We finished up this year’s science studies with a quick study of bones (again) and the five senses. I found quite a few more good books for this study, so I thought I’d update my original post with these finds. Our official science curriculum for this school year was Elemental Science–Biology for the Classical Child. We followed it pretty closely for the first half of the year when we studied animals, and even when we studied plants after Christmas. By the time we got to the human body, though, I had run out of oomph and we had almost run out of time. Also, since we just studied the human body in some detail last year, I didn’t want to rehash what we’d already been over recently. This led me to the decision to just focus on the five senses and bones, mainly because I had some good books to use for this. 🙂
Steve Jenkins’ Bones is a gorgeous nonfiction picture book that is about all kinds of bones, not just human ones, but I thought it provided a great hook to reintroduce the subject to the girls. Its subtitle is Skeletons and How They Work, and it provides a thorough overview of just that–the workings of skeletons. The tone of the book is conversational; reading it is like sitting down with a skeleton expert who is passionate and knowledgeable about his subject but is able to break it down so that a young child can easily understand it. Jenkins uses his trademark cut paper collage illustration technique in this book, too, and it is amazingly detailed. One of my favorite illustrations from the book is the last one, which is a two-page spread of all 206 bones of the human body, organized neatly but not put together (the heading at the top of the page is “Some Assembly Required”). The two pages open out to reveal the assembled skeleton. There’s enough in this book to keep a discerning reading poring over its pages a long while. I also like that the book includes explanatory material at the end. Bones was shortlisted for the 2010 Cybils in the nonfiction picture books category, an honor that is very much deserved. Highly Recommended.
While I’m on the subject of skeletons, I might as well mention Bob Barner’s Dem Bones. Although I found it difficult to stop and read the pertinent scientific information that accompanies the ghoulish skeletons in the book because I was too busy singing the song, I thought it was great fun. My girls actually don’t like it when I do this, but hey–there has to be a little enjoyment in this for me somewhere, right? 🙂
The best books I’ve found for a study of the senses is Dana Meachen Rau’s Amazing Body series. I’m not always a fan of series books, mostly because I find them dry and lacking in creativity or imagination. While I’m not saying that this series is the most entertaining, I think this is one case where the series format works well. Each book follows the same format, and I think it’s just the right amount of detail and information for early elementary aged students. We read all five books and my girls looked forward to and enjoyed each one. Some technical terminology is used, and there are simple but thorough diagrams. I like that each book ends with a short glossary, a list of additional facts, a bibliography, index, and where to go for more information online. These books make a good compromise between living books and a textbook approach, since this book has elements of both.
This last book is a resource book that I learned about from Janet of Across the Page. I used a Janice Van Cleave book last year–Play and Find Out about the Human Body: Easy Experiments for Young Children, so this year I wanted something a little more mature. I haven’t delved much into Jim Wiese’s Head to Toe Science, but the handful of activities we did were good ones. Unlike some resource books I’ve seen, this book provides fairly good explanations without requiring tons of reading on the part of the teacher. This book even has a chapter devoted to the reproductive system (don’t be alarmed–it’s mainly about genetics 😉 ), which is something I’ve never seen before in a book geared to elementary aged students. I’m hanging onto this one for future use.
Our activities included one related to touch and the sensations of heat and cold:
We also made a construction paper diagram of the eye. I almost didn’t post these because the glue ran and it looks really gross, but I think it’s a good activity, anyway. 🙂
Can you guess which of the five senses this activity related to? (Hint: the girls had to crawl through their tunnel and into their tent to find these things, and not pictured is an empty oatmeal cannister with the lid on.)
The last two activities above came from a post at His Mercy Is New. Thanks to Candace for the inspiration!
This weeklong study ended our year on a positive note; I really think my girls would never tire of studying about the human body. I’m already beginning to contemplate next year’s science (of course), but I’ll save that for another blog post.