High School Science and Charlotte Mason

“His parents know that the first step in intimacy is recognition; and they will measure his education, not solely by his progress in the ‘three R’s,’ but by the number of living and growing things he knows by look, name, and habitat. A child of six will note with eager interest the order of time in which the trees put on their leaves; will tell you whether to look in hedge, or meadow, or copse, for eyebright, wood-sorrel, ground-ivy; will not think that flowers were made to be plucked, for––
‘Tis (his) faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes”––

but will take his friends to see where the milk-wort grows, or the bog-bean, or the sweet-gale. The birds of the air are no longer casual; he soon knows when and where to expect the redstart and the meadow pipit. The water-skater and the dragon-fly are interesting and admired acquaintances. His eyes have sparkled at the beauty of crystals, and, though he may not have been able to find them in situ, he knows the look of the crystals of lime and quartz, and the lovely pink of felspar, and many more.” Charlotte Mason, volume 3, chapter 7, page 76 (original text)

This was our first year of high school using the Charlotte Mason method with my 14 year old son. I followed the Ambleside Online’s recommendation and used Apologia Biology along with the companion CD and the dissection lab kit. At the beginning of the year I was nervous that the textbook approach to biology would dampen our living books and nature study style of learning. It has proven not to be so.

I wrote a post back in November 2007 about our plans but now that the year is over, or very close to it, I thought I would update my thoughts so when I use this course again with my younger son, I would have it all in one place and it will perhaps help another mom who is trying to transition to a more textbook approach to high school using the Charlotte Mason style.

If you are interested in seeing the table of contents for Apologia’s Biology course, here is the link.
Apologia Biology Table of Contents

We did not do all of the items listed but we did do quite a few of them. If you have already completed a nature study focus listed in a module, you could just review your nature journals and your field guide cards to refresh your memories. We actually completed a focused study of insects, birds, and small mammals this year. We are currently working on a focused study of garden plants using the Handbook of Nature Study.

Here are the ideas we have for adding in nature study and living books to Apologia Biology.

Module 1:
Read biography of Carl Linnaeus
Read Microbe Hunters, chapter 1 Leeuwenhoek

Module 2:
Read Microbe Hunters, chapter 2 Spallanzani and chapter 3 Pasteur
Start a pond study to complement the study of microscopic organisms-protozoa
Use A Golden Guide to Pond Life
Read biography of Louis Pasteur

Module 3:
Continue pond study-algae
Handbook of Nature Study section on insects of the brook and pond

Module 4:
Nature study focus on mushrooms and other fungi
Work with yeast
Work with molds

Modules 5-7:
The Biology Coloring Book by Robert Griffin-color appropriate pages to help visualize the abstract concepts in these modules

Module 8:
Growing pea plants to support Mendelian genetic study (just for fun)
Read a biography of Gregor Mendel
Grow radishes as part of experiment 8.4

Module 9:
Read a biography of Charles Darwin
Handbook of Nature Study section on rocks and minerals


Module 11:
Dissection of an earthworm
Nature study focus on Invertebrates-garden snails, earthworms
Handbook of Nature Study section on invertebrate animals other than insects

Module 12:
Nature study focus on arachnida (spiders) and/or insects and/or lepidoptera
Dissection of a crayfish
Handbook of Nature Study section on insects

Module 13:
Dissection of a perch and a frog
Nature study focus on amphibians
Handbook of Nature Study section on fishes
Handbook of Nature Study section on amphibians


Module 14:
Collect leaf samples
Nature study focus on flowerless plants
Handbook of Nature Study section on flowerless plants


Module 15:
Insectivorous plants-observe a Venus Flytrap or Sundew
Nature study focus on garden flowers-parts of a flower
Collect and press flowers
Germinate seeds
Handbook of Nature Study section on plants/garden flowers


Module 16:
Nature study focus on birds, reptiles, or mammals
Handbook of Nature Study section on birds
Handbook of Nature Study section on reptiles
Handbook of Nature Study section on mammals

In addition to this, he read the following books and kept a commonplace book:
The Yosemite by John Muir
The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way by Joy Hakim

We kept a nature journal and we used the following field guides:
Peterson Field Guides: Western Birds
Peterson Field Guides: Western Trees
National Audubon Society Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians
National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers
Mammals of California by E.W. Jameson, Jr., and Hans J. Peeters

If you would like to have links to the books we used this year, you can visit my page that outlines our whole ninth grade curriculum. You will need to scroll down to the science section but there are links to Amazon.com for each book listed above except for the field guides.
Well-Trained Mind: Grade Nine (with a Charlotte Mason Twist)

So there you have it. This year has opened up my eyes to how easy it was to keep with our Charlotte Mason ideas for learning if you are alert to opportunities that come up. Next year we are continuing with our study of biology and focus on marine life with Apologia’s Marine Biology textbook. When I get my thoughts and ideas together for that book, I will share those too.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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