I’m afraid this might end up being a long post, because I have a biology degree, and I tend to take an interest in the “study of life” more than other subjects… Over the past several years I have figured out how I want to blend the effectiveness of Montessori philosophy with the comprehensiveness of a Classical program here in my home, and perhaps this post will demonstrate how.
With our Classical Conversations program, our science topic this semester has been human anatomy. For each of 12 weeks, there is a science question and answer for the children to attempt to memorize. We have the question written on poster-board in the classroom, supplemented with a science fact card to read, and supplemental books to read and activities to do during the week.
The memorization occurs through gentle, frequent repetition and asking questions like “who wants to stand up straight and tall and answer a science question?” Each day of the week the children also listen to a CD of recorded material which includes all of the memory work.
In addition to these resources, I have been studying a very informative workbook with my 3rd-grader called Behold & See 4: Human Anatomy & Health from CHC. (The website says that this is a Catholic text, but I would describe it as Christian and pro-life.) Using Behold, the child studies each system of the body, fills out worksheets (which we put into his science binder) and builds a life-size human body, mostly out of felt! I realize the semester is almost over, but for future reference, this is the information needed to correlate Behold as a thorough supplement for CC Cycle 3: [button link=”https://helpingchildrenlearn.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cycle3_science_supplement.pdf” style=”download” color=”silver”]CC Cycle3 Science Supplement[/button]
We also use a lot of Montessori-style science materials. What makes something Montessori? It is a material which is provided to the child in an attractive way, placed into the child’s environment and demonstrated, so the child knows exactly how I expect it to be used. But the material is not an assignment, it is not required. It may be used at any time, for as long as he likes, wherever he likes. It is work that does not require “grading” by a teacher, but the child has access to the answers and may check his own work.
As an example of the type of supplemental materials I look for, let me tell you about a fantastic material from Montessori Services called Bones of the Child’s Skeleton. If you wonder how I have time to blog while homeschooling 4 little kids, it’s because of materials like this. My older children (ages six and eight) spent 3 hours making “skeleton books” the first day I set this out at the table.
On a tray I placed printed copies of a skeleton. Underneath the picture is a line for the child to write the name of a bone (or set of bones.) Then, using colored pencils, the child colors in the picture of that bone on the skeleton, using a laminated card as an example. When all of the pages were completed, they made a table of contents, and then we hole-punched the pages and bound them with our often-used booklet rings. Success!
MontessoriServices has a variety of other excellent supplementary materials for anatomy here. Give them a look! I also highly recommend requesting a copy of their free catalog for parents called For Small Hands. Besides great ideas for materials, you will find helpful information for making your home environment more child-friendly. I have purchased dozens of their materials over the years. Enjoy!