Thursday, July 11, 2019

Reflections on Year 8 Science with Sabbath Mood Homeschool...

Last week, I reviewed RileyAnn's Year 9 Science, where she used Ambleside Online. Today, I want to share Ruben's Year 8 Science and his use of Sabbath Mood Homeschool guides, combined with a couple AO books. First, a look at the books and resources and how I scheduled them....

Term 1

The Planets by Dava Sobel
SMH Astronomy - Form 3-4

Term 2

Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher - AO Year 7
SMH Physics - Form 3-4

Term 3

Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather by Eric Sloane
SMH Weather - Form 3-4

All Year

The Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp - AO Year 7

I chose the above term books and resources based on exposure and interest. What I mean by exposure is, Ruben didn't have much in the way of formal science in the areas of Astronomy, Physics, and Weather in the past so I wanted him to gain some base knowledge before high school. In addition, I read aloud The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson in our Morning Time, which is an AO Year 6 Science/Natural History book. I thought those three term topics, along with a study of the sea, would bode well for a general Earth Science course.

In addition, Ruben is extremely mechanical, having a natural bent toward physics and engineering. He is also interested in meteorology and the weather so I wanted to somehow tie those interests together. I feel the combination of books and resources we used this year accomplished that goal. On the other hand, in an effort not to be off balance with biology or a life science, I added The Lay of the Land, which Riley really enjoyed last year. Sharp was an American author, professor, and Methodist Episcopal minister, who wrote books about native birds and small animals. He was a naturalist of sorts, who wrote The Lay of the Land in 1908 about a variety of woodland critters and birds, of which, Ruben is familiar due to his passion for the outdoors.

Overall, Ruben had a very rich year of science. We/he enjoyed all the books with the exception of The Planets by Sobel, which I cannot recommend in good faith for a few reasons. I actually ended up stopping it and subbing out part way through the term. Instead, we used a combination of Album of Astronomy by Thomas McGowan and The New Astronomy Book by Danny Faulkner, published by Master Books, both of which I had on the shelf. We didn't read either from cover to cover, but rather pulled information that matched the notebook assignments and experiments in the Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide. McGowan's book does have some evolutionary content, but Faulkner's book is from a creationist perspective and the combination afforded a nice balance.

In my humble opinion, Secrets of the Universe is a MUST READ for middle or early high school or anyone looking to gain knowledge of physics. It's a wonderful introduction. Fleisher's writing is easily accessible and engaging. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for some time, making prices for the original book ridiculous. Fortunately, it has recently been reprinted by Living Book Press in 5 separate books. The Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide is not necessary as Ambleside Online offers a reading schedule in their Year 7 curriculum. However, I wanted a guide to add a bit more to Ruben's study. It gave him notebook suggestions, links to various websites for further study, discussion prompts, and experiments, which he read through, but didn't perform.

Ruben's favorite science book of the year was Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather. Sloane's writing is interesting and his illustrations are amazing! RileyAnn also enjoyed Eric Sloane's Weather Book when she read it as part of her AO Science study in 8th grade. In addition, we read Diary of an Early American Boy by Sloane several years ago as part of Sonlight. Apparently, Sloane wrote a series of six weather books over his life. We will most likely be adding others to our future science studies.

The Sabbath Mood Homeschool study guides include 33 lessons that you can either schedule three times a week for 11 weeks, followed by a 12th week of exams, which is what we did. Or, you could schedule a lesson once a week for an entire school year, breaking for exams at the end of each term. The exams are included in the study guide. Again, they are not necessary to the books. You could simply read and narrate or notebook on your own. However, they were easy enough to follow and I liked having them as a jumping off point. I appreciate the advance work Nicole William's did for me.

Basically, Ruben followed the guides by doing a different lesson Monday through Wednesday. Then he read a chapter from The Lay of the Land on Thursday. He studied a different book each term as noted above. After his reading, he created one notebook page each week as part of his written narration. As you may know, Ruben is dyslexic and struggles with writing. Often times, I would help him pick out a main idea to summarize after the reading or assign him a copywork passage from the reading to accompany his illustration. Here are samples....


  1. Hi Melissa, I enjoy reading your posts! I am considering purchasing the Sabbath Mood Homeschool science guide for form 3 this year which uses The Mystery of the Periodic Table. Do you feel the guides are helpful? or do you think reading and narrating are enough. I will be doing this guide with an 11 year old. Thanks!

    1. Excellent question Rebecca! I really feel you could go either way....which is not a very helpful answer. Ambleside Online schedules The Mystery of the Periodic Table in Year 6, so you could just use their schedule, read, and narrate. However, if you want added discussion prompts, notebook ideas, and experiments, then SMH would be a great supplement. Also, the SMH guide allows you to pass learning off to the student because the older form guides are written to the student, allowing you to be more hands off. Also, the use of the guide aids in preventing decision fatigue because when times get rough, you can just do the next thing. Hope that gives some food for thought. Thanks for reading!

  2. Thank you Melissa! You have been helpful and I have decided to get the guide.

  3. You stated you couldn't recommend The Planets by Sobel for a few reasons but didn't elaborate. Can you fill us in on the reasons? I've read some amazon reviews so I know it's not a "scientific" book but overall the reviews were still positive. Wondering why you stopped. Thanks so much!!

    1. We had a hard time deciphering between fact and fiction. I no longer have the book on hand so I hesitate to quote because I don't have the exact language, but from my recollection, as the author was wavering between fantasy and fact, she made mention of the gravitational pull on her monthly feminine cycle. I was reading the book aloud to my 13 year old son and it felt like it was way too much information. He was disgusted and overwhelmed and didn't understand the relevancy. The book also had evolutionary content, which may not be offensive to some. Overall, regardless of young/old earth or male/female reader, it was hard to discern truth from fantasy. That would be my biggest complaint. As I said, I no longer have the book and can't give specifics, sorry.

      For what it's worth, we did try another book by the same author, Longitude, and didn't care for it either. We ended up getting the movie version and really loving the story. My daughter also read Galileo's Daughter by Sobel and didn't like it. I'm thinking maybe we just don't enjoy Sobel's style of writing, but that doesn't mean it's not for everyone. :)

  4. Thanks so much for the info. I'm hoping to go through AO7's books today (I checked out what I could from the library) so I can see if it would be a good fit for us. We've enjoyed AO6 (worth mods) and AO3. My 12yo really likes science, specifically biology & ornithology, so I want to make sure she looks forward to science :) Thanks again for taking the time to do these posts and then to answer my question!

    1. You're welcome! My daughter loved AO 7 & 8 Science!! I have used some of the books for my son too and he enjoyed them as well. He's just a different type of learner so I didn't use things as written. If you hope to continue with living books for science through high school, I would encourage you to continue to pursue the AO selections, as well as Sabbath Mood Homeschool, and Guest Hollow. My daughter is taking a more traditional textbook approach to science this year in 10th grade biology, but we are still using living books for chemistry and physics. I'll be posting her schedule for the year soon! My 9th grade son has continued the living book approach and will most likely not use traditional textbooks for science.

  5. Did you get a microscope and all the apparatus to go with "Adventures with a Microscope?" (Listed at the front of the book) I look forward to hearing about your high school experiences and what you chose and why and how it worked out. Out of curiosity, why textbook for biology but not for physics and chemistry? Thanks again

    1. We do have a microscope, however, my daughter did not use it with Adventures... She and my son are using it this year for biology though.

      "Why textbook for biology but not for physics and chemistry?"....good question!! Again, I don't have a great answer, other than I was following AO's high school science recommendations and they suggested a biology text, but I already owned several biology textbooks so didn't want to buy another (The Riot and the Dance is highly recommended on the AO forums.) I don't know if we'll use a physics and chemistry text in years 11 and 12 or not. I haven't decided yet. It depends what I find and whether my daughter decides on a career/college path, although I'm not too concerned with teaching to any else's standards. My older graduated daughter started with Apologia Chemistry in 11th grade, but struggled with the math so I ended up building my own chemistry course from living books. My current 10th grader has already read many of those living books so maybe we'll switch to a text or maybe I'll just add more living books. I will research and give further consideration to AO and Guest Hollow.

      I just posted my daughter's Year 10 2019-2020 curriculum list today. If you've been reading a while, you may notice that we're fairly eclectic. I look at many different schedules and programs, then build my own thing based on my child's learning style and interests. I feel that's one of the benefits of homeschooling. Also, we have been blessed with a large personal library and we love to read our books so I try to incorporate as many as possible.