Cheryl Lowe, Memoria Press
C. S. Lewis once said that second things suffer when put first. This is exactly what I saw in my chemistry classroom, where much of the time, rather than teaching chemistry, I had to teach the math they should have known but didn’t because they had spent too much time being taught science in elementary school and too little time being taught math.
If they had learned math, they could have done chemistry, but because they were required to do science and math, they didn’t know their math, and therefore couldn’t do chemistry.
Why make time for nature study?
- This may be the only time in their education where you have the luxury of time to spend memorizing the specific details, knowledge which isn’t as as common place as it once was.
- These science materials are meant to be covered in approximately one hour each week.
You can certainly schedule more time in and complete multiple books in a year if you’ve got a kid that is a whiz at memorization.
The best part of this schedule is that if you feel strongly about a more rigorous science curriculum you’ve got time for that as well. Spending a couple hours a week studying nature is win/win.
“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
—Richard Louv author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle
To be clear, Memoria Press takes either a creation or neutral approach to science depending on the materials. If you are a secular family there are some things you’ll need to leave out, edit on the fly, or prepare to discuss with your kids.
In K-2nd science/nature study is included in the enrichment guide for that grade. Memoria Press also sells Supplemental Science Sets that in my opinion, are excellent and unique in the classical curriculum market Hint: you can/should buy the books used (or hit the library) and save a lot of money.
Third grade-Seventh grade studies rely heavily on nature studies and those programs (along with Literature) are where MP shines. If you follow the Charlotte Mason method this is the kind of study you may aspire to put together on your own using something like Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study. You could spend hours researching and writing lesson plans or you can choose a subject, buy the set and dive in. For another $2 you can even purchase lesson plans to break down the work day by day.
You can use the books in any order, but I’d say that Mammals is the easiest and Trees is the hardest if you are choosing where to begin. MP lists a grade range and so they are perfect to use in a group or to combine your kids that are within a couple grade levels of each other. If you do combine you’ll want to require all the work from any child that matches the grade level requirements and less for younger/more for older.
In years 6-8 traditional science is added with the Tiner books, which are not secular at all. They are a good introduction to textbook science with a narrative to read and a guide filled with questions that contain more than just simple What did you just read comprehension questions. It’s not busywork and it won’t take hours to complete. The downside for us would be the biblical slant. Not everything printed in a book or newspaper is necessarily scientifically accurate, so for us the Tiner books are also a lesson in critical thinking when we’ve used them.
We finished up the books with the Tree Study last Fall and I’m wishing we had one more year of books to use before high school. We may go through and do a review of all the books since I own the flashcards and materials already.