Science: The Epic Failure that Wasn't

This week the Homeschool Help Series is talking about Science: How do we do it? 

Well, full disclosure time. We all have strengths and weaknesses in our homeschools. I know there are things I do well...and things I don't. Science is one of those not so well done things in our homeschool.

For the last two years we have used Elemental Science. We did ES biology for first and ES Earth, Space, and Astronomy for second--following the Well Trained Mind science cycle.

Honestly, we like ES. It is easy to get done, and that is a great thing! Except this last year....we had a hard getting it done! We did have a rather chaotic spring semester and I know that was a big part, as well as this being our first official year schooling two. But, I was just not thrilled with my reflections of our science year.

When something had to get was science. Our science curriculum goal: science two days a week, reading from science encyclopedias, ongoing projects, and weekly experiments. We didn't "do" science like I had thought and I was feeling guilty. We didn't do most of the experiments...or projects. All too often we did a week or two of reading and notebooking at a time, and were constantly "behind."

I felt guilt all year.

What we didn't do well:

Scheduled Projects and experiments. Sigh. I feel so very guilty about this. On one hand I think it is ridiculous to feel guilty about it, and then on the other I want to fix it! ES schedules an experiment a week. We did a few experiments. (We actually did more than I originally thought...thanks for pictures to prove we DID do some!) ;) We simulated am earthquake, experimented with temperatures and the earths atmosphere, made a crystal, made and erupted a volcano...see? We did some! ;) For ongoing projects we made a model of the earth (well, we started this...we made the earth and left it outside and it molded before we could paint it...oops) and solar system (ok, this one wasn't very ongoing as it was intended to be...we did it all in one day when we finished the planets unit.) But hey, we DID it!

When I sat down to write this post which was originally entitled "Science-- A Tale of Epic Failure," I was only thinking about what we DIDN'T do well this year. Then I began to look at pictures of our year and the things we DID get done.

The things we did well:
Elemental Science follows the four year rotation and does science a la Well Trained Mind. You read from a science encyclopedia and do narrations and notebooking. While we were not great about doing this twice a week every week, we did mostly get this part done.

This year, the books we used were:

  • The Usborne First Encyclopedia of Our World
  • Discover Science: Rocks & Fossils
  • Janice Van Cleave's Earth Science for Every Kid
  • The Usborne First Encyclopedia of Space
  • Discover Science: Solar System
  • Janice Van Cleave's Astronomy for Every Kid
  • The Night Sky
  • Who Was Neil Armstrong?

The kids enjoy using the scheduled books as they are colorful and engaging. My kids also love any kind of cut and paste activity so they love the ES notebooking. I like how they use the content subject to practice an important skill like narration.

But WAY beyond that. Some pics of our year tell a different story than the experiments we didn't get to...

Lots of fishing... Camping, hiking, and exploring....

Gardening, kayaking and exploring the water....

Exploring caverns, waterfalls, and different habitats...

Recycling facility...

Nature Center...

Lego Engineering...

And there was that Creationism conference and the DVD's and books my kids poured over for months after...

So, we didn't get to those projects and experiments . . . but maybe our year wasn't the epic failure I first thought...

My children LOVE science. Whenever you talk to a science person they will tell you the best way to learn science is hands on, inquiry based learning.

I believe them. I really do. I out of time. And I felt GUILTY....

Deep breathe. Time to get rid of the guilt. Science is more than a curriculum. It is about engaging our children's minds to think about the world around them.

Next year, I am reevaluating how we do science. While I know a curriculum is not necessary, I found a fun way to ease my guilt and engage my kids! Win win!!! I discovered Exploration Education, and I am thrilled! This will give my kids an independent computer based lesson that is project and experiment based. The key of success for me here is if I don't have to be involved in the lesson, it will free me up to do the hands on part. Also, it comes with a kit! Magic words for this homeschool mom! For real, everything included. I hate when kits say everything but household items included and you realize you must not be a regular household...I looked at the list of what you need-- things like tin foil, tape, scissors, and a credit card. That I can handle!

I really feel that way more important than a science curriculum, especially at my kids ages, is the constant exposure to great books, hands on activities, science related field trips, the great outdoors, and even DVD's and books like the Magic School Bus.

I have thankfully been reminded that we ARE doing science. It may not be the curriculum I had planned, but we are engaged in the world around us and they are learning about God's wonderful creation! We may not always cover things as thoroughly as I would like, but my kids say they love science! I will take that as a firm foundation to build on!

Don't forget to check out the other Homeschool Help Series bloggers!!!

Chareen-- Science in the Junior Years: It’s about exploring the world around you.

Hwee-- Science in Our HomeHow we learn science has evolved.

Erin-- Kindling & Fanning Scientific Minds: Erin shares how her family kindles an interest in scientific matters and how they keep that interest alive

Bernadette-- Scientifically Speaking: Shoes off and Hands On

Savannah-- Science with My Scalliwags:  Science Without a Formal Curriculum

Lucinda-- imperfect-scienceHow to make sure science gets done when you're not using a curriculum


  1. It sounds like science goes really well for you when you aren't constrained by a curriculum. As you pointed out there is so much other science going on. I really wanted something to follow too and found the Discovery and Do videos easy to incorporate.
    Because we had everything needed to do the experiments and the kids could do them on their own.

    We finished the series and now I design our own science. It can really work and you can do it too. In fact, you already are.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I am definitely thinking differently about science. I think the kids are going to love Exploration Education this year, and I found these great kits at convention that I plan to get for the following year-- I think working backwards and having the fun hands on things as our base and expanding from there will work so much better for us.

      I actually have the Discover and Do DVD #2 on the shelf. I need to break it out, I bet the kids would love it! Thanks for the reminder! :) I will be sure to check out how you used them. :)

  2. "Science is more than a curriculum. It is about engaging our children's minds to think about the world around them." Completely true! You sound like me, so often I focus on what we didn't do, but when I focus on what we actually did do, I'm often pleasantly surprised!! And you did so much!!

  3. Oh my you can definitely get rid of the guilt! You guys had an awesome year of science! :) I loved the photo journal of your year of science.


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