Guest Hollow's Biology Curriculum Textbook, Supplemental Reading, Videos & Resources

 

Click here to go back to the Guest Hollow's Homeschool Biology main page and access the other components of Guest Hollow's Biology Curriculum.

Biology Reading Assignments

We've provided a FREE textbook and have researched and found tons of terrific books, literature tie-ins, videos and more to make this year with biology memorable, interesting, and fun! Take a look at the categories below to get started on your amazing Guest-Hollow-style journey!

Please take the time to read about our resources, as well as our optional resources, as this will help you plan a terrific year of study.

Click a link or scroll down to a category so you can see the listed resources and find out more information:


Guest Hollow's Biology Textbook

Biology textbook

We’ve taken the well-known and rigorous CK-12 biology textbook and edited it  (thanks to a Creative Commons licence) to fit a Christian creationist perspective. Edits are as follows:

  • References to evolution taken out
  • New videos added (you can watch them right from the online text!)
  • Christian material added
  • Definitions placed with vocabulary words in the beginning of each chapter
  • New pictures added
  • Custom illustrations created to better communicate concepts
  • Additional concepts and material added
  • Some humor was added and/or sections rewritten to be more clear / understandable
  • Latin and Greek root word “alerts” were created and inserted in the text – a fun way to learn vocabulary using science!

If you are a secular family or do not want the Christian version of the textbook & workbook, click here.

Our amazing, free textbook is online. The reason why we've done this is because it gives us an unprecedented way to tie in FREE videos, articles, and interactive activities that are linked directly from the text. Students can read about the Kreb's cycle and then immediately SEE how it works. Both students and parents have told us how much they LOVE our textbook. Rather than handing a student an overwhelming, thick, boring book, our biology lessons are interactive, colorful and so much more engaging. Kids who HATED their other biology curriculum love the switch to Guest Hollow.

Textbook edits are as follows:

  • References to Evolution taken out
  • New videos added
  • Christian material added
  • Definitions placed with vocabulary words in the beginning of each chapter
  • New pictures added to illustrate concepts
  • Custom illustrations created
  • Additional concepts and material added
  • Some humor was added or sections rewritten to be more clear / understandable
  • Root word "alerts" - a fun way to learn vocabulary using science!

Note: Many other links, interactive online activities and videos are IN the text. These extras are NOT listed below, or in the schedule as that would be redundant.

online biology course

Click here for a current link to the textbook.

You can click directly to the assigned chapters from the daily / weekly schedule.

Homeschool biology curriculum

Click here for a printable PDF copy of the textbook.

Guest Hollow’s Biology textbook was designed to be used / read online and is formatted for online use. I recommend using the online textbook, but realize that some families would like a paper copy of the book.

This adapted PDF version is being provided as a courtesy and doesn’t provide the best viewing / formatting experience. This printable text may also contain some minor formatting errors. But, hey, it’s free! ;-)

You can take the PDF file to your local print shop and have it printed and comb bound or hole punched, to place in a binder.



 

FAQ:

What is the best way to access this online textbook?

I recommend getting a Kindle Fire tablet (or other tablet) or using your family's computer. As of this writing, the least expensive Kindle Fire is $49. For this price your student can read the online textbook and click directly on the videos and articles that are linked in the text, without hogging the family's computer or laptop. Amazon's Fire tablets have EXCELLENT parental controls (in my opinion) that allow you to monitor your child's tablet use, if you wish.


Pick-and-Choose Resources

The resources listed below are things to use in addition to the free textbook. Pick and choose what your interest and budget allows for.

Many of the links listed below are through the Amazon Associates Program. I get a small amount of commission when you click through and make an order. Additional resources, supplies and kits for labs are listed in the lab planner.

Optional books - Recommended Reading: - I consider it a high priority to get at least a few recommended reading books. We will be reading most, if not all, of the books listed.

Books beyond the textbook serve an important function. They cover subjects in a more in depth and sometimes much more appealing way. You can read these during scheduled science time or incorporate them during your student's daily reading or language arts period. Books can be read silently by your student(s) or used as read-alouds. Note: Even when my kids were in high school, I still read to them out loud sometimes! This gave us an opportunity to discuss things as we read about them and was a special, treasured family time that even my husband participated in (by listening). You can read many articles about the benefits of reading out loud, even to teens. Here is a link to one of those articles: Research Says: Reading Aloud Helps Teens.

Preview the books!!
Please be aware that some of the books may contain information that may not be appropriate for all families. Most of these books are intended for adults. Some of the secular books mention evolution or have graphic descriptions of parasites, etc.  Some of the literature may contain minor cursing, etc. You should preview them to help you make better choices as to what may or may not be appropriate for YOUR student(s). All of the books below have been chosen because of several reasons:

  • The most important reason is that they each somehow tie into biology concepts.
  • To provoke a greater interest and understanding about specific topics… Nothing can beat a book chock full of interesting info that brings science "to life" (hence the term "living books").
  • To better engage my son's interest… Let's just face it. Textbooks can be boring sometimes. These books cover material in a way that is much more memorable and engaging!

Option: If you want your student to write a paper or report about some of the books, click here for instructions and a grading rubric.

Don't forget to check your local library for copies of these books in order to save money!

P.S. You don't have to get ALL of the books. I do recommend you get at least a few, if you have time for them. Pick and choose.

Here are the categories of optional books:

Scheduled Christian books (scroll down for secular books)- These books are listed in the Bible study portion of the schedule.

Because we are Christians, I want to spend a good deal of time studying creationist beliefs and tying them into the topics we're learning. I've incorporated a variety of resources, some of them available for FREE online (with the option of buying them for those of you who want a book to hold in hand). I consider these resources a high priority. If you are Christians who believe in creation, you will probably want to read at least one or two of them.

The New Answers Book
Available via Kindle

The New Answers Book 1

This book is available FREE online. I've linked to the chapters in the schedule.

Otter's rating: 5 stars
Mom's rating: 4 stars We did this as a read-aloud and sometimes I felt it was a little bit dry. Still, overall, it was informative and interesting for the most part.

I thought it was important to cover apologetics and our family's Christian beliefs about creation vs. evolution this year as it meshes perfectly with biology. I've managed to find 4 great books online for FREE that cover these topics. If you are a Christian with these beliefs, it's very important to build this foundation now, before college. Our daughter Emily was very well prepared for her secular college classes and didn’t divert from our belief system. She was able to have successful (and respectful) debates with some of her teachers because we armed her with a great deal of knowledge.

This book has a free study guide available online! Here is the free Answer guide.

The New Answers Book 2
Available via Kindle

The New Answers Book 2

This book is available FREE online. I've linked to the chapters in the schedule.

 

Click here for the free study guide. Here is the free answer guide.

Evolution Exposed

Evolution Exposed: Your Evolution Answer Book for the Classroom

This book is available FREE online. I've linked to the chapters in the schedule.

Our oldest used this in high school before heading off to college. It was a great tool in helping her learn about creationism vs. evolution.

The Lie: Evolution
Available via Kindle

The Lie: Evolution

This book is available FREE online. I've linked to the chapters in the schedule.

 

The Genesis of Germs

The Genesis of Germs

FREE study guide

"Break out your microscopes and haz-mat suits! It's time to delve into the world of germs and discover how something so small can have such a huge, deadly impact on the world around us. It seems that every day a new, more horrible disease is touted on the news. Where did all these germs come from, and how do they fit into a biblical world view? What kind of function did microbes have before the Fall? Gillen answers these questions and many more in this fascinating book. Professor Gillen also shows that these constantly mutating diseases are evidence for devolution rather than evolution. Written for home schoolers and others with a fascination for learning, The Genesis of Germs shows how all the diseases and germs in today's world point toward creation." Quote from book description

My note: This is a pretty in-depth book and while parts are fascinating, other parts are dry. Only recommended for the super-gung-ho students who NEED more.

Scheduled books

Although I've scheduled in these books, they don't take precedence over the unscheduled books (listed below). In fact, some of the unscheduled books may be much more interesting and worthwhile. Pick and choose from both categories to suit your family's interests, needs and budget.

Biology Coloring Workbook

Biology Coloring Workbook

Otter's rating: 2 stars He doesn't like having to take the time to color the pictures, lol.

Mom's rating: 4 stars

I chose this biology coloring book because I like the pictures in it better than the other biology coloring book option. It's much more clear and uncluttered and also covers a variety of the topics we'll be studying this year. It's not a must have, but coloring the pictures might help cement concepts in some student's minds.

*Note: there are evolutionary concepts covered in some of the chapters. I don't schedule those pages in.

A World in a Drop of Water: Exploring with a Microscope
Available via Kindle

A World in a Drop of Water: Exploring with a Microscope

This is a basic but good primer on various microscopic pond creatures. Great for younger students too.

Enzymes in Action by Melvin Berger

FREE
Enzymes in Action by Melvin Berger
Free at the Open Library - available in epub format or PDF or online

From Amazon

This is a fascinating book that is pretty easy to read. Not only does it talk about the history of how enzymes were discovered, it also talks about how enzymes are used in a variety of functions, from the human body to laundry detergents. Don't let the cover throw you off. This is a book that has a lot of appealing / interesting information (in addition to a few dry spots).

Note: Some of the information is outdated (but still important and interesting), as this book was written in the 70's. Let your students know that many new discoveries about enzymes and how to manufacture them have been discovered since this book was written. Your students may even wish to look up some of the newer discoveries and information after reading portions of this book. We did!

The Cartoon Guide to Genetics

The Cartoon Guide to Genetics

This books takes a complex subject and makes it much more understandable in a cartoon / comic-book style. I have also scheduled this in my new anatomy and physiology course as a required resource. If you are going to use my anatomy curriculum, you can skip this book until then, or use it for review, at that time.

Warning: There are some adult humor/references as well as evolution mentioned.

Below are some examples of objectionable material to help you make a decision as to whether it's appropriate or not:

p. 30

p. 30

And on p. 52

p. 52

The book also takes about the Bible story of Jacob and Laban and interprets the story as Jacob using "fertility magic" when he stripped the bark from willow rods and set them near the watering hole.

Although this book has some issues, it does do a good job of explaining genetics and is worthwhile, if you can deal with the above concerns.

Bacteria: Staph, Strep, Clostridium, and Other Bacteria

Bacteria: Staph, Strep, Clostridium, and Other Bacteria

 

An easy read with lots of pictures - this book will help a visual learner or reluctant reader better retain some of the textbook information. Preview for evolution.
Google Preview

Archaea: Salt-Lovers, Methane-Makers, Thermophiles, and Other Archaeans

Archaea: Salt-Lovers, Methane-Makers, Thermophiles, and Other Archaeans

An easy read with lots of pictures - this book will help a visual learner or reluctant reader better retain some of the textbook information. Preview for evolution.

Google Preview

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas

Otter's rating: 5 stars
It's a picture book, but one that even some high school teachers use for their biology classes. I love the illustrations.

UNSCHEDULED "Living" BOOKS - These books are intended to be read throughout the year in whatever order you wish. They are optional, but will enhance your biology study and make topics come alive in ways that a textbook can't. I wouldn't be surprised if your student remembers more from some of these books than the text itself!

Scheduling:

Read one book and when you are done, read the next one (again - in whatever order you wish). We did some of these books as read-alouds, so we could discuss the contents together.

Here are additional unscheduled books for extra credit, extra reading and/or for those times when one of the above books doesn't appeal. You may also want to add in a few books from below if you are using our anatomy curriculum as a CORE curriculum (your "main" curriculum), instead of just a science curriculum. I have two categories for you to choose from: literature and non-fiction!

Some of these books are also unscheduled books in our anatomy curriculum, but are interchangeable with our biology curriculum.

UNSCHEDULED RESOURCES - Literature / Fiction
The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain
*Literature link

"From the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Sphere comes a captivating thriller about a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism, which threatens to annihilate human life.
 
Five prominent biophysicists have warned the United States government that sterilization procedures for returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere. Two years later, a probe satellite falls to the earth and lands in a desolate region of northeastern Arizona. Nearby, in the town of Piedmont, bodies lie heaped and flung across the ground, faces locked in frozen surprise. What could cause such shock and fear? The terror has begun, and there is no telling where it will end. " Quote from book description

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

This is the first in a series of 4 books, based loosely around different fairy tales. I've read the first 3 and am looking forward to the release of the 4th! They are Y.A. novels about a cyborg girl, a plague and a futuristic world where the war might break out between the Moon and the Earth at any moment.

The books have lots of different & small elements that tie into anatomy / biology concepts like a biological plague, the meshing of cyberntic parts with human, etc.

There is some light fairy-tale style romance in the books, but nothing worse than an exchanged kiss (think of the stories Cinderella & Rapunzel).

"Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future. " Quote from book description

The Cobra Event

The Cobra Event
*Literature link - Warning: Some cursing

"The Cobra Event is set in motion one spring morning in New York City, when a seventeen-year-old student wakes up feeling vaguely ill. Hours later she is having violent seizures, blood is pouring out of her nose, and she has begun a hideous process of self-cannibalization. Soon, other gruesome deaths of a similar nature have been discovered, and the Centers for Disease Control sends a forensic pathologist to investigate. What she finds precipitates a federal crisis.

The details of this story are fictional, but they are based on a scrupulously thorough inquiry into the history of biological weapons and their use by civilian and military terrorists. Richard Preston's sources include members of the FBI and the United States military, public health officials, intelligence officers in foreign governments, and scientists who have been involved in the testing of strategic bioweapons. The accounts of what they have seen and what they expect to happen are chilling." Quote from book description

Fantastic Voyage

Fantastic Voyage

"Four men and a woman are reduced to a microscopic fraction of their original size, sent in a miniaturized atomic sub through a dying man's carotid artery to destroy a blood clot in his brain. If they fail, the entire world will be doomed." Quote from book description

Fever 1793

Fever 1793

*Literature link - Scientific concepts can be just as memorable in fiction and can encourage students to do more research. At the very least, they make science come alive in a "real" context that is accessible and memorable.

"During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.

Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease." Quote from book description

For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars

Mom's rating: 4 1/2 stars

"It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it." Quote from Amazon

Despite this book being called a "romance" - don't let that scare you off. I think the book description it simply meant to woo teen girls to read it, lol. Although it does has some elements of a frustrated love story (it's based on Jane Austen's Persuasion after all),  it's very "clean" and focused on Elliot, her "luddite" culture and changes being wrought due to science and technology gaining a new foothold in a world that's refused to dabble in such disciplines for centuries. It's actually a beautifully written novel that  explores a dystopian world of people living with the consequences of genetics gone wrong in the distant past and a new struggle of finding the right balance in a society that refuses to allow any advancements, even when it will save or improve lives.

This book is a worthwhile read with a main character who is a decent, hard-working girl who truly gives up her own best interests for others. This is not the typical trashy teen novel hiding under the guise of a dystopian. I do recommend parents who are discouraging dating though to at least preview it though, to see if it's appropriate for your family due to the romance elements. Also, it will appeal more to girls than boys.

This is a perfect book to read after studying the last part of chapter 8 (8.3) in the textbook.

P.S. There are also a LOT of parallel's to Jane Austin's Persuasion - so that might be an interesting literature tie-in!

The House of the Scorpion

The House of the Scorpion (Book 1)


The Lord of Opium
The Lord of Opium (Book 2)

The House of the Scorpion

Mom's rating: 5 stars

"Series: National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature, Newbery Honor Book, Printz Honor Book

"Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested.
His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium--a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster--except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect." Quote from book description

I read this book (and the sequel which I obtained as an advanced review copy) and LOVED it. I totally understand why it's the recipient of so many awards. The story is creative, contains a decent amount of science and has characters that will stick with you for a long time. It's a masterful mix of sci-fi and a dystopian with plenty of concepts connected to biology / cloning topics. Highly recommended and not just for your students!!!

My Sister's Keeper: A Novel

My Sister's Keeper: A Novel

"Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. 
My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity." Quote from book description

The White Mountains (The Tripods)

The White Mountains (The Tripods)

Entire Guest family's review: 5 stars

This is one of those amazing & well-crafted (and "clean") series that's a must-read. It's sci-fi and features a capping ceremony at the advent of adulthood that employs mind control. A great read for when you are studying the brain. ;-) If your teens haven't read this one yet, get it. It's clean enough to be read by younger children and intelligent enough for the adults in the family, too. Don't be surprised when you get asked for the next book in the series...Even my "froo-froo" daughter loved the Tripod series!

"Will Parker never dreamed he would be the one to rebel against the Tripods. With the approach of his thirteenth birthday, he expected to attend his Capping ceremony as planned and to become connected to the Tripods—huge three-legged machines—that now control all of Earth. But after an encounter with a strange homeless man called Beanpole, Will sets out for the White Mountains, where people are said to be free from the control of the Tripods.

But even with the help of Beanpole and his friends, the journey is long and hard. And with the Tripods hunting for anyone who tries to break free, Will must reach the White Mountains fast. But the longer he’s away from his home, the more the Tripods look for him…and no one can hide from the monstrous machines forever." Quote from book description

At the Sign Of the Sugared Plum

At the Sign Of the Sugared Plum

"‘You be going to live in the city, Hannah?' Farmer Price asked, pushing his battered hat up over his forehead. ‘Wouldn''t think you'd want to go there . . . Times like this, I would have thought your sister would try and keep you away.' Hannah is oblivious to Farmer Price's dark words, excited as she is about her first ever trip to London to help her sister in her shop ‘The Sugared Plum', making sweetmeats for the gentry. Hannah does not however get the reception she expected from her sister Sarah. Instead of giving Hannah a hearty welcome, Sarah is horrified that Hannah did not get her message to stay away - the Plague is taking hold of London.

Based on much research, Mary Hooper tellingly conveys how the atmosphere in London changes from a disbelief that the Plague is anything serious, to the full-blown horror of the death carts and being locked up - in effect to die - if your house is suspected of infection." Quote from book description

UNSCHEDULED RESOURCES - Non-fiction
The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

"Acclaimed as “extraordinary” (The New York Times) and “a classic” (Los Angeles Times), The Big Necessity is on its way to removing the taboo on bodily waste—something common to all and as natural as breathing. We prefer not to talk about it, but we should—even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. Disease spread by waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death. Even in America, nearly two million people have no access to an indoor toilet. Yet the subject remains unmentionable.

Moving from the underground sewers of Paris, London, and New York (an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen) to an Indian slum where ten toilets are shared by 60,000 people, The Big Necessity breaks the silence, revealing everything that matters about how people do—and don’t—deal with their own waste. With razor-sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George has turned the subject we like to avoid into a cause with the most serious of consequences."

The Genesis of Germs

ChristianThe Genesis of Germs

FREE study guide

"Break out your microscopes and haz-mat suits! It's time to delve into the world of germs and discover how something so small can have such a huge, deadly impact on the world around us. It seems that every day a new, more horrible disease is touted on the news. Where did all these germs come from, and how do they fit into a biblical world view? What kind of function did microbes have before the Fall? Gillen answers these questions and many more in this fascinating book. Professor Gillen also shows that these constantly mutating diseases are evidence for devolution rather than evolution. Written for home schoolers and others with a fascination for learning, The Genesis of Germs shows how all the diseases and germs in today's world point toward creation." Quote from book description

My note: This is a pretty in-depth book and while parts are fascinating, other parts are dry. Only recommended for the super-gung-ho students who NEED more.

Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures

Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures

"Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the parasite-riddled war zone of southern Sudan, Zimmer introduces an array of amazing creatures that invade their hosts, prey on them from within, and control their behavior. His vivid descriptions bring to life parasites that can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead."Quote from book description

*Evolution IS mentioned in this book. This is a book written to an adult audience. Preview.

Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings

Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings

Otter's rating: 5 stars
Dad's rating: 5 stars
Mom's rating: 4 stars

This should make you shudder next time you see a creepy crawly! LOL
My husband really enjoyed listening to our read-aloud of this book and we all learned a lot. Sometimes the medical descriptions can seem a bit redundant. It seems that most things that bite you cause pretty much the same horrible symptoms. ;-)

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

"1793, Philadelphia. The nation's capital and the largest city in North America is devastated by an apparently incurable disease, cause unknown . . .

In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city's residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia's free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis that President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city--and all his papers--while escaping the deadly contagion. The search for the fever's causes and cure, not found for more than a century afterward, provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege." Quote from book description

Killer Germs

Killer Germs

Skip the first chapter (pages 1-5) if you are anti-evolution. There is more evolution in later portions of the book, but not as heavy as that first chapter.

"Everything readers ever wanted to know about deadly viruses, killer parasites, flesh-eating microbes, and other lifethreatening beasties but were afraid to ask...

What disease, known as "the White Death" has killed 2 billion people, and counting?

What fatal disease lurks undetected in air conditioners and shower heads, waiting to become airborne?

How lethal is the Ebola virus, and will there ever be a cure for it?

How do you catch flesh-eating bacteria?

Killer Germs takes readers on a fascinating (sometimes horrifying) journey into the amazing world of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and worms and explores the roles they have played in shaping the course of human history. From biblical plagues, to the AIDS crisis, to supergerms of the future, this updated and revised edition of the original covers the whole gamut of diseases that have threatened humanity since its origins.

It also includes a new chapter on the history of bioterrorism and the deplorable role it has played and is likely to play in the phenomenal diversity of diseases." Quote from book description

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

The whole family's rating: 5 stars

Warning: This book graphically describes what happens to people when they get the Ebola virus. Other warnings: curse words, mention of a prostitute, killing of animals, etc.

We really learned a lot from this book! It was a timely read for us (we read it during the last ebola outbreak) and worthwhile.

Gifted Hands

Christian Gifted Hands

Inspiring! There is also a kid's version of this book which would be appropriate for younger students or a student who just wants a quick read.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Warning: Language and graphic content regarding an abusive situation

I have had parents tell me how this book really resonated with them and their students. Be aware that it definitely has adult content in it. The story will stick with you for a long time...

"Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew." Quote from book description

The Way We Work

The Way We Work

For those of you familiar with the David Macaulay books, you know how he can take all kinds of things and make them easily understandable with his detailed illustrations. The Way We Work book is a wonderful addition to this year's studies and brings concepts to life visually.

The Speckled Monster

The Speckled Monster

"The Speckled Monster tells the dramatic story of two parents who dared to fight back against smallpox.  After barely surviving the agony of smallpox themselves, they flouted eighteenth-century medicine by borrowing folk knowledge from African slaves and Eastern women in frantic bids to protect their children.  From their heroic struggles stems the modern science of immunology as well as the vaccinations that remain our only hope should the disease ever be unleashed again.

Jennifer Lee Carrell transports readers back to the early eighteenth century to tell the tales of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, two iconoclastic figures who helped save London and Boston from the deadliest disease mankind has known." Quote from book description

A 2nd option written for younger kids that is a faster read:

Dr. Jenner and the Speckled Monster: The Discovery of the Smallpox Vaccine

Polio: An American Story

Polio: An American Story

"Here David Oshinsky tells the gripping story of the polio terror and of the intense effort to find a cure, from the March of Dimes to the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines--and beyond. Drawing on newly available papers of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin and other key players, Oshinsky paints a suspenseful portrait of the race for the cure, weaving a dramatic tale centered on the furious rivalry between Salk and Sabin. He also tells the story of Isabel Morgan, perhaps the most talented of all polio researchers, who might have beaten Salk to the prize if she had not retired to raise a family.

Oshinsky offers an insightful look at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was founded in the 1930s by FDR and Basil O'Connor, it revolutionized fundraising and the perception of disease in America. Oshinsky also shows how the polio experience revolutionized the way in which the government licensed and tested new drugs before allowing them on the market, and the way in which the legal system dealt with manufacturers' liability for unsafe products. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, Oshinsky reveals that polio was never the raging epidemic portrayed by the media, but in truth a relatively uncommon disease. But in baby-booming America--increasingly suburban, family-oriented, and hygiene-obsessed--the specter of polio, like the specter of the atomic bomb, soon became a cloud of terror over daily life. 

Both a gripping scientific suspense story and a provocative social and cultural history, Polio opens a fresh window onto postwar America." Quote from book description

Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases

Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases

"Maurice Hilleman's mother died a day after he was born and his twin sister stillborn. As an adult, he said that he felt he had escaped an appointment with death. He made it his life's work to see that others could do the same. Born into the life of a Montana chicken farmer, Hilleman ran off to the University of Chicago to become a microbiologist, and eventually joined Merck, the pharmaceutical company, to pursue his goal of eliminating childhood disease. Chief among his accomplishments are nine vaccines that practically every child gets, rendering formerly dread diseases—including often devastating ones such as mumps and rubella—practically toothless and nearly forgotten; his measles vaccine alone saves several million lives every year.

Vaccinated is not a biography; Hilleman's experience forms the basis for a rich and lively narrative of two hundred years of medical history, ranging across the globe and throughout time to take in a cast of hundreds, all caught up, intentionally or otherwise, in the story of vaccines. It is an inspiring and triumphant tale, but one with a cautionary aspect, as vaccines come under assault from people blaming vaccines for autism and worse. Paul Offit clearly and compellingly rebuts those arguments..." Quote from book description

The Woman with a Worm in Her Head: And Other True Stories of Infectious Disease

The Woman with a Worm in Her Head: And Other True Stories of Infectious Disease

"Even the most innocuous everyday activities such as eating a salad for lunch, getting bitten by an insect, and swimming in the sea bring human beings into contact with dangerous, often deadly microorganisms. In The Woman with a Worm in Her Head, Dr. Pamela Nagami reveals-through real-life cases-the sobering facts about some of the world's most horrific diseases: the warning signs, the consequences, treatments, and most compellingly, what it feels like to make medical and ethical decisions that can mean the difference between life and death. " Quote from book description

Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

"In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.

Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.

Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.

An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.” Quote from book description

Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects

Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects

Some references to insect s*x in the first chapter: "She's Just Not That Into You" - otherwise an interesting book with very accessible, easy to read stories.

 

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

Otter's rating: 5 stars
Mom's rating: 4 stars

We both learned some interesting things from this book including the fact that eating a lot of celery and even citrus fruits can make you more susceptible to sunburn! I also like how this book has some sections that include a bit of history mixed with botany.

This book is scheduled in my botany program! If you plan on using my botany curriculum, you may wish to save it for then.

*Warning: This book describes all sorts of poisonous and intoxicating plants. Use at your discretion!

"A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In Wicked Plants, Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln's mother).

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers." Quote from book description

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

 

"In The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart takes us on a journey through the underground world and introduces us to one of its most amazing denizens. The earthworm may be small, spineless, and blind, but its impact on the ecosystem is profound. It ploughs the soil, fights plant diseases, cleans up pollution, and turns ordinary dirt into fertile land. Who knew? 

In her witty, offbeat style, Stewart shows that much depends on the actions of the lowly worm. Charles Darwin devoted his last years to the meticulous study of these creatures, praising their remarkable abilities. With the august scientist as her inspiration, Stewart investigates the worm's subterranean realm, talks to oligochaetologists—the unsung heroes of earthworm science—who have devoted their lives to unearthing the complex life beneath our feet, and observes the thousands of worms in her own garden. From the legendary giant Australian worm that stretches to ten feet in length to the modest nightcrawler that wormed its way into the heart of Darwin's last book to the energetic red wigglers in Stewart's compost bin, The Earth Moved gives worms their due and exposes their hidden and extraordinary universe. This book is for all of us who appreciate Mother Nature's creatures, no matter how humble." Quote from book description

Enslaved by Ducks

Enslaved by Ducks

A heartwarming book about a man who loves his animals.

Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful

There is a lot of evolution mentioned in this book, but if you skip those parts, it's an easy to understand, interesting book about bacteria. There are also  lots of references to various topics being studied this year. We're getting the Kindle copy from our library for free and so I've put it here as a reminder to myself. Otherwise, it's a bit on the expensive side.

How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables

How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables

Entertaining and informative stories about a variety of vegetables. Some references to s*x, especially in the first chapter about asparagus. Either use only as a read-aloud or for mature students only.

Basher Science: Extreme Biology

Basher Science: Extreme Biology

Otter loves the Basher books. Yes, he's in high school, but there is nothing wrong with gleaning info from easier books in between the hard ones. This one has enough "unknown" facts to still be of use to an older student.

 

The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story

The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story

"The first major bioterror event in the United States-the anthrax attacks in October 2001-was a clarion call for scientists who work with “hot” agents to find ways of protecting civilian populations against biological weapons. In The Demon in the Freezer, his first nonfiction book since The Hot Zone, a #1 New York Times bestseller, Richard Preston takes us into the heart of Usamriid, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, once the headquarters of the U.S. biological weapons program and now the epicenter of national biodefense."

Videos

I highly recommend you watch a variety of videos this year. A textbook can only tell so much. There is no comparison to actually getting to SEE the planet's diversity and beauty - if not firsthand, then at least via some of the following programs.

I've linked to the Amazon streaming versions. You can pay a small amount per video or purchase the entire series at once for a slightly discounted price. You also have the option of purchasing the DVD's or trying to borrow them from your local library. Some of the videos are also available on YouTube for FREE. Just do a search for the video title and see if you get any results. Some of the videos may also be available to Discovery Streaming subscribers.

Please note you may want to preview the videos before your student views them. Some of the videos may have objectionable content for some families. I'll try to warn about some that may, but watch at your own risk.

 

BBC: Our Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell

If the above link doesn't work, do a search on YouTube.

Otter's rating: 5 stars
Mom's rating: 5 stars

WARNING: Evolution is mentioned throughout this video, especially the beginning and end.

WOW. Just WOW. This is an absolutely amazing video! I highly recommend it, even in spite of the statements about evolution. It's so amazing that I wonder how anyone can even entertain the idea of evolution after learning about these types of intricate details and functions of a cell. There is no way the things featured in the video happened by chance.

The accompanying website Secret Universe has lots of interactive features.

Evolution vs. God

Evolution vs. God

FREE online

Otter's rating: 5 stars
Mom's rating: 5 stars

This video is quite entertaining as you watch evolutionists (even university instructors) try to defend evolution. Let's inform ourselves (as creationists) so we don't come across the same way!

The Human Planet

The Human Planet

Otter's rating: 4 stars
Mom's rating: 5 stars

This is a beautifully filmed series!!

"Following in the footsteps of Planet Earth and Life, this epic eight-part series is a breathtaking celebration of the amazing, complex and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature. Human Planet weaves together inspiring stories about different people harnessing courage, ingenuity and learning to live with and utilize the other creatures that share these wild places on earth."

I haven't seen anything offensive in this series yet, but I did read a review that mentions a woman breast feeds a monkey in the jungle episode. I'll add notes after viewing to warn of any inappropriateness...

 

Biology 101: Biology According to the Days of Creation

Biology 101: Biology According to the Days of Creation

I've scheduled in this video series due to popular demand!

This 4 1/2 hour series covers biology topics from a Christian perspective. Although some are using it as a full biology course, I personally do NOT agree with this, even with the course accreditation program available through the official website, unless you have a special needs student or need to have your science program be very low key. That is just my personal opinion, though.

There is a guidebook available. Here's a sample.

Life Season 1

Life Season 1

*This series mentions evolution.

Life in the Undergrowth

Life in the Undergrowth

*This series mentions evolution.

Planet Earth

Planet Earth

This is such a beautiful series of videos. Just breathtaking in parts!

Genetics, Evolution and Creation: Most Asked Questions

Genetics, Evolution and Creation: Most Asked Questions

Or from Amazon

*Christian

Life in Cold Blood

Life in Cold Blood

 

The Hearing Ear and Seeing Eye

The Hearing Ear and Seeing Eye FREE online

*Christian

Nova Rat Attack

Nova Rat Attack FREE online

Or from Amazon

 


This is the PERFECT video to watch when studying characteristics of populations!

Nova: How Smart are Animals?

Nova: How Smart are Animals?
FREE online

Amazon DVD

 

Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary

Or from Amazon

Teacher's guide

This video was recommended to me by my daughter. She watched it in her college biology class and loved it!

Fun Stuff: Kits and Extra Goodies

Even older kids sometimes appreciate getting to "play" a bit during school time. Hands-on activities allow many students to retain information better. Items like this get Otter enthused about his studies ahead of time. I like to order kits at the beginning of the year and he has to wait for me to dole them out. In the meantime though, he knows something "fun" is waiting in the wings.

 

4-D cell

4-D cell

Otter's rating: 5 stars
Help your students remember the parts of a cell with this kit. Younger siblings will benefit as well!

Mom's note: This is actually a very well-made model. It's not constructed out of thin, cheap plastic, but is more like something you'd see displayed at a doctor's office. It's really heavy-duty and looks great on our school desk! Update: My kids have all graduated from our homeschool, but I still kept this model in my "natural history" room.

K'NEX Education - DNA, Replications and Transcription Set

K'NEX Education - DNA, Replications and Transcription Set

Otter's rating: 5 stars
Want to REMEMBER the facts about DNA replication and transcription? This hands-on kit will help your students understand this subject because they had to actually build and manipulate the pieces of the kit.

Giant Microbes Common Cold

Giant Microbes Common Cold (Rhinovirus)

This is totally optional, but would make a cute mascot for the year (or any of the other plush microbes).

*Educational Innovations has a great selection all in one place.

Kindle Fire Tablet - low priority
Otter's rating: 5 stars
Mom's rating: 5 stars

Shop for a Kindle at Amazon

I recommend a Kindle tablet for students who prefer to read books electronically. My youngest son was always somewhat of a reluctant reader. After giving him access to a Kindle, he started reading TONS of books. Suddenly, long books were no longer intimidating because he couldn't see how many pages they had at a glance. He also liked being able to choose the font & font size to make reading a more comfortable experience for his eyes.

Benefits of a Kindle:

  • Books are usually less expensive in the Kindle format.
  • You can carry a bunch of them with you at any time.
  • There is a built in dictionary so your student can instantly see the definition of words on the fly.
  • Students can mark their books up and type up notes for specific passages.
  • Students can search for specific passages or words.
  • Reluctant readers may prefer an electronic book format. The Kindle can be an incentive to read more (as it was for my son in a HUGE way).
  • Avid readers will love all the freebies that are available and the ability to carry hundreds of books at one time.
  • This year's free text is available in Kindle format. Even though I recommend the text be accessed online for the best formatting and access to embedded items, the Kindle gives a 2nd option for those times when a student can't or shouldn't be on the computer.
  • Students can access the text book online in the best format AND watch the embedded videos or interact with online labs, etc. right from the Kindle. Their textbook is always right at hand with links without "hogging" the computer.
  • Some libraries now have digital books available in the Kindle format.
  • If you purchased all of the "extra" books available on Kindle, you'd save approx. $35 over buying the paperback copies. (I added it up as of 5/31/2013. Prices are subject to change.)

I know I sound like a commercial for Kindle, but honestly it's opened up our reading options in so many ways. I've received thousands of dollars worth of free books for both myself and my son and so the Kindle has paid for itself many times over. I've also been able to purchase books for a lot less (usually) than print versions. Having my son WILLINGLY read every day for 1-2 hours because of the Kindle was a huge bonus.

BrainPOP - low priority
Otter's rating: 5 stars

BrainPOP

BrainPOP - We've were subscribers to BrainPOP for years now and I continued to use it all the way through 9th grade. Otter enjoyed the short movies that often incorporate humor and he also liked the educational games. I liked how each concept is simple and clear enough to understand as well as the comprehension quizzes at the end. If you get a subscription to BrainPOP do NOT get the homeschool subscription (which allows more than one child to be on the website at the same time on different computers or devices). Get the home subscription, as it's less expensive. I believe there is a free trial, if you want to see if it's worth the cost ($99 a year). It will be more useful if you have younger kids who can use it too.
(BrainPOP logo used with permission.)

 

Microscope- medium priority
Otter's rating: 4 stars
Mom's rating: 5 stars

If you can afford it, you should get a microscope. If you can't afford it, you can always look up objects and slide images online. However, I recommend one for a serious biology course. Do NOT get a "toy" microscope. You will just end up frustrated. Here are a few good options:

These microscopes are for looking at prepared slides and required for some of the labs:

Microscope

$129 AmScope 40x-1000x Advanced Home School Student Widefield Biological Compound Microscope

microscope

$194 AmScope 40X-2000X Biological Binocular Compound Microscope with Mechanical Stage

Home Binocular LED Microscope

$319 - Home Binocular LED Microscope

A friend who has been helping me with some parts of this biology curriculum was recommended this microscope by her microbiologist friend. She was told that the binocular optics and the LED make a huge difference. It's quite a bit more expensive, but if you are willing to splurge, I've placed it here. *Image used with permission from Home Science Tools.

microscope for biology

$144 AmScope 20x 40x 80x Home School Student Dissecting Binocular Stereo Microscope

This microscope is for looking at 3-D objects like dissection objects, insects, petri dishes with pond creatures, etc.

If you can only get one kind, most biology labs require a compound microscope (the first 3 options). However, stereoscopes are great for kids who really enjoy using a microscope and want to explore more 3-D items. They can be used for dissections of small creatures, observing plant life up close, etc. Some of the labs in the Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments mention a stereoscope as an optional accessory. If you can't get both types of microscopes (and really, how many of us can?!), at least get a good magnifying glass to better observe 3-D biology objects.

OPTIONAL units:

I love Ellen McHenry's work. She takes complicated subjects and makes them understandable. While these units aren't necessary, I've scheduled them in to add some variety. You can always substitute the units for the textbook reading, if desired. Or, you can stick with the textbook and ignore these.

Ellen McHenry's Cells
Ellen McHenry's Cells

Ellen McHenry's The Brain
Ellen McHenry's The Brain

 

 

 

 

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