Our tour continues!
(If you missed the first posts in this series, start here to get caught up.)
First, though, a quick note…
I’m not sharing the contents of our homeschool room and shelves because I found the BEST or MOST PERFECT stuff that all homeschool families need to own.
I’m doing this tour because I remember how much it helped me to see how others homeschool. It helped me decide how home education could work for our family. I loved seeing how people organize their spaces, what kinds of school things they had on their shelves, and what worked and didn’t work for them.
So, please don’t think you have to run out and get IKEA shelves with gray bins or track down all the same workbooks and curricula we use in order to homeschool! Use this series as a brainstorming tool. Get ideas but then focus on applying any helpful tidbits to YOUR school and YOUR family.
As always, take what works and leave the rest!
Now let’s see what’s…
… On Our Science Shelves
Right next to the math shelves are our science resources.
So far we’ve enjoyed all the full science curricula programs we’ve tried. I love the content in the one we’re using now – Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) – but it’s not on our science shelf since we’re currently using it. I just wanted to mention it here anyway since it’s awesome!
These Apologia Zoology books were used for my eldest son’s co-op science classes the past two years. We also liked their Astronomy book but I had borrowed that one from a friend so it’s not on our shelf.
We used the God’s Design for Science series when we took a break from our BFSU curriculum.
These workbooks are nice to have on hand but, honestly, we haven’t used them much. When it comes to science, my kids would much rather be doing experiments than workbook pages.
I had intended to use the Start Up Science books with my middle son for preschool when my oldest son was in second grade. Unfortunately, that didn’t go over well. We’ll see if my youngest daughter is interested in a year or two…
Nature Guide Books
My parents generously donated most of these nature guide books to our homeschool cause. We don’t use them on a daily basis, but when we have a specific unit on one of the topics they’ve been a great reference.
Some of the material is a little out of date (mostly in the “Stars” book) but that’s been a lesson in itself. It’s good for the kids to recognize that science is an ever-changing body of knowledge.
Other Science Resources
There are a few more books on our shelf that don’t fit nicely into a category. One of them is the Big Book of Earth & Sky. It’s is a great resource – a huge, 15 foot long, fold-out poster all about weather, geology, Earth and the atmosphere – that we’ve pulled out from time to time.
We’ve also got some reference-type books and a few unit study books of reproducible student worksheets for certain topics.
I store our non-fiction, science-y literature (like Magic School Bus books, which have been some of my kids’ favorites) on our regular bookshelves in our living room. Over the years we’ve also collected some science-related magazines.
These miscellaneous resources are great to have to supplement our main curriculum. But the trick is remembering I have them!
I’ve found it helps to flip through these supplemental resources before each school year. If I find anything that goes with any of our upcoming year’s units, I make notes in my main curriculum to remind myself to use them.
… In Our Science Storage Bin
Science was the main subject that made me decide to get the storage bins. Before the bins, I had all the resources sitting on the shelf. But prisms and magnifying glasses don’t stack nicely plus my little kids were always grabbing them, toppling all of our neatly piled scientific gadgets. Bins helped bring some order to the situation and minimize the frequency of toddler shenanigans.
An assortment of magnets and prisms have come in handy for certain science units but my kids also just like to play with them.
Other supplies, like the mineral samples (from my dad) or the hanging scale (from Amazon) I got and used for specific lessons.
Magnifying glasses and a pocket microscope have been excellent, inexpensive investments. They can be used for many different science topics but they’re also great for just letting your kids observe and explore. I couldn’t believe how affordable a pocket microscope is and how much it magnifies!
I was hesitant about buying a “real” microscope since I assumed they were way too expensive and complicated to deal with. As it turns out, though, there are very reasonably priced classroom models (the kind used in high school and even college labs) and my 2nd and 5th graders were able to use them with no problem! They’ve loved our microscope lessons and I’m so glad we made the purchase! You can check out some pictures of our microscope in action in this Day in the Life of a Homeschool Family post.
I said earlier we used the Apologia Astronomy book years ago and, when we did, we also borrowed my dad’s telescope. We still have it (like a lot of our other science resources, it’s part of the LTGLP… the Long-Term Grandparent Lending Program 😊) and I’m hoping this summer we can use it more often now that my kids have later bedtimes.
Science Activity Kits
Hands-on science kits have been a huge hit in our house. I will say, though, I’ve gotten most of these at garage sales and curriculum sales for super-cheap.
Side note: It’s a pet peeve of mine that a full-priced science kit (this goes for art kits, too) that costs $25 might contain a piece of string, a 5 page pamphlet, a square of colored plastic wrap and a tiny magnifying glass. If you buy kits for your homeschool, just make sure you know what you’re actually getting in the box. Many times you can just use things you have at home to make you own kit for a fraction of the cost. OK, stepping off soap box.
Anyway, here are some of the kits we have.
And this Squishy Human Body model is a reusable kit my kids loved. The only downside to using it is that you might find yourself stepping on something squishy and saying “Oh, there’s the liver!”
Kits are an easy way to bring hands-on projects into a certain topic, especially if it’s not something that can be demonstrated easily in other ways.
The next stop on our Tour is the Language Arts shelf so stay tuned!
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