(Note: The third editions of this series were reviewed for inclusion in 102 Top Picks. New fourth editions that are now available for grades four through six are very similar in content.)
If you want a traditional style textbook for science in the elementary grades, the BJU Press Science series for grades one through six is one of the better choices. Recognizing that children have different learning styles, they have incorporated activities to suit different learners.
Each grade level has a homeschool kit that includes the student text, teacher's edition, an activity manual, tests, and an answer key for the tests. You need all components unless you choose not to test your children. You will still need to gather resources for experiments and activities.
Both textbooks and activity manuals for each course are attractively printed in full color with plenty of illustrations. BJU Press sells the same editions to both schools and home educators, so you will sometimes have to adapt activities written for class groups.
Scientific thinking is heavily stressed with the scientific method introduced at first grade level. Scriptural principles are incorporated with science applications in the curriculum. The fourth editions of these texts have an increased emphasis on helping children develop a Christian worldview.
Activities are at the heart of many lessons, especially at the early grade levels. Most activities are outlined in the teacher’s editions but data recording and some activities are done from the activity manual. That means these courses need to be taught—you cannot just hand your child the text to use independently.
The teacher's editions are well organized and easy to use. All of them include a Teacher’s Toolkit CD-ROM that will run on either Windows or Mac systems. Toolkits include answer keys for the activity manual, reproducible pages, rubrics for grading activities, instructional aids and videos, extensive science fair information, and similar resources—most of which are optional.
Each chapter in the textbooks has a number of lessons and concludes with a review lesson to reinforce concepts taught throughout that chapter. Chapters are also color coded so you can easily tell which lessons are included within a chapter or unit in both the text and activity manual.
These courses require lesson preparation and presentation time, but if you follow the lesson plans in the manuals, you and your children should find the courses very engaging.
While courses are written for grades one through six, you can generally use one course for children who are one or two grade levels apart with a little adaptation to suit their abilities. (It will be most challenging to do this for first and second graders who are still developing reading and writing skills.) Courses are challenging enough that when you stretch to cover a range of grade levels, you should probably choose a grade level below that of your oldest student.
Recorded videos of a teacher presenting each course are also available online or in DVD and hard drive formats.
Grade 1 kit
The text for first grade covers the following topics on an introductory level: senses, weather, seasons, health and safety, wild and tame animals, matter, sound, plants, forces, and the sun, moon, and stars. The Teacher’s Toolkit CD-ROM includes sound files that are used with some lessons.
Grade 2 kit
Topics taught in second grade include the nature of science and basic science methodology, living things, plants, fossils, earth, natural resources, how the earth moves, light, matter and how it changes, movement, and the human body.
Grade 3 kit
Topics at this level include cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals, plants, ecosystems, matter, sound, energy in motion, soil, rocks, minerals, weather, the solar system, and the human body.
Grade 4 kit
At this level, students study living things, insects, spiders, forces and machines, electricity and magnetism, light, the moon, water and oceans, weathering and erosion, the earth’s resources, digestion, and bones and muscle.
Grade 5 kit
Topics studied in fifth grade are minerals and rocks, fossils and dinosaurs, matter, energy and heat, weather, biomes, ecosystems, sound, light, the respiratory and circulatory systems.
Grade 6 kit
Sixth graders study earthquakes and volcanoes, weather and erosion, natural resources, cells and classification, animal classification, plant classification, atoms and molecules, electricity and magnetism, motion and machines, the stars, the solar system, plant and animal reproduction, heredity and genetics, and the nervous and immune systems.