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19 Tips for Hand-on Science Success in your Homeschool

Don't miss these 19 tips to help you with the hands-on science in your homeschool.

You flip open your plans and this is what greets you in your block for homeschool science:

Experiment: Can I transfer metal atoms?

Did your heart skip a beat? Did your stomach do a flippity-flop? Or did you roll your eyes because you were sure this one wasn’t going to work either?

Experiments have been long maligned and misunderstood. I have heard from many a homeschool parent say:

“I don’t understand why experiments are even necessary. They are too much work. They never turn out right. So we just don’t do them.”

My friends, it should not be so! 

Our students need to encounter science face-to-face. Experiments, demonstrations and hands-on scientific activities are wonderful tools we have to give our students this chance.

After all, to teach science without the hands-on aspect would make no sense. It would be like watching a movie with your eyes closed – it will sound right, but you really won’t have a complete picture of what is going on.

As many of us head back to homeschool after the holidays, we wanted to highlight nineteen posts with loads of tips that will help you with hands-on aspect of science!


19 Tips for Hands-on Science in your Homeschool

Let’s get rolling…

#1. Use both scientific demonstrations and experiments.

Scientific demonstrations and experiments are two main types of scientific tests used in the educational setting. Many people use these two terms interchangeably. However, there is a difference between them. Demonstrations are more parent led and student observed, while experiments are more student-led and parent-supervised. 

#2. Record your experiments.

Wondering how you should record your students’ experiments? Start simple.  Keep your expectations below what your students are capable of writing. And let your students record their personal experience. 

#3. Save time by doing one experiment with multiple ages.

Many homeschoolers have more than one child and teach multiple grades at one time. Good news! It is possible to do one experiment with multiple different ages and have everyone walk away learning something about science. 

#4. Know what to do when you don’t have experiment supplies.

Let’s face it we have all had those moments when we open the teacher guide and realize we do not have the supplies for the planned activity! And this is when we can pull out our ninja-like homeschool substitution skills, using these three tips for when you find yourself without the necessary supplies for an experiment.

#5. Follow our easy tips for experiment success.

Reading ahead, follow the directions, have the supplies, realize some days will just be like that, and don't be afraid to try it again. Those are 5 of our easiest experiment tips to maximize the potential of the success of experiments and home!

#6. Know what to do when your experiments fail.

It will happen – your experiment will not go as planned. And when it does you will know the steps to take to rescue the learning experience.

#7. Make your own experiment kit or purchase a pre-made one.

One of the best ways to ensure the success of your experiments is to have all the supplies on hand. Follow these steps to make your own experiment kit at home, check out our list of 100 science supplies to have on hand, or see our full line of experiment kits that go with our programs.

#8. Learn about nature study.

Nature study can awaken the scientific side of the brain in the same way a good book can awaken the imagination. If you have never heard of this type of hands-on science, our free conference session - Nature Study, the Natural Way to Study Science - is a great place to start.

#9. Decide where nature study fits into your plan for science education.

There are several options for adding nature study to your plan for science education. It can be the core of your curriculum or the icing on your science cake!

#10. Do lots of impromptu nature study!

In our homeschool, we mainly use impromptu nature study, most of which happens on the short walks we take around our neighborhood.

#11. Keep doing nature study, even with middle schoolers.

Our kids are all out of the elementary stage and we will do nature study. Because even your middle schoolers can benefit from spending some time outdoors learning about nature! This is why nature study is a great family activity.

#12. Pause and take 15 minutes at the window.

Make a point to slow down, take 15 minutes, and observe the science that is happening right outside your window.

#13. Observe, observe, observe.

In science, observation is key! It is something you should practice over and over again with your students.

#14. Study the scientific method.

In a nutshell, the scientific method trains the brain to examine and observe before making a statement of fact. It's an important concept for us to share with our students and to give them opportunities to practice over and over.

#15. Start teaching the scientific method early.

Our students need to interact with the scientific method multiple times throughout the years. These tips will help you incorporate the scientific method through the ages.

#16. Teach your students about the different types of experiment variables.

There are three main variables at play in experiments – independent, dependent, and controlled. Teaching your students to identify these three will really help them with tip #17.

#17. Do a science fair project.

The thought of doing a science fair project can be very overwhelming, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges. We have a free conference session and a book to help you slay this dragon!

#18. Break the science fair project into eight steps.

Once you have decided to do a science fair project, we like to break it into eight steps to make it a bit easier for both teachers and students. Here is a brief overview of each:

#19. Do at least one dissection.

Dissections are often seen as gross and not worth the time, but there is a benefit for taking a look at the internal anatomy of a creature. We recommend that you do at least one of these, live or virtually, during your student’s career.

Wrapping it Up

Want all these articles plus a whole lot more in one easy-to-read book? Check out The Homeschooler's Guide to Experiments!

(Originally posted in July of 2015, Updated January of 2023)

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