Living Books For High School Science - Charlotte Mason Style
Living ideas are derived only from living minds.
Homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason style is marked by a use of good living books. Living books are books that are written by someone who has a passion or interest in the subject, usually in a conversational or narrative style. You can read more about this at Simple Charlotte Mason.
As a homeschooling mom of teenage boys, I have tried to include living books in every science course we have covered. They draw interest and excitement to the topics we offer in our science curriculum. A good living book is worth its weight in gold and can give even the most reluctant student a reason for digging deeper into various aspects of science.
"A book may be long or short, old or new, easy or hard, written by a great man or a lesser man, and yet be the living book which finds its way to the mind of a young reader."
CM Volume 3
Living Books in High School
How To Use the Living Books in Your Science Courses
Most of us feel more comfortable using a text as the foundation of our high school science courses. This does not mean that we need to limit our assignments to the text. Why not add in a few living books to supplement your learning? We have found that leaving one day open during the week for a living book and follow-up narration is just the balancing feature we needed in our high school science.
Tips for Offering Living Books in High School Science
1. Assign a living book each week.
2. Allow for some kind of narration - oral, written (summary on a ***notebook page works well), project, additional research
3. Look for ways to connect the text to your living books selections by pulling in biographies of scientists or explorers.
4. Create interest in a topic by drawing connects between the text and your nature study.
5. When on field trips, look in the bookstore at the museum, science center, nature center, planetarium, or state/national park for living books you can include in your science courses.
Goals for Real Learning in Science
*Offer excellent materials.
*Make them ask questions.
*Point them to answers when needed.
*Provide opportunities for exploring.
*Have them respond in some way.
***You can read more about our Notebooking in High School here on Squidoo.
Inspiration Vs. Information
Quotes From Charlotte Mason
"It will be the teacher's aim to create in his pupils a desire for knowledge, and consequently a love of reading, and to cultivate in them, by a proper selection of lessons, the pleasure which reading may be made to yield."
"They learn what to observe, and make discoveries for themselves, original so far as they are concerned. They are put in the right attitude of mind for scientific observations and deductions, and their keen interest is awakened."
Biology With Field Guides
Taking the information from a text and then going outside to observe your subjects brings the study to a new level. If you take the time to use a field guide, now you have real knowledge about the real world.
Living Books for High School Biology
There are so many wonderful books and biographies that you can choose from in the area of biology.
Biographies: Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Rachel Carson, Anna Botsford-Comstock, George Washington Carver, John Muir, Jacques Cousteau.
Other interesting topics: Lewis and Clark Expedition, Arctic Exploration, Marco Polo
Field Guides for All Subjects are an absolute MUST: Trees, Wildflowers, Birds, Mammals, Insects, Mushrooms
The flipside of the Origin of Species.
Short accounts of a range of scientists.
We used simple straight forward biographies as jumping off spots for more research.
Living Books for High School Chemistry
These books can all be used for narration exercises. My boys kept a written summary of each of the books on notebook pages.
We would learn about 2 or 3 elements a week by reading the book, researching more on their website, and then completing a notebook page for each element.
This is a fascinating look at the periodic table. All of us in our family have ended up getting caught up in reading this book. Fantastic writing.
My boys love the "dangerous" side of chemistry. I love that it ties in chemistry and nature study.
This one you might want to preview. I did not like it as much as some people do but my boys enjoyed reading it and narrating back to me at our weekly discussions.
This is much more than a lab idea book. There is a narrative chapter and then a demonstration of the concept that uses fairly easy to find materials. Great supplement to any chemistry course you are completing.
Physics Applied - Building Airplane Models - Design and Build
Put all those physics concepts to work with hobbies that support their learning.
Moon Gazing on the Roof
Spending time outside using a star map and camera is a natural step after reading and researching.
Living Books for Human Anatomy
Human anatomy is a fascinating look at our own bodies. Dry textbooks can provide information in an organized way but a good living book will give the student something to think about and to observe in their own body. We have used the following books as the compement to our text.
My son loves the artwork and the text narrative in this book. Like all David Macaulay books, it is full of interesting facts that are shared in an enjoyable way. My son is busy copying some of the illustrations into his anatomy notebook with colored pencils....all inspired by this book.
Another great resource for learning to draw in a science notebook. Drawn from Leonardo's personal notebooks!
More like a text than any of the other books but my son has devoured the stories in this book. We are skipping the questions and used the table of contents as a jumping off spot for further research and narration.
Mr. Fisher says, 'There are real books, and there are textbooks.' The day is soon coming when everyone will realize that textbooks have no educational value. We hardly ever use textbooks in our Parents Union Schools. Whenever possible, we use books that spark the imagination and have a touch of originality. These are the differences between a real book and a text book.
Charlotte Mason, Volume 6
- High School Science and Charlotte Mason
More on our biology course
- Charlotte Mason Gave Our Homeschool Wings
Reflecting on CM's methods in our homeschool.
- Planning Astronomy
My process of finding living books for astronomy.
- Homeschool Science Things I Would Have Done Differently
Five things I would have done differently if I could start over with science.
Living Books Links
Dig a little deeper into the idea of using living books in your homeschooling.