Tuesday, August 17

Ease into Science with Friendly Biology {Review}

Now that our youngest is approaching high school, we are rethinking so many subjects.  What worked best before is not necessarily the best fit now.  With his special needs, we went off in search of more relaxed and gentle approaches to core subjects, including sciences...

Friendly Biology opens the world of biology to high school students in a gentle, non-intimidating manner. Students are led through meaningful, well-written lessons and lab activities with the goal of attaining a greater respect for the beauty and complexity of living things.

There are twenty-eight lessons in the book, which loosely translates to twenty-eight weeks of school.  By adding in the lab activities, this puts it right at a full school year to complete.  One thing I like about this curricula is that the same course material is available in both a secular and religious format.  Science can be a very dividing area within the homeschool community, and by making small tweaks throughout the book, the authors have been able to satisfy both populations!

Topics covered include:

  • Characteristics common to all living things
  • Basic chemistry as it pertains to living things
  • The roles of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids in living systems
  • Cytology
  • Mitosis and meiosis
  • Chromosome duplication and protein synthesis
  • The importance of pH in living systems
  • Methods of reproduction
  • Mendelian genetics
  • Taxonomy
  • A survey of members of each kingdom of living things
  • An overview of all body systems of humans
  • Ecology of living things

The curriculum includes:

The textbook is beautifully illustrated, with plenty of visuals for students.  This helps break up long strings of text.  It also reinforces what is being said, pointing out information that students will want to take as notes (if you are doing that) or just want to pay a bit more attention to while reading.

The student workbook reinforces concepts learned within the textbook.  It is neutral, so there is only one version available.  Activities include vocabulary practice, fill in the blanks, crossword puzzles, and more -- such as these Punnett squares from a lesson on genetics.

The lab assignments segue neatly with the text and are easy enough to complete in the home, even for the non-science-y parent.  You'll find a list of items needed, so be sure to grab those ahead of time, and then step by step instructions.  One thing I would like to see is a lab notebook that helps the student to write up actual lab reports.  Although it's a relaxed course, this is still a helpful skill.
Finally, there are the video lessons are fantastic for visual learners who need a bit more instruction.  Lessons range anywhere from fifteen to forty minutes, while the lab demonstrations are considerably longer at forty-five to ninety minutes each.  These videos are not required, but there is plenty of time within the school year to fit them in.  You can see a few sample videos here.

You can find more relaxed high school science courses from the Friendly series inside your SchoolhouseTeachers membership!  Look for Friendly Chemistry & Friendly Anatomy.

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