Sunday, September 2, 2012

Question: R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey

I have a question!  I have a VERY science-orientated little boy and am considering using R.E.A.L Science Odyssey to support ME in providing enough science to keep him happy.

My understanding is that each of the level one books (Life, Earth and Space, Chemistry) is designed to take one academic year BUT it doesn't matter what order you do them in.  EXCEPT that Chemistry is not to be the first one (it is labeled as for grades 2-5 rather than 1-4).

I have some questions for any of my readers that have used these.  First, WHAT IS IT about Chemistry that makes it inappropriate for first grade? Is it that it builds on knowledge (vocabulary, procedures, etc.,) that are learned in either Life or Earth and Space?  Or,  did the publisher just think that 1st graders are too young for chemistry in general.

Second, I'm hoping someone else has done what I am thinking.  If not, if you have done any level of the program maybe you can give me some input on whether or not you think my idea would work.  I am thinking about beginning all three levels at about the same time and working on them concurrently for three years instead of doing one book a year for three years.  I hoped I could perhaps use them as support in as Montessori a way as possible if say we worked in the Earth and Space book on a day he is interested in space and worked in the Life book when he wants to think about plants or animals, etc.,  We might get further ahead in one or another as his interests dictate.

Does anyone who has worked with these have any thoughts?


  1. No comment on R.E.A.L, but if you're thinking about moving through multiple threads simultaneously, have you looked into Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding? It's designed to do that -- start in physical science, tie into life science, over to earth science, etc. -- as much as you'd like to follow the web that is science.

  2. We are using R.E.A.L this year for the first time, I am really excited! But, I believe we will move through it at a quicker pace then listed. My son is in Kindergarten but doing more 1st grade work and I plan to order another R.E.A.L level to add to his work. Good luck! I love your blog! What an inspiration!

  3. My suggestion was going to be almost identical to Jen's ;) I have no comment on REAL because it is has been a while since I looked at it - I can't remember details, but the fact we're not using for a science-loving child says it all for my opinion at the time. It might work well for others.

    My son is into all things science; I was asked to review BFSU for a friend, and tried it out with my son just to see how it would go. We ended up falling in love with it and now use both this and the Montessori albums. Both are deep enough by themselves for the average child, and they complement/support each other very well. The idea with both is to incite interest, real experiences, real discussions - and encourage self-chosen follow-up work. ;)

    There are a couple of yahoo groups for the BFSU books and I have a chart that helps to correspond the AMI album pages with the BFSU lessons - which reveals that their first book is really more appropriate for 3-7 year old Montessori kids; then book 2 is 7-12 and book 3 is 10+. If you go this route, I would recommend getting book 1 in non-printable e-format ($5) and book 2 either bound or in printable e-format.

  4. I can't comment of the R.E.A.L thingy. However, anything can be used within a Montessori environment if it is presented in that way. Make the activities into work that can go on the shelves and make work cards to go with it and it will work.

    A trainer of mine was fond of saying that you could have a perfect Montessori environment with no Montessori materials in it, or a terrible environment that was full of the materials because it depends on how they are presented and used. The core philosophy has to be secure. If you have the philosophy right then the materials are secondary.

  5. We too have no access to REAL here in England, but the past 6 months or so have progressed pretty well by using a combination of home-made materials, a copy of "200 Science Investigations for Young Students: Practical Activities for Science 5 - 11" as my guide and an understanding of my daughter's interests. Fortunately she has been interested in human anatomy, space, physics, biology and botany. My daughter loves anything that is a disection or an experiment (even if it's a grammar or maths or geography experiment) so I know she will go crazy over chemistry. I see no point in you holding back in this one area - you are more than able to match the content to your own needs and as a springboard to further investigations. Alas Chemistry is the one I still feel queasy over (a legacy of my school years) so I'll be really interested in what you guys get up to :)


  6. I was going to recommend BFSU as well. I tried BFSU and it ended up that though I loved the concept, it was not laid out in a manner that worked well for me. However, I know that Gettman worked for you and didn't for me (due to the way it was all squished together), so perhaps the BFSU would fit you well. I like to mix BFSU and REAL together. I see what lesson we are on in REAL and look up the threads in BFSU to add to the REAL lesson. REAL Life and Earth/Space is what I bought for this year because they go with the Classical Conversations Memory Work. I think your idea of combining would work well. I like REAL because the activities are short and simple enough that they get done, but they give good background info and list books to add for living science books. I don't care for all the activities though, especially for weather and human body. I haven't looked at chemistry. You can see a whole large chunk of it online free though at the Pandia Press Website. Looking at the table of contents and the sample lessons should give you a good idea if it would be too challenging.

  7. Well, as is typical for me I ordered all of them...BFSU *and* REAL. Girl Who Painted Trees...theoretically and conceptually it's what I want, but you are right. It's "dense". I wanted something for support that was more "open and go." BFSU seems at first glance to be a little more "get this, get that." I ordered everything as digital books so saved some $$ and it will be interesting to see what I wind up actually using the most between REAL, BFSU and my albums.

    Jessica, I'll e-mail you because obviously the chart is something I'm very interested in.

    Thank you everyone!

    1. K, I'm going back and forth between REAL and BFSU... could you fill me in on which you ended up going with?

    2. I wound up getting both. I have to say I use the BFSU far more than the REAL, but it's probably a matter of taste/teaching style.

  8. I hope it is ok to post this - because "Montessori and BFSU" typed into Google generally brings up this blog on the first page, I would like to post something of an update to my reply above.

    This is a link to the post that has the file correlating AMI Montessori with BFSU:

    That file also lists ALL the lesson topics for all 3 volumes which I have found handy on more than one occasion ;)