Is anyone using the Elemental Science Curriculum? Biology for Grammar stage

I am interested in some feedback about this curriculum. We lean towards classical education and I know that I can totally put together science for my son for next year that my daughter will enjoy as well, BUT…wondering if this program might save some time (I will be compiling my daughter’s learning resources for a literature based preK/K year and it’s time-consuming!).

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@LinseyWilliams Hi there! We are using this curriculum this year :slight_smile: We are using it with our 2nd grade daughter and our Kindergarten son combined. It is very user-friendly. We do science 3 to 4 days per week and basically read a few books on the topic that we have checked out from the library (this is not necessary though if you purchase the one or two suggested resources as those will have enough reading on the topic for you–the library books would be a plus). Then we fill out a narration page about the animal we are learning about (we are in mammals right now). My 2nd grader writes her own and I write for my Kindergartener–just a few sentences by each child. They color the animal next to the narration paragraph. Then we plot the animal on the diet chart to show if they are herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore (they love to try to guess first but sometimes already know based on the book we read). Then we can create a flap book (optional). Once a week there is a simple experiment with household objects that we can do and a one-sheet lab report page we can fill out to show what we did (optional). We also have pages showing various animal habitats that came with the curriculum. I had the kids color them at the beginning of the year and I laminated them. Then they color a small animal picture (provided with the curriculum) and we cut it out and glue it onto the appropriate habitat (desert, ocean, rainforest, etc.) and keep that in their notebooks. You can do as much or as little of this as you like.
You can choose to simply read and fill out the narration page and that’s it. You can do one experiment per month or one each week. There are also craft ideas every week (we skip those to save time). There are always 6-8 books for every week suggested that we can request from our library. I look these up a few weeks ahead of time to request them (if I am on top of things! :slight_smile: If I am running behind, I just read from the animal encyclopedia I purchased as the suggested book with the curriculum and that is enough. It is really user-friendly in that you can do as much or as little as you like and choose from what you think your children will enjoy/learn from best. I think it is a really solid curriculum and everything is right there for you.
You can also purchase quizzes, lapbooks, coloring pages, etc. based on what your children will use/enjoy. And the price is hard to beat. And if you feel it’s getting humdrum, you can mix it up and do more crafts/experiments and less writing/notebooking for a few weeks.
I hope this helps–feel free to ask any questions. Sorry if this was too wordy! :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your thoughtful reply! That really helps a lot. My son will be 1st grade and daughter preK/K for this next school year. One of the main draws to this program for us is the included experiments, as they really enjoy that kind of thing.

@LinseyWilliams I’m glad it was helpful! I will say about the experiments–they are simple! I was glad to see that they are doable, use household or easily found objects, and don’t take a lot of time. And what was even better for us, they seemed to be experiments that had actually been tested prior to being written in the book, meaning the outcome was what was intended so the kids weren’t confused or wondering what was supposed to happen (and neither was I! :slight_smile: My kids love “experiment day” when we do them (and admittedly we don’t do them every week), and we all learn something from them. There is a master list of needed objects at the beginning of the teacher guide so you can see at a glance what you’ll need for each lesson for the entire curriculum if you wanted to gather items ahead of time (some weeks it’s as simple as 3 cotton balls or a rubber band and a pencil, etc.–those aren’t exact but you get the idea). Again, I’m glad it helpled! :slight_smile:

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I am so glad that you asked about this program, @LinseyWilliams, and that you provided such a thorough response, @Forchristandkids. Thank you both! I am planning for our first year homeschooling next year and was not familiar with this curriculum. I just visited their website and it looks like you can also purchase an experiment kit for each subsection of science - did you do that, @Forchristandkids? Also, how much is too much? I would obviously like my three kids (two of whom will be in grammar stage and one in logic) to be exposed to all four of the areas of science that this curriculum offers - is that doable or too much in your opinion, @Forchristandkids?

Thanks for you thoughts!

@juliek Hi! I am so happy to answer any questions! And congrats on starting homeschooling next year! We are still so new on the scene ourselves and loving it, and I still remember just 3 years ago starting and having all of these same questions so I am happy to help in any way. We did not purchase the science kits. In my opinion, so much of it (especially with the Biology set) is stuff you already have lying around, so it is not worth the price. We just purchased the Earth Science and Astronomy curriculum for use next year, and I actually was going to buy the kit for that (since it uses more complex materials like carbon paper etc. that I don’t just have lying around), but after talking to my husband about it, he felt like it was stuff he could help me locate/purchase around town, so I didn’t buy it and told him he was in charge of helping me get my hands on that stuff :slight_smile: It was actually more expensive to buy the kit than the curriculum so I was glad to not have to make that purchase and spend that money on other needed curriculum instead anyway.
As far as your question about wanting to expose them to all four areas, are you wanting to teach all four areas at once or one at a time? We intend to teach all four areas, one area at a time and just cover all four in grammar and then all of the three that are offered in logic? We are planning on covering all four in grammar and all three in logic and doing their high school as well since I feel like it gives a nice scope and sequence overall and they’ll be well-rounded when finished.
The great thing about this curriculum is that you can gear it for several age levels at once. While we are studying biology, I can check out books on a mammal (say whales) that are more complex/in-depth for my 2nd grader to read and more simple/picture-books or easy readers for my kindergartener to read. That way we can cover the same material and yet challenge each child in an age-appropriate way. And then if we stay with this curriculum, they will get to cycle back through these courses again in a higher age level and learn in a more in-depth setting then so nothing will be missed if that makes sense (so basically I don’t have to worry that my Kindergartener isn’t getting every detail of Biology for Grammar stages now–he’ll get it again in the Logic stage). I hope this is helpful and not too overwhelming. :slight_smile: Please let me know if anything was unclear or if I can answer another question. I am happy to!

Thank you @Forchristandkids for your thoughtful response!! I guess the reason I am hoping to cover all four is that my 5th grader will be out of the grammar stage when we start homeschooling next year and all my kids are in a new school this year (we moved to a new state last summer) where they really get extremely little science curriculum exposure - “there is not enough time”, according to the teachers. I am hoping to expose him to as much as possible during his three middle school years at home, as we plan to send the kids to high school (our town offers school choice). I guess a good start would be for me to order a single course and try fitting things into our planning calendar for next year and see if there is room for more science than that. Being new to this homeschooling gig means I am wanting to fit in too much, I know.

@juliek I see what you are saying about wanting go cover all of it before sending them into high school. I think ordering the single course sounds like a great idea. The thing I love about Elemental Science courses is that you really can do all of what they offer or pick and choose (although it is tempting for me to want to do it all!). I have learned from the first segment of it this year that trying to do every activity for every lesson has been overkill for my kids, and that was a good lesson for me to learn because I think I had to see that to believe it (I tend to think more is better and have a hard time cutting things out thinking they’ll miss something if I don’t do it). I have a friend who homeschools who also uses it and she used to teach in the public school system. She has been able to limit activities from the start and now I am starting to see the wisdom in that. But I think your wanting to cover all of the levels to make sure they learn each subject sounds like a wise choice! The other program that has caught my eye (and I’m not sure if it’s enough to make me want to stray from this solid program) is Answers in Genesis God’s Design for Science. It also looks really solid, and when bought on individual levels, it doesn’t look very costly. I thought I would mention that one in case you hadn’t considered it. Good luck with everything and if I can be of more help down the road, don’t hesitate to send me a message :slight_smile:

Thank you once again for the insight, @Forchristandkids!!