This past year we ventured away from what I consider traditional science. Admittedly, I was a little scared at first. Would my kids take to the new approach? Would it be enough? What I knew is that we were burned out with the way high school science textbooks were written. They cram a lot of information with little practical application. Most of the labs we had done in the past were just not that successful. We would end up watching a video to see what we should have produced at home. I even have an expensive microscope still in the box because there was zero interest in opening it.
I did a review with Guest Hollow High School Chemistry in the fall (you can read my initial thoughts and see some how the first two weeks went here.) Sometimes after we review a product we use it for awhile then we move on to something else. This was not the case with this curriculum. We used it for the entire school year - and spoiler alert - we LOVED it!
What is it?
Guest Hollow's High School Chemistry in the Kitchen is a non-traditional chemistry course. This course uses living books and practical applications. There is a schedule and a study guide. It is not math dependent so you don't have to worry about what high school math you've completed.
How we used it
First off I bought almost all of the required books off of amazon and thriftbooks.com. I shopped between the two to get the best prices. I *think* I spent about $200 total for everything. You could easily use the local library for most of the books but with a little baby in the home I knew I would not make it there as often as I needed so purchasing was our best option.
Next I printed a schedule for each of my students (9th and 11th) for them to check off as they went along the daily assignments. We also downloaded the schedule to ibooks on each of their phones so they could easily go to the links for videos and assignments online. (This was a big time saver as it gave the boys independence.) There was one book we did not buy at the end of the year - Carbon Chemistry. I just supplemented that week with some videos I had on hand.
My boys were not really literature fans before this curriculum. I love reading and have tried for years to get them excited about my favorite fiction books. It just hasn't happened. So I was worried that they would see this stack of books and shut down. That was not the case though. See they only ready a chapter or so daily from several books. The assignments move you pretty fast through each book as well. This really helped because occasionally they didn't really love a book but they knew a new book was just a week or so away.
A little over mid- year Guest Hollow incorporated a Study Guide into this curriculum. I feel like this was the missing piece of bringing everything together. Each week had questions that correlate with the reading assignments. We added it to our course. To use this feature, I had the boys fill out the questions and then I met with them once a week to discuss and go over their answers. Occasionally I had them highlight a question I thought was important. I had planned on adding those to an exam for the year but I didn't quite get around to that this year. (When we do Physics next year I will be doing this!)
I was amazed at how much my boys enjoyed this school year. I know that a big part of that is because they loved their science curriculum. They didn't fight me on completing their assignments like they have in the past. They happily read the books. They didn't always do the cooking that went along with this course but they enjoyed watching all the videos. The thing I loved the most was when one of my sons would share something they learned. Often times it opened discussions to how we felt about the topic. This really showed me how important this class was for them. They were learning to relate what they learned to the real world around them. Opening our year to a new style of learning really changed the whole attitude of our homeschool. Guess what? Both boys want to use Guest Hollow for Physics next year! That is a blessing for sure!
Visit Guest Hollow to learn more about their curriculum. They have Science, Geography, History, Math and more for preschool through high school available!
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