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Not in love with Harcourt

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Not in love with Harcourt
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Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 2

Post Not in love with Harcourt Reply with quote
When choosing my 1st grade son's science text, I found a previous discussion comparing Science and God's World and Harcourt very helpful. I don't think I made the wrong choice between the two recommended resources. Harcourt sounded like it has much more "substance" compared with the other text. I was just wondering if I am the only one who is not completely satisfied with Harcourt? Is there something wrong with me?

I have tried to give it a little time and I found the discussion about the "slow start" of the 2nd grade text informative. I just don't know if I (or my son) can mosey along through another year and a half of this book. If there is anyone out there who can relate, please tell me what you have done. Is there another text you prefer? Do you just supplement from the library? Take lots of field trips? I would appreciate any feedback.
Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:01 pm View user's profile Send private message
Megan Lengyel

Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 2443
Location: Alpharetta, GA; formerly, Napa, CA; originally St. Louis, MO

Post Reply with quote
To each his own, for certain! Is your main complain that there isn't enough substance to the text itself? Or is it the presentation style of the material? when you said "mosey" along... to me that sounds like the pace is just absolutely too slow for you and your child. We have a lot of students in the 1st/2nd grade who do the course in 1 year b/c it is a very slow pace and they are more advanced readers. Science, Geography, and History are considered true "extras" at this stage in a students academics, so for a student that is advanced and can handle a full load of subjects can find the pace of some of the "extra" subjects too slow. If you'd prefer not to double up, then you could supplement with the workbooks and additional materials... books from the library, field trips, experiments! Have your child choose a topic he likes and investigate it more fully via these venues.

I hope that others can give you some feedback on their experience too.

Megan Lengyel
Kolbe Academy Home School
Online Academy Director
Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:27 pm View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Megan Lengyel

Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 2443
Location: Alpharetta, GA; formerly, Napa, CA; originally St. Louis, MO

Post Reply with quote
Just a few more ideas for supplementing:

Magic School House books (I loved these as a kid! Look for the topical index... science obviously)
Additional "easy" experiment books like Dianne Muth's Experiments
Supplementing with Science and Living in God's World (it's like a science "reader")

Megan Lengyel
Kolbe Academy Home School
Online Academy Director
Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:49 pm View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 236
Location: missouri

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I have used the 2nd grade book, 6th grade book and have the 4th grade book to use in the future. I like the 6th grade book. I find the 2nd grade book boring and too politically, eviromentally correct- I find it irksome. It sounds like you are doing 1st grade this year? Perhaps you can finish the text this year and try someting different next year. If your student loves science and finds this text way too easy, then maybe he would enjoy Behold and See 3 available from CHC. It is a modern, Catholic science text with lots of good descriptions and practicle experiments. It is a 3rd grade text, but you could do it in 2nd and then do the red Harcourt in 3-4 as it seems to have much more substance. If you are looking for an even more hands on science that incorporates lab type reports check out NOEO science. It is expensive which is why we have not tried it yet, but I really like the looks of it.
Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:34 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 03 Dec 2007
Posts: 92

Post Reply with quote
We supplement science with homeschool classes at our local science museum. You might check around to see if there are resources like this in your area. We do have to drive a bit but the kids love it.
Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:23 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 2

Post Reply with quote
Thank you everyone for the feedback! Tons of good suggestions. I think we will finish up this year and check out the CHC book... I do like the material we have gotten from them in the past and I feel good about the recommendation. Also, we need to routinely check out the Magic School House books. Megan, you are right on! They are wonderful and when we have brought them home in the past, Simeon has enjoyed them so much.

Momgineer, thank you for your frankness. You put some verbage to my feelings. I wasn't very clear regarding my complaints in my initial post. I didn't want to "rip" on a text that has been a wonderful resource to so many. In addition, I have been so pleased with all my other Kolbe material. One book that stands out in my mind is the religion text, Our Heavenly Father. I adore everything about that book!

We really like the geography book too. It is an extra (like science) and does move slowly but it is not painfully boring.... ( ie. one concept spread over eight pages festooned with cheesy photos, asking the same question five different ways and dumb "investigations.") We had a real stinker last week and that is what brought me out of the shadows and onto the forum.

I have to add that we had an A+ investigation today ala Harcourt (the best one by a mile) and with all your encouragement and suggestions, I know we will have a great year in science! Thanks again!
Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:31 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 05 Oct 2006
Posts: 114
Location: Alabama

Post Harcourt books Reply with quote
You are not the only one who does not like Harcourt all that much. My biggest complaint with modern, science textbooks is that they overwhelm you with detail and it is so full of things that it makes it difficult for the child, even the bright and reasonably scientific bent child, to grasp science concepts. They do not handle real things or get a big picture view of what it is all about or why it might be relevant. I am not the only one to make this complaint. My husband gets IEEE PHysics magazines and I have seen several articles discussing science education. These professors are complaining about top of the class students arriving for engineering classes and not really knowing basic things in a real way, though they can spout off all the terms and definitions. The way we are teaching science is failing our children. My husband was brought up where if things broke, he inherited them and could keep them if he could fix them. He repaired radios, TVs, and all kinds of things as a young kid. He built his own stereo, speakers and amplifier - some from heathkits that are unfortunately no longer available.

Honestly, we found that textbooks did not work well at all with our children's learning styles. While we did not use the Harcourt 1st grade text and I cannot speak about that particular text, I will say that we used the CHC Behold and See with several ages including 1st grade and a younger child joined in for all the experiments. It was a great, early introduction to science in a way that helped this very non-science mom. With science, I have found with my children that the simpler the original science concept is introduced, the better able they are to grasp the concept and then pursue in greater depth according to their age. My 11 yo was introduced to geology with a K introduction. He could grasp the basic idea and then was off into the backyard to see if he could id various rocks and minerals. He didn't stay at K knowledge, but used the Earth Science (Kolbe 7th grade text) as one of many references to search out answers for himself. Now, mom is no help for answering questions, so on this one it helped that he had a mentor to ask when he got stumped. With engineering, physics and such, my dh is available. Chemistry and biology seem to be the 2 sciences where we locally have knowledge gaps and cannot answer questions in a timely enough way. Still our 11 yo used the easiest level 4Real Chemistry book, a periodic table and his interest in things going boom, to figure out a large amount of chemistry on his own. Now we just need to find someone to pull a few loose ends together for him and someone to help me explain it to my older two children who started with the physical science text and are lost in the weeds.

We have found that for elementary science, our best bet has been to use real books, and real experiments (most have been child generated, but my science fan also went through bookoodles of experiment books - even the ones that never seemed to work for me and he experimented with those experiments until he figured out how to make them work or which piece of info was left out or misleading - or they no longer constitute some of the standard materials the same way so hairspray no longer has the flammibility it once did - or he extrapolated from an experiment wondering if you could get a bigger or more realistic looking volcano with other ingredients in the household, kinds of things. The best year was the year we had a science fan presenting topics to all our children at a hands on at about K level and then had various texts, books, library books and resources as references for them to research further. I also used some freebie 3 part cards for vocabulary - Montessori style. Our best investment, science wise, have been science books like the Jim Arnosky books and homescience tools kits on various topics and an electronics snap circuit kit and pulling apart real things to see how they work (and or trying to fix them) and doing real work in the house (like fixing leaky toilets and trouble shooting electrical problems with dh).

I am totally not a science person so I cannot create presentations on my own. The texts, since I have them, provide a general scope and sequence and a reminder of vocabulary that might be interesting or important to use. I used chapter heading as outlines of books to look for and experiment kits to purchase from science catelogues.

We got a wonderful handout from a local homeschool mom with specific references and recommendations. Wildflowers and Marbles blog has some great science ideas as does (click on Macbeth's name and go to her science recommendations of good, living books for different topics).

My children who hate science and won't touch it are the ones who used texts. The one who is working way above grade level in science is the one whose first exposure to a science text (used like a science text) is this year at 11. He used texts before as reference books, that is it. My child has learned way more about botany than we ever could have imagined from creating a garden - but he doesn't just plant a few plants. He researched every single aspect of it from soil composition and nutrition needs, to plant reproduction. You learn a lot of science vocabulary along the way - and when it is all done, he actually knows what he is talking about.

My textbook science folks - some simply broke down, decided they were dumb and won't touch another science course as long as they live (done with her core college course) and managed to get through by creating stories (totally unrelated to any concept) using mnemonics and vocabulary. She managed good test scores but she will never remember any of those terms.

I'm trying to make sure the rest don't get quite that far along on the textbook mode. We have hired two very hands on tutors ot work one on one with the next two children (the children are trading working for the tutoring, so my son will be doing yard work and weeding the garden for his tutor in exchange for help and my daughter is doing house chores, dishes and such for her tutor).

My 11 yo, so far I can help him because all his questions seem to be math related (he is doing the high school physical science text by his request) and his knowledge level is already advanced for his age so on the priority scale, he continue to be self-taught for another year or two. I'll probably be looking into findind him a mentor from the University chemical engineering department in the near future. The 9 yo and the K are required to choose science several days per week - but they can work with any of the hands on materials I have set up and they work alongside the 11 yo learning from him. They do not use any textbooks at this point but we have lots of kits and various books (Arnosky, library books, Crinkleroot, experiment books and hands on kits). I try to put out differing kits each year. This years focus were the topics in the Physical science text. Next year, I'll have more Biology and botany type materials out. Another year it will be earth science topics. I use whatever textbooks I have access to in terms of checking the big topics covered and make sure I rotate materials through these various sciences year to year. I don't care whether or not something is on a particular scope and sequence from year to year. It is cheaper and more effective for me to let the oldest's topics drive the what we have available. I purchase the kits that have age ranges from 3rd grade - 12th grade and have found the easier reading material that is designed for my younger ones are the very materials that help me figure out what in the world these seemingly "Greek" science textbooks are trying to say - or at least begin to know there are some basic pieces of info left out of the older texts.

Just my experience. Hope it helps you some or gives you confidence to do whatever you need to do.

Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:45 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 17 May 2011
Posts: 9

Post Science Reply with quote
We are using the "Exploring Creation" series through Apologia. I actually found the books I needed on Amazon for a bit less. They're full of substance, clear in what is needed for experiements/investigations, and can be altered to any age level. They also have a coordinating notebook to use with the book. We are actually using the Zoology 1 book this summer with another family. All children combined range from K-7th grade. It should be an interesting experience! Very Happy
Mon May 23, 2011 10:43 am View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 11 Sep 2010
Posts: 7

Post Don't Like Hartcourt Reply with quote
This was our first year of homeschooling. I ordered 4th and 5th grade Hartcourt - my kids were already familiar with them since their school used them. But I just couldn't do it - too much of everything. The chapters were too colorful, too busy, too long, and distracting. I had a hard time trying to concentrate, kids were constantly fliping pages back and forth. I searched for something else and found a good match for my 4th grader with CHC Behold and See. For my 5th grader I found Concepts adn Challenges in Life Science (2nd edition) - this series is used by MODG. Wonderful book, easy to teach and read. But don't be fooled because it is easy - it contains all that's needed- my older son who was doing high school Biology sometimes looked into this book just to find clearer explanation (and illustrations). I'm planing to use Earth Science from the same series for both of my sons this year. Also, MODG advises that newer versions of these books are not as good as the second edition.
Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:39 am View user's profile Send private message
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