5th grade homeschool earth science curric? I’m up for suggestions!!!

I need a new science curriculum for the Fall.  It’s mostly for my 5th grader, but it would be great if the others (3rd & 1st grades) could participate.  I really want it to be earth science, focused on geology, particularly rocks & minerals, if possible.  I would highly prefer it to be Christian and young-earth creationist in perspective.  I don’t want a unit study, just the science part.  I want it to have experiments and other hands-on activities.  I’d consider doing a pieced-together curric — like, use books A, B, & C, planning out the schedule myself —  if I can’t find something actually created as a homeschooling curriculum, but I’d rather purchase ONE resource that will last me all year (or at least half the year). 

I’ve found a few, but don’t know anyone who uses these, so I thought I’d lay it out there for anyone to chime in their reviews and/or suggestions.  Some of them sound great, but I don’t know what their worldview is.  OTOH, I don’t want to buy something just because it’s labelled “Christian” and have it turn out to be lame.

Discovering Earth’s Landforms & Surface Features

Science Experiments:  Earth Science Grades 5 and Up

Connecting Students to Science Series:  Rocks & Minerals, Grades 5-8+
(09/20/07 — Edited to add:  As a homeschooler, I delight in materials that work straight off the shelf.  It is one of the joys of homeschooling that the parent can learn right along with the child.  This book is NOT like that;  it is NOT a good homeschooling text.  It was written for a schoolteacher who has a classroom of many who already has a solid understanding of Geology.  For instance, it gives instruction to have you take the children out of doors and to collect 8-10 rocks and 8-10 minerals, and you, as a teacher are supposed to give guidance afterwards to correct the children’s selections.  However, if you, as the homeschooling teacher, don’t currently know how to visually differentiate between a regular rock and a mineral, well, then, you’re up a creek, because no further guidance is given, other than to use additional, suggested texts for identification.)

Rocks & Minerals, Grades 2-5  (This sounds like what I am looking for, and was created as a hs’ing curriculum, but I’m concerned that it won’t be challenging enough.  And at only 48 pages, will there be enough info & activities?)

A Reason for Science, Level E  (I like that it’s geared towards homeschooling, is hands-on, comes with a kit of materials, as well as the books… but is it too hyper-Christian??  And, I really want to foster my 5th grader’s interest in rocks & minerals.  Is there enough geology in this program?)

I’m so torn about the whole Christian curriculum idea.  For those who don’t know, we are committed, firm believers.  But, I was raised in a Christian school, and the materials and methods used there, frankly, left a bad taste in my mouth.  I want *excellence* in my kids’ education, not just a science lesson with a Bible verse.  Yet, perhaps more than any other subject, the study of science can contain so much material that is interpreted in a way that would deny the Creator, seeking to explain life without a life-giver.  I want strong science by intelligent scientists who are also Christians, and who can help my children and I see how the Biblical account of creation, and other “sciency” subjects in the Bible can be supported by the scientific method.  I hope that makes sense.


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on May 30, 2007, in Christian Living, Christianity, God/Christianity/Church, Homeschooling, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Out of the science programs we’ve used Apologia is by far my favorite. I’m not sure that they have something focusing on rocks and minerals though. I would check with the Answers in Genesis website to see if they have anything you might like. I know they have some fabulous resources and they are very scientific but based on Biblical truth (better than A Beka 🙂 ) so you might like things they have to offer. I’m not familiar with any of the things you listed so I can’t offer my 2 cents on those. I hope you find just what you’re looking for!!

  2. I was going to suggest Apologia, too, though I’ve only heard it’s good.

    The Young Earth by Dr. John Morris is good. The Geology Book, also by Dr. John Morris, is a good one, if I recall correctly. It has been a while since I looked through it. I can’t remember if I have it or if I just looked through it at the store so many times that it seems like I own it.

    I second the AiG recommendation. You might check out their Video On Demand page to see if your 5th grader would be interested in any of their videos.

  3. I understand your concerns about Christian curriculums… Er… Curricula! Curriculae? Whatever…

    I checked out the links there and, I confess, when I saw the words “each weekly lesson also features a Scripture Object Lesson” my Lame detector started bleeping at me. I don’t know what it is. I think it just seems to forced. I love science and I feel that if science is taught well and with balance, your attention is naturally drawn to the Creator without some ‘Object Lesson’ dragging it there.

    In my class we often end up discussing big religious issues within science lessons as the questions naturally arise, and that’s without ignoring either the christian or the evolutionary approaches to science.

    Just send ’em to me Karen! I’ll sort them out! Hahah!

  4. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Ya know, as poor as my ACE education was, I have to admit that I would never trade an excellent secular education for all the scripture memory I did in Christian school. Those Words are my sword and have served me well. People often wonder how I know so many references. It’s hard to pull the wool over the eyes of something who is handy with their sword kwim? I’m with Paul, it’s all dung, man. Now if you can have the whole package….great solid material plus the Word/Scripturally based, more power to ya.

  5. I mentioned this on the last comment I made, but I’m really impressed with the God’s Design series by AIG. You can go to their website and see samples of the books. I don’t think they have one that will go as indepth in rocks and minerals as what you want, but look at the God’s Design for Chemistry Properties of Atoms and Molecules. You might could use that and then supplement with a rock/mineral book. My son is very interested in rocks, too, so if you find a good book please let me know.

  6. Trying to “reconcile” scientific knowledge with the biblical accounts of creation is a losing battle, and dishonest to both sources. By its nature, scientific inquiry can not shed light on the unknowable. Likewise, by their own nature, the Scriptures can not deliver truths in a form recognizable to science.

    Faith gives us the ability to trust that accurate scientific descriptions of natural history are, indeed, faithful to God’s creation even if the understanding of how the formless was given form cannot be revealed by science. In my observation, attempts to restrict scientific understanding because of prejudices from religion have always been harmful to both fields.

  7. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Oh, fun, Karen. You’ve opened the debate. Silly woman!! IMO the best we can do is present Intelligent Design with both Biblical and Scientific basis that is available. Present some basis of evolution and bash whenever you can ;o) Kidding, just kidding. Really though. I think our job is to build up our children in the most holy faith first and foremost. Unless they make Intelligent Design their aim and focal point for themselves later, it will be difficult to face off with a died in the wool evolutionist like the poster above. They just have so many “fact”–some real and most, as he would assume of us, misguided through a filter of wrong assumptions. It is like a plain vanilla attorney up against OJ’s dream team. The stronger debater will win, truth not withstanding. Your kids need to have a deep faith that weathers that. Being out of your depth doesn’t make you wrong. However, I actually do plan to create an Origins Course for JQK’s senior year with books by the likes of Phillip Johnson and Darwin’s Black Box by Behe.

    As to curric being too Christian, I think I have told you where I think they are coming from (from where they are coming ;OPPPP) They are aiming, I believe, to fulfill the scriptural command in Exodus and maybe elsewhere to teach your children when you sit and when you rise and in the way etc. It is their way of hemming all that you do with scripture. I think you’d be hardpressed to make a case against salting your day. If so, just skip the offending scriptures IYKWIM?

    My Science curric at the moment is Rainbow Science. It is designed for 6-8th graders so keep it in mind. A bit spendy as the author sends like zillion items for experiments. I got it used for about $100 with about 20% of the supplies missing. The lessons are only about 3 pages long with LOTS of pics. Again, he doesn’t shy away from what evolution espouses.

    You might see what the chick who wrote The Well Trained Mind recommends if you want something classical/elite (roll eyes).

    If you got your Timberdoodle catalog, they, too, list the God’s Design Series. Our Planet Earth covers rocks, volcanoes, earthquakes, glaciers, and fossils. So there you go. Go read their write up if you want @ http://www.timberdoodle.com.

    They also have Wonder of Creation books and one is a Geology book. It says:

    “What makes a great science book? It is not just dramatic pictures, colorful illustrations to explain complex subject matter, and attention-grabbing text. It needs to tell the truth. Of what value is a science book that is based on lies? Unlike some home educators (love that elitism-sorry), we are very fussy about what science books we place in our children’s hands…..”

    Now, they don’t really say if they mean that they are avoiding lies of both creationists and evolutionists or if they are avoiding the deception of evolution. But you might want to combine a couple of books just like Veritas or SL do. You could either enjoy writing lesson plans in your spare time ;o) OR just read through them at your leisure.

    Now fix all my typos, woman. ;O)

  8. Rubber Chicken Girl

    One last, last comment:

    In their write up of a Biology 101 product Timberdoodle is offering they say:

    “In the Christian homeschool realm, too often what appeals about a product is its religiosity and not its excellence. For example, you know that you cannot do an honest job of teaching biology, unless you use a resource that is both scientifically accurate, and God-glorifying. Yet many times a teaching parent may have to sacrifice one for the other…..Not so with Biology 101….”

    So that gives you their angle on what they are after in terms of science curric. Souns up your alley.

  9. I just think it’s important to be honest. The authors of scripture were honest. Scientific method is honest. I’m less convinced that the various attempts to challenge science on Biblical grounds are honest. I think it’s a mistake to cast “evolutionists” as an enemy of God when there is a real enemy out there – one whose most effective weapon is lies.

  10. Rubber Chicken Girl

    I don’t want to get into the debate. But some of us feel that Author of Lies is the author of evolutionary thought. Evolution has been accepted in the Catholic church and liberal churches everywhere for I don’t know how long. It is increasingly popular in the new liberal movement among evangelicals and Charismatics called the emergent church. It is up for debate whether that is a theological drift that is the inevitable path of all denominations over time (history repeating itself). That would be my contention. But that’s all I’ll contend. I have a new jog to learn and a camping trip to plan. I’ll leave you to it.

  11. Rubber Chicken Girl

    I don’t, in fact, have a new “jog”. That would be JOB. I can spell. Sometimes. I can type. Sometimes.

  12. Wow. Y’all are quick!! Responding to #1-4, more later. I have to actually do school, not just talk about it! 😉

    MLBAH ~ I’ve heard great things about Apologia, and looked them up, but they don’t have any earth sciences for elementary age.

    Mrs. N ~ The books you mention aren’t texts/curricula, are they? There are a lot of good *books* out there, and in fact, we’re reading through one right now… but I’m hoping to find one that is already set up as a curriculum, with activities & experiments and the like. I went to the AiG website before I posted this, and while there were a lot of good resources, I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

    Iain ~ Are you up for some transatlantic commuting? Hehehe. Or, maybe this is just another sign that our family is supposed to be in Scotland. You could be our science teacher. Yes, Mr. MacKinnon??? 😛 My lame-o-meter started blipping at the same thing you read… like MAKING Scripture fit with what we’re studying. It seems contrived. Yet… Scripture is still good and useful and relevant. Hm.

    Shellie ~ Yes, actally, our conversations on the matter of curriculum + scripture is what gives my lame-o-meter pause. It really makes a difference to me that your experience with “forced” scripture memorization was such a good and lasting one. I think a year ago, I wouldn’t have even LOOKED at A Reason for Science, et al. ” Now if you can have the whole package….great solid material plus the Word/Scripturally based” That’s my goal!

  13. Teresa ~ Your comment (#5) is actually my Plan B. I had already thought of doing AiG’s chemistry series, supplemented w/ geology studies. Great minds think alike. 😉 (p.s. I *love* your daughter’s bonnet, and that she’s bold enough to wear it in public!!!!! Another reason I like hs’ing, is that it circumvents so much peer pressure. If a 13yo want to wear a bonnet, by golly, she should do so with pride!!)

    Commenter #6/Dystopos/John ~ Much as I appreciate you visiting my blog, an much as I’ve always had an interest in your thoughts, and much as I’m appreciative of our long history, I disagree with your first paragraph. Romans 1:20 speaks of the natural giving revelation of the invisible. I believe that the Bible and science are totally reconcilable, because it’s God who *created* science. Much of His ways are unknowable and unexplainable, but I believe that the study of science is a testament to God’s character and His ways. Regarding “prejudices from religion”… well, I can understand how you might think that that’s my aim. I assure you, however, that it’s not. Other than standing by Genesis 1:1, I’ve, up until recently, kept a very open mind as to old earth vs. young earth, “intelligent design” and the like. We’ve been schooling for 5 years, and this coming one, our sixth, is the first year that I’m specifically seeking out Christian science curriculum. There is a LOT to be said for study that uses “normal”, mainstream evolutionary books and using their words as a basis for further study; we’ve been doing that, and will, largely, continue to do that. AND, I don’t want to fall into the trap of simply saying, “Christianity is great and evolution is bad.” However, one gets weary of the debate, and for at least this one year of geology study, I’d like a curriculum that I don’t have to argue with, or explain away to my kids. I want to create a groundwork of knowledge that we can fall back upon in our studies further downt the road. I want to have full hold of the truth — as best as I can find it — and keep that as our anchor, so that we’re not tossed into doubt by the continual assailing against faith+science that is so common in our American culture. I would like a curriculum that uses a) solid scientific work and b) unabashed Christianity. The two *ARE*, or at least can be, compatible.

  14. Continuing… (pant, pant)

    RCG/Shellie (in response to #7) ~ The geology book you mentioned turns out to be the same one Mrs. Nicklebee mentioned, above! I had seen the book in my searches, but w/o enough info on it, I was unsure if it would fit the bill. But, with the description on Timberdoodle, it sounds like that might be a good choice for us.

    Sheesh. I’m trying to avoid writing my own lesson plans, but it’s proving difficult to find the right curric, I may just as well do that!!!

    … I think you and I may differ a wee bit on our educational goals. I *strongly* believe that it’s part of the basic job of a Christian family to promote Christianity, and to teach our children the ways in which to walk. However, I don’t want my teaching material to be rah-rah Christian but so-so academic. I was *raised* that way, and that is a disappointment to me. Now, I know you, I know what you’re teaching your kids, I know they’re doing well, so I’m not suggesting you’re giving your kids a so-so eductation. But… it’s my contention that if a *family* is Christian, and truly living a Christian life, then Christian math, Christian spelling, Christian spelling, etc. becomes overkill.

    I looked up Rainbow. Why-oh-why am I so shallow that my judgement of the author’s apparent dorkness tempts me to judge the program??? 😛 Eek. OTOH, I really like their stated criteria on the “about” page: http://www.beginningspublishing.com/aboutus.html But, it’s probably a bit advanced for us right now.

    WTM doesn’t “do” science, and their links page is just a little to long for me to sift through right now. I did click a few and they weren’t just right. If I weren’t so bent on earth science, there would be LOTS of possibilities on their links page. ~sigh~

  15. #9/Dystopos/John ~ I must say that I get a little twerked when, in my studies to decide between the OEC/YEC stances, someone states, “Well, you obviously aren’t a Christian if you believe ____ .” (Filling in the blank with whatever is the opposite of their beliefs.) And, frankly, I have seen this more among the YECs than the OECs. THIS, to me, seems dishonest, trying to guilt someone into agreement. So, I can understand what you say about honesty (unless your point is something else entirely, and I’m misunderstanding you). However, I would bet that you’ve done little reading in support of YEC theories. I found myself — even though I’m devoutly Christian — doubting that YECs, though I *wanted* to believe them, could *really* put forth anything convincing. I have — I think — changed my mind, after doing some reading. I would be interested to hear back from you on the subject after you’ve done some more reading.

    About the author of lies…. the boys and I had a discussion on this, this morning, as we continue to read through Grand Canyon: A Different View. One author was describing how theories of the Grand Canyon’s carving have had to change over time, from a simple explanation of the Colorado carving out the Canyon over 70 million years to the idea of “stream capture” which would have the river flowing east and north, and ultimately back into its current west/southernly direction.

    While YEC thought has changed very little over time: “In the beginning, God created…” Evolutionary thought has changed dramatically, as new evidences rise which shatter the older evolutionary “truths” and the new theories become more and more and more complex and require more and more time, pushing the age of the universe back more and more millions of years. It came to me that it’s like a lie: in order to cover your first lie, you create a second, which is probably more derived and complex than the first, which, in turn, leads to more and more obfuscation and more and more lies. … Now, I have told my boys that no one’s going to know for certain about this YEC/OEC debate until we stand before Him and truth is fully revealed, and in light of His glory, the debate will likely seem seem trivial. However, having that little “lies on top of lies” revelation was just one more thing where, to me, the natural spoke of the invisible — one more teensy “evidence” that YEC is likely correct.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Now, Shellie & John (and everyone else), you’re free to get back to your JOGs. 😛 Do chime back in, if you get the chance.

  16. What, no OEC? (Just kidding…)

  17. john natterstad

    OEC mostly see evidence of “the heaven and the earth” in this world though a reputable source (Peter) tells us it perished.
    NEC see design and attribute it to “only God can make a tree” creation of everything.
    1. Start, and limit, Genesis 1 from an existing orbiting mass from which our planets show catastrophic loss of order.
    2. Calculate conserved orbital angular momentum.
    3. Find Saturn and Neptune derivative of great lights and Uranus as the original earth.
    4. Planet Earth core was a lesser light.
    5. Creation over the subsequent 4.5 Billion years shows no carryover from the Genesis 1 creation by God.
    Both OEC and NEC are accommodated.

  1. Pingback: The Great Divide, Jr. Or, where I stand on the OEC/YEC debate « Only Sometimes Clever

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