is always a challenge. Over the 8 years we have homeschooled, I have bought waaay too much science curriculum. We've tried Young Scientists Club, Singapore Science, Science in a Nutshell kits, TOPScience, Janice Van Cleave books, textbooks and some whose name I can't even remember. I have looked at even more - Noeo, MSNucleus, Real Science 4 Kids, R.E.A.L. Science. Not all of these are from secular companies.
Below are selected reviews with the caveat that Noach much prefers hands-on ,and frankly, I have given up on much writing. Until recently he hated to write anything. I think that the "too much writing" problem has been recurrent because I found the writing a burden as much as he and his siblings did. Blowing things up is preferred.
Young Scientists Club
Pro - Noach LOVED getting these kits in the mail. He could not wait to do the experiments. I was happy to find all the supplies in the box so we were never without the needed material. He did not want to do the writing in the kit but who says you have to follow all the instructions. We are homeschoolers, right? We can do it our way.
Con - I wanted more reading with the experiments so I had to plan ahead to have the right library books available to flesh out the experience. Also cost.
Science in a Nutshell from Delta Education
Pro - Complete kit with 10 - 12 activities per kit. Each kit has enough material for 3 kids. Rock Origins, Electrical Connections, and Ponds and Streams were favorites.
Con - I needed to coordinate the reading and there was too much writing for my kids. These are pricy but I have gotten most of ours on ebay. Watch for incomplete, used kits, though.
Pro - cheap. We did the Electricity unit for younger kids many years ago. It was fun. The circuits were made with tape, folded aluminum foil and paper clips. The worksheet/instructions were perfect. Draw your results, answer a few pertinent questions. Also we did Green Thumb:Radishes and Oxidation. I have to say that I really liked these units. I have some to use with high school chemistry next year.
Con - More reading needed.
Janice Van Cleave books
Pro - Cheap, if you can get them from the library or buy used. Many have lots of good reading material with the experiments. We have enjoyed Physics for Every Kid and Biology for Every Kid this year.
Con - I can't really think of any unless you want worksheets and I don't.
So, what did we do for the 5th Grade? For the early part of the year, we did Cub Scout science. Noach needed to complete some of the pins so we did weather, astronomy, engineering and science requirements. I added in some relevant Van Cleave experiments.
We studied evolution for a month, reading The Voyage of the Beetle and Horrible Science, Evolve or Die. We do the reading aloud rather than having him read to himself.
We have done Science in a Nutshell kits, The Human Machine and Vision and Hearing and Biology for Every Kid most recently.
Next year? First I have to decide whether I will do a group lab for 11-14 year old kids. I am thinking positively. Yesterday the mother of one of the biology lab kids asked me to do a chemistry lab next year. I'm not sure I can do both.
I'm still thinking. PRM