Thursday, August 15, 2013

science curriculum organization with lifepacs

Science is not my favorite subject to teach. Up until this year, I have done a little of this and a little of that and purchased multiple FUN kits at my local teacher store. I'm not sure who declared MESSY science experiments FUN, but it certainly was not me. In an effort to spend more time on science this year (and having FUN), I decided to go with an "official" curriculum this year.

A friend of mine has been using Lifepacs by Alpha Omega and really likes the structure they provide. I am pretty eclectic in my approach to homeschooling, so I was not sure that this textbook-y approach would work for us. I tried one Lifepac for a month last year and thought it might work for us and provide a spine for our science. I am not committing to finish every single page in the Lifepac, but we will let it guide us in our science adventures. What I LOVE is that science and God are intertwined throughout the Lifepacs--afterall, He is the one who makes everything work the way it does!

My husband blessed me with a weekend to homeschool plan--in my own house--while he and the kids were house-sitting for some friends. I took each topic and pulled any book that I had on that topic from the vast array of books that I have collected over the years. It was fun to find books that I didn't know I had (this is an ongoing problem of mine--too many books!) 

There are 10 Lifepacs that cover the year. Each Lifepac takes 3-4 weeks to complete. This Lifepac is the topic of PLANTS. I have books, a file folder game, worksheets from random science books and a plant specimen kit--I spread them all on the floor and took a picture. I had this picture printed and I stapled it to the outside of a hanging file folder.

Next, I photocopied all the spines of the books that I will (or might) use on the topic of plants. I simply placed them all on the copier at once. This will help me remember what books I have. For the books that are too small to have a spine, I put them INSIDE the hanging file folder.

Here is what I store within the hanging file folder. The books without a spine, extra worksheets that I might use (including a few for my 4-year-old so that he can feel like he is participating), a greenhouse kit, my file folder game and the Lifepacs. On that note--I have a 2nd and 4th grader. I am not going to teach two different science curriculums (I would go crazy). I ordered two 4th grade Lifepacs--one for each girl. If there is any reading or questions that are too hard for my 2nd grader, she will simply skip those sections. I also included a lesson plan that a friend of mine typed up. She included Bible, field trips, YouTube videos, BrainPop videos, snack ideas, etc. This is a place where I can write anything else that I might want to do with my kids on the topic of plants. 

I have a shelf in my closet where I store all the science books (with spines) in the order that we will use them this year. I love that we will finally be using some of the books that have been sitting on my shelves for years! 

Lifepacs are designed so that you can grab them and teach. You do not have to pull all of these extra books like I have. But I already HAVE these books and I want to attempt to use them. Also, I wanted to pull in videos, crafts and snacks on the topic--I love making things more fun! I am using the Lifepacs as a guide--as I do with all my curriculum. The curriculum does not rule me--I rule the curriculum. For my Type A personality, this is a lesson I have had to learn over the years. I continue to remind myself, "I do not have to finish every worksheet or every lesson plan. I do not have to have everything crossed off my to-do list." 

This organization system may be a bit over the top, but I thought I would share in case any of you get as excited about organizing and a new school year as I do! You can apply it to any subject and any curriculum. Have a great school year!

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