Last semester, we started our Science co-op and used Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) as a guide. Because I was the only Montessori mom, and most of the kids were still 5, we ended up doing some lessons like the Long Black Strip from my album, and then more primary level activities like exploring what solids, liquids, and gas is and The Earth’s Rotation
However, by Spring semester, most of the children turned 6. As I was planning our spring curriculum, and contemplating how I keep referring back to the earth’s history for certain lessons, I realized that to reset our Science curriculum, we really need to start from the beginning with the First Great Lesson.
The First Great Lesson is why I like the Montessori science curriculum and really also underlines the philosophy of BFSU. It basically tells the story of the earth’s creation from the Big Bang onward. There are 6 great lessons in all. All of these serves to tie your science curriculum together so that you’re not just studying individual topics. Instead you realize that all scientific knowledge is inter-connected. Children of the Universe is a really great book that talks about all 6 Great Lessons and how/why you present them.
BFSU: D5 – Time and the Earth’s Turning Montessori: Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Astronomy – Constellations
Someone asked in a FB group a few weeks ago how our BFSU curriculum was going. That comment finally spurred me into spending a day mapping the BFSU curriculum into Montessori curriculum. I found out that my Montessori album covers some topics in the BFSU middle school curriculum. But there are some topics covered is BFSU that are not in my Montessori album.
I was trying to figure out our semester’s curriculum after the First Great Lesson coming up next week. For this week, I thought we’ll cover constellations since we’ve already done planets at home. Totally random topic.
But in doing my research, I learned that the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians used the stars to tell time! This just happens to fit what we’re studying next week in Chapter 7 of Story of the World and last week’s co-op topic on Clocks and Time!
Someone once told me that the Montessori Science curriculum is the foundation for elementary. As in, children learn all the other subjects off of science. It basically covers from the Big Bang all the way to all things human. It’s a vast curriculum. One where you are not expected to cover everything in the albums by 6th grade.
I have 2 albums for science: geography and biology. Biology covers zoology (animals) and botany (plants). Geography in a way covers everything else: astronomy, geology, physical geography, chemistry, water, wind, economics, etc. You are essentially studying the earth and all the fields related to it. One thing they keep telling us during training is: Don’t follow the album sequence in presentation. However, even many schools do this. They may decide to do the section on Wind, Water, or human anatomy in upper elementary, and biology in lower elementary.
Especially with homeschooling, I see the varied interests and various questions the children ask and it seems obvious to follow their interests. However with such a vast curriculum it is hard to know where to start. I was really to happy to come across the recommendation of a series of books from What Did We Do All Day. The books are called Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. For his K-2 book, he divided scientific knowledge into 4 sections, Nature of Matter (chemistry and the like), Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth Science. What I like about the book are:
It follows my Montessori curriculum. I have only looked closely at the beginning presentations and it’s basically the same order as what we present in the primary albums. And the contents are mostly the same as well.
But it is WAY more in depth. The author lists recommended books, how many minutes it takes to present, a guide on how to teach science, follow up activities, etc.
In a way, Physical Science is modern science so was not included in our training. So it’s not in our album.
The BEST part is the 2 page chart on the sequence of presentation. He tells you exactly the prerequisites for each presentations, and sometimes those presentations require other presentations from other sections.
Last year, Thumper watched a lot of Magic Schoolbus on Netflix and started sprouting scientific facts. And for awhile I was very confused and wondered, “Why can’t we just watch a lot of TV to learn science?” I had to have a talk with my fellow homeschooling friend to understand it’s important for the child to also experience science. I also realized the other important thing is to see how everything is connected. Biology is connected to chemistry is connected to earth science, etc. They’re not specific unit subjects to study. Scientific knowledge, really all knowledge, is not about memorizing little facts but seeing the connections between facts. And the Montessori curriculum provides a framework through its Great Lessons in tying these things together. Similarly I feel like this author understands this by that 2 page chart on presentation sequence. He’s showing me what I need to know in one subject in order to learn about another subject. Best of all, he’s helping me make sense of my albums. It’s my one frustration, that there’s no scope and sequence in my album.