Originally Sent: 6/18/2015
June 18, 2015
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Science for Preschool
Curiosity encourages us to study the world around us, and to thus discover the Creator who flung the very stars across the sky, miraculously designed each system in our bodies, and made birdsâ€™ bones hollow so they can fly.
I agree with Cathy Duffy that the best way to teach science for elementary students is not with textbooks, but by teaching them to observe, experiment, read, and think about the world surrounding them, utilizing realâ€”livingâ€”books and your child’s interests.
My friend Nicole commented, “A failed science experiment results in a discussion of fog, which results in a discussion of London which is foggy, which leads to research on the royal family and why the princess is named Charlotte. Reason No. 432 why I love homeschooling.”
You feed them science tidbits in everyday life, even in leisurely reading. For example, when you read The Story about Ping (about the little yellow duck in China), you can mention, “Ping lives on the river, in the water, so he has a water habitat—a habitat is where one lives. What other animals have a water habitat?” You have now introduced a scientific term. Maybe you could now visit the river, or a pond, or watch a short video on water animals.
Google is your friend, as is a good encyclopedia and—you guessed it—a library card!
But don’t stop there. Discovery learning is the key to understanding the world around us. The goal when our children are younger is to give them lots of experiences—hooks on which to hang their future learning. This foundation of experience gives them a context in which to place new information.
• Backyard botany/biology—Grow a seed in a cup or plant a family garden. Learn about the insects that help and harm specific plants in your yard. Study the birds in your neighborhood. What grasses grow? Why do some of your plants thrive and others wilt? Can you name the trees, plants, birds, “visiting” animals, and insects in your yard? Your local county extension service usually offers 4-H, a Master Gardener program, and a Junior Master Gardener program, as well as classes and pamphlets related to your specific area.
• Use field guides—Our family accumulated quite a few field guides, including Audubon guides to weather, butterflies, birds, rocks, mammals, trees, reptiles and amphibians, and others, as well as Golden Guides and Eyewitness Handbooks.
(Add these to your gift wish lists for relatives who donâ€™t know what to buy your children.)
• Raise animals for fun and/or profit.
• Nature journals—Teach observation skills, care of nature, and more. I once sent my girls out on a nature walk and they came back with two baby foxes in their arms, so be prepared. We got an impromptu lesson in how the local animal rehab center works!
• Animal habitat studies—Why does that groundhog keep coming back? Where does he live?
• Weather observation—Besides the standard rain, clouds, and more, our area has recently experienced a hurricane and a tornado—what inspiration for further research!
• Backyard geology—Examine the dirt composition; do a soil test; study the rock formations. (And lately, you may be interested in the causes and effects of earthquakes.)
• Food chemistry—Cooking is science! Experiment with melting/freezing/boiling points; solutions; and more. Learn about crystallization in fudge; yeast multiplication, gluten and carbon dioxide development in bread; caramelization. My daughter Rachel wasn’t particularly interested in cooking, but was fascinated with the science involved; her studies inspired her to write X+Y=Dinner?, a cookbook to help de-mystify cooking techniques and methods. Hey, a science study that inspires my kids to write and cook is fine with me!
• Cars, bicycles, lawn mowers—machines/maintenance, engine repair.
• Camping—Nature studies, survival and safety tips.
What if you have multiple age levels? One suggestion is to get one program for your older student and simply include your younger in exploring the same topic. If you teach to the level of your older child and include the younger, adapting slightly as needed, the younger will pick up most of it through a trickle-down approach. He will ride the “mental bus” to his own “mental bus stop.”
Meanwhile, you will need to prepare only one set of lesson plans and the children will be working together most of the time in this subject, rather than as mini-classrooms. This has a synergistic effect on your time and effort (and money); field trips and experiments and reading and lessons can include both children.
Science Resources for Starters
• God’s Wondrous Machine series by Dr. Lainna Callentine, MD., M.Ed. Titles include The Electrifying Nervous System, The Breathtaking Respiratory System, and more.
• Kathryn Stout’s Design-a-Study guide to science, Science Scope, helps you identify science concepts and vocabulary to be covered at various levels. Can be used as a springboard to use with library or other living (non-text) books
• Science in the Beginning by Dr. Jay Wile—Ninety lessons based on the six days of Creation: light, energy and matter; water and the atmosphere; land and plants; sun, moon and stars; birds and sea life; land animals and humans (introductory physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, and botany). This is not just a book of experiments, but a complete curriculum with text and activities. Designed to be used with children of varying ages (approximately K–6th/8th), lessons and activities are categorized by ability, divided into three levels.
• God’s Design for Science series (Answers in Genesis)—set includes K–8th material in one package.
• Colors (elementary science curriculum) from Beginning Publishing House.
• Nature’s Workshop carries a variety of discovery resources, from DIY geodes to bug boxes dissection kits, to lab kits for various publishers.
• Great Science Adventures series (Common Sense Press)
• Real Science 4 Kids (Gravitas Press). Pre-level is for K-3rd, Level I is for 4th–6th.
• Janice Van Cleave’s science books—Check out the Every Kid series (Biology for Every Kid, Astronomy for Every Kid, etc.) for elementary and middle school, and supplement for the preschoolers and primaries with her Let’s Play and Find Out science series; often available at your public library.
Afraid of Science Yourself?
Engineer Shane Rose noted, “Science experiments don’t fail; they just provide outcomes that are different from the expected. That’s why they are called ‘experiments’! If it didn’t work out as you’d planned, try it multiple times, chart the outcomes, and then figure out if the expected outcome is the ‘right’ outcome and why those that differed … differed. Science!”
Wishing you happy discoveries!
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant
• • •
The materials below cover a variety of methods and approaches as well as depths of learning. Most are from a biblical worldview; as with any curricular materials, each family should evaluate the appropriateness of any material for your own family’s needs.
More science resources:
• Scinch Science is new on the science scene with chemistry characters to introduce the periodic table of elements to children in a fun-damental way. Projects and books are developed by three chemistry grads and an engineer who want to ignite a passion for science in your kids.
• Truth in Science—This is currently available for 5th/6th grade (other levels are being added), but you may find much of the material workable, depending on your children’s current levels
• The NEW Way Things Work by David Macaulay
• Answers in Genesis science materials
• Homeschool Science Experiment & Activity Guide (free) from Supercharged Science
• Apologia science Young Explorer series—Exploring Creation series for elementary and junior high
• “Is Science in Your Homeschool Heading for a Meltdown?” by Jane Hoffman, author of the Backyard Scientist series (article—Crosswalk.com)
• “Making Your Home a Science Manipulative” by Jason Makansi (article—Practical Homeschooling)
• “Create Your Own Science Unit” by Pam Maxey (article—Practical Homeschooling)
• Timberdoodle science resources
• Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock
• Simple Schooling’s Journey Through the Solar System—A complete one-semester course for students in grades 5–8 for only $2.79. Ten unit studies; 290 pages. Lapbook also available.
• Christopher Columbus Awards program—A national, community-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program for middle school students. The program challenges the students to work in teams of three to four, with an adult coach, to identify a problem in their community and apply the scientific method to create an innovative solution to that problem.
• Sports fans might enjoy exploring the science of baseball at this website which offers a reaction time calculator, activities that will pique their curiosity, and articles on the game. One article explains how to throw a curve ball, screwball, and a slider, as well as the science behind each pitch. (Thanks to the HEAV Update.)
• Curriculum Resources listing at HSLDA’s Homeschooling Toddlers thru Tweens
• See more on science in the Science on a Dime newsletter from September 2011.
In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, we invite you to visit our For Fathers section for messages from dads who have “been there, done that.”
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