My daughter is learning Life Science this year at the 6th-7th grade level, and while I’m generally content with the curriculum we’ve chosen, I think it must be part of my personality to constantly tweak things, looking for ways to improve. If you too are looking to make a year’s worth of Life Science bigger and better, some of these ideas may be worth considering.
My family enjoys unit studies because they’re so flexible and can be tailored to whatever level of intensity we want. I’m having my daughter choose a few projects throughout the year that she’d like to learn more about. So far, she’s made a poster-sized chart about taxonomy and classification of plants and animals, and she wants to try replicating some form Mendelian genetics by crossing different seedlings of green bean plants to vary their characteristics.
Hands-on activities are important when teaching kids about science, so even though it isn’t specifically recommended in our science text, we’re going to dissect a frog. I’m waiting until my daughter has finished the unit on body systems, and then I plan to order a frog and dissecting kit from a science supply store online. Stores like that are chock full of great ideas, experiments, and supplies to help round out your curriculum.
We’re a healthy family, very interested in eating organic and trying to better ourselves and our health whenever possible. So I looked around for a nutrition curriculum to complement the Life Science we were learning, figuring that kids these days are facing an uphill battle against all the junk food and bad habits promoted by our society. There are some really elaborate nutrition programs out there, but I wanted something that only took a short amount of time each week and, preferably, was free. I found a great resource in Nutrition for Healthy Kids, which has free printable lessons to teach kids about nutrition and healthy living. Can’t beat it!
There are sometimes resources available in the local community too. The children’s museum in my city offers monthly classes for homeschoolers, and while they don’t always pertain to Life Science, I made sure to sign up my daughter for the ones I thought would be helpful. She’ll be learning how to use a microscope and get some hands-on experience learning about ecosystems and habitat, among other things. One of the farms in our area rents out small incubators each spring that kids can take home and watch a chicken egg hatch. These kinds of opportunities are everywhere, if you know where to look.
Overall, the year is going well and, I have to admit, I’m learning right along with my daughter. She’s enjoying the projects, local classes, and other supplemental things I’ve come up with for Life Science, and adding something extra to a traditional science curriculum has really helped us both stay excited about schoolwork.
About the Author: Jennifer Needham is a curriculum junkie, gardening geek, and homeschooling mom to 5 kids, using Time4Learning.