Preschool and Kindergarten Science, by Faith

Teaching Elementary Science

 

Young children love to see science in action. They need to see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, and live it. Simple experiments bring science to life. It can be as easy as teaching the words, “sink and “float,” filling up the bathroom sink, and seeing what household objects sink or float. As a bonus, you can make a chart on a big piece of paper and list or draw pictures of everything that floated under “Float” and everything that sank under “Sink.” You can observe nature, catch bugs, watch rainbows, make a baking soda and vinegar volcano, drop Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke, mix colored water, and use mirrors with a flashlight. Sort items into solids and liquids. Grab a magnet and see what sticks! You can read library books. (Let’s Read and Find Out series is fabulous for this age.) Experiment kits are also quite fun for this age, such as Magic School Bus kits.

This is also an excellent time to let your child guide his or her own education. Ask your child what he wants to learn about! For instance, if they are always catching bugs, provide them with the tools to do so, join them, and point out the six legs, the hard exoskeleton, and the three body parts as you go. Read a few books about insects together. Watch MicroCosmos. Give them colored pencils and ask them to draw the bugs they saw. Let them try walking like a bug or picking up food with two fingers representing insect jaws. Keep an insect for a day with leaves and earth in an appropriate container and watch what it does. You can even order butterfly or ladybug larva or keep an ant farm!

There are so many choices for science on your own at any age. I’ve blogged more about DIY elementary science here.

However, many parents don’t want to invent their own science experiments every week. There are plenty of options that lay out simple science ideas for Pre-K and K age students for the parents to follow. The cheapest approach is to Google “Pre-K science” and pick an activity of the multitude that appear!

Many Pre-K and K curriculum include a science section. However, some parents want a separate science guide to use whenever they choose. Here are some options to keep in your bookshelf:

Mudpies to Magnets/More Mudpies to Magnets: These books provide simple experiments for young children. Step-by-step instructions and illustrations make these experiments easy to perform. Each experiment is labeled with an age range beginning as young as two, and contains very age-appropriate science. Some experiments are couched in terms meant for a group, but they can still be done at home.

Science is Simple: Over 250 Experiments for Preschoolers: The official age range on this is 4-6. It is written for a classroom and has a lot of involved experiments. They can easily take you through first grade, but some are more involved than the previous options. Many parents aren’t going to, as the book suggests, buy live crickets at the store and keep them in a terrarium for observation. Many of the activities are simpler, however, and a lot of thinking is encouraged. This book begins with a section for the teachers to read. There is a focus throughout the book on the scientific method and recording observations.

The Everything Kids Easy Science Experiment Book: This book has a variety of simple science activities easily done with young children. The activities are followed by a related scientific explanation for older children. For instance, one page suggests a nature walk with leaf gathering, followed by leaf examination (using a magnifying glass if you have one), leaf sorting, and leaf rubbing art. This would work well for Pre-K and K students. This is followed by two paragraphs on trees, leaves, stems, and deciduous vs coniferous that can easily be included or excluded as you wish.

Singapore Early Bird Science: This is a series of workbooks for young children. Simple lessons and activities are taught briefly. A light overview of science.

WinterPromise Animals Around the World: This Pre-K/K program explores seven different habitats and the animals within them. It also introduces the idea of a nature journal. Crafts are generally a feature of WinterPromise products. This is an expensive option. They also sell a 1st-4th grade version, so make sure you’re looking in the right place.

Nancy Larson: This science program provides all materials needed to use it, and it is very interactive/hands-on. There are many bright photographs included for the lessons. This is more expensive. The K and 1st grade levels appear very fun, but a bit light on content.

If you feel your child is ready for more advanced science, check out the Grammar Stage Science post!  Many of those options start in K or 1st for the strong science student.

Faith–Faith is a highly distractable mother of four. She believes in doing what is best for each child aFaithnd has experimented with various combinations of public, charter, and home schools. Her oldest child is diagnosed with Asperger’s with ADHD-Combined and anxiety, and she suspects her third child struggles with it, also. Faith is an unabashed feminist and “crunchy” mom, strongly LDS with a passion for knitting, avoiding cooking, and Harry Potter.

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Science At Our House: Elementary Through Graduation, by Apryl

Teaching Science at Home

 

As a family, we tend to really enjoy science. We watch science documentaries. We love shows like How It’s Made and MythBusters. We get excited about trips to science museums. Our dinner time is often filled with discussions about science and technology. So what does science in our homeschool look like?

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Over the years, my methods for teaching science have shifted according to the needs of my children. During the elementary school years, our studies were very relaxed and exploration based. We watched the Science Channel and checked out books by the basketful from the science section at the library. The girls did some notebooking and we also did a lot of hands-on projects. We picked up a curriculum occasionally, but usually drifted back into the informal science we loved.

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As we moved into the middle school years, we started using more formal curriculum. I was enticed by a textbook science program for my oldest, but looking back, I think it was too soon and too dry. We limped through science in middle school for her, but by the time the younger two hit that age I had a better idea of what we needed for science. For them we chose more historical science texts like the Joy of Science series, did some hands on experiments, and filled the last year with Rainbow Science with labs. We also did many of the labs with a fellow homeschooler.

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High school science has presented us with a lot of choices and opportunities.  My oldest was able to spend a year working on a Anatomy and Physiology course that I put together myself. She also studied Biology at home, and is currently working through Chemistry while doing labs with another homeschool family. And while this isn’t typical, she has spent several years volunteering at a raptor rescue center learning about the science of veterinary care for birds through hands-on experience. My younger two are taking Biology I at co-op. This has been a great experience for them, and has pushed their abilities. Their teacher is a former Biology professor and hasn’t taken it easy on them! They have also benefited from learning to take notes from her lectures and forming study groups.

I am not sure what next year will bring for our family in the subject of science, but here are our tentative plans: My oldest, who will be a senior, technically doesn’t need another science credit for graduation but is thinking about taking Astronomy.  She will be taking a portion of her classes at the community college as a dual credit student, so her science choice may change. One of my soon-to-be 10th graders is planning on taking Astronomy next year as well, and we will make sure there are plenty of labs to make it credit worthy.  My other 10th grader is planning on taking a high school Forensic Science course next year at co-op. She is extremely interested in the field and I think this will be a good intro for her.

The nice thing I have discovered about high school science at home is the opportunity you have to tailor it to the interests of your child.  Think beyond the typical high school science classes and explore what is out there in the field. Give your child the opportunity to specialize in a branch of science if she has a passion for it. Explore the options in your community for your child; you may be surprised at what is available. Seek out volunteer opportunities and mentors. This will take some leg work (and in my case a lot of driving) but the rewards are worth it.

Apryl–Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart.  She lives out in the aprylcountry with her husband and her three daughters. After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool.  When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were in the third and sixth grades.  Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.