We chatted about the two goals for elementary science last week. In today’s episode, we are going to discuss the tools you can use to accomplish those goals!
Welcome to the Tips for Homeschool Science Show where we are breaking down the lofty ideals of teaching science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool.
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In our last episode, I shared your two goals for science during the elementary years – to create an interest and to fill your student’s knowledge bucket with the basics of science. Today, we are going to chat about five tools you can use to meet these goals.
The basic components you can use for elementary science are:
The first three components are key to include in each week, but the last two are optional. How you put these components together will vary on the method you choose, which we will talk more about in the next episode. For now, let us take a closer look at each of the components.
First, we have scientific demonstrations – the first of the three keys to teaching science. These are the hands-on science activities you do each week. These activities will help your students to work on their observation skills, to introduce them to the scientific method, and to allow them to see science face-to-face.
We chatted a lot about scientific demonstrations in episode 35, but at this level – your students are doing lots of observing and helping, while you are guiding these scientific demonstrations. You can use experiments done by you as demonstrations, nature studies, or making models for this component. But whatever you choose, the main thing is to make sure that these hands-on science activities related to the topic you are studying.
Second, we have science-oriented books and these fulfill the second key for teaching science. Remember that at this stage the student is an empty bucket waiting to be filled with information and books are a wonderful way to do that.
There are many children’s encyclopedias, such as the ones published by Usborne, Kingfisher, and DK. Each of these publishers presents scientific information in an interesting way on the level of an elementary student. You can also choose to read living books that deal with science or shorter non-fiction library books on the topics you are studying.
At the beginning of the elementary years, you will be reading these books to the student, but as their reading abilities increase, you can assign them books to read on their own. You can also add in a few scientist biographies along the way as these will help your students connect with the people behind science, which can create an interest to learn more.
Third, we have notebooking – this is the final of the three keys to teaching science. The idea with notebooking is to make sure that the students have placed at least one piece of information into their knowledge bucket. You can do this by creating lapbooks, notebooks, or journals – basically anything that will provide the space to record what the students have learned.
At first, you will not expect a lot of actual writing from the students. You can discuss what you read or what you did and then write it down for the students in their workbook. As they progress through the elementary years, you can expect them to do more of their own writing for science, but don’t force them to write beyond their ability as pushing the elementary student in writing will lead to frustration with science and be contrary to your goals.
Before I share the last two tools, let me say that these two components are optional ones. If your students really enjoy studying science and they want more, I suggest that you add one, or maybe both, of these optional components to your science routine.
The fourth tool we have for teaching science to elementary students is extra projects, such as habitat dioramas, posters, or videos, and additional hands-on science activities. These projects are a great way for the students to engage with the material they are learning in another way. That said, these activities definitely need to relate to what you are studying so that they will serve to reinforce what the student needs to know.
For example, if you are studying a group of animals over several weeks, consider creating a chart in which the diets (carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore) of each of the animals are displayed. This type of project will be a visual reminder of what the student has studied and will reinforce the concept of animal diet. That's how an extra project will work.
And finally, we have memory work. Remember that the elementary student is an empty bucket that is begging to be filled. These kiddos soak up information, and memory work is one of those tools that you can use to fill their knowledge banks.
I recommend that you have the student memorize scientific poems, lists of facts, or vocabulary. Again this is not absolutely necessary, but any of the memory work that you select needs to relate to the other things you are studying so that they have context for all the facts they are memorizing.
For the elementary years, you can use scientific demonstrations, science-oriented books, notebooking, projects, and memory work to help you accomplish your goals for science. A good science plan during these years will give you options for each of these components and it will make sure that each of the pieces relates back to the topic being studying for the week or for the unit.
As you teach science each week, you may not incorporate every single one of these components. But by regularly doing scientific demonstrations, reading science-oriented books, and notebooking – your students will enjoy learning about science during the elementary years. Add in a few extra projects and a bit of memory work and you will be pleased with how much your students enjoy learning about this “difficult” subject!
Next week, we are going to chat about what it actually looks like to use these tools to share science during the elementary years.
Until then…thanks for listening – I hope that you leave our time together encouraged in your homeschooling journey.
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I can’t wait to share another piece of the roadmap in our next episode, but until then – I hope you have a great week playing with science!
See how we can help you teach science to your elementary student!
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