I’m not that great at math but we’ve found a combination of math programs that we love. So, I’m enjoying math time. I’m finding that I also enjoy teaching grammar and spelling. It’s so rewarding to teach reading and watch my kids take off on their own. I love reading with my kids, so history and literature are favorites here.
But science… Oh help! I don’t like teaching it at all! It’s messy, time consuming, and I’ve had a hard time finding a program that we enjoy! Science has left me frustrated and it’s the first subject to be pushed aside when we have a busy week.
I feel like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears when it comes to science. We’ve tried 3 science programs. One is too much. One is not enough. And I think the last one is just right. Let’s talk about those 3 bears and I’ll share why only one of them is a fit here:
Papa Bear – Apologia Science
We’ve tried the elementary series and there are things I like about this series.
- Biblical focus
- Lots of in depth information
- Great pictures
- Project and experiment ideas with instructions
- Notebooking journal with notebook pages and lapbook components
So, these are great things. But the program isn’t the perfect one for us. Why? It’s just so much information right now. My kids get overwhelmed with the amount of detail in each chapter and they aren’t retaining anything. They start to tune me out halfway through each section that I read. Some of the projects are rather involved (read: never going to get done at our house). And I do get a little tired of studying only one topic per year. We continue to use the books and just read through them for fun while looking at all the pictures. But I don’t think this is what I’m looking for in an elementary science program.
Mama Bear – Elemental Science
This series is simpler than Apologia and uses several encyclopedias for reference. Notebook pages, experiment instructions, and short tests are provided. What did we like?
- Simplicity of the streamlined lesson plans
- A doable amount of projects that are simple to complete
- Notebook pages that are included for all lessons
- A reasonable amount of reading per day
- Bite sized chunks of information about each topic
This one didn’t quite do it for me either. The readings jump around in the encyclopedia and the experiments don’t always correspond to the lessons. The tests are way too simple and there is just not enough information for us. I don’t feel like Curly is learning much new information. Much of the information about animals in the biology portion, we’ve already covered just through visits to the zoo or in other readings. Curly does remember some of the animal facts but the program doesn’t build on itself and progress in an incremental way. It just feels so random to me. I want something more cohesive with more information. We will keep the encyclopedias for reference though. We enjoy looking through them.
Baby Bear – Nancy Larson Science
After trying out a few other programs, I’m back to this one. It’s by far the best option for us. Why?
- All supplies are included
- The projects and experiments are very doable and correspond to the lessons
- The lessons are incremental and each one builds on the previous lessons
- The facts presented are enough for Curly to retain while still being new information so she’s learning
- It doesn’t require any prep work for me as the lessons are scripted and clearly laid out
- The worksheets are very developmentally appropriate; Curly is challenged but not frustrated
- Each level covers more than 1 topic per year
- The program has great review so Curly retains ALL the information
This program isn’t the cheapest option but this science gets done and the information is retained. After using it last year, I wasn’t sure if it was as in depth as I wanted. I was on the fence with the program, but still leaning toward using it. But after trying out some other programs, I’ve come full circle and decided that this is the program for us! I’ve realized that I don’t need tons of information, I need an incremental, cohesive program that is well-planned, well-laid out, simple to use, and gets done! I’m amazed that Curly still remembers what she learned from Level 1. So, now I’m convinced I want to move into Level 2!
I’ve had to accept that I need something planned for me, laid out, and all inclusive. I have too many little people to keep up with right now. I have great intentions for doing science programs and doing awesome experiments. But the truth is, none of that gets done. I need to focus on a science that we will do. I’m so tired of science being pushed aside! I want my kids to have the chance to do science at this age and I want it to be memorable. So, Nancy Larson Science it is! I’m making my wish list for next year and working hard to convince hubby that this program needs to be worked into the budget….
Science WILL get done next year! I have a plan! And I know we will enjoy it-because I asked Curly what her favorite science has been so far and she picked Nancy Larson Science without hesitation….