My Review of NOEO Science-Biology 2

For my 5th grader’s science, I wanted something hands-on to really engage him this year.  I did tons of research and really struggled with this decision.  One option was less money, but I would have to buy several books to use as spines.  NOEO was expensive, but all of the books were included.  After going back and forth for months, I finally decided to go with my first choice: NOEO Science.

NOEO had all of the bells and whistles in my mind.  It had awesome books, a miniature microscope included, experiment kits, a detailed teacher guide, and it followed the classical method of teaching.

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The teacher’s guide gives me a detailed plan of what to do each week with my son. It lists which pages to read, internet links to review, and instructions for experiments.  It also tells me what is expected of my student in the way of notebooking and documentation.

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The Usborne Books that come with the curriculum are beautiful.  They are packed with information and the reading level is appropriate to my 5th grader.  My 2nd grader tried to tag-a-long during the first week or so, but he really couldn’t do the reading despite being a very strong 2nd grade reader.

I am currently halfway through the Biology 2 curriculum and I have to say that I just don’t “love” it like I thought I would.  The readings are great and my son has finally gotten into a good groove with the notebooking, but I’ve found that I have to be more specific in the notebooking requirements than I was at the beginning of the year.  For example, the teacher’s guide may say, “sketch what you learned” and my child needs me to say, “sketch xyz.”  “Summarize what you’ve learned,” turns into a specific sentence count for my kiddo.  A child that has more notebooking experience probably wouldn’t need that hand holding!

I was definitely pulled in by the new books.  (I love new books!!)  The NOEO website made it seem like there would be more hands-on activities than I’ve seen in the program so far.  Because of the lack of hands-on activities, my son complains that he’s bored.  I do think he’s learning great information, but if he ends up disliking science, then it’s not a winning combination for us.  It turns out that he isn’t as enamored by new books as I am!

NOEO is a great program with a lot of science learned, but it is mostly book work, reading, and writing in the Biology 2 program.  I really want my kid to dive into science and get messy and for that reason, I do plan to change this up next year.

5 thoughts on “My Review of NOEO Science-Biology 2

  1. Kylee Compton says:

    From what I’ve read on the NOEO site, it looks like experiments or activities go along on a daily or weekly basis with the reading. Is that not the case? I was surprised to hear that it was mostly reading and your son was bored. How often were there experiments or activities? I was ready to order this, now I’m not so sure!

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    • tmstranger says:

      Hi Kylee,

      So, it’s been a few years since I used NOEO, but I’ll tell you all I remember. In the beginning of the year, students go over the microscope and how it’s used, etc. There were some activities that included looking at hair or a tissue or other things under the microscope. When you study the human body, the Human Body Book is used frequently as you “build” a life-size model. In addition to these hands-on activities, students also do the experiment kits that come with the program (at the time I used it, we raised brine shrimp, dissected an owl pellet, and I can’t remember the other kit). There are also online links in the Usborne books that kids can explore for more info.

      I used NOEO in my first year of homeschooling. My son was “bored” because, I’ve learned, he’s going to be that kid. Since that year, we have used Apologia (which none of us liked) and Elemental Science. Elemental has an experiment every week, but we don’t love this either. This kiddo just prefers to read about science and won’t really love it regardless of what we do to make it “fun.”

      Believe it or not, I think that both of my kids will use NOEO next year! They have both asked to do Chemistry, and I’ve looked and looked and think this is the best fit for us. So, I don’t want to turn you off of NOEO thinking it doesn’t have enough, but I surely don’t see “weekly” or “daily” in my book at all. Let me know if you have other questions!

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  2. CJ's nana says:

    I plan on using this for our science full on for the 5th grader and adaptations for the 3/4th grader. I don’t plan on following the schedule to the letter and will be supplementing it field trips, other books like Blood & Guts, Animal Grossology etc. some cool videos and watching the old Fantastic Voyage movie from the 60’s for family night! Also other hands on activities so it may take us 2 years to complete. Never be afraid to step out and let the kids lead occasionally.

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  3. Mary says:

    I am currently using Noeo Biology II for my fifth grader. I’m not that impressed- the Usborne books are a lot of vivid images, not a lot of substance. So, it draws them in, but leaves them somewhat empty. Concurrently, we are using Memoria Press for nature study (Insects and Mammals) and I am so impressed. I wish I could return the Noeo and spend all time with the science offerings from MP.

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