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How to Help with the ‘Guess’ Part of Science Experiments

Dear Carrie Heart of Dakota Science Guess
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Dear Carrie, 

 How do I help my son answer the ‘guess’ questions in the science experiments correctly?   

My son is doing Preparing Hearts this year and really enjoys it!  The one thing he is having trouble with is the ‘guess’ part of the science experiments.  After he reads his science book, he goes to do his lab sheet.  He reads and copies the question, but when he tries to answer the question in the ‘guess’ part, he doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes he goes back and rereads the science reading but still can’t find the answer.  I’ve looked and can’t always find the exact answer either. At that point, I just tell him what I think he should write, but that frustrates him.  Lately, he doesn’t want to do the ‘guess’ part at all. So, my question is, how do I help my son answer the ‘guess’ questions in the science experiments correctly?


“Ms. Please Help My Son Guess Better” 


Dear “Ms. Please Help My Son Guess Better,” 

 I’m so glad you asked this! Your son not knowing the exact answer to the question is actually just fine.  In fact, the questions in Preparing Hearts are meant to make kiddos pause to ponder what they think. This is much like real scientists do when trying to answer questions they don’t know the answers to but hope to discover by conducting experiments. “Real” science brings up a question kiddos probably do not know how to answer. This makes them pause in a state of confusion and really take time to “wonder” about possible answers. It is that pausing and wondering stage that really results in real thinking. If we step in and automatically give kiddos the “one-right answer”, then the child automatically stops wondering.  

Charlotte Mason desired for the child’s mind to do the work.

Charlotte Mason would say that we desire for the child’s mind to be doing the work rather than the parent’s mind. The one whose mind is doing the work is really doing the thinking. So, if every time the child has a question, we step in and give them the right answer, they will soon cease to wonder. Instead, the parent will be doing the thinking in trying to explain the concept to the child. While this may be helpful for the parent’s learning, it teaches the child to just wait until the parent (or some other source) reveals the answer.  

We share Charlotte Mason’s goals for children by wanting them to question what they read, see, and hear.

Our goal through Heart of Dakota’s science is to present kiddos with interesting living books about science and scientists that get kiddos thinking and wondering about God’s world. We desire for them to question what they read, see, and hear. We want to get them thinking like a scientist, instead of just accepting whatever they are told.  If you really think about it, not so many years ago we had far less answers about science than we do now. How did those scientists think scientifically if they didn’t know the “right” answers?  

Children can always look up more information on a subject if they desire to do so.

If your child desires to look up more information to find out more about a subject broached in HOD then that is a good thing. If, however, you take the initiative and look up answers for your child in order to give the child the right answers, then that has become a parent led quest to find the answer to just tell or reveal to your child. Do you see the difference? 

HOD’s science is written to encourage children to think like scientists.

We pray your children will learn to think like a scientist through HOD’s science. That is a different matter entirely than just learning the answers with very little thinking involved. While our younger guides do often lead the young child to some sort of guess based on the material provided, our guides for older students move away from this more and more (as the student is more able to think on a higher level as he/she matures). We want to encourage this type of higher-level thinking as much as possible. As kiddos read about real scientists and the questions they sought to answer, students will realize that questioning is the beginning of scientific thinking. 




This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Micki

    Dear Carrie,

    My daughter is in the Bigger Hearts For His Glory book, and we often find that some of the science experiments do not have very specific directions. Most of the time we can not get the experiments to work.
    Today we are charting the Migration pattern of the sparrow (Unit 10 Day 2).
    We have searched the internet and are unable to find a migration pattern that goes from France to Haiti. Is this a mistake? These unknowns in the science portion are super frustrating and seem to derail the entire day. Do you have any advice?

    1. Hello! I’d be glad to help! Bigger Heart’s science includes a 5 day rotation of follow-ups. Unit 10, Day 2 has students create a science notebook entry. Notebook assignments often include definite guidelines along with some open-ended portions to allow individual creativity. The notebooking assignment on Unit 10, Day 2 is in response to the living book John Audubon. Though there are some definite guidelines, there is also intentional room for individual creativity. For example, the definite guidelines for this assignment are to reference the map on p. 17 of OSS Woods, to read the paragraph to the right of the map, and to copy Jeremiah 8:7 at the top of an unlined paper. The guideline that allows individual creativity is the direction ‘for students to draw their own migration map showing the swallow migrating from France to Haiti,’ and in case the student finds this too difficult, an additional note of ‘if that seems too difficult, you may choose one of the birds from the migration map on p. 17 to do instead.’

      We’ve done this assignment 3 times with our 3 different sons. While they all had the definite guidelines included in their notebooking assignment directions, their final notebooking pages all looked slightly different and reflected their creativity. My more logical son opted to draw the swallow migrating from France to Haiti on a map that pretty much looked just like the map on p. 17. My more mechanically inclined son drew the globe as it is shown on p. 17, but made several birds he cut out and colored to ‘fly’ along the migration paths he’d drawn. My more creatively inclined son quickly drew a map, labeled many of the birds shown, but then made his own bird feeder to hang on our tree, looked up bird sounds of local birds on enature.com, bought bird seed for the local birds… you get the picture! Anyway, many of the science assignments include definite guidelines with more open-ended elements to allow for creativity – however, they all still learned the key idea, that many birds migrate to warmer climates during winter months.

      Experiments are meant to help the children be ‘scientists’ as they move through the question, guess (hypothesis), procedure, conclusion. There are definite guidelines and creative open-ended portions as well, much like real scientists face when trying to answer questions by performing experiments. We have learned to love this hands-on, literature-based, Charlotte Mason style approach to science. Our children remember the key ideas long after the science assignments are done for these very reasons. Of course, you can always use any science with HOD if you prefer!

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