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Science and Home-Ed

Science is about wonder! In all its forms – chemistry, physics, biology, astrology – it’s about exploring and discovering; biological and universal codes; the seen and the unseen. It answers our questions about the world and the answers spark curiosity to learn more.

Children are innately curious about everything. When it comes to ‘science’ as an academic subject, this enthusiastic desire to seek wonder is a teacher’s best friend.

Nurture Curiosity

Read science-based books

For younger home-ed pupils, sets of science books that give overviews of topics are a good introduction to ‘science’ as a subject .

  • Books that are suitable vocabulary-wise to use as ‘reading’ books when learning to read..
  • ..with enough information about the topic to make the reader curious (i.e. how volcanos are formed, why they erupt)
    • (Books that can be used as a basic unit study for that specific topic)
  • Books that are interesting to read, with good illustrations and clear diagrams

  • Science books with a ‘story’ feel to the book when it’s read cover to cover (or per chapter) this When Whales Cross the Ocean book published by *Raintree.

Science, a core subject of most home-ed curriculums, is a subject that’s easier to teach the more leaners understand the basics. ‘How to be Good at Science’ is a brilliant book to do this.

It takes students step-by-step through all science curricula covered in primary school and introduces the basics of concepts they’ll begin to explore in more depth in KS3.

As an introductory textbook for pupils to use themselves – the page design is appealing and is easy to use as a drop-in-and-out-of reference book. As a guide for home educators as to what should be covered pre-secondary school, it’s a book I’d highly recommend. Simple yet thorough reference books like this are great tools to generate pop quizzes from, to check for learning gaps. Another good book for this style of learning/teaching is ‘The Way Things Work’, again by DK (DK reference books are, across all subjects excellent).

Everyday Home-Ed Science

Combine learning scientific concepts and vocab with other lessons.

The Eyewitness series books are science books based on individual topics. As science ‘text’books the series can be used with young learners as well as into secondary school. The books are also perfect for reading and writing lessons:

  • Assign paragraphs/pages as copywork
  • Ask students to read and summarise a section
  • Practice using a dictionary to explain new vocabulary
Plant book

(Remember to ensure homeschoolers know how to use each reference book: Look and decode any ‘key’ the book uses; explain how the book’s index works to navigate through topics.)

Science kits

Science kits are great ways to encourage the exploration of scientific concepts. The experiments/projects are always fun and you can use the data & results generated to practice data analysis, recording data and analysing data skills – developing a skill set that will be useful to pupils as they advance.

The National Geographic Kits are, predictably, consistently reliable for Earth Science kits, Snap Circuits are a brilliant introduction to electric circuits and Thames and Kosmos produce fantastic kits covering subjects from astronomy to chemistry.

If you’re looking for fun science kits that could be used as a complete curriculum, the curriculum kits from Home Science Tools are a comprehensive option.

PhET – One of the BEST home-ed resources I’ve found. PhET is a project by the University of Colorado Boulder, creating simulations of mathematical and science concepts, based on education research. The resulting sims have a game-like feel that engages students and makes them forget they’re learning.

A fantastic resource for home educators (there are over 3000 teacher-created lessons on the site), PhET’s website is easy, safe and fun for home learners to explore.

(PhET lesson plans and simulations are available in multiple languages (115!) which makes it great for home educators creating a bilingual/ multi-language curriculum.)

A microscope and telescope

Science is a subject of awe partly because we’re often looking at the minuscule or the infinite. From looking at snowflakes to studying the stars, a microscope and a telescope enable kids to bring to life the concepts on the pages of textbooks.

Lego is a great tool for home-ed science. Lego builds can explain physics, bricks can be used to make models of elements, to explain atoms, or explain an earth science concept (techtonic plates etc). If your homeschooler loves Lego and science (or needs encouraging to learn to love science more) a Lego STEAM kit could be a great addition to a home-ed classroom.

Use the British Science Week activity packs to make lesson planning easier and to let homeschoolers choose what to study next – the activities are ready-to-go lessons, so as a teacher it makes no difference to planning the class which activity is chosen.

Watch videos, TV and documentaries

about all kinds of science!

  • DIY Science is fun
  • Discovery Science Channel
  • Science Max (and the book that accompanies the series)
  • Operation Ouch! and Michael Mosley’s medical documentary series
  • MythBusters
  • The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements is a useful series for ‘lessons’.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
  • Earth documentaries – Everything David Attenborough
  • Professor Brian Cox is the Attenborough for space: ‘Wonders of the Universe’ and ‘Planets’ are fascinatingly engaging.
  • The Great Escapists is really fun to watch.

(The accompanying books – Wonders of the Universe and The Planets – are excellent additions to a home-ed library)

Young learners’ memories are fantastic. Surround them with knowledge and they’ll absorb it…that said, as a home educator it’s nice to feel reassurance that they are actually learning. Following an online course suitable to the ability or grade level of the pupil is an easy way to do this if you’d rather not use textbooks.

Mystery Science

Mystery Science is a brilliant website to get young learners interested in science. Interesting, fun, short lessons and encouragement to learners to share their own science projects, Mystery Science makes science a lesson that’s easy to implement into a home-ed timetable (no prep, except printing lesson resources) and a varied curricula home learners will enjoy.

STEM Learning

STEM Learning is a brilliant resource for home educators. Providing lesson resources across sciences for pre-K up to A-level, Stem Learning guides home educators through what the curriculum for each year group would cover. Using the resource packages for chemistry, biology and physics, you can be sure your home learner will cover all statement areas. Home educators can use the resource packages to plan a home-ed science timetable for the year to ensure all ‘must know’ topics are covered.

Each topic resource package consists of downloadable lesson resources, teaching guidance, activity sheets, worksheets – essentially ready to go lesson plans to use in a home-ed classroom. For home educators, the tips and guidance notes on how to teach science are invaluable.

If you’re looking for extra activities to engage curious kids, the Experiment Library on the Steve Spangler (Science Max) website will keep science loving children busy for hours.

The Biology Corner

A useful resource for home-ed biology classes:

The Biology Corner offers complete lesson plans and worksheets for students to use (directly online – assign to Google classroom etc, or as a printable classroom resource), and the website also has some useful resources for home-ed classes that introduce scientific equipment, academic integrity and introduce learners to the ‘being a scientist’ aspect of science.

The Science Bank has an incredible list of online resources for life sciences and virtual dissection.

Via this list we discovered the incredible Bird Academy from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

For home learners interested in birds there is a back catalogue of ornithology lectures and excellent resources for studying the anatomy of birds, including a flashcard style revision model to practice labelling diagrams of bird anatomy.

The Royal Society of Chemistry

The education website from the RSC is a fantastic classroom tool for home educators. The classroom section of the website is aimed at teachers and is a resource that can help home educators feel more confident teaching chemistry at home. The website is packed with useful teaching advice, from tips to teaching science skills, to ideas on how to teach specific science concepts.

The resources section of the RSC website includes lesson plans, worksheets, quizzes and articles that make planning and teaching chemistry lessons easier.