Don’t let teaching science this year stress you out and don’t let it break your pocketbook! Teaching science doesn’t have to be expensive, stressful or boring! And it certainly doesn’t have to revolve around a dry textbook or a commercial curriculum either. Spend the year learning about God’s marvelous creation while exploring God’s creation. Doing science at home with the entire family can be as easy (and as fun) as child’s play!
Buy a family pass to a local attraction. Don’t invest in an expensive science curriculum. Use those budgeted funds to purchase a family pass to local zoo, aquarium or park. We live in Southern California so we have a plethora of choices. One year we bought family passes to the L.A. Zoo. Another year we purchased a family pass to the Long Beach Aquarium. Some years we got a family membership to the local Arboretum or the Natural History Museum. Most museums, zoos, and aquariums also offer monthly classes or homeschool days and labs. As a family, we would use our pass at least once a month, and we would try to take advantage of as many classes or workshops offered. One year, we didn’t have enough money for a family pass, so we went hiking once a month in local wilderness park and spent numerous hours at the beach.
Pick a topic to explore each year. Every year, my husband and I decide which area of science we will focus on in the coming school year. Throughout the years, we have spent an entire year learning about zoology and animal studies. We spent one whole year learning about marine animals and oceanography. Another year we focused on just astronomy while another year we tackled machines and magnets. One year we even spent the entire year learning about horses! We connected it to our study of knights in Medieval times. My favorite year was when our family spent the entire year learning about human anatomy, nutrition, and diseases. One year the kids really wanted to get annual passes to the local amusement park so we decided to learn about physics and laws of motion that year. We attended every educational class the amusement park offered, designed our own roller coasters with an online simulation and of course, experimented with Newton’s laws of Motion and Kepler’s Laws while riding the rides!
Use your library card instead of a textbook! We used our library card to check out all kinds of books about the science topics we were studying. We read some of the books together during our science time and then each child independently read the books they checked out of the library. With some guidance, the internet is a fabulous resource. As the kids grew, we incorporated a lot of research into our science studies. The older students would research topics of interest and would either write a report or teach the information to the younger children.
Don’t forget about creating nature journals! No need to buy science textbooks when your students can create their own! Each year, each child received a brand new art journal. As they got older, I let them pick it out. It would be their nature journal for the year. When we would use our family pass or go on nature hikes, we made sure to bring our science backpack and nature journals with us. In our backpack, we would have each child’s nature journal, tons of pens, good quality colored pencils, a magnifying glass, a few field guides, a pair of binoculars, and my iPhone (for taking pictures). Wherever we would go, the kids would pick one or two things they they wanted to draw. We would sit, observe, and sketch. If the kids couldn’t decide, I would take a picture of the animals or plants so they could sketch them and research them when we got home. Another advantage to getting family passes to one place each year is you can take your time and explore every section of the museum, zoo, park or aquarium.
Incorporate as many games as you can into your science studies. You will be amazed at how many fun and educational science games there are on the market. You just need to know where to look. See the list and links below for some of our favorites.
Don’t feel guilty about doing science only one day a week! Most traditional schools only do science once or twice a week. Spend a day using your family pass or go hiking with your nature journals. Go to the library and pick out books or at home spend an hour reading aloud from the books you borrowed. Have your kids spend the day researching a topic or preparing to teach the rest of the family something they learned. As a family, play a science game or watch a documentary related to the topic you are studying that year.
If you incorporate Morning Time in your schedule, put a science picture book, science game or your nature journals in the basket for rotation. Every couple of days, you will cover some science in your Morning Time. If you really need a teacher’s guide to help you organize your lessons, then I highly recommend Apologia’s Young Explorer Series. This series uses a whole year to delve deep into one area of science. They also incorporate the “notebook” method as well as tailor to multi-age students. The program is designed for homeschooling families. It even gives suggestions for easy hands-on experiments that can be done with common household or kitchen supplies.
Consider supplementing with an outside class or participate in a science co-op. In Southern California, we also have a wide selection of outside science classes for the homeschooling community. If you feel you need to supplement your home studies or your older student needs a little extra challenge, consider enrolling in a once a week hands-on science class. If you live in Southern California, I highly recommend Science 2 U with Jill Wilcox. Science 2 U has awesome hands-on science classes in Torrance, Westminster, Monrovia, Rancho Cucamonga, Anaheim, Burbank, Costa Mesa, Lakewood, Murrieta, and Riverside. She even has a marine biology and surf camp in the summers at Seal Beach. If you don’t live in Southern California, I’m sure you can find a hands-on science class in your area. If you cannot, then do a science co-op with a friend or two! Find some homeschooling friends who are learning about the same science topics as your family. Meet once a week or once a month. Take turns teaching a topic and facilitating experiments. Go on a few science related field trips together. I found that the years we participated in a co-op, I was held more accountable and we definitely completed more science activities and units!
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will, they were created and have their being.” Rev 4:11
May God richly bless your scientific discoveries this year for His glory and may you discover God in a new way as you explore His creation,
Carrie De Francisco
**If you like these ideas and would like more of them, attend our next homeschooling mom event: Building Hearts & Home(Schools) for Christ. It will be in March, 2019 at the Pasadena / Monrovia Marriott. Check out what we have planned: Upcoming Event
RECOMMENDED SCIENCE & NATURE GAMES:
Animalopoly (or any science -olopy game!) These versions have a shorter game time!