Bookshark Literature-Based Science Curriculum for Your Homeschool
When this gigantic box of curriculum from BookShark arrived at my house, I opened it at the kitchen table in front of my kids. They squealed, grabbed books and disappeared to the nether regions of the house before I could stop them.
I gave them a few minutes to browse through the books before gathering them back up (I didn’t want them lost before we even had a chance to use them). Being forbidden fruit just made them all the more enticing!
We’ve used literature-based history curriculum for years extremely effectively. We have a holy ton of early-grade science readers, which my children love. But until now I did not realize that an actual, entire, comprehensive, literature-based science curriculum even existed. I would have jumped on board earlier!
I love all things literature-based because my bibliophile children devour them without me having to say a word. In fact, the only subject I teach from a textbook is math, and that involves nagging.
As delightful as stacks of science readers are, they are also disorganized (one day we learn about penguins and the next we learn about Earthquakes), sporadic and lacked the experimentation that encourages children to develop scientific thinking and reasoning and a good understanding of the scientific method.
I’ve used various science kits to help my children develop those skills, and we have greatly enjoyed those kits, but I always wished they had accompanying readers. BookShark Science has created exactly what I always wanted! They’ve taken excellent literature and turned it into a thorough, standards-based curriculum, complete with a huge box of science supplies for experiments! I am beyond thrilled!
(I was compensated for my time, but all of the opinions contained within are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosures for more information.)
What does “standards-based” mean?
The only reason I know what standards-based means is that I started a charter school for homeschoolers (specifically my own high-schoolers) to take advantage of early college options, like concurrent enrollment and AP classes. I researched the bejeebers out of educational terminology and ideas in order to write that charter and get it approved.
I figure I’m not the only homeschool mom in existence who had to look up standards-based, scope and sequence and other terminology, so I thought I’d share. An educational standard is a written description of what students are expected to know by a certain point.
Standards-based curriculum uses pre-determined standards to plan the scope and sequence of instruction, as well as the activities and materials that will be used to achieve the goals of each standard. Click here to find the scope & sequence of BookShark science levels. BookShark Science is based on Next Generation Science Standards and not common core. Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
As a homeschooler, you get to determine your own learning timetables based on your children’s abilities and interests. You are free to ignore the lists of things your child should learn in a particular grade. But it’s still helpful to use standards-based curriculum like BookShark to ensure that your children’s learning is organized effectively and efficiently and that it covers all of the aspects of the thing you want to study.
What Does BookShark Science Curriculum Include?
Everything. Okay, almost everything. They couldn’t exactly include perishable items you likely have on hand in your fridge, like potatoes. When you do need something perishable, it’s listed in the weekly schedules a week ahead of when you’ll need it so you don’t have to find all the dreadful shoes and load up the car to run to the hobby store for an obscure, last minute item.
All of the literature you’ll need is included, along with the supplies you’ll need for your experiments, a teacher’s manual, a big book of experiments and a sheaf of printed lab reports for your student. The photo on the left is the stack of materials included in your purchase. The teacher’s manual is loose-leaf for you to put inside a binder (not included). The photo on the right is the contents of the ‘Discover and Do’ Science Supplies Kit.
How Do We Use BookShark Science Curriculum?
I’ve been homeschooling long enough that I pretty much live off-script. BookShark does provide an excellent Teacher’s Manual with each level of their BookShark science curriculum. It divides the materials up into 36 weeks each with a 4-day schedule of reading assignments and experiments.
The weekly schedule outlines learning objectives, what should be completed each day, the supplies you’ll need, etc…. It’s very well laid out and easy to follow in its daily format, but we don’t use it that way. Our daily schedule is too full, so we only get out science a few times each month.
Math is the only subject we complete daily, plus my kids read voraciously and I carefully guide their selections. (The most drastic and hated punishment in our home is to ground kids from books.)
Science happens only once or twice per month, but when it happens it really happens. My kids will become so thoroughly engrossed in whatever they’re learning that they complete a month’s worth of reading, work and experiments over the course of a day or two to the exclusion of all else (including eating because we can’t find the table — joking).
BookShark Science works perfectly this way. It’s so hands-on, with colorful, interesting worksheets, fascinating experiments and such fabulous literature that it holds my children’s attention until I force them to put it away because we need the kitchen back. At the rate they’re going, I won’t be surprised if they complete the entire year by Halloween!
Is BookShark Science Family Friendly?
One of the reasons I love literature-based curriculum is that I never have to nag! I merely turned my kids into literature junkies and I provide their drug of choice. Nagging is the pits!
You know what else is the pits? Having to spend your entire day at the kitchen table working individually with each your children when you have a large family.
I have eight kids. It would take every waking minute if I had to walk each of them, individually, through five or more subjects every day! Homeschooling family style really helps YOU to maximize your time and efforts.
So I don’t buy curriculum unless we can use it family style, meaning all of my kids from early-elementary through middle-school (my high-schoolers do their own thing) can learn the same thing at the same time, all around the kitchen table, and each take away significant learning and curiosity on their own level.
BookShark Science levels each span a three-year age range, but I feel like they can easily be expanded beyond the suggested age range. When you choose a BookShark Science level, just make sure the subject matter is interesting to all of your children instead of trying to keep things on a certain grade level.
If you plan to use BookShark Science curriculum with multiple kiddos, you will need to make copies of the lab reports and student activity sheets, which is not a problem because they come loose-leaf and 3-hole punched for you to place in a binder, so they’re easy to run through the printer.
Is BookShark Science Independent or Parent Led?
BookShark science is definitely better when led by a parent, but parental involvement can be minimal when you need it to be. Like I said, I can only give our homeschool an hour or two of my undivided attention each morning, and the majority of that is devoted to math.
Since we study science in large chunks of time once or twice a month, I do try to devote at least an afternoon to helping my kids with the experiments. The kit we are using (level E) doesn’t contain anything toxic or dangerous, but things just run more smoothly when I’m present. We read some of the books aloud together and my kids read others independently, prior to completing the activity sheets and then the experiments.
If you need your child’s studies to be more independent, BookShark also offers a virtual version. BookShark Virtual is an online platform that allows students to access their reading schedules, view Story Maps, take assessments, and receive instant auto-grading results. Parents can track their children’s work, customize assessments, and message students directly from the app.
The best way to understand BookShark Virtual is to try it yourself. The first three weeks of every Virtual course are available for free just like the Instructor’s Guide samples. Watch the demo videos to get your bearings, and then take it for a spin. Let your child take a peek, too!
BookShark Science Level E
I chose BookShark Science Level E because it includes an element of engineering that appeals to my 14-year-old along with Earth Science experiments that appeal to my other kids, ages 8 and 11 . Level E of BookShark Science is supposed to be used for ages 9 – 12, but my 14-year-old son is enjoying it right alongside my 8-year-old. He asks additional questions after he finishes the reading, and he turns to the internet or library for deeper answers. He also thinks the weekly Activity Sheets are juvenile, so he skips them in favor of researching his questions, but my little girls love them. My 8-year-old has no problem with the content whatsoever.
I haven’t looked into the other levels, but I imagine the same is true of them; they are appropriate for a wider age range than is listed. Kids are pretty good at taking away whatever knowledge they can on their level from any learning interaction. I tend to use more curriculum above grade or age-level with my kids, kind of catering to the older ones and letting the younger ones immerse themselves in whatever we’re doing.
The photos below are of the index of the Science Experiments book so you can see exactly what your kids will study, week by week in addition to the reading assignments. Each of these experiments uses supplies from the provided kit, with the exception of perishable food items.
My Favorite Thing About BookShark Science Curriculum
There is no objectionable material — no propaganda and no attempts at social programming. The science is simple and to the point, and it sticks to science. I don’t know about you, but I think schools should stick to teaching reading, writing and ‘rithmetic and leave the rest of it to parents.
I had to review hundreds of curricula when opening a charter school several years ago, and was really astonished to see just how much of every subject is spent indoctrinating our children. The history curricula were not even remotely informative, US History was the opposite of patriotic, and the science curricula focused heavily on social responsibility, population reduction and climate change rather than on scientific facts, reasoning and thinking.
BookShark science is pure, unadulterated, good, old-fashioned learning, but in a very hands-on way; just the way it should be! If you want to see more, click here to download samples from the instructors guide.
Oh! And if you want to look into more literature-based subjects, request a BookShark catalog! If your kids are voracious readers like mine, you will be make your life so much easier!