Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

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Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Day 3 of iHN’s Winter Hopscotch is all about science. Today I’m sharing our strategies and resources for homeschooling middle & high school science. Science is my favorite. If you’ve been a reader for awhile, then you may know that my background is science. My BS is in biological sciences and I have a MS degree in Curriculum & Instruction Secondary Education. I am certified to teach biology to 7th-12th graders. I taught science for five years prior to starting a family. My husband is a chemical engineer with a graduate degree also in chemical engineering. This means several important things relevant to today’s post:

  • We are science people. We do science everyday.
  • We talk about science at every turn.
  • People with masters degrees focused on writing science curriculum & science instruction for secondary aged kids don’t buy science curriculum. It’s a rule. They might revoke my degree.
  • When our kids ask a science question, we drop what we’re doing and help them investigate an answer. It’s how we have fun.
  • We are great at doing science all the time. We aren’t great at following a science curriculum.

I think it’s important to be real with you all on this point because it affects how we approach science in our middle and high school homeschool. I’d like to encourage you to try something similar…be inquistive! Help your students to explore the scientific world.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Strategies for Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

One of the best ways to do science is to go and investigate. Learn with your students the process for conducting scientific investigations and then go out and explore the world! Below are some of the ways we do this in our homeschool:

  • Unit Studies– Through middle school we do a lot of science through our unit studies. Either we are studying a book and doing the science that goes with it or the unit study is based around the science. For example, we enjoyed a unit on catapults after watching Punkin’ Chunkin’ one Thanksgiving.
  • Units can be built around a child’s interest– many of you know our daughter is very talented with a sewing machine. There’s a lot of physical science to be taught about sewing machines, so I wrote a unit study on just that.
  • Science as Investigation– I actually speak on this topic quite a bit. The thing to remember is not to get bogged down in the process. You don’t have to have fancy equipment to do science. So many people want to make sure all their ducks are in a row and it paralyzes them when it comes to doing experiments. Don’t be afraid to look things up with your kids and try things out. We once did a huge experiment on popcorn– which variety popped the biggest. We talked with the kids about how to do a fair test and we walked them through setting up the experiment. Then we popped a lot of corn and measured the volume by calculating the amount of space the popped volume took up in a cylinder!
  • Project Based Homeschooling– We are prime candidates for homeschooling science with student driven projects. It’s comes naturally to mentor our kids into finding their own way on something they are interested in. This year our 8th grader is studying biology through the life of snakes– she has one she caught and has been taking care of since June.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Our Favorite Resources for Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

In lieu of recommending curriculum for science, I’m going to give you a list of our favorite resources. These are things we pull from or have the kids reference and enjoy during their studies.

  • Janice VanCleave Books– These books are an excellent source for science experiments and longer term science investigations. Easy to understand and follow and Ms. VanCleave does a great job of explaining the results.
  • Beyond Five in a Row– Excellent literature unit studies which have robust science studies in them including more than a few books about famous scientists.
  • Usborne Science Encyclopedia– Great science reference with links to follow on the internet.
  • Field Guides– A thorough guide for mammals, flowers, trees, reptiles, amphibians and other major animal and plants groups are a valuable tool for nature studies and biology.
  • The Handbook of Nature Study– A lovely text sharing a lot of science for the natural world. A popular book for homeschoolers, if you’ve never read it I encourage you to do so. Mrs. Comstock has a dry sense of humor that is not obvious from the appearance of the book.
  • Glassware– We buy ours from Home Science Tools (and locally at our backyard university’s supply rooms). I used to use our kitchenware, but I much prefer the designated scienceware.
  • cK-12 Open Source Textbook– It’s what we use for high school biology & chemistry. They have a text, workbooks, and some subjects have lab workbooks too.
  • Top 10 Tools for the Home Scientist– You might be interested in our favorite picks from this list I wrote for Uzinggo.
  • Life of Fred: Physics & Biology– R13 is going through Physics now followed by Biology both of which are pre-Algebra books.
  • Science Biographies– We study the lives of scientists which gives you a whole picture of a time, place, and event. This is a very Charlotte Mason approach and it yields big results. MoonShot and Skunkworks are among the books our 6th grader has read in his quest to learn more about flight and rocketry.

Giveaway for Polymer Science Unit from Elmer’s Glue

Since I’m all into doing investigations, I’m happy to offer you a bonus opportunity today. Elmer’s is giving away one box set pictured below. You’ll get a signed copy of Too Much Glue along with a unit on adhesives to go with the book and some glues for the activity. Leave a comment and tell me your favorite topic in science to enter!

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Science

Join other bloggers from the iHN for their tips on teaching science. See you tomorrow for a look at history.


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  1. Standing and applauding! Love your approach to teaching science!!

    I am a biology major, so I lean toward nature studies, but my budding little engineer has got me learning more about physics and electricity.

    1. Thank you Marci! Yes, we have an engineer too. My goodness is he busy and my bet is he’ll never follow a curriculum of any kind. He just keeps pushing the envelope to learn more on his own. At 8. ha

  2. That giveaway looks fun. I’m sure my 6yo would love it— I don’t really have one favorite topic; I like chemistry, astronomy, and anatomy. But I do know that physics is a definite NOT! Thanks for putting all your favorite resources in one spot!!

  3. Honestly, science is a difficult topic for me to teach. So, I very eagerly read your post today. My goal is to do more hands on experiments. I think health is my favorite topic when it comes to science. Thank you!

    1. Cherie, that’s great. I find “experiments” to be very intimidating for a lot of people. Try just exploring to see what happens. Don’t worry about perfect equipment and all the just right things. Just go with, “Let’s find out what happens if…” Have fun!

  4. Yay! I can’t even imagine doing science with a curriculum. I mean, science IS investigation! Well done! I would say our favorite science topic is chemistry. So fun to mix things up and see reactions. But really, science is life (just as math is life and history is life and…) so we love it all. 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge–as a new homeschooling mom I love your approaches. Our favorite (with littles) is nature study. My appreciation for the world has grown when I see it magnified through my children’s eyes.

    1. Amy, we love nature study too. My daughter said at Thanksgiving how she is thankful for the little surprises you come across when you really observe the natural world. Thanks for reading! Wishing you many wonderful homeschool memories as you start out!

  6. I’m a home-school science-phobe. Thanks for the encouragement to use life for science. My favorite science subject is one that took me a while to realize it was science: Nature Study.

    1. Hey Kris! Take it slow and steady…science is fun! Remember it doesn’t always have to look all kinds of official. Doing is the thing. Then it gets easier. I’m a biologist, but I’ll take anything on outside of that because we just explore and call in other experts- like Dad or the internet or a book. Good luck!

  7. We love science here, as long as it doesn’t come from a text book, and it does come with lots of hands on exploration! My youngest scholar has really opened up the world of science in our home. We are exploring it all and loving every moment. My favorite is biology and nature studies.

  8. Although I am a finance professor now, I was a marine geophysicist in my former life. So, geophysics and oceanography are still my favorite topics in science.

  9. I never had a great science teacher or class as a kid or even in college. Hence, I am not a huge Science fan. However, I have a daughter who is very inquisitive about scientific stuff, especially nature related (astronomy, biology, zoology, etc). I am learning to enjoy it along side her.

  10. My favorite science topic is zoology. Between my kids (eight of them age 12 years and under, 6 boys 2 girls) there is bound to be someone in this house who is interested in any area of science you name just about…LOL.

  11. My girls and I love Science! We love studying the human body and how it works!

  12. I teach Earth Science in NYS. I have created interactive lessons online which I use with my students. They are on this website and are available for anyone to use. It is a complete course that is equivalent to 4 credits in HS or JHS in NY.

  13. Hi,
    I’m a new Homeschooler and we removed our clan from PS at the grade levels of 3&4th grade. We are now headed into 6th and 7th and I feel like a huge failure or just so scared that the science they have gotten from me is enough or was enough. We used AIG life science last year, but my daughter would rather do it all h ands on. We began CM methods about 2 years ago. Now this year we are using SCM website to take us deeper into CM because we didn’t do to well wth nature studies thus far.
    We are trying it again.
    We are wanting to use the Jan Cleave books this year. My main concern is for my 7th grade boy. What would you suggest I do for science for his last two years of middle school before his high school years?
    I’m scared to death that he hasn’t had enough.
    I want them to love science and I know they are tired of textbook science.
    Again, we are coming to CM methods later and we are using SCM this year, but I have implemented since the past two year, narrations, dictation, and short lessons, and some nature journaling like birds, some plants and Thad about it.

    1. Hi Candace, I would continue on and give him more base knowledge in sciences with the VanCleave books- work through different kinds, talk about the concepts and get him ready for high school science. Middle school is just another layer. They will still revisit those concepts in high school. It sounds like you’ve done life science, so I would do earth science and physical science as well. Good luck!

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