I'm glad to hear you're still planning on using texts - reading is still important in science, as long as it is used to confirm and extend findings from actual experiences. It sounds like you are going about this the right way in terms of selecting content first. You might consider non-textbook sources as well - published children's literature or texts from other sources. National Geographic had some great kits and resources that I used with 6th graders about 5 years ago. They were pricey, but well put together in my opinion.
Good luck and keep us posted on what you find!
Here is the link to SFAA, all text but a great resource:
We use the Pearson interactive and have for the past 3 years. We love it! Great technology usage, good canned labs, and overall great text. Way better than McGraw Hill!!
I use the text in its entirety during the school year. The pearson text we have is based on the Indiana Standards and we are required by the state to test the students four times a year using Acuity by McGraw Hill. Time wise it goes almost perfectly with the test each quarter year test. We have 15 Chapters and I can usually cover a chapter in 10 to 14 days usually depending on length. I usually have to skim through a couple chapters and only teach what is tested on Acuity and our end of the year assessment test which we use to show effectiveness in our evaluations. Which our evaluations are now tied to our pay.