Can I Teach Science?

Day two was intimidating to me because it was our first science day. Now, I know I’m only doing preschool, and any moms of older kids might be groaning at me, but I feel like the word “science” gets uttered with mystical terror in homeschool circles. It’s always one of the big questions, like… “But what about science? How am I going to teach (gasp!) science?” I’ve read so many blog posts and articles wherein science is one of the subjects saved for Dad to do, or one of the reasons a family joins a co-op. Granted, things get much more complicated once a student is doing serious lab work. However, the overall effect of these article is that we mamas can’t teach science at home. It doesn’t help that if these moms had an education like mine…science classes were horrible: boring and confusing. Science was the one subject I was bad at (although, thanks to the miracles of the public education system, I still got As in Chemistry thanks to doing my homework and attending class… even after failing many tests).

I was intimidated going in, even for preschool science. But, I’m here to attest that our second day of school was FUN, especially science.

We’re using the book Janice VanCleave’s Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects. I like that the book isn’t just a bunch of random activities. The projects are organized by: Physical Science, Nature, Bugs, and The Human Body. There are seven subtopics under each main category (such as Predators and Prey, Body Temperature, Animal Movement, etc.), with two projects per category. All of the projects are questions kids might ask. So, under Nature / Body Temperature, the two questions are 1) I wonder… why do dogs pant? 2) I wonder… How do animals stay warm in the winter? Each project seems pretty easy to prepare for and pull off for the mom.

My friend joins us on Wednesdays, along with her 18 month old. It’s a nice bit of social time for us, a chance for her to get out of their house (and not be at a rainy park), and an opportunity for her to see what homeschooling really looks like. As little S gets bigger, she will be able to join in some of the activities as she wants to.

The morning started great! I try to have an activity all planned and set out for the kids to work on independently while I clean up the kitchen after breakfast, put laundry in, and make a latte. I also figure it will make them more agreeable to paying attention to me later if they already go to do something really cool. Today, they played with baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring.

I set out some special toddler activities for E to do while C and I did her schoolwork. Of course, that’s what C wanted to do too. She still loves all those manipulative activities! Today they were supposed to use big tweezers to put pom-poms in a muffin tin.

We did all our standard things (phonics, reading, math, etc.) and then it was time for… (ba ba ba bum…) SCIENCE! We’re starting in our science book with Physical Science, and the first sub-category is Air.The two questions today are 1) I wonder… Is there a way to catch the air? And, 2) I wonder… What holds up a parachute? We started with the parachute, and talked about how the air slows things down by capturing the air. I bought a couple monkey keychains to use, and the kids loved it. Our play room (aka “school room”) has a high ceiling with a loft above that looks down. I went up there to send our parachutes sailing, and we compared it to how fast the monkeys fell with no parachute.

E LOOOOOVED her little monkey. Maybe because she IS a little monkey.

Then we captured air. First, we captured it in a cup… by putting a napkin in a cup and submerging it in water. C was pretty shocked that the napkin stayed dry. Then, we captured air in a ziplock bag and played with squishing it. Funny enough, they had so much fun playing with their bag of air. They played with them for a couple days and we heard funny things through the house, like, “Hey! Give me back my air!”

At the end of the day, I smiled a big smile and patted myself on the back, for I can indeed teach science!

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