Elemental Science publishes two different science series for the elementary grades. I review the Classic series separately - click here for that review. The Sassafras Science Adventures series is newer with three courses available at this point: Volume 1: Zoology, Volume 2: Anatomy, and Volume 3: Botany. Volume 4: Earth Science is in the works. Written for kindergarten through fifth grade, this is also called the Living Book series. (The plan is for there to eventually be eight courses in the series.) Each course takes one semester to complete, so you will complete two courses per year.
For each course, there are four potential components to choose from that are published by Elemental Science: The Sassafras Science Adventures - the adventure novel spine, The Sassafras Guide (teacher guide), The Official Sassafras Scidat Logbook (for data recording and notebooking), and a Lapbooking Guide.
Which components you use will depend up the ages of your students and personal preference. A Sassafras adventure novel is the heart of each course no matter which of the other options you select. I have read only the first one, and it is fairly well written and might be used on its own apart from the course. I expect the others are similar. In the first book, twins Blaine and Tracey set off on world-wide adventures where they learn about animals and their habitats. Other books continue with the twins' adventures. Magical, invisible ziplines and crazy Uncle Cecil, the research scientist, help provide an intriguing storyline.
In addition to the adventure novel, you need to choose between the Lapbooking Guide and The Sassafras Guide.The Lapbooking Guide has fewer activities and seems to me a better fit for younger children while The Sassafras Guide seems a better fit for older students. However, older students who thrive on the notebooking/lapbooking approach might still prefer the format of the Lapbooking Guide.
Both options include reading from the adventure novel, science demonstrations, and recommendations for other books to read. Both options include vocabulary study, but the Lapbooking Guide has preprinted vocabulary words and definitions while The Sassafras Guide directs students to enter words and definitions in the glossary they will create. Lapbooks have students write or dictate brief summaries of what they have learned in their mini books constructed from templates. An optional lab report form is included. Also, The Lapbooking Guide is narrowly focused on only eight lessons, each of which should take two weeks (eight days) to complete.
The Sassafras Guide arranges lessons by chapters in the adventure novel. For each chapter, the guide provides a chapter summary of the story from the adventure novel, assigned reading from resource books, the information that students are to be entering into the Scidat Logbook, instructions and materials list for an experiment, vocabulary words and their definitions, a short copywork passage, a longer dictation passage, suggested schedules, a quiz, and additional activities. Additional activities include options such as art projects, recipes, and physical activities as well as multi-week projects such as creating a food chart for various animal groups or creating a habitat project. Following instructions in the guide, you might also have students copywork, take dictation, or do oral or written narrations about what they have learned. Parents need to select which activities to use for their children rather than requiring them to complete all of them. At the end of the guide are reproducible pages for the student glossary, an experiment report form, and other items such as small animal pictures to be cut and pasted into the Logbook.
Lesson plans for each chapter include options for either two days or five days per week. The two-day schedule covers chapters at the same pace as the five-day schedule, but it omits some activities. A number of living books—many of which are fact or information books that you can get from the library—are recommended for each chapter, and you are free to select whichever ones you like.
The Sassafras Guides include the use of other books for some of the essential reading. For example, for Zoology, you will probably use the Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals if you are teaching students in K through 3 and/or the DK Encyclopedia of Animals for students in grades 3 through 5.
The Official Sassafras Scidat Logbook should be used along with The Sassafras Guide for students who are able to write well enough to record information. Students could create their own notebooks instead of using the Logbook, but that requires much more effort. While kindergartners and first graders can draw and copy in the Logbook, they might not be ready to do as much writing as older students; they might do better creating their own lapbook or smaller notebook.
Whichever Sassafras option you select, parents need to gather books and experiment resources. Parents will need to dedicate time for the study since they will probably want to read aloud some of the books, and they also need to listen to narrations and provide dictation work. While all of this requires a time commitment, the guides are so well organized that they make it fairly simple to direct the various learning activities.
Adventure novels are available only as either printed books or in a Kindle format. Lapbooking Guides are available only as ebooks. Other items are available in your choice of PDF ebooks or print versions. See the publisher's website for all of your options.
While there are elements of the Charlotte Mason approach in this series, the Sassafras Science Adventures aren't strictly Charlotte Mason. They tend to be a little more directive as to what children are to record than in a total Charlotte Mason approach. While the courses use real books and some narration, students are sometimes given particular information through the adventure novel and assignments for the Logbook and for lapbooking, and that is what they are expected to learn. (Charlotte Mason would more likely have students observe, draw what they see, and come up with their own information from their books and observations.) Nevertheless, this approach of guided learning from real books along with creation of the Logbook or a lapbook offers an interesting way to learn science that allows you to teach all of your children in the elementary grades together.