This article is part of a series on how to teach without a textbook. This final post is brought to you by Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom. She blogs about hands-on Bible studies for kids and hands on science, giving practical ways you and your family can copy them as well. Like her on Facebook or follow her on Pinterest for some more of her awesome ideas. Thank you, Ticia!
Hands on Science: Museums
1. Go to a children’s museum.
2. Go to a science museum.
3. Visit the zoo. Fill out an animal report form about one animal you see.
4. Go to the aquarium.
5. Visit a nature center.
6. Visit a scientist’s home.
7. Visit a pet store. Free field trip and great for preschool!
Most children’s museums are designed to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), so they have great hands on learning for young kids. Check out this list of over 250 children’s museums to visit or this list of science museums. Similarly for science museums though the age range will run the gamut from geared to adults/high school to random hands on areas for young kids tucked away in odd corners.
Of course zoo and aquariums are a great place to study nature and see animals you won’t see in your own backyard. Nature centers can be a great way to learn about the wildlife in your own area. My father in law is still talking about his visit to Thomas Edison’s home over 20 years after he went, it made that much of an impression on him.
Hands on science: Exploring
8. Go on a nature walk.
9. Watch birds in your backyard and take part in the Backyard Bird Count.
10. Raise butterflies or ladybugs.
11. Create an ant farm.
12. Plant a garden and find out what grows in your area.
13. Plant a vegetable garden and eat the results of your work.
14. Observe a park for a year and see how it changes.
15. Study your pets, what can you learn from them?
16. Draw what you see in your backyard.
17. Go out in the country and watch the stars for an evening.
Nature study is a topic you can cover with your two your old all the way up to your high schooler, you just increase the difficulty as they get older. Your two year old is looking for colors and shapes, classifying things. Your high schooler needs to be identifying plants and birds, learning how to draw them and where they survive. I’ve got a great collection of nature study ideas on my blog.
Hands on Science: Experiments
18. Cook with your kids (chemistry and measuring).
19. Experiment with chemical reactions among your kitchen supplies (with strong supervision to make sure nothing is eaten).
20. Build a model rocket.
21. One of the best ways to try hands on science is by trying a science kit and see if you can duplicate the reactions with your own materials.
22. Search Pinterest for some ideas (I have 10 science Pinterest boards with over 1000 ideas between them)
23. Try some building science. Can you build an earthquake proof building out of blocks or LEGOs? Can you build a bridge with LEGOs that will hold 5 pounds of materials?
24. Build paper airplanes and experiment with design to see which airplane will fly furthest.
25. Buy a microscope and look at small items (I highly recommend buying prepared slides for greatest success with young kids. We love this book for learning how to properly use microscopes.)
26. Buy binoculars for watching nature from far away or beginning astronomy.
27. As you get more serious about astronomy get a telescope.
28. Buy a chemistry set.
Your preschooler will love to mess about in the kitchen, and you are teaching them valuable skills for science. To be a good scientist you need to measure accurately and pour or mix carefully. You need to follow directions.
Science kits and model rockets are a great way for kids to try out science with a good chance of success, especially if they can read and follow directions. Make sure before you buy any kits that you’ve read the reviews because quality can vary widely.
31. Watch PBS children’s cartoons. Magic School Bus, Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, Wild Kratts. They’re a great way to get a wide variety of information into your kids and they don’t realize it. (as a warning for those who care, all of these are an Old Earth, evolutionary viewpoint, and you need to talk about it with your kids).
32. Watch PBS documentaries. There’s some amazing ones on inventions.
33. Watch Mythbusters and see physics and chemistry in action.
34. Watch How It’s Made and be amazed at the ingenuity of man.
35. Watch nature documentaries. DisneyNature has been coming out with some amazing ones recently that are fairly kid friendly because they make a story of it.
36. Get ahold of Janice Van Cleave’s books. Each book is packed full of fun, messy experiments.
37. Check out Steve Spangler Science and amaze your kids.
38. Search Youtube for science videos, there are some amazing ones out there. Make sure you preview them because sometimes there is language you don’t know about. We’ve watched this video about gravity several times.
39. Memorize the periodic table with the memory palace system. (I tried it and it works!)