We live in pioneer country; this list is the result of a question posed to me by a friend. “What books would you load into a handcart and push to Missouri if need be?” While the list is a bit long for that actual event, it does represent the items without which I would feel lost as I teach. This list contains my thoughts on why each item is on the list, and how I use them. Remember each resource is a favorite because it lends itself to being used in different ways for different learners. This list focuses on science and various ways to expand your studies. (If you are unfamiliar with the learning levels, please refer to my blogs dated 2/26-28/2013.)
- A globe- seeing the earth as it appears as a whole, and learning to locate places on it, is an interesting and vital ability.
- An atlas- closer study of the various places on the globe requires a copy of maps that are larger than a globe would allow. Look for an atlas that has different maps containing geographical and political information.
- A book of outline maps, both blank and labeled, for labeling and review.
- Nature notebook, field guides, and pencils or watercolors (one per student)- Scientific study requires the ability to observe, focus, and think about the world around us. A nature notebook can facilitate that skill and give you and your children a place to record thoughts, pictures, and any other information related to your science study. Use the field guides as you go out into the world around you to record the common and Latin names of those things you sketch. We use our nature notebooks as our science notebooks; we do not have a separate one for textbook/formal study.
- DK Publishing has multiple series of books which young children love. Eyewitness Books, Why….?, and Look Inside are just a few.
- Science picture books- some of our favorites include H. A. Rey’s books on the constellations, books published by Golden Book on various life science topics (Nature Around the Year, Wonders of Nature, etc.), Gail Gibbons has a series of books on a variety of science fields of study. Ask your librarian, book store clerk, or other homeschool moms what they love. There are so many great reads for young children in this genre!
- Janice Van Cleave has a great series of experiment books for young children that are simple to follow, well thought out, and fun to do.
- File folder games by CarsonDellosa- fun and effective ways to reinforce vocabulary and concepts.
Late discovery and analysis level-
- Reader’s Digest How……..Works series- this is not a textbook series. Each book covers a different discipline of science and is filled with pictures, basic definitions and diagrams, and experiments that reinforce the concept being studied. These books do not contain enough detailed information to constitute a high school level text, but are an interesting and inviting introduction to the various branches of science.
- Kids Learn America by Gordon and Snow- We used this book to teach the states and capitols. There is a USA map to color, as well as regional maps, trivia about each state, and a little something to help you remember the capitol.
- DK Science Encyclopedia- Written primarily in two-page spreads, this book covers most of the scientific disciplines, i.e. chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, etc. Each spread provides information on a specific area within those disciplines. Students gain basic information, and can learn to take notes, outline, as well as creating a framework for science study. When used in conjunction with the Reader’s Digest series, it allows for comprehensive, in-depth study for the middle/upper grades.
- Exploring Our World published by the National Geographic Society- This book is an encyclopedic list of geographical terms and photos, maps, and cross-referencing makes geographical studies easy and interesting. A great reference book!
- High School texts by Apologia, RonJon Publishing, or another homeschool supplier can be effective and clear for high school-level study with a creationist worldview. (I have read some reviews expressing concerns about misinformation in the science used. If your children are headed for a traditional university, look for a text written by a more secular company.) Use in conjunction with hands-on kits for all branches of science. (Timberdoodle is my favorite supplier for anything hands-on.) To spend less money, or if you are looking for a scientific approach closer to the mainstream, look for second-hand books in you town or on the net. I used the DK Science Encyclopedia/Reader’s Digest Series and was happy with the result, but I know some parents feel more comfortable with a text for high school.
- If you choose to send your children to the local high school for science, ask their teenage friends who take classes there. Which courses are interesting? Is there time in the lab? Are the teachers interesting and involved? I have found my kids’ friends to be honest-to-a-fault and much more helpful than most parents.