Curious about using Sassafras Science Adventures in your homeschool? Here’s what you need to know about this unique story-based elementary science curriculum.
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I discovered the Sassafras Science Adventures Series through a homeschooling friend several years ago. We were setting up for a co-op class, discussing curriculum woes, and brainstorming ideas when she mentioned it.
I told her of our struggle to find an elementary science option that worked for our family. In particular, I told her about our dreadful experience with the “award-winning, voted #1 science curriculum among homeschooling families.” I mean, where does one turn when the top recommendation completely bombs for your kids?
Knowing that we were shifting to literature-based learning, she told me to look into Sassafras Science. Now I’m sharing my observations and thoughts after using it with both of my kids (who happen to have vastly different personalities and learning styles).
Sassafras Science Adventures Overview
Elemental Science’s Sassafras Science Adventures centers around living books that feature two siblings, Blaine and Tracey Sassafras, and allows readers to learn about science alongside them. This happens topically through the following volumes:
- Volume 1, Zoology
- Volume 2, Anatomy
- Volume 3, Botany
- Volume 4, Earth Science
- Volume 5, Geology
- Volume 6, Astronomy
Also worth noting here, there are plans for two additional volumes and you can find a complete scope and sequence for the series through Elemental Science.
You can certainly read the novels themselves to teach science, but there’s a difference between reading the books alone and using the curriculum. The SCIDAT Logbooks and teacher guides bridge that gap.
The Logbooks are consumable and record the student work. You need one Logbook for each child using the curriculum.
Within each Sassafras Guide, you’ll find these key components to correspond with each chapter in the novels:
- chapter summaries
- additional reading suggestions
- answers for the student books
- copywork and dictation selections
- activity instructions
- project suggestions
- weekly schedule options
There are curriculum choices that don’t require a teacher guide to be implemented effectively. THIS is not one of them! I *do not* recommend using Sassafras Science as a full curriculum without using the guides with each volume.
Takeaways from Our Time Using Sassafras Science Adventures
1. It’s a unique approach.
Sassafras Science lessons are built around the novels for each level, but also incorporate demonstrations and experiments, ideas for further learning, and scheduling options. This leads to a nice balance of structure and relaxed learning.
Also, because the story itself teaches the science, kids experience science through the eyes of the main characters. So, while there are wonderful literature-based science programs, this approach is unique because the novels used were written for the curriculum specifically.
Between the novels, the notebooking-style student work, and the plethora of supplemental ideas in the teacher guide, it provides a unique flexibility to make science lessons fun, but effective in a relaxed homeschool environment. There really isn’t anything like it!
2. Notebooking and Sassafras Science go hand-in-hand.
Sassafras Science Adventures is a great curriculum choice for homeschoolers who implement notebooking! The SCIDAT Logbook used with each level uses custom notebooking-style pages that mimic the SCIDAT app referenced in the novels.
This similarity to the app from the novels connects kids with the story while also documenting the learning. This notebooking framework provides the flexibility to document lessons through drawings, copywork, definitions, and notes or items of interest.
3. It’s Charlotte Mason-friendly, but not CM.
Because each Sassafras Science lesson centers around a novel, this curriculum understandably appeals to some Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschoolers. Two kids later, I can say that it’s not a good fit for those who wish to closely follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy.
Yes, Charlotte Mason components like dictation and narration are nicely woven into each lesson and the ideas come through story. That said, the text itself isn’t similar in content or language to what you’ll find on a CM reading list. In fact, it felt out of place in our days when compared to our other readings.
Also, if you opt for the two-day schedule suggestion for each week, the lessons are quite lengthy. This option worked better in light of our other homeschool plans, but caused us to cram a whole week of lessons into two days. Because of that, lessons were longer and required more attention than my youngest kiddo has ever known through lessons written with the CM method in mind.
This isn’t all bad, but it does make it difficult to stay true to Miss Mason’s philosophy. That said, if you’re not following Miss Mason’s philosophy at all, none of this should hold you back. 😉
A Note on Why We Stopped after Volume I
After I used Sassafras Science with my oldest kiddo, he finished the elementary grades and transitioned to middle school. Since it’s written with kindergarten through 5th grade in mind, he aged out as we started with it.
As for my daughter, this was one of those scenarios when a truly good curriculum option wasn’t good for her. In fact, our time with Sassafras Science helped me realize she has quite a dislike for notebooking. 😉
Don’t get me wrong, it was effective for her in lots of ways, but the heavy emphasis on notebooking was a hangup I didn’t expect. That alone sent me looking elsewhere for her 4th grade year.
Connect with Sassafras Science
Ready to learn more about Sassafras Science Adventures? You can find details and purchase the volumes and companion products through Elemental Science.
You can also purchase the Sassafras Science products through Amazon and other homeschool retailers.
Bottom Line: I happily recommend Sassafras Science Adventures for families who are looking for a relaxed science curriculum. With the story-based learning, emphasis on notebooking, and plenty of additional ideas for further learning, it’s an option that stands out among programs.