"What science curriculum is best for my third grader? Should my 5th grader know the scientific classification of the wood thrush? Are experiments enough science for my kindergartener, or should I be doing more?"
Actually, you don't need a science curriculum at all in elementary school! That's right- none! It's not bad... just not necessary... unless it kills your child's love for science. Then, it's bad. I'm going to tell you a secret. My children have had no elementary science curriculum at all prior to 7th grade. They are thriving. They love and understand science. In fact, my oldest understands science better than I do. Actually, I don't remember a single thing from my elementary school science classes. What i DO remember is the time spent with my dad observing the starts and constellations, or looking at the moon through a telescope or finding the moons of Jupiter. I remember the nature walks and finding animal tracks, the books I read and the projects we did. These are the things that made science fun for me!
Most of all I remember the smell and sounds of the woods. I remember the ecitement of reading about faraway planets and the beauty and wonder of pictures of ocean life! These are the science memories I wanted to build for my children. When they thought of science, I wanted that word to conjure up images of wildly colored fluids in Ehrlenmeyer flasks, the smell of the woods after a rain, and the beauty of a duck in flight! I wanted them to remember baking soda volcanoes and putting together a model of the human body! I want them to remember our garden and the taste of a fresh, ripe tomato.
This is why I don't buy science textbooks. We explore creation guided only by its Creator (and possibly the help of a Peterson field guide)! So, people ask me all the time, if you don't use a science textbook, what do you use? My #1 top pick- if you use only this in first to sixth grade, you will have given your children a quality science education: Handbook of Nature Study. Look to the left for a list of hyperlinks to my other favorites for K-6!