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How to use living books for elementary science {Season 10, Episode 119}

In this episode, we'll be discussing how you can use living books for elementary science and what it can look like!

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 how you can use living books for elementary science and what it can look like!

Key Takeaways

  • Living books are definitely excellent tools we can use to accomplish the goals for elementary science.
  • Remember, with living books, we're creating a relationship with the knowledge. So we want these narrations and these written and notebook pages to be a personal record of what the student has learned.
  • For the first three days you're reading and writing and you're doing, you're getting those three keys done. Then if you want to add in extra projects, you can do those on the next two days.

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Episode 119 - How to use Living Books for Elementary Science Transcript

Okay. So far we've talked about what living books are, how we can use them to teach science. And today we're going to talk about what it actually looks like to use a living book as your spine or your main source of information for teaching science to elementary school kids.

Hi, I'm Paige Hudson, and you're listening to the Tips for Homeschool Science Show, where we're breaking down the lofty ideas of teaching science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool.

What are your goals for elementary science?

00:39

You guys have heard me say on the Tips for Homeschool Science Show that there are three things we need for science. We need to read. We need to do we need to write so we can do all those three things using a living book as our main source. So with that in mind, is our backdrop. Let's talk about the goals you have for elementary science education.

So we've talked about this in a couple of different other episodes, but I want to refresh it here. Basically, for elementary years, first, we want to create an interest in the students to learn more about science. So we want science to be fun and interesting during these early years because we want them to be excited about learning more later on as the concepts get more difficult.

Secondly, we want to fill their minds with information. I don't mean we necessarily want to cram them full of facts, but these kids are educational sponges. They're just starting out on their journey. And so we want to provide them with it. And so we want to provide them with materials to learn from. So that's super easy. We can create an interest and fill their knowledge banks. We can do both of those using a variety of resources which we've talked about. Living books are definitely excellent tools we can use to accomplish these goals.

 "Living books are definitely excellent tools we can use to accomplish the goals for elementary science." Learn more about this in episode 119 of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show.

Here is how to structure your week...

01:49

So when we're teaching science to elementary students, we want a couple of different things in our weekly plan. We want to have some kind of do our hands on our scientific demonstration. So these are more teacher led and student observed. So you're the kind of driving force behind this demonstration. You're doing the work, you're reading the directions and that kind of stuff, and your students are participating with you and watching what you're doing.

Then the second thing we want is to read, and in this case, if we're using living books as our main source of information, are reading is going to come from that living book. So living books with a science bent definitely fit the bill here.

And then the third thing we want to do with our elementary students is notebooks. And that means we want to have them write down what they've learned. And we can definitely record what they've learned, whether we're doing that orally as a narration in the beginning when they're younger, or whether we're having them write down what they've learned - write down that narration in a notebook format. We can certainly do that with a living book as our main source of information, so we can add on extra projects and memory work and lots more fun stuff too rounded out if we desire.

But the three main things we need to do each week are to do some kind of demonstration, to read from some sort of free source, in this case, a living book. And the third thing we need to do is some kind of writing or notebook. We need to do an oral narration or written narration. So those three things are super easy to be able to do with a living book is our main spine. So we understand our goals - we need to create an interest and we need to fill their knowledge banks. We know what we need to do - we need to do, read and write each week. Let's get to the nitty gritty of what it actually looks like.

Day 1 (Read and Write)

03:31

I'm going to use a week from volume one of the Sassafras Science Adventures to show you how this series fits the action, fits the bill, and has our goals in mind and has the three keys that we need to help you teach science to your kids.

This could certainly apply to something like the Burgess Bird book or one of those other options we talked about in the previous week. So day one, we're going to read and we're going to write. First up, you're going to read. You're going to start by reading a section in the chapter in the Sassafras Science Adventures. Each chapter is broken into two sections to make it a little bit easier to read to your younger kids.

You can read it yourself, or you can have an audiobook read it for you as you guys listen together as a group, what I'm reading aloud to younger kids, I typically give them something to do with their hands. So whether that's building with Legos, building with my tiles, doodling on a piece of paper or something like that, but I won't give them anything that's too taxing that would take them away from actually listening.

So something to keep their hands busy and their minds focused. So the first part of chapter two, The Sassafras Science Adventures, covers a little bit about grasslands and about lions. When you finish, you'll take a few moments discussing it with the students so you can ask different types of questions. So you could add a leading question that says, like, you know, what is the difference between male and female lions?

Do you remember what we read about that? Or you can ask something broad like, what's one thing you remember about lions from this chapter? The other thing you can do is lead in with part of the story. So you could say, you know, the twins were on a safari adventure. Do you remember what animal they saw? Oh, what's the difference between male and female lions?

Do you remember? What's another thing that you found interesting about lions? So that's how you could lead a discussion time with your students. And you definitely want to do this before you require them to write down a single thing. So after you finish this discussion, time with them, you can take what you just discussed and turn it into written format.

So in the earlier years, like for second grade, you they may be dictating to you and a first grader may say lions roar. Male lions have a mean lions or cats. Their cubs have spots. That may be what they found interesting from the reading. So you want them to tell you what do you remember about lions or what did you find interesting about lions?

 

And write that down for them as their writing skills increase. You can have them copy that or you can have them write down what they wanted to say so they can write down lions for in their notebook pages. If you want, you can have them copy the definition of grassland or mammal and add those definitions to a glossary.

Day 2 (Rinse and Repeat)

06:22

Again, we don't want to overburden our students with writing. We want them to enjoy science. Day two of your week. You're going to read and write again. Basically, we're going to rinse and repeat. So when using the Sassafras Science Adventures, you're going to read the second half of that chapter. Then again, you're going to have a discussion. You're going to ask leading questions.

You're going to ask broad question. Since you've read it with them or listened with them, you'll be able to ask these questions quite easily and have a little bit of a discussion time with your students, and then you're going to ask them to either dictate or write their narration. So typical fourth grader might write something like Cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world.

They can go up to 60 miles an hour. Female cheetahs can have four babies at a time. Their babies are born with a coat of long gray hair. So that's not all the information that was covered, but that's what that particular student remembered, what they found interesting. Remember, with living books, we're creating a relationship with the knowledge. So we want these narrations and these written and notebook pages to be a personal record of what the student has learned.

Day 3 (Hands-on Science)

07:24

Day two done. Day three. Now we're going to do our hands on science. We're going to do and we're going to write if they're up to it. So now that you've finished reading the chapter for the week and you've got some knowledge base behind it, you can do a related scientific demonstration. That's just a fancy way of saying a hands-on science activity that you do while your students watch and observe and participate a little bit in the class.

In the Sassafras Science Guide to Zoology, they're having you do a demonstration called Cat's Eyes, and this is designed to help your students see why cat's eyes, like a lion or a cheetah glow in the dark. They seem to glow at night. And it's the way that their eyes reflect back the light. But your students are going to actually see this in a demonstration.

So once you've completed that demonstration, you can discuss it orally or you can have them do a full lab report. And in that lab report for an elementary student, we don't want too much to it. We just want to have four sections, which is our tools, our methods, our outcome and our insight. And basically we want them to write down what they used, a little brief sentence or two about what they did, what they saw will be in our outcome.

And any if they have specific measurements to record that would go there and their insight and in the beginning, their insight may be that was cool. As they get older, it'll be more scientific. So the three main keys are done for the week. You've done science, you've read about science and you've written about science. So if you want to be done with science for the week, by all means you can be if you're using living books for elementary science.

Day 4 & 5 (Optional Extras)

09:07

But if you want to continue on, there's a few more things you can do to add more touch points, to create more interest. When you're using a living book for science on day four, you could look for library books about lions, cheetahs in the grassland, and you could read those. Or you could look up these topics in an encyclopedia that you may have on day five.

You could add in some projects, some craft projects. You could you can have the students create a shoebox diorama of the grasslands, or you can have them complete other crafts style projects that have to do with lions and cheetahs. Basically, you just want to use these days to add in some more interest, give another memory, another touch point that has to do with your living book and with the science that the students are learning about.

So that's the purpose of doing day four and five. Also on day five, you could do a multi-week project. So something like creating an animal diet chart that tells whether the animals are carnivores, herbivores or omnivores. This is a great way for the kids to see the animals that they've learned and what they eat or you can add them to.

We talked about the Habitat diorama in the previous one, or you can do Habitat posters where you're putting the animals into the environment that they're a part of. The other thing you can add in is a bit of memory work if you want to add some memory work into your week.

If you read nothing else, read this...

10:17

So the idea is that for the first three days you're reading and writing and you're doing, you're getting those three keys not out of the way, but you're making sure that those three keys are hit each week, that you're doing some kind of science.

You're reading about science, you're writing about science, and you're doing this from a living book. And then if you want to add in extra projects, just create more memories and more touch points about what you've learned from the living book. You can do those on the next two days. So that's a glimpse at what a week with using a living book to teach about science can work in your home school for elementary students. 

Next week, Pam Barnhill is coming on the podcast to share a bit about Morning Time, which is one of the times we use to add in more living books on science. After that, I'll be back with an episode on how to use living books with middle school students. Thanks for listening and I hope you have a great week, playing with science.

How Elemental Science can help with living books and science

11:10

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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