I discovered The Well Trained Mind almost ten years ago now when my eldest child was just a toddler. Having renewed my copy at the library more times than I can count, I purchased the second edition of the book. Then, when it was released, the third edition.
As a family one of our favourite subjects to teach at home is science. We combine practical learning with hands-on experiments and rotate between physics, chemistry and biology throughout the year. Usually spending between six to eight weeks on each.
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Each of these weeks is then provided with a specific unit based on the branch of science we’re studying at the time. For example physics looks something like this;
Week 1 – Simple Machines
Week 2 – Energy & Motion
Week 3 – Light and Sound
Week 4 – Electricity
Week 5 – Magnetism
Week 6 – Push & Pull Forces
Science Lessons With The Well Trains Mind
Our science lessons tend to follow the same format. This is a format we’ve curated over the past few years, having discovered what works and what doesn’t for our family.
We start by performing an experiment. There are many experiment resources available online depending on the field of science your studying. Using physics as an example once again, this is usually an experiment from the book Physics Experiments for Children.
This book is one of The Well-Trained Mind’s recommended resources and while it is an older book, first published in 1959 don’t let that fool you.
There are 103 experiments that are simple, use easy-to-find materials, and illustrate principles with elegance and clarity. The book is available in paperback format from Amazon or free as a PDF online.
Either alongside or after the experiment the child will then fill out an experiment page. There’s a number of different formats here that you can download and print for free.
We’ll then turn to our incredible science encyclopedia to look up the specific topic.
The additional reading here can then be used to fill in any blanks from the experiment page. If the topic is challenging we might also choose to discuss it further together.
This reading also assists the child in writing up roughly three or four sentences about the topic as a whole which will then be used as part of their learning resources and recap at the end of the year.
Depending on the specific topic and the resources available we may also include additional textbook reading, referencing diagrams and drawings or videos and DVDs – Bill Nye, The Way Things Work, and Disney Imagineering are some of our favorites.
These additional resources are fantastic for connecting any missing dots in a child’s understanding of the specific area.
As my children get older we’re certainly introducing reading from textbooks more and more. I’ve chosen to do this to prepare them for middle school and high school when they’ll be depending on textbooks more than experiments.
Of course, all of this additional time and additional resources only adds to a depth of knowledge on a particular subject so it’s certainly never a bad thing provided that the child isn’t struggling.