Do you get excited about homeschooling high school science? Or are you intimidated at the prospect and can hardly wait to hit go on an outsourcing registration? At our house, we like to teach STEM at home and I love to share our favorite resources. Sometimes the right tools are just what you need to do the job you want to do well. The Ultimate Resource Guide for Homeschooling High School Chemistry is a faith neutral guide to the materials and resources you need to teach high school chemistry at home.
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Just like everything else we do with our homeschooled high schoolers, chemistry has the potential to be a customized course that is a reflection of the type of student you are teaching.
Let’s talk about some important things when it comes to teaching chemistry.
The Best Time for Taking High School Chemistry
Chemistry is not easy.
The biggest mistake I see parents make is to try and have their teens take high school chemistry too soon.
Chemistry is not next just because your student took biology already or they are in 9th grade.
Typically, chemistry is for 11th graders unless their math is accelerated early.
If your teen’s math is not where it needs to be, it’s not time to take chemistry- no matter what grade they are in.
So, let’s talk about the skills necessary for success in high school Chemistry.
- Algebra I– you need to be able to manipulate equations and solve for an unknown
- Significant Digits– make sure your answer is not more precise than your original data
- Scientific Notation– write small or large numbers as multiples of 10
- Exponents– know the rules for working with powers
- Logarithms– count in multiples of a base number
- Quadratic Equation– solve for a variable when there is a variable to the second power and the first power in the same equation.
- Using a Scientific Calculator– to work on logs and exponents, etc.
I’m coming on strong with this because it’s a question I get all the time and I work with parents whose teens are struggling and I help them to pivot until it’s really time for chemistry.
So, resist the urge to forge ahead with high school chemistry before it’s time.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about how to choose curriculum.
Choosing Homeschooling High School Chemistry Curriculum
Choosing Homeschool High School Curriculum can be difficult between balancing what we think is necessary and what really works for our teens.
Below I’ve listed the criteria we consider for any discipline, but you can read more about how we choose the right curriculum for our teens.
Make sure they are involved in the decision making process. That’s crucial to the handing over of the reins in the high school years!
- Student Goals– What are your student’s goals within each course? Some curriculum will better meet those once you know what they are.
- Style of Instruction– This goes along with how your student wants to learn. They may not want the same style for each course, but they will want what matches them best.
- Content– Does it meet your requirements for what the student is to learn? That’s an obvious one! This can also mean is there objectionable content. However, I would avoid dismissing curriculum at this point based purely on small objections or sections of content. The older your student gets, the more they need to be given the tools to discern material and separate content from their values- in the sense that they need to practice upholding their values in the face of content they might not totally agree with. You want to have these discussions before they leave for college- or the workplace!
- Need for Outsourcing– Many parents want to use outside sources for course work in at least some areas. Choosing which way to do this is another topic, but in general suffice it to say that it will influence your curriculum choices.
- Dual Credit, CLEP, & AP Options– These are not necessarily outsourced, but if you plan to use one or more of these options, you must know that going in so when the time comes you and your student are ready.
Curriculum for Homeschooling High School Chemistry
I’ve taught homeschool high school chemistry four times. As I type this, I’m homeschooling a second year of advanced chemistry or Chemistry II if you are going old school.
All of our teens have approached chemistry differently. Generally speaking, it’s not a fan favorite.
Which makes my husband a little sad. He’s a chemical engineer.
We’ve used each of these programs in one manner or another.
With our neurodivergent teens, we need to change things up a lot so we’re not likely to use one thing the whole way through.
Meeting our teens where they are is the name of the game.
CK-12.org– This is an free open source online program out of California which we use for much of our high school science. You can choose the level you want to teach and everything is online which a mobile app for quizzing, etc. Each chapter has videos, quizzes, and other submitted activities from the community. I miss the old days of being able to download the text on a Kindle, but I still have those old files so it’s ok. Now the program is totally web based.
Oak Meadow– I like this curriculum because it curates and makes a syllabus for Prentice Hall Chemistry which is a solid chemistry text. The program has a few too many busy work elements for my science educator taste, so I modify as necessary. It looks like this syllabus is on clearance, so if it is appealing to you, grab it up!
Prentice Hall Chemistry– if you just want to go for the text book, you can do that too. This one has it all. It’s a good reading level for most high school students and it includes short labs. Pro tip if you are ordering this book used: Most of these books were once circulating in high schools, so check the pages for typical teen graffiti.
Kristin Moon Science Chemistry Labs– Kristin is a former homeschooling mom who has graduated her teens and has returned to her roots as a science teacher to bring you lab courses that go with your science curriculum. You don’t want to miss this resource because the videos will guide your teens to completing the labs and she doesn’t break the bank on equipment for the job.
Khan Academy– this tutorial site has increased its reach and capabilities in recent years and using the chemistry course is a cost effective way to bring chemistry to your high school. It’s always nice to be able to visit and revisit concepts with a video, especially when your teen starts balancing equations and doing stoichiometry. This is a great resource for advanced chemistry topics.
Equipment for Homeschooling High School Chemistry
The items listed below include the equipment you need for some chemistry exploration in high school.
Once you get to homeschooling high school chemistry, it’s time to leave behind the kitchen chemistry and use materials meant for science only because you don’t want to use chemicals in the things you might eat and drink out of. This is lab safety and common sense 101!
- Chemistry Equipment Set– this set includes many of the basic items you need for chemistry labs like an alcohol burner, test tubes, graduated cylinders, beakers, a thermometer, a stirring rod, and a funnel
- Complete Introduction to Chemistry Kit– this set has all of the basics plus some chemicals and instructions for labs
- Lab Chemistry Hardware Kit– ring stand, tongs, test tube holders, and other equipment to helps you hold up and move around glassware during experiments
- Thermometer– glass and both temperature scales
- 50 ml Burette– with a stopcock for doing titration experiments
- Distillation Kit– to purify water out of solutions. This is not necessary, but it is a fun addition to your chemistry course if your student has chemistry aspirations.
- Triple Beam Balance– for measuring mass in an analog process
- Digital Balance– for massing items using a digitally
- Glassware– for sure you need graduated cylinders, beakers, flasks, and test tubes in varying sizes
- Chemicals– check the supply lists in your curriculum or lab manual for the ones you need and this is a great source for them. Be sure to store them safely, keeping acids and bases apart.
YouTube Channels for Homeschooling High School Chemistry
YouTube is such a great resource for learning things of all kinds. Chemistry is no exception.
Here are a few of our favorite channels:
- CrashCourse Chemistry– hosted by Hank Green, these videos are about 10 minutes long and speak directly to concepts in a first year chemistry course. These are really good for going over a topic your student may not understand. Fair warning: he’s kind of a mouth and he talks fast!
- Periodic Videos– self claimed as the ultimate channel for all things chemistry, this channel has a video about every element along with science news, and interesting information about molecules.
- NileRed– a chemistry channel devoted to balancing theory with purpose and sharing the beauty of chemistry in a fun and captivating way.
Trade Books for Homeschooling High School Chemistry
Chemistry books have a big place in our homeschool library. Our youngest has been pouring over chemistry stories and nonfiction books since he was little!
If you want to bring life to your chemistry studies, try these titles:
- The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements– this one (and other titles from the same author) is for high school and has some fun stories related to chemistry.
- Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements from Arsenic to Zinc– how superstition and science are woven into our culture by looking at innovations and their innovators
- The Elements– this is a favorite here with a photographic look at each element
- Molecules: The Elements & the Architecture of Everything– another visual book all about compounds
- Reactions: An Illustrated Exploration of Elements, Molecules, and Change in the Universe– the third in the series by Theodore Gray
- Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape Our Man Made World– a look at modern materials
- Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow through Our Lives– a survey of liquids in various materials
- The Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science of Familiar Things– this is a popular text in homeschool circles and challenges the idea that chemistry is irrelevant and difficult.
- Everything You Need to Ace Chemistry– a big fat notebook title, this is a great help for review
Other Resources for Homeschooling High School Chemistry
Of course, there is room for fun when it comes to learning chemistry.
This is a list of games and materials to support your homeschooling high school chemistry course:
- Card Deck of the Elements– cards printed on the front and back with information about the elements. This is a deck that goes with the book by Theodore Gray with the same name.
- Organic Molecular Model Kit- by Brainsmith
- Ion– a compound building card game
- Covalence– a molecule building card game
- Happy Atoms– a fun molecular modeling kit
More Chemistry Help from Blog, She Wrote
These posts will help you to get more support for teaching chemistry in your homeschool. Some will give compelling reasons for investing in your STEM studies at home.
100 STEM Projects for Kids & Teens of All Ages– 100 lab type activities for your teens. Not all of them are chemistry labs, but there is a mix.
STEM Activities for Teens– a round up of resources for teaching high school STEM
100 Awesome Educational Videos for Homeschooling High School– a collection of documentaries from Amazon Prime that include chemistry videos, especially in the category of biographies
How to Make a Batik– an activity for dying fabric and creating a wax resist. Any kind of dying is a chemical process whether the dyes are natural or not.
Calculating Density– using a triple beam balance to find volume and density of an irregular shaped object
Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools– one of my most popular posts, this one uses chemical glassware of differing types to determine which one is the most accurate. This is a great beginning chemistry lab.
Adventures in Chemistry– a chemistry themed adventure box which will provide a lot of individual exploration for out of the box teens. You’ll find lots of resources here.
Get More Support for Homeschooling High School STEM
I’m here to support you as you homeschool high school STEM with your out of the box teens. If you want to learn more about how we approach high school science, sign up for your free STEM task cards.
These tasks/activities/labs are pulled from every discipline of science (including chemistry) and designed to be worked on alone or with a partner.
If you want the teacher’s lesson and answer book to go with the task cards, you’ll have an opportunity to grab those as well.