrations or experiments for reading assignments from visually appealing children's encyclopedias from publishers like DK, Usborne, and Kingfisher.
08:29 - 08:51
Plus, you'll have customized student pages specifically for what you are studying that week. The programs in our classical science series are part of Well-trained Mind’s Top Recommendations, are part of Cathy Duffy's Top Picks, and every year homeschoolers say they love our programs! Come see how we can help you teach classical science in your homeschool at elementalscience.com.
Are living books the only way to teach science? The answer may surprise you. Come listen to the answer by clicking "Read More."
How can nature study help you with using living books to teach science? Click "Read More" to listen to the answer in this podcast episode.
What does it look like to use living books for middle school science? Come listen to what it looks like when you use a living book as your main source of information.