My friends probably get bored when I start going on and on about the benefits of teaching by way of the living books approach. The biography that we are currently reading about Galileo is a perfect example of why I love this method so much.
Yesterday, we found a biography about Galileo at the library. Finding it at the library means that we get to read for free, which helps to stimulate our household economy. When we got home with the book, we set it aside, because it is time to read our literature lesson from Tales From Shakespeare. Wouldn't you know that the our Shakespeare tale is set in Italy? Afterwards, we begin reading the first two chapters from Galileo, and take note that he is an Italian scientist. This is a coincidence, but a fun one.
Today, as we delve farther into the life of Galileo, we get into a discussion about the influence of the Catholic church on science and teaching during his time. We talk about such things as the Reformation, Inquisition, and the meaning of "Protestant". A few tidbits of geography and a great deal of history also shine through, because they are important to the story of his life as a scientist at a time when anything other than theories accepted by the church were considered heresy. At the point that Galileo discovers a supernova, Princess Abbey asks for more details. We pause our reading to look up a video on youtube that can explain the concept of a supernova, and find a great one that is from the History channel, thereby adding an even greater dose of meaning to the science lesson.
Therefore, because our science lesson comes from the biography of a scientist rather than a more traditional science textbook, we have broadened our horizons with some extras that don't normally accompany a science lesson. This makes my job of teaching easy, and her job of learning easy, so it's a win-win situation.