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Teaching Science at Home: A Guide for Parents
As more and more parents, educators and politicians recognize the importance of strong science and engineering education for our youth, increased opportunities are appearing for kids at school and in the community. A growing focus on these subjects in some schools and after school programs like STEM offer young children an educational boost: preparing them for future learning.
But what about teaching science at home? According to many parents, one of the hardest subjects to tackle themselves is science--especially once you start moving past the life sciences. Whether you're homeschooling or just complementing your child's education after school, having the right tools and teaching materials will make your job easier and help your child grasp complex subjects.
So where should you start if you want to begin teaching your kids science and engineering? There are many options available online and off. The huge selection can feel overwhelming so we thought we would do some of the work for you. Below you will find a variety of our favorite science curricula, kits and websites, as well as some helpful tips from parents in the Mothering community.
Our Favorite Science Products
Created by rocket scientist and educator Aurora Lipper, the programs from Supercharged Science provide some of the best value we've seen for a complete science education at home.
Supercharged Science offers two really great options for science education: a complete e-Science program that is offered fully online and a Science Mastery Program that includes not only the e-science element but also a detailed printed book, all of the materials for each experiment and a DVD collection.
Read more about these excellent curriculum options (including an exclusive Q&A with the founders) and grab a free sample science kit just for Mothering readers.
Real Science-4-Kids offers unique and high quality science curriculum options for children grades K-12. Developed by homeschooling mom and biophysical chemist Rebecca Keller, their texts and other resources are smart, easy to use and affordable.
Find out more about all of the great options from Real Science-4-Kids in a our special review and interview.
Most parents have never heard of Arduino, but is an absolutely excellent option to bring science concepts into your home in a way that will captivate the whole family.
If your child is fascinated by robots, computers and how things work, Arduino is a brilliant way to feed their curiosity. And don't think they have to be high schoolers to take part--the kits we looked at are suitable for kids (and adults) of all ages.
Check out our interview with Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi, and discover three very distinct and unique kits to get you started.
Tips from Mothering Members
We use a lot of art projects to introduce the themes of science with our 1, 3 and 6 year olds. It's amazing the resources available for science related crafts for kids. I particularly like Redted and The Imagination Tree blogs for great ideas.
Also www.mightygirl.com has a great selection of both toys and books relating to science that can get the girls more involved too - and as I have two girls I'm always interested in ways to get them motivated!... Read More
~ Mothering Member "always there"
We're using Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding which we chose because it was recommended here on Mothering.
Its a great text that teaches how to look at things critically, along with learning the basics about matter, energy, etc. In addition, there is email group support for the text so that you can post questions and the author will assist, and you can also see how other parents are implementing the text, and share ideas... Read More
~ Mothering Member "BellinghamCrunchie"
Science in the summer at the library.
- Science centers throughout the area.
- Andrew Lost books.
- There's even a few Cat in the Hat science books.
~Mothering Member "pek64"
We've done a bit of everything. For curriculums we have enjoyed:
REAL Science Odyssey -- I really like this program because it is very hands-on and uses lots of library books
Ellen McHenry's Elements-- fun way to introduce the periodic table
The Middle School Chemistry from the American Chemical Society -- this is free (online) and covers chemistry at an introductory level. Lots of experiments/demonstrations too. This one also have "workbook" style pages for those that like that and it is also set up to be used easily with a small group/coop or classroom.
Beyond curriculum, we have enjoyed:
- Random experiments simply because the mood/interest strikes us
- Lots of dissection (kits from Home Science Tools)
- Nature walks, nature guide books, etc.
- Mechanical type projects --not always strictly "science", but great for basic physics exploration...Read More
~Mothering Member "AAK"
See all of the great ideas and discussion in the Mothering Education Forums.
Great Online Resources
This is by far one of the coolest ideas on the web. MIT has created a special programming language for young people interested in creating their own games, interactive stories, animations and more. Using the language kids will learn the fundamentals of programming to give them invaluable skills for the future and teach them a sense of accomplishment.
The child focused website from PBS has top quality games and activities for kids of many ages. In addition to the sections that relate to their most popular shows--such as the math and engineering show Cyber Chase and the animal adventure series Wild Kratts-- they have a special channel for science called Drangonfly TV and one for environmental learning, Eeko World.
This website from the US government acts as a portal to other government run sites for kids--showcasing an endless array of great educational activities, coloring pages, posters, videos and project ideas. If you're looking for high quality educational and ad-free pages for your kids, or for supplementing school or homeschool topics, you'll adore this site.
This is one of the more unique sites we found. Created as a partnership between several institutions, including the USDA Forest Service, kids enter a magical world that will teach them about the importance of the natural environment.
Web Rangers is a site brought to you by the National Park Service that endeavors to help children create appreciation for national parks, museums and historic sites across the US. Customizing your own ranger station is just one of the many activities this site has in store for curious kids.
NASA has put together some stellar resources and interactive demonstrations for kids and their families. Check out Window to Earth for a one of a kind demonstration of our world.
Community Recommended Products
Looking for a simple way to introduce your kids to electronics? If so, this kit is for you. Learn how to hook up a light, motor, buzzer, fan and more--perfect for kids of all ages!
This game is so great! They can usually play independently, making more simple equations, but when they don't have anything easy to do then we can help them and teach them some new things. Their fraction skills have greatly improved since we started playing.
~Mothering Member "katroshka"
I found this toy at a thrift store for $5.99 and thought it was too good to pass up. Now that I have seen my son in action with it, I'd be willing to pay full price for any other discovery toys product! The parts are virtually indestructible; our set has been used indoors and out and have not chipped or scratched at all.
~Mothering Member "waitingtobemommy"
Find more science reviews and product recommendations in the Mothering Education Reviews section!
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