Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fifth Grade Biology

My oldest is a fifth grader, and in keeping with the curriculum ideas laid out in The Well-Trained Mind, we will be studying biology this year. I looked at several texts and curricula online and read reviews on them, but nothing seemed like a good fit for our current needs. Time 4 Learning looks like it has a great life sciences course, but I don't think dd9 is ready to do online courses yet. Maybe next year, when she's not carelessly breaking our computers (a few days ago, while crowding in next to a sister who was playing a computer game, dd9 dropped a speaker on our family PC case and broke something major inside so that it doesn't work now...sigh).

The Time 4 Learning website has been of great help in showing me what topics I should cover with dd9 this year as I set out to cobble together my own science course for her. My formal biology background is one college level course taught by an immunologist, who tended to focus on human illnesses and only briefly discuss other subjects. If I hadn't seen something saying I should teach dd9 about dichotomous keys, she would have likely had a gap there. But I'm certain she'd have learned a lot about Ebola!

I'll probably spend hours putting together dd9's biology materials with much assistance from search engines. We already subscribe to Enchanted Learning, which has some helpful biology printouts--food webs, cell structure labeling, anatomy, etc.-- at the right grade level. The local library has relevant DVDs from the BBC, Schlessinger Media, and Bill Nye. We have a new-to-us 2008 World Book Encyclopedia set. The Bioman website has some fun-looking biology games. Finally, YouTube,, and other internet sites have slide shows, videos, and informational pages on all sorts of biology topics. It should be a fun experiment to see if I can make an engaging, effective course on my own. And maybe next year, I'll find middle school books I like for astronomy and earth science.

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