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Science often presents a mental block for many homeschoolers. I admit that super messy super complicated science experiments which involve extensive set up, hand holding, and clean up drive me nuts! I prefer to wait until my children are old enough to do most of the work to start engaging in these more laborious Science set-ups. However, Science doesn’t have to be super complicated. It can be super easy, and more importantly fun.
The following is a list of super simple, super easy, Science resources that you can incorporate into your homeschool today. Seriously. You can do this!
Please note: This post was primarily intended for the preschool to second grade age, which I did initially have in the title, but then the title was 500 words long, and it didn’t exactly fit into the URL, and you get the picture. That being said, a strong majority of these resources could be used for older children, depending on their interests.
Additionally, as children get older, meeting their Science needs become more straightforward, I think, because they can do things like take online classes or in person classes, and most of them can conduct their own experiments with purchased Science kits.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
1. Gail Gibbons Books
Last year, when my son was in Kindergarten, I realized that he was particularly drawn to learning from picture books. He loved checking out as many books as he could on whatever topic he was interested (sharks & dinosaurs, etc.) By some sort of serendipity, I remembered Gail Gibbons books, and quickly discovered that Rainbow Resource (one of our charter’s preferred vendors) carried 34 different titles! I decided I would buy several in topics that I thought might interest him, and that we would use those as well as books from another series (discussed below) as one of our primary sources for Science.
Spoiler alert: due to the administrative requirements and other random common core standards, we didn’t have the chance to get through all of the books during his Kindergarten year. So we are working our way through them for first grade. My preschooler LOVES the books too, so it’s a win win! I’ll often read through a book during lunch time to the two of them.
If you are unfamiliar with Gail Gibbons books, they are super sweet. They involve somewhat simple illustrations and they really break down these complex topics into enjoyable factually based narratives.
Amazon link: Gail Gibbons
Rainbow Resource link: Gail Gibbons
Because these books are not new, libraries often carry them! Be sure to check your local library if you do not want to commit to making a purchase. Although I haven’t checked, I would venture to guess that used book sellers such as Thrift Books also have these titles.
Expanding The Lesson
After we have read through the book– the Deserts book is pictured below– I encourage my son to draw something from the book that he was the most interested in. If you follow me on instagram, you know this particular child loves to draw.
He was particularly interested in the Golden Wheel spider, which can essentially turn itself into a wheel to escape predators. (It’s pretty cool TBH.)
After he drew this picture, we found this video on youtube (we later watched videos about scorpions & a sidewinder snake, which were also covered in the book):
As I’ve joked before, my son is obsessed with powerful, dangerous and destructive animals and forces. Naturally, he is now super interested in tornadoes. He asked many, many questions about the EF rating scale, and studied the photos of the level of destruction that each causes. After we finished the book, we moved onto a video covered in the next section!
All of his work was done in a main lesson book, which is a tool commonly used in Waldorf homeschools (schools too). These are from Paper, Scissors, Stone, but Oak Meadow and many other shops also carry them. You can read more about using main lesson books here.
2. National Geographic 101 Videos
One of my favorite discoveries about the Blossom & Root curriculum, is that each lesson comes with recommendations for visual learners. So far this has included links to short videos on whatever topic the particular year covers.
Because my son has enjoyed the short videos so much, I have expanded my approach for homeschooling him to include similar length videos for him to watch no matter the subject.
One of his favorite expansion activities for the Gail Gibbons or Usborne Beginners Science Books (discussed below), has been to watch the National Geographic 101 videos that correspond to the book we have just finished reading. Because they are short, they serve as a great change of pace, and I often encourage him to get his other work done more efficiently (i.e. not to dilly dally) so that we can move on to a video.
Below are his favorite videos that we have already watched several times. You can also see that his drawing for tornadoes above is based on a still from the Tornadoes 101 video, rather than the corresponding Gail Gibbons Tornado book.
3. Usborne Beginners Science & Nature
Similar to the Gail Gibbons books, the Usborne Beginners Science & Nature books cover science topics that are of interest to younger children. Additionally, they come at an affordable price.
However, these books are a touch longer, and tend to go into more detail. As a result, unless your child has a burning curiosity about a particular topic, you may want to break these up into smaller more digestible reading sessions.
Usborne Beginners Science and Nature (on Amazon)
Usborne Beginners Science & Nature Rainbow Resource Link
4. Studies Weekly First Grade Experiments
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know that we use Studies Weeklies in order to meet the Science sample requirements for our homeschool charter.
These papers are super simple for the kids to complete, and the first grade Science in particular, comes with the easiest Science experiments imaginable. Seriously.
The experiment pictured above involves rolling two paper loops (one with a paperclip and one without) down a ramp. The experiment pictured below involves pulling 3 different materials in order to test their plasticity. I did zero prep and grabbed the stuff from around the house. If I didn’t have the stuff around, I would’ve done them when I got the things at some later time.
I have done other first grade experiments with all of my children (yes even including my older kids). These have included a blubber experiment with shortening, the flower & colored water experiment, and others.
If you want your kids to do hands on real science without the fuss, these are where it’s at, IMO.
This may seem super obvious, but one of the best ways to teach about natural wonders is by allowing kids to get their hands on the real thing. This can be as simple as collecting things from the beach, forest, or local neighborhood park, or you can purchase more advanced or complex specimens from places like Home Science Tools. You can either choose specimens to support whichever Science topic you are currently covering (such as in your curriculum), or you can choose specimens based on your children’s interests.
These rocks & shells are just “loose parts” we have hanging around the house for the kids to play around with. My 3 year old is particularly fond of them, and we even look them up in the Shells guide that we have. (I would highly recommend these as a potential gift idea for birthdays or holidays.)
We also have less expensive/less fancy rocks and shells that she plays with and sometimes glues together or incorporates into art projects. Those are sold at the dollar store, believe it or not!
Here’s a great & super short article about The Theory of Loose Parts.
Models are a great way to teach about Science. You will need to take your child’s personality into account. Seeing the inside of a body is certainly not appropriate for any age. My 6 year old is less sensitive than my daughters were at this age, for example. As a result, he went so far as to ask for models for his 5th birthday.
Ask and you shall receive, one of his presents:
You may be surprised at just how many animal models exist.
We have acquired many different models over the years, due to a pretty uniform interest amongst my kids. I would venture to guess that these aren’t necessarily popular with all children, but I was deeply interested in anatomy as a kid. In fact I took 3 years of Biology in high school. I thought for sure I’d be either a neurosurgeon or a cardiac surgeon when I was younger. Alas, perhaps that is why my children have inherited that sense of interest in science/anatomy, it’s a tough call.
You can get models from a wide variety of sources. I purchased our cell, brain, and one of our heart models (yes we have two) from Zulily in years past. It looks like they currently have several others available, including an eyeball, a skeleton, two different brains (including the one we have), and a set with several different models. They are a great resource for homeschooling materials, you just have to make sure you check regularly once you know what you’re looking for. (Models are another great gift recommendation.)
Link to Anatomy models on Amazon.
Models are not limited to anatomy, however. We have also acquired a set of wooden “atoms” that can be arranged in order form molecules according to the guide. We purchased these from Home Science Tools. They were very helpful when we were reading through REAL Science 4 Kids! Focus on Chemistry (also available on Home Science Tools, Rainbow Resource, and from Gravitas directly).
7. A High Quality Microscope
We have owned two microscopes in our homeschool. They were both student microscopes. The first one we received, one of my dear children somehow tried to pull the cord out of the microscope and exploded the lightbulb, thus causing smoke to pour from it. Yes, really.
I’m pretty sure we currently have something like this:
We also purchased a set of prepared slides for the children to view. Similar to this one:
Depending on the child, and their ability to focus their sight, I’d say an older 3 year old or younger 4 year old could participate in viewing different slides through the microscope. My young son LOVED when we did this. I took videos of him guessing what he thought he was looking at. Each of the children took a turn guessing.
If I were more organized, I would order the unprepared slides and put in different interesting things that my older children have wanted to look at. For example, a piece of dirt, a piece of their hair, whatever other random thing they thought would be cool.
I think probably our interest began when we read Greg’s Microscope, which is a lovely short reader. (IIRC it’s in the set I discuss here.) You could easily include a microscope on any lessons in biology, or studies of famous scientists like Louis Pasteur, who we also studied last year.
If you’re an overachiever, you could even get one of HST’s Coronavirus kits and do a whole thing with a microscope! If you do, send me a link, I’d be happy to cheer you on from the underachiever sidelines! lol.
Closing Thoughts on Science & Children
All of the following quotations are from the book: Early Childhood Gifted Education: Fostering Talent Development, Hertzog & Gadzikowski, National Association for Gifted Children (2017).
Even if you do not have a gifted child, I highly, highly encourage this book. It discusses the benefits of project based learning, and gives a crash course on many of the major early childhood education theorists and their ideas, including: Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey, and Malaguzzi (founder of the Reggio Emilia approach). It’s only 53 pages long, and it is chock full of excellent ideas that can be implemented for any child.
It offers many poignant points about young children, education, and Science:
“Active, varied, and spontaneous play during the early childhood years lays the foundation for higher-order thinking and later learning of formal STEM concepts.”
“One of Vygotsky’s important contributions to our understanding of child development is his concept of the “more knowledgeable other” (MKO). Vygotsky asserted that learning takes place when children interact with adults, older children, or peers who are more knowledgeable or more skilled.”
“[C]hildren with advanced cognitive development and academic potential may need access to some materials and resources that may be considered above-level for a typical early childhood classroom… Students with advanced ability and a keen interest in math and science may benefit from access to above-level tools and materials such as microscopes, protractors, or abaci.”
“Of particular value to gifted and talented students is the disposition to expect continuous change and challenge and the willingness to take risks and make mistakes.”
“Creativity and spontaneity are additional characteristics or dispositions of teachers who work successfully with bright young students.”Early Childhood Gifted Education: Fostering Talent Development,
Hertzog & Gadzikowski (2017).
I hope you enjoyed learning about these super easy Science resources, and I further hope that you are able to incorporate some of them into your homeschooling days.
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