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Instead of purchasing science curriculum I've created our own plans using format laid out in The Well-Trained Mind. We've covered biology (first grade) and earth & space (second grade). This year we tackled chemistry.
Homeschooling Science: Chemistry
Beginning in third grade, things start to change a little. Kids are getting older and you can expect a bit of independence from them. Science is a great place to start letting them hold the reins. And The Well-Trained Mind format for science works very well for this age group. We didn't use all the recommended materials from the book but we did stick fairly close to recommended lesson format.
Chemistry for Elementary Kids
Our main program for the years was the Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab. It includes all the experiments on individual cards and many of the needed supplies. You'll need a few things like vinegar, lemon juice, and other household items, but the harder to find things are included in the kit.
We didn't take a full year to complete all the experiments so we finished out the last six weeks of the year with Ellen McHenry's The Elements. This was a bit more involved so TJ didn't work independently. I read aloud a section and we worked on a few activities. Our favorites were the games - we all played those and really enjoyed them (and learned a lot!). It's a great program and I'm holding on to it because we might just decide to do it again. TJ was on the younger end of the recommended age range for this program so I think she could easily go through it again in a few years on her own and learn quite a bit from it.
Weekly Lesson Planning
Each week with the Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab looked fairly similar.
- TJ would pull out a chemistry experiment card from the kit and the needed supplies. Each of the experiment cards has an experiment on one side and an explanation about the experiment on the other.
- After completing the experiment, TJ would complete an experiment page.
- When she was finished with the experiment, she looked up a word or two from our science encyclopedia (or a children's dictionary if we couldn't find the topic in the encyclopedia). I used the explanation from the back of the experiment card to choose the words and scientific terms I wanted her to learn.
- She wrote out the definitions and added a drawing or diagram to the page.
That was it. By working on science twice a week, we completed most of the experiments in the kit during the year (we did 2 experiments when they were very easy). It was very straightforward and simple and, after the first week or two, she was doing science fairly independently.
We had a great science year and I'm very happy with the results - TJ has learned to work independently, performing and writing up her own experiments, looking up science words and writing definitions. Our next school year will follow the same basic format - this time learning about physics.