Monday, January 19, 2015

Relaxed Homeschooling: Science and Social Studies in the Early Elementary Years

Welcome to week three of the 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair!  Today's theme is Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science.  This can include everything from history, geography, world cultures, worldview, biology, botany, geology, and a number of other subject categories for each blogger to take their own unique approach.  The VCF is hosted annually by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and this week's co-host is Stacie at Super Mommy to the Rescue!

Goals:  Learning to Explore the World
My goals for these subjects is to create interest in the world around them and teach my children how to follow those interests down a continuous path of learning.  Later in the post, you'll see a list of manipulatives that I keep on hand to allow the children ways to explore on their own, but as far as curriculum, I didn't really want to use a structured curriculum that would tie us into a certain area of science or lock us into a specific time period for an entire year.  Not at this age, anyway, unless there is a specific request.  They are so curious, and I want them to feel encouraged to explore their world naturally.  There will be plenty of time for sequential and cyclical learning later.

Five in a Row offers a very diverse collection of lessons in these subjects, and it's not structured or sequential, which means we can use it as a springboard for our personal interests.  It gives me the ideas I need to get started if I'm at a loss as to which direction to take.  Typically the boys pick a topic they want to explore--which is generally related to social studies or science--and I scan the content and choose a book to row.  I pick ideas from the manual that I think will appeal, but I'm always open to following rabbit trails, which is how I nurture their interests and teach them to follow that path.

Social Studies
Elliott loves geography and requested more of it this year, so that is another way Five in a Row fits us right now.  So many of the books take place throughout the United States or in countries around the world, so it gives us plenty of time to explore geography, maps, and world cultures.  Elliott loves the mapping activities, and Emory likes doing the flags of other countries.  They also love learning how to write their name or say phrases in other languages!

 Learning how to say/write our names in Japanese.

Five in a Row incorporates history, but it also helps us focus on family relationships, careers, community, holidays, character (and I tie We Choose Virtues into this whenever possible) and so many other areas of social studies, that I feel like we're getting a broader exposure to "the real world" than if we focused primarily on a traditional history rotation.

One way I do work in a little more history, though not formally, is through audio books.  The kids love audio books, and I mentioned in my language arts post that we use audio books to "read" more literature.  Well, we do this with history too!  Our favorite historical audio resource to date has been Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions, and we're looking forward to reviewing their next production, In Freedom's Cause!

Again, Five in a Row is our "core" and we've covered such a variety this year.  Nutrition, life cycles, buoyancy, landforms, and weather are a few topics that come to mind.  I often tie in a living book or a fun educational show when I get the chance.  Emory loves The Magic Schoolbus episodes, and Elliott likes the books from the same series.  Elliott likes when I find hands-on experiments that match up, or anything that involves charts or graphs.  He loved charting the weather for two weeks!

Nature Study - This is an important form of science in the early years.  I want the children to develop an appreciation for the natural world around them, and honestly I find Nature Study to be one of the most valuable additions to our homeschooling, and our daily life in general.  It has been easy to tie in nature study with several of our FIAR units, such as when we made Apple Bird Feeders, but we also enjoy getting out and taking walks, going to parks, splashing in mud puddles and just exploring everything around us!

Manipulatives aren't just for Math!
In addition to field trips and quality documentaries to bring subjects to life, I keep a variety of materials available to enhance our studies in a hands-on way.

Magnifying Glass
Tongs and Tweezers
Bug Houses
Butterfly Nets
Measuring Cups & Beakers
Experiment Books

Social Studies
Maps - world, continent, country, state, local
Dress-up items for historical costumes and role-play
Cultural Music to dance to
Art books with historical art to create
Cookbooks of historical/cultural recipes

I think Science and Social Studies both allow more freedom than other subjects.  These are both subject areas that lend themselves well to following a delight-directed path, and I try to let the children's natural curiosities and interest guide us into learning what they will eventually need to know.

Week 1 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Language Arts in the Early Elementary Years
Week 2 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Mathematics in the Early Elementary Years
Week 3 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Science and Social Studies in the Early Elementary Years
Week 4 - Relaxed Homeschooling:  Fine Arts in the Early Elementary Years

2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair
Here are some more great articles about covering social studies and science in different homeschool environments, and if you have your own relevant posts, be sure to look for the link-up and share with us!

Graphic Credit:  StoryRock

Exploring World History Through the Eyes of Scientists by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Exploring Our World With Social Studies by Stacie @ Super Mommy to the Rescue

Living History by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Classically Influenced, Project Strong, Adaptable Middle School History by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Primary Sources for Delight-Directed History by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

Watching History, or Using Video Courses for Social Studies by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Exploring our World: High School Studies of Ancient History, American Government and Economics by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

History, Geography, and Worldview Lessons in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Our Curriculum Choices 2015 ~ Science, History & Geography by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

Our Favorites for History, Geography, and Science by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Globe Trotting by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Around The World by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Bible-Based History Curriculum and Resources by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

13 Living Book History Series for a Charlotte Mason Based Homeschool by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Social Studies and Science in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

The Science Life by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

History, Geography Science for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

History Social Studies and Science...VCF Week 3 by Denise @ Fullnest

Learning About our World and History by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Taking the Mystery Out of History and Other Subjects Too With Our Favorite History Curriculum by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma

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  1. I have been struggling to find something for my daughter with social studies and science. I am wondering if I should just try an approach like this. She has the love and want to learn. I want her to enjoy it all at the same time.

    1. I say go for it! Brainstorm with her and find out what she wants to learn about and then go from there. Often one thing leads to another, and you'll just continue to rabbit trail and feed her interests. It can't hurt to try anyway! :)