Monday, February 10, 2014

Building Your Own Secular Homeschool Science Curriculum: An Ode to Bill Nye



Let's talk science. My kids LOVE science, but they haven't always. Only since we've been homeschooling have I seen such passion in them towards all things biology, chemistry, and physics. I've heard it said that there is no really great science curriculum for secular homeschoolers. That may be, but why let that stop you? In this day and age, we have great resources for finding anything and everything, namely the internet. Now, I thought I'd try to explain how to build your own science curriculum, but I truly am no expert. Really, each family has to choose what fits them. All I can do is share what we do, and hope you find it helpful. I've compiled an awesome science curriculum over the last few years, but I'm not finished yet. I doubt I'll ever be. On our wish list for next semester? A microscope. I already have my eye on one. In the meantime, here is what we do have, and what is working for us.

I want to be clear that I do not believe in just winging it, when it comes to your children's education. I think it's important to have some sort of guide, to be certain you are teaching them what they need to know. For my guide, I buy used textbooks, for each child's grade level, every year. Here are this year's.
Now those are just guides, we rarely go in order and often spend more time on the things that peak their interest, and less on the topics that don't. 

My absolute favorite science book is National Geographic's "The Science Book." It covers, the solar system (and beyond), earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, technology, and mathematics. It's huge and it's FILLED with information.

My second favorite science book might be controversial, if you're not a true secular homeschooler. It's a great book on evolution, but written for kids! It's easy to teach the science of evolution with this one, plus it includes activities to make the learning hands on. "Darwin and Evolution for Kids", by Kristan Lawson and Anneli Rufus, is a must have!

Now the kids' favorite books are the ones that follow (various animal fact books, books with easy science experiments using common household items, and Time Magazine special editions).




Okay, enough about books. Let's jump into the fun stuff. First up, videos. We have the entire collection of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and we all love, love, love them! They're HILARIOUS, interesting for both kids and adults, and educational. They're also interactive. Not only do they take you step by step through various hands on experiments you can easily do at home, but there is a quiz at the end of each episode. Get an answer wrong? No worries. The DVD takes you back to the section where the topic was discussed, then gives you a second chance. A million cheers for Bill Nye!!!!

Other favorite science videos include National Geographic's "Really Wild Animals" series. Hosted by Spin (the planet earth voiced by Dudley Moore), this series is somewhat funny, but the animal footage is really what makes it a must see.

Now, on to kits and more kits. Amazon.com has a ton of science kits. We've dissected a frog (not pictured), built endless robots, learned about solar energy, and so much more. Here are some favorites. 

This guy rocks!! We break him out at least once a semester. It's kid friendly (meaning no sexual organs), and tons of squishy hands on fun. My kids know more about the human body, it's organs, and how they work together, than you would believe. All because of this guy. Totally worth the investment (don't worry, he's not expensive).

This kit was actually a gift I got my oldest son for Christmas, several years ago. However, we often use it for science class. It has the best magnet set I've ever seen. There are lots of other learning tools, and a great pamphlet that quickly explains each one.

This solar robotics kit is easy peasy. It doesn't exactly explain why or how solar power works, but National Geographic's "The Science Book" (pictured above) certainly does! 

This is great for those small creatures your children find in the yard. You can temporarily keep them, and study them. You can also grow various plants and create your very own ecosystem.

Now, I don't want to leave you with the impression that you have to purchase a bunch of stuff to have a decent secular science curriculum. You absolutely do not. Just doing an internet search of 'kitchen science' or 'at home science' will yield great results. I would also suggest Pinterest, and following as many homeschool blogs as you can find. Plus there's always just nature itself, like the day we came across this molting cricket. An impromptu science lesson took over our afternoon. Don't you just love days like that?

What are some of your favorite science materials?

1 comment:

  1. Rite now we just use animal books and some bill nye, but mine are little. I like the human body one. Looks neat.

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