Young children are filled with questions about how things work, and science provides many opportunities for them to explore these questions. This natural curiosity easily leads to a love of science and hands-on activities.
Some parents, however, don’t look forward to the very activities that draw kids into this subject. The hassle of gathering supplies and cleaning up the mess are common reasons for skipping science experiments. It sometimes seems easier to just open a book and read about the topic. But how many of us actually preferred books to experiments when we were kids? Not many. Your kids are the same.
Kids learn by questioning and experimenting. They are natural scientists. Experiments encourage them to continue exploring, questioning, and discovering. After using BookShark Science for a while, I've compiled a how-to guide for winning with this great literature-based and hands-on curriculum.
1. Embracing the Potential Mess
Some parents cringe at the thought of science experiments because of the potential mess. This is a good opportunity to involve kids in the preparation and clean up. Kids can help clear an area in the kitchen, dining room, bathroom or other location for the experiment. They are eager helpers when they know they’ll get to do a science experiment! Involve them in the clean-up too. It’s simply part of the whole process.
2. Gathering Science Experiment Supplies
One of the reasons we chose the BookShark science program was because of the science kit that comes with each level. These kits contain everything needed that’s not an everyday household item. Spending too much time gathering these less common science supplies can lead to neglected experiments.
Look ahead in the Instructor’s Guide to see what common household items items you’ll need to supply in the coming weeks. Gather what you can, and reserve it in your science storage area so that it’s ready to go for experiments. Make a shopping list for anything you’re missing. Planning ahead will ensure that you have everything you need without rushing around at the last minute, gathering empty 2-liter bottles or egg cartons.
3. Storing Science Experiment Supplies
Keep the science supply kit and extra household items that you’ve gathered where you keep all of your other homeschool materials. Having these supplies easily accessible saves time by not digging around in the back of a cabinet when it’s time for an experiment. If you’re using more than one science level, label the outside of the supply kit with the level, grade, and/or child’s name.
Some experiments build from one week to the next by reusing what the child builds each week. Find an area where the on-going project can live without being damaged or lost. You can keep these on
top of the refrigerator
a TV tray in a corner of a room
your child’s dresser
a garage shelf
4. Scheduling Science Experiments
The BookShark Science Instructor’s Guides usually have experiments scheduled on the same day every week. Feel free to change the schedule to whatever day works best for your family. Many of the experiments can be done independent of the reading assignments. Don’t worry if you get a little behind in the experiments. You can keep moving forward with the reading and catch up on experiments later if needed.
Because the science is so open-and-go, the experiments are a perfect way to include the parent who isn’t the primary teacher. The instructions are clear so that someone else can jump in and help with an experiment even if they haven’t read the material leading up to it. Bonus: your child has an opportunity to share in detail what they’ve learned with the other parent.
At our house, we often have Science Saturdays. My husband helps the kids with science experiments while I get some time for myself. They sometimes do several experiments in a large block of time.
5. Keeping a Science Notebook
Walk through the scientific method with your kids while using a dedicated science notebook. Children can record their observation, question, hypothesis, prediction, and results for each experiment. For younger kids, a notebook with space to draw works well. Have them dictate to you their words so that you can write them into their notebooks.
6. Using the Science Experiment Videos
BookShark Science Levels K - 4 come with a Discover & Do DVD which shows each experiment being done.
For parents who dread doing science experiments with kids, the video and science kit combo is the gamechanger! Those two parts just make the whole experience seamless.
Here are several ways to make the most of your Discover & Do Science DVDs.
Watch the video with your kids after the experiment, especially if the experiment didn’t go quite as expected.
Watch the video instead of doing the experiment. It’s not my favorite option, but it’s better than skipping the experiment completely. Pause the video at different points to ask your kids what they think will happen next.
Some people watch the videos with the kids before the experiment, but that can take away from the suspense and wonder during the experiment.
Experimenting is the foundation of science. It’s how scientists continue to learn about the world around us so that they can pass on that knowledge to others. Our kids are natural scientists, but they need more than the amazing books included with each BookShark program. Giving them many opportunities to do experiments, in addition to reading books, will encourage their love of science.
About the Author
Terri Kurcab is a homeschool mom who lives in Nevada with her husband and their two daughters. Nature has provided the cornerstone of their homeschool journey which began in 2013. National and State park visits, mountain hikes, and outdoor-based learning adventures are what Terri and the girls can be found doing most often. When homeschool is not in session, you can find Terri in the garden or spending time with a good book and a cup of tea.