Looking for a way to include independent learning in your homeschool plans? This self-paced science curriculum from Heron Books can help!
*I received complimentary access to Heron Books’ World of Plants unit for review purposes. As always, I was not required to write a positive review but was compensated for my time writing and reviewing this resource. See this disclosure to learn more.
I’ve always appreciated homeschool resources that encourage independent study. Now that I’m juggling work and my own college coursework along with homeschooling, I appreciate this kind of learning even more.
With that said, independent learning has value regardless of the other responsibilities on your plate. My daughter is entering her 6th grade year, so the value of independent learning is at the front of my mind now that I’m gearing up for my second round of middle school and looking ahead to the high school years.
Between this transition to middle school and my ever-so-full schedule, homeschool curriculum options that encourage independence are at the top of my wishlist these days. That’s why I want to share our experience with the World of Plants unit from the Heron Books Young Scientist Series.
Self-Paced Science with Heron Books
Before I dig into my thoughts about this self-paced science option, here’s an overview of the curriculum itself.
An Overview of the Heron Books Young Scientist Series
The Young Scientist Series currently consists of five units: World of Plants, Circulation of the Blood, Take a Closer Look (microscopes), The Fabulous Human Body, and Lightbulbs, Switches, and Batteries. These secular science units are geared toward 4-6 grades and are ideal for kids from 9-12 years. In other words, these are PERFECT for the shift to independent work in the middle school years!
Though the units themselves contain about 12 hours of material, the lessons are completely self-paced. Each lesson is divided into small chunks of reading, journaling, and hands-on learning; each of these lesson components can be done in one sitting or a little at a time over a few days. This means an individual unit like World of Plants could be spread out over a couple of weeks, a month, or longer depending on your kiddo’s pacing or your homeschool schedule.
As for what’s included in the curriculum, here’s what’s in the World of Plants package.
- World of Plants
- Self-Study Guide
- Young Scientist Journal
- Exam and answer key
- Teacher resources (supply checklist for activities, certificate of completion, etc.)
Get a sample lesson from World of Plants!
Get a peek inside the Young Scientist Series unit through this World of Plants sample chapter. This allows you to preview the lesson structure before purchasing.
Worth noting, some extra items like flash cards are available for a few of the other units.
And lastly, the units can be purchased together or individually. This leaves lots of flexibility for you to incorporate a couple of units as desired throughout the year or for your entire homeschool science solution.
3 Things We LOVE About This Self-paced Science Curriculum
Now that you know more about the Young Scientist Series as a whole, here’s what makes it stand out among a sea of other homeschool science curriculum options.
1. self-Paced Learning fosters independence.
I’ve made several references to the independent learning structure found in the Young Scientist units. That comes into play in a couple of ways: the World of Plants book and the Student Learning Guide.
Each chapter in the World of Plants contains a mix of text and vibrant illustrations. My younger kiddo is pretty new to independent learning, so this combination has been super helpful in preventing overwhelm and engaging her as she works through the reading.
(And really, when kiddos stay engaged while transitioning to independent work, that sets them up to thrive in the upper grades of homeschooling!)
The World of Plants text encourages independent learning, but the Student Learner Guide is the part of the Young Scientist Series that gives them the direction needed to work on their own.
Instead of using a traditional teacher guide to assign reading and additional work, the Student Learner Guide lists each lesson component individually and has students initial after they complete those components. Then, once or twice in each section, students and parents (or other teachers) must initial together after the student shares or discusses some of the independent work from the lesson. So, there’s a nice blend of independence and accountability built in.
All of this, along with the self-paced nature of the curriculum, means that students can step into the independent learning needed for the middle and upper grades with a gentle, pressure-free framework that simply isn’t found in most science resources.
2. There’s Lots of Hands-on Learning.
One awesome and rather unexpected thing about these Young Scientist Series units is how they promote independent learning *and* self-paced science exploration through activities and experiments. In my 13+ years of homeschooling, I’ve learned that independence and activities don’t usually co-exist in daily homeschool life. That’s why it’s a pleasant surprise to discover a curriculum that combines the two.
The great thing about this mix of hands-on learning activities is that some require supplies like potting soil, seeds, and clear cups, but others require no supplies at all. My kiddo is still working through the unit, but several of the lessons she completed required nothing more than taking a walk and observing plants around us.
And because this World of Plants unit fosters self-paced and independent learning, some activities don’t require students to step outside or need any supervision to complete. In those cases, the activities encourage observational learning that happens inside the home with a parent or helper available if help is requested.
3. It’s Open and Go.
Finally, I love that the Young Scientist Series is truly open-and-go and requires very little preparation. I don’t need to divide the reading, create supply lists, or come up with activities or demonstrations to go along with the reading.
All of these, along with step-by-step student instructions for each lesson, were ready to go when I opened my package from Heron Books. This low-prep curriculum allows my science-loving kiddo to dig in and learn as much as she wants each day without me putting aside other things on my to-do list. I can’t begin to explain what a relief that is on the days I’m feeling overwhelmed by work and my assignments.
Learn More About Heron Books
In conclusion, I invite you to head to Heron Books to learn more about this World of Plants unit and the entire Young Scientist Series. While you’re there, remember to use tablelife30 at checkout to save 30% on anything from the site.
And the best part? This code can be used multiple times, so you can still enjoy those savings in the future. 🙂
Bottom line: the Young Scientist Series from Heron Books is a fantastic curriculum option for homeschool families looking for a topical approach to science lessons. It’s also the best option I’ve seen for fostering the independence and self-led learning that’s so important for students moving into middle school and high school years.