Note: If you’re in a rush and simply need a quick science guide, head over to the Science – Quick Resources List.
Science should be exciting!
Hands-on and dynamic.
Engaging and fun.
Full of WOW! and AHA! moments
But sadly, for a lot of us, these moments are few and far between. Instead, we often feel bored, overwhelmed, and uninspired.
Which is tragic because science is AMAZING!
But let’s be honest, when it comes to science, presentation IS often EVERYTHING.
And if boring lectures are the norm, and dry textbooks the main teaching tool, then it can be really tough to develop a passion for ANY of the sciences.
Now, I happen to have some LEGITIMATE scientists in my family. From Chemists to Geneticists to Clinical Laboratory Scientists, (yep, there are lots of “ists”!) I grew up surrounded by scientific minds.
And these family members were passionate about their science.
It often left me wondering why I was never struck by this same passion.
At this point in my life, with many years of science coursework under my belt, I can confidently place the blame, (at least partly) on the mediocre science education I received in school.
In middle school, I vaguely remember dissecting a worm and a frog in Biology but I really remember the icky smell of formaldehyde and my obnoxious lab partner.
In high school, I vaguely remember bunsen burners and goggles in Chemistry but I really remember the terrifying Periodic Table poster than hung on the wall.
Toss in plenty of boring worksheets, endless lectures, and long-winded tests, and that pretty much summarizes my experience learning science.
That really is all I remember.
Which makes me really sad.
I was immersed in the landscape of dry lectures and confusing textbooks. And nothing that I was exposed to made much sense to me.
I memorized information, took tests, and did my best to squeak by.
My lackluster experiences were a far cry from the passion and excitement I saw on the faces of my family members as they discussed microbiology or DNA research or biological adaptations. I wanted to share their passion but my school experiences had really done a number on me.
When my husband and I decided to homeschool, I was determined that my children wouldn’t have the same mediocre science education that I had received while growing up.
But with my lack of scientific confidence and passion, I had no idea where to start.
I had one definite advantage, though.
My children were young.
They loved being out in nature.
And almost everything was interesting to them.
I didn’t need to make science complicated and confusing.
In these early years, we just needed to pay attention to the natural world around us.
Oh-my-gosh, I could, in fact, DO THIS!
And so our science homeschooling adventure began!
Fortunately for our family, we live in an area rich in natural beauty and hiking was already a regular part of our lives.
We also live near the Monterey Bay Aquarium and we were able to easily incorporate frequent visits into our routine.
As a part of our regular monthly activities, we volunteered consistently at our local state natural reserve and explored our local tide pools.
My daughter participated in a weekly nature science class with a group of other homeschoolers.
These activities combined with regular trips to the library to check out science books, made for a rich life sciences foundation.
It was exactly what I wanted for my kiddos at those young ages.
Before my daughter started 1st grade, I began researching different science curriculum. Based on plenty of favorable reviews and the depth of content provided, we decided to go with REAL Science Odyssey.
We used this program for the next three years, starting with REAL Science Odyssey: Life, Level One, followed by Earth and Space, Level One, and we finished up with Chemistry, Level One.
Needless to say, I felt this was a solid program and my kids really enjoyed it.
We also stumbled upon Insect Lore where we ordered caterpillars and ladybugs. We observed their complete life cycle and then released them back into nature.
During these early years, we regularly gathered with another homeschooling family once a week to do the science experiments REAL Science Odyssey provided. This allowed for built-in social time with friends and divided up the prep work required.
If you have another family or families to do science with, I would highly recommend it!
We had so much fun and made so many sweet memories together.
As my daughter was approaching 4th grade, and my son was getting ready for 2nd, I found myself in the initial stages of homeschooling burnout.
While I had thoroughly enjoyed all of our scientific adventures, the preparation on my part was labor-intensive.
I was tired, plain and simple.
This is when I became THE LUCKIEST WOMAN IN THE UNIVERSE because my mom, (a.k.a. Nana, retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist and lover-of-all-sciency-things) offered to take over as science teacher!
I know. Truly, I was THE LUCKIEST WOMAN.
Sidenote: Remember Ms. Frizzle of the famous Magic School Bus? Well throw some slightly more subdued clothing on her and sub out the frizzy red hair for silver, and you’ve got yourself Nana. So as you can imagine, my kids were ECSTATIC that she was taking over!
Now, this is the point at which I would like to tout the benefits of outsourcing!
I spent our first couple of years of homeschooling feeling like I should be able to handle doing all of the planning and teaching for all of the subjects.
Let me tell you…
This is a recipe for BURNOUT!
I tell anyone who asks me about homeschooling that the sooner they realize outsourcing is a huge positive, the more relaxed and centered they will feel.
And so guess who I recruited to teach science from that point forward?
Yep, Nana! A.K.A. Ms. Frizzle!
I sent some ideas her way, encouraged her to select materials she felt were comprehensive and exciting, and ultimately, she decided to use REAL Science 4 Kids.
So the following year when my daughter was in 4th and my son was in 2nd, we spent the first part of the year on Physics and the second part of the year on Geology. We opted to use the Middle School sets, as this level seemed best suited to where my kids were at.
Another Sidenote: One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is the ability to customize learning. While my son was only in 2nd grade when we started REAL Science 4 Kids, he was well beyond what typical 7-year olds receive for their science education. We didn’t require him to complete all of the activities, but he was being exposed to rich content and was able to absorb so much simply by participating when he wanted to.
The following year, we continued with REAL Science 4 Kids, Building Blocks (which covers chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and astronomy) over the course of the entire academic year.
all of the disciplines were integrated in a way that made it crystal clear that all of the sciences are connected.
Towards the end of the year, a friend told me about a Genetics class her son was taking online.
Guess what it was called? Are you ready for this?
Are you kidding!?!
No, I’m not! Isn’t that fantastic!?!
Harry Potter Genetics was offered through Next Level Homeschool and taught by Mary Middlebrook. I immediately enrolled for the following fall, (when my daughter would be in 6th and my son in 4th.)
Now, it will come as no surprise if you inform me that you have some Harry Potter fanatics in your home. And if this is the case, YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS CLASS when your child is old enough! It was PHENOMENAL!
In fact, we loved it so much that we decided to take more classes through Next Level Homeschool. Mary Middlebrook, the founder of NLH, is passionate, engaging, knowledgeable, and encouraging. We have gone on to take her Marine Biology 101, Marine Zoology Invertebrates, and Marine Zoology Vertebrates classes.
All of Mary’s classes through Next Level Homeschool have been incredible and we plan to continue taking her science classes well into the future.
Yet Another Sidenote: Next Level Homeschool classes have become VERY popular and fill fast. If you are interested, DO NOT WAIT to sign up! Also, Mary has added additional teachers as her offerings continue to grow. We haven’t yet taken courses from any of these teachers so I cannot endorse anyone specifically, other than Mary herself.
In summary, here are my suggestions for offering engaging, comprehensive science.
- Keep things simple when your kids are young! Get out into nature, borrow lots of books from the library, visit science museums, and explore.
- Outsource whenever possible! Do you have a friend, family member, fellow homeschooling mom, co-op, or neighbor that might be interested in teaching science? Outsourcing is a beautiful thing and may very well help save your sanity and keep you from burning out.
- Consider online classes once your kids are a little older. I suggest 5th grade and up but you obviously know your child better than I do. I have been blown away but the depth of scientific content that can be covered online, including dissections and other experiments.
- HAVE FUN! What are YOU interested in learning? Take time to focus on your scientific interests too. It will bring you joy and newfound knowledge. And it’s inspiring for your kids to see you enjoying yourself while learning too!
And be sure to check out my other recommended resources for homeschooling:
- Math Resources for Homeschooling
- Language Arts Resources for Homeschooling
- History & Geography Resources for Homeschooling
- 10 Enchanting Poetry Books for Young Kids
- 10 Captivating Poetry Books for Middle Schoolers
- 10 Poetry Books for High Schoolers
Are there any science resources you enjoy using? I LOVE discovering new resources so please leave a comment if you have anything you’d like to share!
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