|Please review these FAQs if you’ve looked over the other resources and still have some questions about Signs & Seasons. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us.
What age level is most appropriate for Signs & Seasons?
Signs & Seasons was especially designed as a self-directed program for highschoolers, with the field activities especially for producing high school work hour credit. However, my own son understood and enjoyed Signs & Seasons at age 10, so we recommend the curriculum for students 13 and up. Since it is heavily illustrated and light-hearted, Signs & Seasons can also be suitable for any younger age under adult guidance. Signs & Seasons can be the basis of a family unit study.
What is the term for this course? A semester? A whole school year?
Signs & Seasons could be read quickly by older students, probably in a couple weeks or less. A casual, adult-led plan with small kids could be dragged out for perhaps a whole school year.
However, the substance is in the field activities. If a student was to collect and analyze all the indicated data, it would likely take three to six months. It takes at least a year – a full annual cycle of the Sun – of consistent observing to really learn your way around the night sky. Also, many places have cloudy weather in the cold months which makes sky observing a challenge.
For these reasons, it is difficult to break up this course into a “one size fits all” lesson plan. However, it is a self-guided course that a motivated highschooler can finish early, or complete over the summer without a significant burden.
Can readers in the southern hemisphere use Signs & Seasons?
The illustrations and descriptions in Signs & Seasons present the sky as seen from the mid-northern latitudes – North America, Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to present a “generic” astronomy lesson that works for both northern and southern hemispheres. Plans are currently in progress to create a southern hemisphere supplement to Signs & Seasons that would make the lessons of each chapter relevant to the southern skies, for the benefit of homeschoolers especially in Australia and New Zealand.
In the meantime, Signs & Seasons would be helpful to readers “Down Under” as an informative, edifying curriculum that would add Biblical balance to a secular astronomy program. Signs & Seasons would also help in understanding the historical influence of astronomy in western culture, such as “why clocks move clockwise” and other aspects that do not line up with the appearances of the southern sky.
Signs & Seasons is available in Australia through Homeschool Heaven, who is selling the curriculum bundled with additional resources for observing the southern hemisphere sky. We hope this will make Signs & Seasons relevant to observers south of the equator.
(For what it’s worth, our family is good friends with a family from New Zealand . We’ve visited the southern hemisphere and appreciate the wonderful southern sky, much more interesting than its northern counterpart. We also understand that the interests of folks in the southern hemisphere are not well represented in the literature of the northern hemisphere. We hope to soon rectify this situation, as soon as feasibly possible.)
Is Signs & Seasons a “young earth” or “old earth” curriculum?
Signs & Seasons is directed to teaching how to observe the sky in the “here and now.” Signs & Seasons does not delve into the subject of origins one way or the other. However, the book is heavily Biblical and quotes Scripture throughout, as had been historically done in science books in the era prior to Darwin.
If an ideological “litmus test” is required, the author holds to a literal reading of Scripture, opposing any attempts to rationalize Scripture or line up with the shifting sands of modern science, and is therefore on the “young earth” side of the aisle.
Are there any exams or question and answer sets?
By popular demand, Fourth Day Press has published an accompanying workbook, the Signs & Seasons Field Journal and Test Manual, to help students observe and understand the cycles of the Sun, Moon, and stars. This workbook includes the 40 pages of field activities from the curriculum, and will help high school students document 120 “lab work” hours for a full high school credit, depending on individual state standards and requirements. The tests are designed to measure actual observational skill, rather than contrived vocabulary or reading comprehension questions. A second volume in this series is envisioned that will incorporate mathematics and will include traditional work problems and other such classwork.
Is there a lesson planner or daily assignment schedule?
The Signs & Seasons course is designed so that students will learn to observe the sky and thus gain “real world” experience with the subject matter. It’s hoped that this approach will help the students to learn a few things about scientific methodology, and not just believe what they are taught as with many other science curricula.
However, the S&S course must be used by students in a number of different climates and under a wide range of sky conditions. A student in Florida, California, or Texas will have more clear skies than a student in Vermont, Ohio, or Washington state. Also, rural students will see more stars than those under the light polluted skies.
Anyway, for these reasons, it’s difficult to devise a “one size fits all” lesson plan or assignment schedule. The workbook Introduction explains that the observations should be self-guided and made as opportunity permits. A student should be able to complete them at a leisurely rate throughout the school year, but it can be completed in a half-year by an ambitious kid with good weather.
Credit for the S&S course is established by documenting 120 hours of work, which can include the time spent reading the chapters and taking the tests. These hours can be completed anytime, either all at once or spread out over a long time, even longer than a single school year if necessary.
While we can’t provide a lesson plan laying out what families should be doing on Tuesday of Week 3, it is hoped that this program fits the freedom and flexibility we have as homeschool families.
Will I need a telescope for this course? If so, what type of telescope?
No, a telescope is not needed for this course. All the subject matter in Signs & Seasons is “classical” in that it teaches the historical, pre-telescopic techniques for observing the sky, particularly for telling time and navigating by the Sun, Moon, and stars. We do not advocate telescope ownership and our position on the subject of telescope ownership can be found in the article, Before You Buy a Telescope. The only materials you will need for Signs & Seasons are craft materials, a notebook or the Signs & Seasons Field Journal and Test Manual for certain field activities, and optionally a 12-inch world globe.
Make this the year that your family studies astronomy!
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