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Living books for science, along with a few recommendations {Season 10, Episode 118}

Come listen to what to look for in a living book for science, how you can use these books, and a few suggestions for you to check out!

Season 10 of the Tips for Homeschool Science podcast is here! This season will be all about living books and science.

In this episode, we'll be discussing what to look for in a living book for science, how you can use these books, and a few suggestions for you to check out!

Key Takeaways

  • A traditional education spoon-feeds. A Charlotte Mason education asks of the child, "Why don't you contribute?"
  • Living books help our kids to form relationships with knowledge.
  • If a book is full of facts and pictures, it's not a living book.

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Episode 118 - Living Books for Science Transcript

Living books are killer tools for teaching science. They can bring a subject matter to life and add interest to what you're learning. And that's exactly what we're going to talk about on this episode of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show.

Hi, I'm Paige Hudson, your host for this podcast. And we're taking down the lofty ideals of teaching science and breaking them into building blocks you can use in your homeschool.

What to look for in a living book for science


In last week's episode with Leah Boden in the Modern Miss Mason we talked about what living books are and how to choose them and what to do after you've read a living book. It's an excellent episode and I highly recommend you go back and see the context of what Charlotte Mason considers living and how a living book can really bring alive an experience.

And it goes way beyond what a textbook does. So it's not just a bunch of facts and pictures splayed out on a page, but it's a book that draws you in. So in short, these living books are written by someone who has a passion for the material that they are writing about. So in other words, if you're looking for a living book on science, it's probably going to be written by a scientist.

Or if you want a living book on history, it's going to be written by a person who experienced that time period of history or who knows someone who experienced that time of history. And the reason why is because it really pulls the reader into the story. It makes it come alive because the author is obviously passionate about their subject matter.

So you want a living book to pull the reader in. And it happens in such a way that they don't even realize that they're learning about science or history or what grammar or geography or whatever your subject matter is. The readers pulled into the storyline and they're learning along the way.

 "You want a living book to pull the reader in such a way that they don't even realize that they're learning about science." Listen to the rest in episode 118 of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show.

How to use a living book for science


These are wonderful resources for us to use, especially as we're teaching science. We can use this as a resource that we add on to our current program to add a little bit more interest. Or we can use these types of resources as our main spine or our main source of information for science. So when we go to Choose a living book, we're looking for a set criteria and some of that we discussed in the previous episode.

But just to remind you, it's a book that draws the reader in and holds their interest. It's a book that will create a passion in the student for the subject matter. So they'll find it interesting. And that passion that the author has will translate to them. And then I'm going to add one more criteria. When we're looking at living books for science, we want to make sure that these things that the books which uses the resources we choose are educationally sound.

We want the facts in them to be solid. So sometimes we'll have these older resources like the Wonder Book of Chemistry, and that was super accurate for chemistry, knowledge 100 years ago. And that's fine to still read a book like that if you want to. It's a great resource to add a little bit of interest, and there are things in there that still hold true about chemistry, but there's been a few advances in that field since then.

So that's a book that you're going to want to add some caveats into, or just make sure that your students are understanding that this is what we knew about chemistry 100 years ago. It's interesting, but we've learned a little bit since then and we can dig into that later. So you're looking for books that will draw your student in.

You're looking for books that will create an interest. They're written by a passionate author, and you're looking for books that are educationally sound. Remember, the main purpose of a living book in science, education is to engage your students with the material they're studying. So you want to build enthusiasm and interest for the topic. You want to help them to remember what they've studied.

Because there's a shared experience. There's more than just the facts that they're learning and spitting back out, but they are having an experience with the material. They're, you know, building a knowledge base in a fun and interesting way. So they're more likely to remember it. I'm reminded of what Misspoken said in the previous episode, and that's that we want our students to form a relationship with the knowledge and living books are fantastic tools to help us do just that.

Not that we can't do that with encyclopedias. Not that we can't do that with textbooks. Both of those things have their places in our educational toolbox. But living books have a kind of special sauce or a little secret bit that we can add into our plan for science that just develop that interest and develop that relationship with the knowledge that the students are learning.

So I wanted to share a little bit of a book, less, so to speak, of books that we've used in the past. Some of these are new ones, more modern options for science, and some of these are older ones. Like I said, it's perfectly fine to use a book that's written, you know, 60, 70, 80, 100 years ago.

We just need to make sure when we're sharing those, we're adding a little caveat of anything that we want across that we know more about now. But again, this is a great chance for us to have a discussion with our kids.

Recommendations for the preschool years


During the preschool and elementary years, I love, love, love the Let's Read and Find Out series.

There's I don't know, probably 50 books now from that series that are just fantastic. Your library probably has most of them that you can pull or you can get them on Amazon if you want to purchase them. But they're fantastic books for that preschool and early elementary age to add a little bit of interest for your students. And then when I think about older books that are good for students, I'm thinking The Parables of Nature by Margaret Gaddy.

There's the Among the blank series. It's like among the farmland people, among the forest people by Clara Dillingham. Pearson Those are two older options that are interesting stories that have to do with nature, that are great for your preschool and early elementary kids to listen to them.

Recommendations for the elementary years


For your elementary students, we have written the Sassafras Science Adventures, and this is a great way to take a journey, as you learn about science.

We've got so far zoology, anatomy, earth, science, geology, astronomy and chemistry is just going to be released in, oh, gosh, probably about a month by month and a half. And then the final book in the series will be on physics. But these books follow the twins as they travel around the world learning about science. So you get a little bit of culture, a little bit of geography and a lot of science as the twins learn and your students learn along with them.

Then some of the older options are like the Thornton Burgess books, the Burgess Bird Book for children, and the stories of Mother Nature Told Her Children by Jenny Andrews is an interesting one. The Story Book of Science is Another by Jean Fabre is another interesting option for your elementary students.

Recommendations for the middle school years


Then once you get to the middle school years, I love to add in biographies.

I'll do this during the elementary years too. But as you get into the middle school years, they're really beginning to read these biographies on their own. So I'll add a lot of those I like. The Who was series has good biographies. The Living History Library has some good biographies on scientists as well. And then the Story of Science series by Joy Hakim basically acts as a biography of key scientists, but also covers a lot of scientific concepts in the process.

So those are some modern options you can use with your middle school students. And then older options would be books like The Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean Fabri, Madame How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley. And those are all very interesting books that your students may enjoy that cover science. And I forgot a modern option: The Mystery of the Periodic Table. It's a wonderful book to read with your middle school students, especially when you study chemistry. And that is also from the Living History Library as well.

Recommendations for the high school years


So when you get to the high school years, of course, you're definitely going to be using textbooks at this point and you probably will not be able to use living books solely. But there are some good living books out there.

Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller, The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness by Sam Kean. Microbe Hunters by Paul Decree of Napoleon's Buttons. I cannot remember the author for that. If you look in the show notes, there'll be a link to the post for this podcast and I'll make sure that they're listed there for you.

If you listen to nothing else, this is the part to hear


But those are just a few options that you can add in. And these living books, you can make them the heart of your curriculum. Something like the Sassafras Science Adventures is definitely designed to be the heart of your curriculum, or you can add them in in extra time so you can read those on Friday Fun Day. You could read it during morning time.


You can read these living books to add a little bit of interest into your current science program. Or you can let them be your science program. However, you choose to use living books for science, you can't go wrong in creating interest and a passion in this subject within your students by using these resources. So I hope you get a better understanding of how living books and science can partner together.

Next week we'll talk a little bit about what it looks like to use living books solely as your source of science for the elementary years. Thanks for listening and I hope you have a great week playing with science.

How Elemental Science can help with living books and science


Thanks for listening to Season 10 of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show, which is sponsored by her company, Elemental Science. At Elemental Science, we have several series of award-winning programs, including a series with living books to help you teach science. Sassafras Science Adventures will help you enjoy a journey as you learn about science. The newest installment of the Sassafras Science series is coming out in April of 2023.

This volume will be a journey through the periodic table. It's all about chemistry, which is my personal favorite subject. Head over to Elemental Science dot com. To learn more about the Sassafras Science Adventures and see how we can help you teach science.

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