If you have suddenly become a homeschool parent due to recent school closures, you may be wondering how to teach science at home. Believe it or not, science is one of the easiest subjects to teach from home because there are so many science experiments and challenges you can complete with the materials around your house. Are you ready to explore the endless possibilities for teaching science from home!?
I have also created a video about how to teach science at home with even more ideas!
At-Home Science Experiments
If you’re confused about how to teach science at home, start with simple science experiments. On the surface, science experiments may sound complicated. But, search “easy science experiments for kids” on Pinterest and you will instantly find an endless list of ideas. Best of all, you already have materials to complete many science experiments around your house or in your yard. In more than 10 years of working in education, I have yet to meet a kid who didn’t love science experiments. Doing simple experiments at home is also a great way to show kids that at-home learning can be fun.
STEM challenges are also easy to incorporate into at-home learning if you are uncertain about how to teach science. Like with science experiments, there are STEM challenges you can complete with materials around your house. In case you are unfamiliar, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM challenges are activities that integrate these skills to help students learn and think critically. Some of my favorite STEM challenges include:
- build a bridge with toothpicks (or another household item) and see how many pennies it can hold
- design a device to transport a small object across a room without using your hands
- build a tower with paper cups (or another household item) and see how tall you can make it
- design a box that does not make any sound when you shake a coin inside of it
- design a device that prevents an egg from breaking when it is dropped
You can find more at-home STEM challenges by searching “easy STEM challenges for kids” on Pinterest.
Virtual Science Fair
Particularly in upper elementary grades, science fairs a big part of science education. Students select an experiment to conduct at home and document the experiment using the scientific method. Then, they create a visual presentation that highlights what they did and their findings. Usually, students present their visual presentations and answer questions about their science experiments during a science fair.
Due to social distancing, it is impossible to host an in-person science fair right now, but you can host a virtual science fair. Get several of your child’s friends or classmates to complete a science experiment and create a visual presentation the same way they would for an actual science fair. Rather than having students share their presentations in person, have students share their presentations virtually using Zoom or Google Hangouts. Not only is this a great way to still give your child the experience of participating in a science fair, but it also gives them an opportunity to interact with their friends while social distancing.
Science Games with Task Cards
Science games are a great way to review science skills and information. I enjoy using task cards for science games. Task cards are cards with questions about a specific topic. Often, the questions model what students will see on standardized testing, so they help students review and practice for state testing. Students like using task cards to review and, best of all, there are so many ways to use task cards. I created another blog post where I shared my favorite ways to use task cards at home and in the classroom.
Want to learn even more ways I use task cards for learning games? Check out this video I made!
Virtual Science Field Trips
Field trips are a great way to get students excited about learning. Unfortunately, with social distancing and state closures, visiting places in person is not an option right now. But, you can take virtual field trips. For example, the San Diego Zoo offers live feeds of many animal exhibits including penguins, pandas, giraffes, elephants, and monkeys. The Georgia Aquarium also offers live feeds of many of its exhibits including fish, whales, and sea otters. Students can watch these animals and learn about them without having to leave their homes.
If you take a virtual field trip, make sure students do something to show what they learned. Some ways students can show what they learned include:
- creating a brochure for the place they visited
- writing a report
- creating a slideshow
- creating an ad for the place they visited
- researching an animal they saw and creating a poster about the animal
- creating a Google Site
You can also learn more about how to take students on a virtual field trip with this video.
Science Projects for Kids
If you’re still not confident about how to teach science to your kids, consider project-based learning. This teaching method takes a lot of stress off teachers and parents by putting learning in the hands of the students. Instead of having to come up with lessons and activities to teach a topic, students are tasked with researching the topic on their own and completing a project to show what they have learned. In addition to taking stress away from teachers and parents, project-based learning is proven to help students retain information better and make learning more fun.
Some examples of science project-based learning for kids include:
- researching an environmental problem in their community and developing an action plan
- researching climate change and developing an action plan
- researching plants or animals and creating a presentation
- researching an element on the periodic table and creating a superhero that embodies that element
- researching moon phases and studying the moon phases over a period of time
- researching a planet and creating a travel brochure for that planet
Science Unit Plans
Many teachers and parents are feeling overwhelmed right now because it seems like there is so much work to do. Teachers feel like they are suddenly responsible for creating digital lessons and parents feel like they are responsible for creating at-home educational lessons and activities. My advice to teachers and parents who are feeling this overwhelm is “don’t reinvent the wheel.” There are lots of pre-existing lessons and activities you can use.
- detailed lesson plans with step-by-step instructions for teaching the topic
- links to free video clips
- digital worksheets, assessments, and activities
- step-by-step science experiment and STEM challenge instructions
These detailed unit plans simplify the lesson planning process for teachers and parents while providing engaging activities to help students learn science skills.
You may be feeling overwhelmed and wondering “how do I teach science at home?” Science experiments and activities are some of the best ways to get your kids engaged and excited about doing school at home. By implementing some of the activities listed above, you will be on your way to creating an at-home learning environment that gets your kids excited to learn.
Do you know of any other at-home science activities that I forgot to mention here? Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what they are. Then, check out the other posts in my online learning series for even more tips and activities for at-home learning.