With its fun experiments, fun spines, thorough science learning and hands-on activities and games, Elemental Science Classical Science can impart strong science skills in a more engaging and interesting way
What We Like
But watch out for…
What Is The Elemental Science Classical Series?
Elemental Science’s Classical Science Series is a homeschool science curriculum that explores the worlds of biology, earth science, physics and chemistry through a classical education lens with some Charlotte Mason elements added in.
With this series, students learn science through a combination of hands-on learning, lessons and research, science projects and a variety of writing assignments.
As a result, Elemental Science Classical Science offers something of a classically-inspired alternative to the more literature-based approach of the company’s sister program, Sassafras Science.
What Ages Or Grades Is It Intended For?
The Elemental Science Classical Series is largely aimed at the K-8 grade levels.
Rather than use a typical grade-level division of material, being inspired by classical education, Elemental Science is structured around the Classical Trivium, which means it divides its program around different developmental phases of learning – the Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.
The Grammar Stage is defined as the stage in which a student is learning the fundamentals of science, developing a strong base of interest and fact to build upon later.
This stage is more focused on developing basic skills in science, and emphasizes helping a student develop a stronger interest in science.
The Grammar Stage in this program roughly corresponds to K-4 learning and offers courses in:
- Introduction to Science (K)
- Biology (gr. 1)
- Earth Science and Astronomy (grade 2)
- Chemistry (grade 3)
- Physics (grade 4)
Logic (Grades 5-8)
In the logic phase of learning, students begin organizing and analyzing information, honing their critical thinking skills in science and begin to use the scientific method to approach scientific inquiry.
The Logic Stage in Elemental Science is aimed at grades 5-8 and includes courses in:
- Biology (grade 5)
- Earth Science and Astronomy (grade 6)
- Chemistry (grade 7)
- Physics (grade 8)
Rhetoric Stage (High School)
The third stage of the Trivium is Rhetoric, where students begin to use the knowledge they’ve acquired to solve new problems and begin to be able to express and debate their learning and thoughts through both speech and writing.
The Rhetoric Stage is covered by Elementary Science through its High School Science at Home program.
A slightly different program, it isn’t the main focus of this review, but generally uses the CK12 curriculum and a variety of written and digital resources to teach Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Elemental Science and Student Progression
Although the classical model used by Elemental Science does roughly correspond to various grade-levels, at the end of the day it is still a homeschool program.
The stages and curricula themselves are more or less stand-alone and can be started at any point a parent (or student) prefers.
As a result it can be used by students who are progressing outside a normal grade progression, such as by precocious students or those who are a bit behind in their learning.
The only thing that parents really need to pay attention to is the fact that the different stages of the program do have different skill requirements.
As with other classical programs, each stage in Elemental Science is somewhat based on a child’s individual development and capacity for reasoning, abstract thought and language.
For example, the Logic stage requires students to be a little more capable of managing their own learning, of doing independent work and being more comfortable with reading and writing reports, summaries and so on.
That said, the program’s teacher’s guides at each stage do offer a variety of suggestions to help adjust the learning to younger and older students, which is nice considering that each of the books are intended to be used by students from several age and grade ranges.
What’s Included In The Curriculum
There are a few components to Elemental Science that parents will need to purchase.
Each course is centered around a Teacher’s Guide, Student Book and one or more spine books as a core, with optional living books that parents can purchase and integrate to add a literature-based component.
The Teacher’s Guides contain all the necessary information that is necessary to teach an Elemental Science subject in one book.
These books contain lesson plans, a 2 or 5 day schedule outline, resources for additional learning (such as internet links or optional readings), directions for various activities and, of course, science experiments and demonstrations.
Depending on the subject, the Guides themselves are about 2-300 pages long and are printed in black and white.
Each teacher’s guide is designed to provide around 36 weeks of lessons, and each subject is divided into several units of study, with lessons in each unit touching on various sub-topics.
How many units each book contains depends largely on the subject and phase of learning.
For example, Chemistry for the Grammar Stage might be divided into seven units:
- Atoms and molecules
- The Periodic Table
- Physical Changes
- Chemical Changes
- Acids and Bases
- Organic Chemistry
While Biology for the Grammar Stage might be divided into only three (Animal Unit, Human Body Unit, Plants Unit).
Much as with other unit study programs, the advantage of this organizational layout is that students are given time to really dive deeply into certain topics in science over a period of several lessons, rather than switching between seemingly different concepts, and allows them to more easily see these topics as a whole and how certain concepts interact or are related.
Overall, the Teacher’s Guides are pretty well laid out and well-organized.
We feel they do a good job at centralizing all the different components and books of the program, making it fairly easy for parents to stay on top of things and stay organized.
On the downside, while there are some illustrations sprinkled throughout, the Teacher’s Guides are largely text based and black and white and we feel it might be helpful to have some more ready diagrams and illustrations for quick reference.
Student work with this curriculum is largely done in the student workbook, as might be expected.
Also printed in black and white, what is included in each book depends largely on the phase in question due to the slightly different activities required of students.
In the grammar stage, for example, lessons are done in a more parent-led manner and look more like a traditional homeschool workbook. They contain things like notebooking pages, lab report sections, glossaries for filling out vocabulary and so on.
At the logic stage, the workbooks are more directed at students, given their increasing capacity for self-instruction.
These Student Books contain their own lesson plans for students to read themselves, as well as room for students to write down their own observations and recordings for experiments, labeling exercises and even a science fair project towards the end of the lessons.
As with the Teacher’s Guide, the Elemental Science Student Books are pretty well organized and laid out.
Also like the Teacher’s Guides they are more text-based and writing-heavy, so students will be flipping around a bit in the different spine books, but they do contain a few more diagrams and visual representations that students can work with, which is helpful.
Science Spine Books
In addition to the Teacher’s Guides and Student Books, Elemental Science also makes extensive use of an assortment of high-interest and engaging encyclopedias, fact books and demonstration books.
Depending on the phase and its subject, the precise spine books used can vary, but they tend to be relatively well-known and informative science reference guides, such as:
- The Usborne Science Encyclopedia
- The Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Science
- Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals
- Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia
- DK Encyclopedia of Nature
- Basher Science: Chemistry
- Janice VanCleave’s Chemistry for Every Kid
And similar books.
In addition to the encyclopedias, the courses may require a selection of other high-interest science-oriented books to fulfill specific purposes in teaching.
For example, some courses may require a scientific demonstration book (such as Janice VanCleave’s Chemistry for Every Kid or Biology for Every Kid), that contains various home experiments, while others may also require certain books for unit-level reference reading.
The use of these spine books is woven into each lesson, where they provide the bulk of the science teaching by offering topical readings and explanations of concepts.
From time to time, they also are referred to for some interesting in-lesson experiments.
In essence, the readings from these books often form the bulk of the discussions, memory work and other activities found in the lessons.
Because the courses can span several grades, the courses usually offer parents a couple choices of science-oriented books and encyclopedias to better tailor the program to a student’s age or grade level, an added bit of flexibility that we appreciate.
Overall, the selection of encyclopedias and science reference books is quite well done with Elemental Science.
The books selected are quite reputable, of high-quality and usually offer a very engaging and often visually appealing approach to their topics and are ultimately a lot more fun and interesting to use than a standard textbook.
Given the fact that the courses can be used by several different grades (and by families with varied tastes and preferences), we also appreciate the fact that Elemental Science offers parents some flexibility in the books they can use in each course.
On the downside, depending on the specific course and phase, Elemental Science can require parents to purchase a couple books in addition to the Teacher’s Guide and Student Books, which can increase the overall cost of the program slightly and make things a little trickier to keep organized.
That said, there usually aren’t more than a couple required per course and the books are quite popular in homeschool communities, so parents on a budget should have little issue finding second hand versions.
To their credit, the Teacher’s Guides themselves often recommend specific older editions that parents can look for that will work with the course.
As might be expected from a science curriculum, Elemental Science integrates a variety of science experiments and demonstrations into its lessons.
Unlike some other science curricula out there, these generally make use of items that can be found around the house, so there’s no need to purchase any expensive gear (other than perhaps a decent microscope).
That said, from time to time (and depending on the course in question), they can involve some materials that parents may not have lying around, which means that parents might need to hit up the local grocery or hardware stores (or Amazon) now and again.
Particularly in the grammar stage, Elemental Science offers parents some suggested, topically-linked books to help enrich learning in certain units.
For example, in Chemistry a parent can add in What Are Atoms? A Rookie Read-About Science by Lisa Trumbauer, while in Biology they may include selections from the well-known, illustrated Habitats series by Cathryn and John Sill.
As with the encyclopedias there is some choice with the suggested reading list, and many of the books are written to different age groups, which can help parents tailor their use to a students particular reading level or age.
In the Grammar Stage courses, Elemental Science offers lapbooking as an alternative to notebooking.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, this means that rather than doing a lot of writing and reports, students can create subject-specific scrapbooks made of topic-specific booklets (lapbooks) instead.
This can be a better option for younger students, particularly those in earlier grades (K-3) as their still-developing writing skills can make it challenging to complete the traditional notebooking exercises without a lot more parent input and/or frustration.
They can also be a great multisensory learning option for older students who simply enjoy scrapbooking activities.
On the downside, however, templates for the optional lapbooking exercises are not included in the student workbook and require parents to purchase (either as a supplement or as part of a greater bundle) subject-specific Grammar Stage Lapbooking Templates.
How It Works
As might be imagined from a homeschool science program that spans the K-8 age range, the specifics of how Elemental Science approaches teaching each of its classical phases can be a little different owing to the difference in learning capabilities between, say, a 6 year old and a 13 year old.
That said, there are some commonalities between the Grammar and Logic stages that can be noted.
Elemental Science is largely parent-led, for example.
To one degree or another, at all stages of the program the role of the parent is quite important, with the parent guiding students in their learning, setting the schedule, helping students understand key concepts, engaging in discussions, correcting responses and preparing, conducting and/or overseeing experiments and the recording of relevant data.
This is true even in the Logic Stage books, where students are expected to take on more responsibility and do more of the work on their own.
In these courses, parents step back into more of an oversight role, engaging and leading discussions of learning, assisting the student in their research and making sure the learning gets done and doesn’t fall too far off track.
Consequently, while the program does slowly encourage older students to engage in independent research and learning, which is something we certainly appreciate, it is not a self-taught program by any means, something busier homeschools should be aware of.
In terms of the learning, although their overall lessons and activities can look a little different from one another, both stages of Elemental Science are essentially centered around three components:
- Science experiments and demonstrations
- Learning and examining scientific information, facts and vocabulary
- Writing about what they’ve learned
Finally, as mentioned previously, books in the Elemental Science series are organized as unit studies of individual science topics and each course in the series is designed to last a full year, or about 36 weeks.
All books in the series offer 2 or 5 day a week schedules that parents can use, which is helpful and provides the program with a little more ready flexibility.
Grammar Stage Learning
As we mentioned previously, the Grammar Stage of the Classical Trivium is focused on providing a student with minimal to no background in science a basic foundation in scientific facts.
The emphasis in the Grammar Stage series is more on basic skill development and instilling in the student an interest in science, and lessons roughly follow the following format.
Core Lesson Activities for the Grammar Stage
Elemental Science is a full science curriculum, and as such a key component of its lessons is demonstrating science in action during its lessons.
At the grammar stage, these take the form of a weekly scientific demonstration, where the parent performs or builds some kind of hands-on proof of a scientific concept or principle and the student records what they observe in a lab report, either through writing, drawing or even taking a picture depending on the student’s age and interest.
As part of a scientific demonstration, for example, parents (and students) might build a diorama, use pipe cleaners and beads to create an atomic structure, build a model of the earth out of modeling clay and so on.
After the demonstration is complete, parents can ask students questions and initiate a discussion on what they’ve just seen and fill out a lab report page in the student workbook, which serves to formalize the learning by having students detail what they’ve seen and what they’ve learned.
Overall, these science demonstrations are a little simpler and more top-down than full, formal experiments might be, but at the same time they are quicker to do and more easily understood by students, which makes them more suitable to the age range.
We didn’t feel that any of the experiments we saw would be particularly frustrating or time consuming for either parent or student.
Because they are less formal and geared towards younger students, there is no need to formulate hypotheses or really follow a method of scientific inquiry, at the stage, and the experiments chosen do a good job at physically demonstrating some of the abstract scientific concepts that younger students may struggle with, such as the purpose of the spine or the composition of the earth.
They are also a lot of fun to do, with a lot of hands-on work and crafting, which should make things a lot more engaging for students and, in turn, help them remember what it is they are seeing and learning.
Students in the Grammar phase typically have a reading assignment.
These take place in one of the high-interest scientific encyclopedias or science-oriented books mentioned above, which parents can select based on student age and ability, and this section serves to more formally introduce and explore scientific facts and principles.
Depending on the age and reading ability of the student, these readings can be done aloud by the parent, together with the student or by the student alone.
At this stage, the readings are helpfully kept fairly brief, usually only requiring a couple pages per lesson, which isn’t too bad considering the age of the intended audience, their attention span and the relative complexity of the material presented.
At this stage, parents can introduce various optional books that the lesson plans suggest, in order to deepen the learning or approach the topic from a different perspective or teaching method.
After they’ve been introduced to a concept, the lessons tend to provide suggested questions that parents can use to help spark a discussion with their student, which is designed to help parents ensure their student has understood the material, but also can be of great help in ensuring that students remember what they’re learning, since speaking aloud is thought to be a very effective way to encode information in long term memory.
Data gathering and recording data is an important part of Elemental Science and, in its Grammar Stage series, this is done in the Notebooking section of the lesson.
Notebooking in Elemental Science tends to involve students narrating and writing down a few sentences (or dictating or copying, depending on the student and homeschool preference) about what they’ve learned or observed in their student notebook.
Elemental Science also includes a fair amount of vocabulary work in this section.
It is important in any science program to teach students the proper scientific terms in each topic, and for them to understand and be able to properly use those terms in a discussion.
At the Grammar Stage students either copy down or look up definitions for a list of key terms provided by the parent, whose definitions are helpfully provided in the Teacher’s Guide (good news for those parents whose own science skills and knowledge have become a bit rusty).
Interestingly, Elemental Science offers parents and students the ability to replace a lesson’s Notebooking activities with Lapbooking activities, which effectively replaces a lot of the formal writing with scrapbooking and makes the lessons a little more flexible.
Rather than writing down a more formal observation, they can instead cut and paste elements from the subject-level Grammar Stage Lapbooking Templates book into a topical mini-book, a task that can be helpful and less frustrating for students still working on their literacy skills.
Optional Lesson Activities for the Grammar Stage
Projects and Activities
Lessons in Elemental Science at the Grammar Stage also include a variety of activities and projects that parents can add to their week’s learning.
Some are linked to the week’s learning, being something of a more specific mini-project (Projects for this Week), while others are designed to broadly cover the entire unit’s learning, spanning multiple weeks and touching on several topics (Multi-week Projects).
In general, though, these projects and activities are very hands-on and engaging, with many of them being very craftsy in nature and providing parents and students with a lot of fun science bonding time.
Weekly projects might include shorter activities such as coloring from an optional (and not included) Grammar Stage Coloring Pages book, baking science themed cookies or building a tectonic plate model out of whipped cream, graham crackers and some water.
Multi-week projects, as the name suggests, tend to span the course of a unit and integrate material from different lessons.
An example might be creating a science poster about atomic and molecular bonds in chemistry, or a poster/chart about animal diets in biology.
When parents first look at all the activities and projects, it can be a little overwhelming. Taking advantage of all the different t projects might be a lot of fun, but can be time consuming, especially for busy homeschool.
Helpfully, Elemental Science leaves the decision of what to include in each lesson up to the parent, and while they are very helpful and engaging, the projects aren’t critical to the course in the same way the demonstrations and notebooking might be.
Lessons at the Grammar Stage often (but not always) include an option for memorization, where students encode key facts and information through memorizing poems.
The poems aren’t particularly long and, although they probably won’t win a Walt Whitman Award, they are kind of fun and can be a little more engaging and literature-oriented than memorizing simple fact lists, although parents of students who hate memory work can take comfort in the fact that this is an optional section.
Quizzes and Assessments
For homeschools that are into it, there are also little mini quizzes (usually a few questions that can be added to each lesson to test how well students are absorbing the material.
Again, these are optional and not all that long, but can be useful depending on the homeschool philosophy and we appreciate the option at least.
Logic Stage Learning
The Logic State of learning builds on the foundation created in the Grammar stage and is more centered around organizing and analyzing information and learning to use the scientific method to approach science, as well as more formally reporting on observations.
As a result, the learning in the Logic books is far more in-depth, with more complex experiments, longer and more detailed writing assignments and the inclusion of student research.
In addition, at this Stage in Elemental Science, students begin to work more independently out of their student workbooks, which contain lesson plans written to them, while the parent takes a guidance role, helping the student out as they learn and making sure the learning stays organized and on track with the Teacher’s Guide.
The lessons in the Logic Stage of Elemental Science include the following components.
Core Logic Stage Components
Each week in the Elemental Science program typically includes a science experiment of some kind.
In contrast to the simpler demonstrations found in the Grammar Stage books, these follow the scientific method of discovery, with the student formulating and testing a hypothesis.
The experiments themselves are pretty engaging and fun, using household items to explore different topics in science in a very hands-on way.
For example, students might build a force meter in physics, make ice cream in chemistry, try and calculate the speed of light using a microwave and some chocolate in astronomy, or examine cells under a microscope.
In general, students are intended to take a little more of a lead on these projects, using the instructions included in their student workbooks to conduct the experiment (with the help of their parents).
After the experiment, parents can engage in a discussion of what happened, with questions and resources provided in the Teacher’s Guide, and students then write things up in an report sheet located in the Student Workbook.
One thing we do like is that the Logic Stage experiment write ups are pretty comprehensive and follow a real scientific report format.
After building and completing the experiment, students fill out an assignment sheet detailing their hypothesis, the materials used, a step by step explanation of what they did, their observations and a results/conclusion that involves their takeaways and whether their hypothesis was proven correct.
From time to time, there may also be a variety of worksheets to help deepen the learning on the concepts introduced by the experiment.
The bulk of formal instruction occurs in the instruction or information sections, which consist three parts:
- Vocabulary and memory work
- Sketchwork or labeling exercises
Vocabulary and memorization
As with the Grammar Stage, in the Logic Stages of Elemental Science, students learn about and how to use various scientific terms through vocabulary work, where students build their own glossary of science by looking up key terms and recording their definitions in their student workbook.
In line with a classic approach to science education, there is also an emphasis on student’s memorizing and reciting key scientific facts and equations that are introduced each week.
For example, students may memorize Newton’s laws, various equations, the five kingdoms, the types of stars, the speed of light and so on.
Although certainly not every child’s favorite part of learning, this memorization and vocabulary work is an important component of learning, helping students expand their practical base of scientific knowledge and develop some skill and knowledge fluency.
Lessons in the Logic Stage typically include labeling exercises.
Generally speaking these refer to worksheets found in the student book where students need to label various scientific concepts and facts on a drawn picture.
Each week, students have a reading assignment from one of the high-interest encyclopedias or science-oriented books that the course requires.
After they finish reading their assigned pages, students engage in a discussion with their parents where certain ideas and concepts are explored in more detail.
Following this, parents can assign some writing work, having students outline key ideas in the text or complete a narrative summary discussing what they’ve learned from their readings in a few paragraphs.
Overall, with experiment reports, glossary creation, narrative summaries, outlines and more, there is a lot of writing involved in the Logic Stage.
Not only does this help students learn to organize and create a written record of their experiments, observations and learning, but it can serve to help hone their writing skills as well.
That said, it also means that the program’s strong emphasis on writing skills can be a bit challenging for students whose writing ability is a bit behind, which may require parents to tailor the learning and help their students out as necessary.
Once a year, at the end of the course, students are given the opportunity to do a science fair-type project based on the learning they have acquired.
Much like a real science fair project should be, students come up with their own pertinent question to answer using the scientific method.
In other words, students pick a topic, do some research, come up with a hypothesis, come up with a relevant experiment, conduct it, and then analyze and report the results in a presentation board that they create.
Overall, the yearly science project is a bit of a fun project that students can work on and, like a real science project, gives students back some control over their learning due to its more open-ended nature.
That said, it is of course up to parents to make sure that what their student comes up with is relevant, appropriate and achievable given their skills and knowledge base.
For those who hate coming up with project topics, the Teacher’s Guides to each course provide students with resources (Janice VanCleave’s A+ Science Fair Projects, for example) that can provide fun and interesting science fair project ideas to work on.
Optional Logic Stage Components
As with the Grammar Stage, there are a few components in the logic series that are not strictly necessary but can help enrich the learning experience.
At times, Elemental Science recommends that parents and students independently look up and create little reports on certain topics.
This can be a kind of fun and interesting way to get kids into doing their own research, as well as a good time to teach them about finding reliable and appropriate sources, but of course will probably require a bit of parental supervision.
Timeline of Scientific Discovery
Lessons in the Logic Stage often include a Dates section, where students jot down important dates of scientific discoveries to a history timeline.
In doing so, the curriculum can help bridge the fields of history and science and help students round-out their learning by providing them with some important historical context for the facts they learn.
Our Thoughts on Elemental Science Classical Science
Overall, we feel Elemental Science can provide parents and students with a pretty comprehensive science curriculum at both the Grammar and Logic Stages.
The high-interest encyclopedias and science-oriented books used as spines can impart a good amount of scientific information in a more interesting and engaging manner than a dry textbook.
Combined with the information and facts presented in the Teacher’s Guides and Student Books, the subjects covered by the series are explored in a fair amount of depth.
We also like the fact that Elemental Science, although more of a classical educational approach, incorporates some Charlotte Mason methods, such as discussion, narration and sketching, which can be very effective supplements to traditional learning.
In addition, the series is very hands-on, involving a lot of fun activities and games that students can participate in or lead, which makes the program more multisensory and appropriate to different preferred styles of learning.
Finally, Elemental Science offers parents a lot of flexibility in how and what they would like to teach.
The Teacher’s Guides provide parents with options in terms of which spine books they should use to best match their student’s age and ability, as well as options for activities to include, scheduling and even (at the Grammar Stage) whether to follow a notebooking or lapbooking approach.
On the downside, the Elemental Science workbooks and guides themselves aren’t the most visually stimulating to look at, being quite text heavy and including basic, black and white illustrations.
Parents should also note that it is a very writing intensive program, expecting students to observe and create reports, glossaries and summaries quite often, particularly at the older grade levels.
While this can be an excellent way to hone writing skills and teach students critical report writing skills, students who struggle with writing may need to have the learning activities adjusted for them.
Finally, while there is quite a bit of flexibility in terms of which books and materials to use in the program, parents who want to take advantage of some or all of the optional activities may find that they have to buy quite a few resources aside from the Teacher’s Manuals and Student Books (optional teaching books, coloring books, lapbooking guides, etc).
This can increase the cost of the program slightly and make things a little trickier to keep organized.
All told, however, we feel that Elemental Science can be a great way to deliver a deeper, activity-rich and more personalizable science learning experience for students, especially when compared to other classical homeschool science curricula.
How Easy Is Elemental Science’s Classical Series To Teach?
We believe that Elemental Science is pretty easy to teach.
Its lesson plans are pretty well-organized and capable of guiding parents (and, at the Logic stage, students) through lessons in a very step-by-step manner, providing enough detail and reference guides to be easily used by those new to homeschooling and parents who aren’t very confident in their own science skills and knowledge.
Although not perfectly scripted, the Teacher’s Guides don’t always offer a direct, word-for-word dialogue for parents to use (although they do so for discussion questions), the written explanations and guidance are clear enough for parents to use with little to no preparation, making it a fairly open and go science curriculum all things considered.
When it comes to experiments, the guides do a good job at providing an idea of materials needed and a step-by-step explanation of their setup and operation, which is good news for those whose own science skills are a little rusty.
One thing we did find interesting is that, recognizing that families may have students at both the Grammar and Logic stages, each guide provides helpful tips and options that can help parents organize the learning for both students in a more efficient, affordable manner.
Is Elemental Science A Secular or Religious Curriculum?
We would characterize Elemental Science as a neutral curriculum.
The curriculum does not contain any religious material or philosophy in its teaching, so it is not really a faith-based science curriculum.
When it comes to topics such as evolution or the Big Bang, however, it covers them in optional learning packets, as opposed to simply incorporating them into lessons as might be expected in a truly secular program.
Elemental Science Classical Pros And Cons
Elemental Science has a lot of in-built flexibility as a curriculum.
Parents (and students) can choose which encyclopedias and science-oriented books to use, which activities to include, which optional readings to include (if any), their preferred schedule, whether or not to include assessments and other exercises, and even (at the Logic Stage) their own science fair projects.
Rather than teaching using boring textbooks, Elemental Science uses spines such as Usborne, Kingfisher and DK, which can be quite a lot nicer to look at and read, making learning a little more engaging and enriching for students.
Thorough science learning
Elemental Science does a good job at teaching science, providing students with a strong understanding of biology, earth and planetary science, chemistry and physics and covering their topics in a surprising amount of depth.
At the Logic stage, the program places a strong emphasis on independent learning and gets kids working with the complete scientific method pretty early on.
Easy to teach
With easy to ues, step-by-step Teacher’s Guides and lesson plans, Elemental Science is easy to teach and requires very little in the way of prep, making it an open and go curriculum.
Very hands-on with lots of fun activities
In addition to a strong emphasis on science experiments and demonstrations, Elemental Science includes a variety of hands-on, get-up-and-go activities that tactile learners will enjoy.
Lots of optional ways to configure the course
As a very flexible program, homeschools can configure Elemental Science to their needs fairly easily.
Parents can remain with the core activities, select different spine books based on the child’s needs, choose to include an assortment of optional activities, add in assessments, choose to replace notebooking with lapbooking, select their own scheduling options, and much, much more.
Experiments are fun and interesting
Although the curriculum’s experiments are designed to be able to be conducted without advanced lab materials and using common household items, they aren’t boring in the least.
Students may, at times, make their own ice cream, do craftwork, build models and dioramas, extract DNA and more.
Not all that illustrated
Elemental Science’s Teacher’s Guides and Student Books are black and white and only lightly illustrated (with basic drawings) and so aren’t the most visually stimulating science materials to look at for extended periods.
Including all activities can involve extra purchases
Parents looking to take advantage of many or all of the extra activities may be required to purchase several additional books per course, such as recommended reading, coloring books, lapbooking templates and more.
Who is it ideal for?
Parents looking for a strong, classical science curriculum
Elemental Science covers a full, K-8 science curriculum in a fair amount of depth, providing students with a strong base of knowledge and facts, and using a variety of activities and report writing to hone their science skills.
Parents and students who are looking for a lot of hands-on science activities
Elemental Science is a multisensory science program that integrates a lot of different hands-on activities into learning, such as experiments, crafting, modeling, creating posters and charts and more.
Parents looking to encourage some independent learning
Although not a self-taught program, the Logic Stage of Elemental Science does encourage more independent learning, with students taking the lead in conducting experiments, writing reports, having discussions and even creating science fair projects.
Students who enjoy notebooking and similar activities
Notebooking and/or lapbooking are an important part of Elemental Science, with students writing down their own observations and thoughts about their learning, which can be a great alternative to traditional workbooks.
Parents and students who enjoy discussing science together
Elemental Science lessons encourage parents and students to discuss key facts and scientific concepts together, which can deepen learning and act as a great bonding experience.
Who is it not ideal for?
Busy homeschools looking for a self-study science program
Although it does promote independent learning at the Logic Stage, Elemental Science still requires parents to oversee learning, initiate discussions and provide students with critical support throughout lessons.
As such it may not be ideal for those looking for a self-study program that students can be left to.
Parents who want a lightweight curriculum
With a Teacher’s Guide, a Student Book and several scientific books to work with, as well as suggested additional readings, coloring books and other options resources, there can be quite a few materials to Elemental Science that can increase its cost and complexity to some degree.
Parents and students looking for visual and artwork rich workbooks and guides
Although the learning is quite solid, at the end of the day, aside from its spines, Elemental Science books are largely black and white, somewhat sparsely illustrated and not exactly the most thrilling science books to look at.
Note: Prices correct as of writing. All prices in USD.
Biology Grammar Stage Student Workbook – $19.99
Biology Grammar Stage Teacher’s Guide – $22.49
Earth Science & Astronomy Grammar Stage Student Workbook – $19.99
Earth Science & Astronomy Grammar Stage Teacher’s Guide – $23.99
Chemistry Grammar Stage Student Workbook – $19.99
Chemistry Grammar Stage Teacher’s Guide – $22.49
Physics Grammar Stage Student Workbook – $19.99
Physics Grammar Stage Teacher’s Guide – $23.99
Biology Logic Stage Student Workbook – $25.99
Biology Logic Stage Teacher’s Guide – $25.99
Earth Science & Astronomy Logic Stage Student Workbook – $25.99
Earth Science & Astronomy Logic Stage Teacher’s Guide – $25.99
Chemistry Logic Stage Student Workbook – $25.99
Chemistry Logic Stage Teacher’s Guide – $25.99
Physics Logic Stage Student Workbook – $25.99
Physics Logic Stage Teacher’s Guide – $25.99
Each course in Elemental Science also requires several spine books, which can be purchased online and whose price depends on the individual retailer.
Elemental Science does run frequent sales and offers its products in different bundled packages that can represent considerable savings to parents, so it is worthwhile to check their latest prices.
Is It Worth the Price
Overall, Elemental Science is a pretty affordable curriculum that delivers a lot of high-quality science learning for K-8 students.
The program offers complete and in-depth learning in Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry and Physics through an assortment of information rich, well-known and stimulating science-oriented spine books.
In addition, its lesson plans offer fun and engaging science experiments that will appeal to both parents and students, as well as a plethora of hands-on learning opportunities that turn the curriculum into a multisensory learning experience.
Finally, the program is quite flexible, providing parents with a good amount of control in tailoring the learning to their students needs and abilities.
Science can sometimes be a tricky subject to teach, with parents often a bit rusty on their facts and students all too ready to roll their eyes at another set of facts to memorize.
With its fun experiments, fun spines, thorough science learning and hands-on activities and games, Elemental Science Classical Science can impart strong science skills in a more engaging and interesting way.
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.