Creating Your Own Curriculum– Science

We’re still talking about Creating Your Own Homeschool Curriculum. You can do this. It is super simple.

Choosing what to use for science is just as easy as it is for other subjects. Just pick a book, topic, or supplement and get to it. There are lots of ways to go about science curriculum. I’m only going to cover a few of them because this is a blog post, not a book.

For younger kids, nature study may be all you want to do for science. Nature study is super easy and super appealing to small children. How do you “do” nature study? You go outside and look around. Nature study helps younger kids learn to observe what is around them and to start asking questions about the things they find.

You can go about nature study as organized or freely as you want. Want to just go outside and see what you see? Do it. You know about the world around you more than you think. Observing that the leaves are falling off the trees right now as the seasons change is a full lesson for the week. You can add onto that if you want, but it really can be as simple as watching leaves fall.

Exploring Nature with Children and Firefly Nature School are two organized ways to go about nature study. Each will give you a new topic each week and you’ll dive into that topic as fully as you want. Exploring Nature with Children has a student book with places to journal and poems to copy if you want to go that direction. They also send out a weekly email about the topic of the week with links to videos you can watch or activities you might want to do. The actual PDF contains information for the week, potential activities, and book lists if you really want to go whole hog. Firefly Nature School is a bit different. You get a monthly PDF pack with lessons for each week when you subscribe. It comes with lovely cards to print out and guides to the topic of the week. It also gives some additional reading suggestions and activities. You can also buy the lessons you want on a topic by topic basis.

Unit studies are great for science. You can choose something you’ve observed in nature and research that thing until your child’s interest runs out. Twig and Moth, Brave Grown Home, Chickie and Roo, Green Urban Creative, Home and Haven, and Stephanie Hathaway Designs are just a few of the companies/individuals that make beautiful cards, posters, and visuals to go along with your nature and science journey. You can grab books from the library, watch videos on YouTube, watch documentaries on Amazon or Disney+, go on helpful field trips as you explore your topic. This is great for all of science, not just nature study. Why just learn a few facts when you can really dig in?

As my kids get older, nature study morphs into the art of nature journaling. Science becomes more typical science. You can choose a ready made curriculum or you can just read books about science and learn.

As a large family mom, I like all my kids to be doing the same science. They may not be using the same books, but I like them to be on the same topic. It keeps things simpler around here. And as an added bonus, when the older kids do projects or experiments, the younger kids are learning similar things and can observe or participate and get something out of it, too. Or I can have my older kids lead the younger ones through an activity that educationally benefits them both. Since I use history for my literature spine, it makes sense that I also base our science around our history. This year, we’re in ancient history, so for science, my kids are doing geology and archaeology. Science doesn’t always neatly fit with history, but usually some connection can be made. You could place astronomy in the Middle Ages or your could place it in Modern History. Physics can easily go in early modern history. Anatomy can fit pretty much anywhere. Chemistry usually fits best in Modern. Again, this is entirely unnecessary, but it can make a year flow much more cohesively and have kids connecting their subjects in a very organic manner.

If you decide on chronological history, but don’t want to choose a specific area of study, you may want to check out Berean Builder Science Curriculum. They arrange science in chronological order by discovery. It really highlights well how the scientific process works and how one discovery builds off another. It also shows how even when scientists are wrong at times about aspects of their discoveries, they still help advance science. It helps kids learn that just because one thing a scientist said was proven false doesn’t mean it wasn’t helpful in the scope of discovery or that the scientist was entirely wrong. It is quite a unique way to study science.

There are a great many places where you can find a “real books” science program built for you. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think, “We’re going to study physics” and then figure out what books to actually read. Guest Hollow and Sabbath Mood both come to mind. You can also choose a textbook as a “spine” and then branch out from there in what you read.

I have Idea Lists for Oceans, Weather, Physics, Flowers, Birds, Astronomy, Anatomy, Zoology, Botany, Earth Science, Pets, and Nature. There are, of course, endless numbers of topics to study. If you want, ask your kids to help decide what to study next. Then you just find books for the topic. You can buy them or head to the library with a topic in mind.

I feel like I should remind you that there will always be holes in their education. At graduation, your child cannot be an expert in all fields of science. Not even scientists are experts in all fields of science. No adult was ever hindered because they couldn’t label all the parts of a cell or replicate the periodic table on command. Your child doesn’t have to either. When they are young, science is about exposure to the world. As they get older, they’ll understand it more and be able to make more connections. But they will not be experts. They aren’t meant to be. If they were, college specializations wouldn’t exist. So don’t fret if you skip something. There will be holes. Everyone has holes in their knowledge. Without looking it up, do you know how thick the earth’s crust is, what the function of the spleen is, and what happens if you add magnesium to heat? If you do know those things, cool. If you don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re an uneducated baffoon, it simply means you’re human. (And you can know all those answers with a quick Google search.) So while I do strive for excellence with my kids, I don’t strive for expert understanding or memorization. I don’t have to be able to name all the constellations to enjoy the stars.

Science also doesn’t have to take a lot of time each week. For younger kids, doing an hour of nature study once a week is enough. As they get older, maybe 2-3 days a week for 45 minutes or so is plenty. Some curriculums will come with a day by day plan for you. If that works for you, cool. If it doesn’t– don’t do it that way!

When my oldest were small, we did Zoology for several years. I took them to the zoo once a week. That was our science. Watching the animals and asking the zoo keepers our questions. I didn’t have a specific curriculum. I didn’t even have a plan. They learned about animal classification, animal habits, habitats, ecology, animal conservation, and more just from weekly zoo trips. No program. No books. Well, I did buy them a couple animal encyclopedias because they loved looking through them on non-zoo days to figure out what they wanted to find out at the zoo. I’m just saying– use what you have available to you. If you’re farming– that is totally science! If you’re near the beach– weekly beach trips totally counts as science! It doesn’t have to come from a textbook and have worksheets. You don’t need those things to learn. If you want them, cool. But they aren’t necessary at all.

Additionally, science experiments are optional. If you don’t want to do them– don’t! Do not stress out about what they’ll learn without an experiment. You can also ONLY do experiments from a book like this or this if you want. You know what will work best for you and your child. It doesn’t have to be complex. It doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy. Want to know my kids favorite ever science activity? Finding a walking stick. Like, going out in the yard and finding a stick long enough to be considered a walking stick. That’s it. We’ve made bricks, looked at bugs through microscopes, found consolations with a telescope, made aluminum foil boats to race, mixed all sorts of slimy concoctions– and they love finding a stick the most. (Insert shrugging emoji here.) Do the experiments. Don’t do the experiments. Occasionally point out a snail. You’re great at teaching science!

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