inside: an indepth look at the Elemental Science Biology for the Grammar Stage curriculum and how I’m using it in my homeschool with first and second graders.
Now that my youngest children are in the 1st and 2nd grades, I knew it was time to start science. And since I’ve used and loved Elemental Science in the past, that’s what I wanted to use. So I contacted Paige at Elemental Science about grammar stage biology, and she gave me the curriculum in exchange for a review. Thank you, Paige!
Elemental Science Biology for the Grammar Stage
Elemental Science is a science curriculum written by Paige Hudson. The classic series loosely follows the original Well-Trained Mind recommendations.
Biology for the grammar stage is written for children between 1st and 4th grade. There are different books recommended for the younger kids and older kids, but it’s easy to use the lighter readings for younger kids as the main course and assign the more advanced readings for your older children to read later.
All right, down to business.
When Paige sent the package to me, I received two student workbooks, one teacher’s manual, and Success in Science: A Manual for Science Education. I immediately grabbed my pink and green washi tape to tape the spines of the student workbooks. Now the kids and I can tell at a glance whose workbook is whose!
Paige also emailed me the coloring pages for her grammar stage biology course which have been awesome! They’re perfect for keeping little hands busy while I read aloud to the kids.
Elemental Science Biology for the Grammar Stage is not a stand alone curriculum. I pulled these books off my shelf or purchased the few I didn’t already own.
- Janice VanCleave’s Biology for Every Kid
- Janice VanCleave’s Science Around the World
- Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals (K-2nd)
- DK First Human Body Encyclopedia (1st-3rd)
- Basher Science: Biology – Life as we know it! (1st-4th)
Other options for spines are:
- DK Encyclopedia of Animals (2nd-4th)
- Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia (4th-6th)
- Usborne Science Encyclopedia (3rd-5th)
We were now ready to go. Just as a heads up, you can purchase a science kit for grammar stage biology as well.
Layout of Elemental Science Biology for the Grammar Stage
There are three units in the course.
- Animals Unit (20 weeks)
- Human Body Unit (10 weeks)
- Plants Unit (6 weeks)
Each unit has additional books beyond the spines you can purchase or check out from the library. These are handy for free reading or to strew around the house.
Children are given short poems to memorize which help solidify the concepts being learned. For instance we’re studying mammals, so we’re learning the characteristics of mammals.
Each unit also has vocabulary words for the kids to learn. So my kids have learned the vocabulary words of herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, habitat, and mammals.
Biology for the Grammar Stage Week Plans
The teacher’s manual has 36 weekly plans for biology. We just finished week 5 of the animals unit which covers camels, giraffes, and deer.
The weekly plan is divided into different parts.
- Science demonstration
- Reading assignments
- Discussion questions
- Writing assignments
- Projects and activities
- Answers to the weekly quiz
- Two days a week schedule
- Five days a week schedule
The two days a week schedule takes us about 20-30 minutes while the five days a week schedule takes us about 10-15 minutes. I adore having the option to decide each week which schedule will work best for my family that week.
How We’re Using Biology for the Grammar Stage
The first thing I do when the kids and I sit down to study science is to pass out the coloring pages. Otherwise the kids simply do not sit and listen. They wiggle, they squirm, and they dash off to see what the teens are doing. I adore the coloring pages!
This last week I passed out the camel coloring pages. While they were coloring, I read aloud about camels from Kingfisher’s First Animal Encyclopedia.
I then ask each child to give me a brief narration about camels which I write in their student workbooks. My 2nd grade daughter sometimes writes her own narration but usually she wants me to write for her.
Next we recite the Characteristics of Mammals poem.
Since we’re playing catch up, I jumped straight into the scientific demonstration about camels feet. We used salt to emulate sand. I grabbed a canning jar lid and a dime. The kids took turns trying to push the lid and dime into the sand. The dime sunk and quickly disappeared, but the lid stayed on top of the sand.
The children then told me they learned that camels’ big feet keeps camels from sinking into the sand. I wrote their observations in their science notebooks.
The second day of the two days a week schedule I passed out two coloring pages: giraffe and deer. While the kids colored, again I read aloud about giraffes and deer. The children completed their narrations and took the animal week 5 quiz.
When I purchased Elemental Science courses in the past, I always picked up the eBooks. However Paige mailed me the printed workbook and teacher’s manual this year. It was quite a change for printing up all the pages for the year and filing them!
Let me tell you, the workbooks worked much better than I thought they would.
Loose papers get lost, it’s just the way life works, which left me scrambling to print out new sheets for that week’s assignment. That’s not a worry with the workbooks!
When we missed a week, I’d just skip those weeks, recycle the papers, and move on.
But that leaves us with a bunch of empty pages in the middle of our lovely printed workbooks! So this time when we ended up over two weeks behind behind because of a nasty bug, I switched us to the two days a week schedule.
We completed two weeks of science within one homeschool week! And the two days a week schedule isn’t so long that my little wiggly 6 year loses interest and tries to wander off.
I love, love, love the pacing of the schedule. It’s paced perfectly for my wiggly little boy.
And with all the extra suggested books, I can easily pick up reading material for my 2nd grade daughter. Actually if I was just teaching her, I’d add some of the recommended books to our lessons and use the DK Animal Encyclopedia. She has the attention span for a longer lesson, which the biology course allows for!
The kids and I enjoy the science demonstrations, but we’re having a bit of trouble filling out the lab sheet in the workbook. I finally ended up filling in most of the information quickly myself and just ask the kids to dictate what they learned.
Success in Science: A Manual for Science Education
Paige also gave me a copy of her book, Success in Science: A Manual for Science Education. It’s been a fascinating book to read.
First Paige introduces us to the foundation of science education before showing what science education should look like for each age group. She finishes the book by looking at current science education methods. Even as an experienced homeschool mom, I found the books incredibly useful.
Success in Science goes into quite a bit of detail about how to achieve these goals. You’re even told what types of facts children should learn at each level!
The appendices in the back of the book include information about notebooking, nature study, lapbooks, living books, and lab reports.
The notebooking appendix included examples of 1st, 3rd grade, and 6th grade notebooking pages and what to expect from your children.
The sample of 1st grade work was reassuring. The example’s narration for cheetah’s was almost identical to my son’s “Cheetahs run really fast!” Of course he then jumped off the chair and ran around the house to show me exactly how fast cheetahs run.
Success in Science is a handy reference book for your shelf!
This year, the children and I are enjoying Biology for the Grammar Stage curriculum. The pacing is perfect to keep the both my kids engaged and also includes plenty of hands-on demonstrations.
If you’re looking for a science curriculum for your grammar stage children, be sure to check out Elemental Science!