I’m writing this post because I’ve been debating (agonizing) over a science program for next year. I picked a program that may not be the cheapest up-front option, so I wrote down some pros and cons, trying to justify my decision. Umm, the pros far out weighed the cons. So, in case anyone else is struggling with science (and tries to skip over it like I do), maybe this will give you a new option to consider and some hope that you can actually get science done in your house. I am absolutely determined to add science back in next year!
So, here’s my disclaimer: I’m sharing my list of reasons with you, not because anyone asked me (or paid me) to do so. I’m just thinking out loud and sharing why this science program is our favorite.
We are going to use Nancy Larson Science K and Nancy Larson Science Level 2 next year. We’re going to be busy! After using Level 1, a year ago we’re excited to come back to the program and try some more levels.
1) Everything is included – Who doesn’t love getting a box full of “stuff?” Yes, you get a big box that has supplies, books, worksheets, booklets, pictures, and a teacher’s manual. All that extra stuff means less work gathering supplies later. I do so love having everything in one canvas tub where I can grab what I need and get started! And all the extras are just so much fun!
2) There are multiple topics covered each year – I’ve tried the one science topic a year programs and we get so tired of plants or animals or space or whatever. Sometimes we just want some variety! This is perfect! I love that each level covers multiple topics. In Level 1 we covered life stages; trees; sunlight, water and soil; animals and habitats; anatomy; and life cycles of insects. It was nice to have a change of pace every few months.
3) Your student creates little booklets that they read and fill out themselves – Curly loved this part of the program. Each level has little booklets with text that you read together. Then there are pages to fill out-you draw a diagram, label a picture, or complete the worksheet. Curly enjoyed the text and she was able to read most of it to me. She was proud of her little booklets with the diagrams and pictures. And because the booklets are short, she was not overwhelmed with the amount of work; therefore, she always did her very best work.
4) The worksheets have excellent review – I am the first to say that I don’t love worksheets. I hate busywork. But these worksheets are short and simple-which means that Curly could do them on her own. There was one worksheet per lesson and we did these pages the next day as a way to review what we had learned previously. Checking Curly’s worksheets showed me that she was retaining the information that we had covered. My favorite aspect of these worksheets are that they are developmentally appropriate. They didn’t require a huge amount of writing for the Level 1 worksheet-there were more matching, fill in the blank, or one word response pages.
5) The teacher’s manual is scripted, very clear, and easy to follow – I don’t love worksheets and I don’t love scripting (at least that’s what I thought…). Sometimes reading off a script feels really strange. But when I’m teaching and I’m interrupted by little people and I’m trying to hold the baby, I’ve come to appreciate all the help I can get. The scripting also makes sure that you teach the topics incrementally. It slowly builds on itself in each lesson and I appreciated the clear direction and the questions it guided me to ask Curly. But the best part of the scripting is that it makes the program truly open and go. I don’t have to read ahead and try to plan. I just pick up my manual and get started for the day.
6) The experiments and demonstrations are worthwhile and relevant – The program in the younger levels is more demonstration-based. What this means is that it is more hands-on rather than experiment-filled. The one thing that does not get done at my house is experiments. By the time I gather supplies, put everything together, and try to get the experiment started, my kids have lost interest completely. And with experiments, I have to be the one pouring and measuring and “doing” as my kids aren’t old enough to follow all the directions and complete an experiment independently. By using this program my kids are able to do the hands-on projects themselves-so they get science experience without the complicated experiments (or the huge mess). This program makes science accessible.
7) The program is incremental – Each lesson introduces a few concepts and the following lessons build on what was previously taught. I never felt like we were overwhelmed with the information in each lesson. Because the program slowly builds concept upon concept in each lesson, Curly was able to retain the key points to each lesson. She still remembers portions of the lessons even more than a year later. I love that nothing went over her head, but it was easy to add more information by picking up a library book or two on a topic of interest.
8) It promotes research skills and literacy – The program is about more than just science. As Curly was directed to read sections of her booklets and complete the booklet pages, she was learning to read for the main ideas and pull out key phrases. Later levels have student’s highlight key points or key words as they read to help them understand the process of researching. The program contains questions to ask the student after reading each paragraph in the booklet. This promotes good comprehension and we were able to use these questions to help Curly narrate what she learned in each section.
9) There are picture cards included for the visual aspect – This program doesn’t come with a colorful textbook. You have black and white teacher’s manual and black and white worksheets. But Level 1 had colorful picture cards to demonstrate specific animals and insects and the seasons. Curly enjoyed looking through the picture cards while we did each lesson. I think she enjoyed the cards more than just a colorful textbook because she could hold them and manipulate them herself. We could also sort the cards and use them in other simple activities to reinforce lesson concepts.
10) My kids love it and retain the information well – It’s my kids’ favorite science program. When we used this program Curly asked to do science every. single. day. She often wanted to play with the manipulatives, look back through the books, and read through the booklets (and Tiger enjoyed looking through them with Curly as well). Curly was even excited to do the worksheets because she was proud that she could do them on her own.
I love the program because my kids are so excited to use it and also because I can see how well they learned concepts. Last month, Tiger told my grandmother that he could not drive a car because he was not yet an adolescent. She was floored! He learned that just by listening in on some of our lessons while we were studying life cycles. Yes, they remember the concepts well!!
In planning for next year, I know I have my science dilemma solved. We are going to use a program that is easy to implement, fun to use, and memorable!