Science in the Elementary and Middle School Years – Free Homeschool Checklist – K to 8 When I’m planning our units for the upcoming year, I think a lot about the science topics should we cover in our homeschool by the time they finish 8th grade. I have a general checklist of topics that I go consider… and try to fill in the gaps as we go (and as the kids’ interests change). We actually circle back around to cover these units every few years and go into more depth each time we cover it. I have shared this checklist before, but I’ve updated (and added in a few things). I know that many of us are planning for the new school year, so this is the perfect time to share it again. This checklist is free to download:
Free Homeschool Science Checklist
Click here for the free pdf: Science in the Elementary and Middle School Years – Free Homeschool Science Checklist
You can click on the link above to bring up the free pdf. It is also located in Our Store (If you use this option, then you’ll be notified if there are any updates to this file).
Or, click the add to cart button if you want any future updates on this free printable:
If you scroll down, you’ll see a more narrative version of what science has looked like for our Homeschooling Family (plus you’ll find more links to helpful posts on the website.)
The big question is what science to start with, right?
Since there’s no “set” science plan, you can follow your kids’ lead! If they are interested in space or volcanoes or animals, jump right in with that!
I tried to share what our family did grade-by-grade in the FREE curriculum resource guides (the links to those are below!).
Earth Science: When the kids were little, we jumped into the hands-on units first! So, one of the very first units we did was Earth Science… and we’ve done that unit several more times as the kids got older. (This packet has a variety of materials for a mixed-age homeschool family!) Each time we did the unit again, we went into more depth (and this packet got another huge update with new materials!). This unit is super fun and hands-on, so this is a really great one to start with!
From there we went on to talk about the Layers of the Atmosphere Packet
and then talked about the Weather. When the kids were younger, we focused more on natural disasters (paring that with some pretty wonderful documentaries and hands-on activities, of course!). Later when we circled around to the atmosphere & weather again,we went into more detail about clouds, global and local winds, weather fronts, and things like that.
Human Body Systems: Each year we also did various Human Body Units. We started with the Skeletal System (again, focusing more on the hands-on activities when they were little)… and then reviewing that material every year or two going into more depth as they got older. Another hands-on, fun unit was the Digestive System. Again, I think my kids were in early elementary when we did this the first time, but we did it again when they were in middle school. (Finally, both my son & my daughter did some of these units again when they were 14 in early high school to go along with their HS biology course.) You can find out more about these various units in the Human Body BUNDLE here
Again, when the kids were younger, we did a lot of hands-on activities. Then when we covered the material again a few years later, we went into more depth. Here are some activities we did about the Skeletal System, for example:
Animal Studies: My kids have always *loved* studying animals… so we incorporated a lot of animal studies into our homeschool. You can check out the Big Animal BUNDLE (Animal Unit, World Animals, Rainforest Unit, Winter Unit & Animal Life Cycles here)
Biology Units: When they were in middle school, we then went into more depth. These were some of the Biology Units we did a 1. Biology Unit: Biomes, habitats, ecosystem, biological interactions, feeding relationships 2. Ocean Unit: 3. Scientific Classification, 4. Botany Unit and 5. Cell Unit
PS. Some of this material is on the high school level. I added in more material as my kids entered 9th and 10th grades. So again, these packets are designed for a mixed-age homeschool family like ours! 🙂
Cell Unit: We went over Cells pretty much every year from the time the kids were in elementary going into more detail as we covered different types of biology (photosynthesis or botany or scientific classification (eukaryotic/prokaryotic cells) and so forth!). This is a unit we first did when the kids were in elementary (and added to every year!). 🙂
Chemistry Units: We also have done lots of chemistry units over the years! You can find out more about these four units here:
- States of Matter
- Properties of Matter Unit
- Electricity & Circuits Unit
- Chemistry Packet: The Periodic Table
Here were some of the other Earth Science and Physical Science we covered over the years. We did not tackle all of this at once, of course!! These are different units from different years. Sometimes we would circle around and cover these units in more depth (which is why many of our packets have material for younger homeschoolers and for older students!) Some, like the Energy Unit we didn’t cover until my kids were in middle school (though that meant my youngest did it a couple of times since we did science together).
Creating Your Own Homeschool Curriculum – Grade-by-Grade! I created a series of posts which have suggestions on which units and topics we covered in which grade. (I’m often asked, what grade did you do x or y?) These resource guides are all FREE to download and show how we patched things together with my 3 kids!
How to Create Your Own Homeschool Curriculum: K, Gr. 1 (ages 5-7) This FREE 50-page Homeschool Resource has been created to help answer some basic questions: What subjects should I teach my Kindergartner/1st Grader? Where do I start? How do I know what to teach my kids? There are suggested units and topics for the basic subject areas: Language Arts, Math, Social Studies (and Geography), Science, and Other (Holidays, Music, Art, etc.)
How to Create Your Own Homeschool Curriculum: Gr. 2-3 (ages 7-9) is also now available (also a free resource packet). At some point, I also plan to create a curriculum guide for Grade 4-5, followed by Grades 6-8).
- Creating a Homeschool Curriculum for Grades 6-8 – Free Resource Guide (ages 11-14 or so)
I made a video about Homeschool Science in the Elementary and Middle School Years. It was one of my first videos… so it’s not exactly the most polished, but you have to start somewhere, right?!! 🙂 It highlights some of the activities and experiments we’ve incorporated in our science units over the years. I added in the blooper at the end! 🙂 And the link I mentioned in the video is here: homeschoolden.com/ScienceUnits
Homeschool Science Checklist
The Narrative Version!
What science units have we covered?
The links below will take you to the blog post with pictures/description/hands-on activities that we’ve done for each of these units. 🙂 (Our links are green… um… not sure why, but it’s from the days I was writing under the Parents Magazine umbrella!! Clearly, I lack coding expertise!! Lol!)
As many of you know, we have spent a lot of time on Earth Science over the years — covering topics like the solar system, Earth’s geologic timeline (eons, periods, etc.), plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc. We did tons of hands-on activities for this unit. (This is probably our most popular packet and has material appropriate for most any age… since we have added in new material and have studied Earth Science several times now! There are so many fun, hands-on activities you can do in this unit, so my kids have always loved studying this topic!). We have also studied Rocks and Minerals and the Rock Cycle (those are free packets here on the website.
We have also studied the other major Earth Systems (biosphere, hydrosphere (oceans!), atmosphere). Our study of the biosphere included biomes, habitats as well as feeding relationships, food chains and food webs. That’s available in our Biology Packet. We did a huge study of Earth’s oceans (hydropshere… ie. our Ocean Packet) – studying everything from marine habitats and features of the ocean floor to ocean life (including the kids’ favorite – bioluminescent creatures!). We also did a big study of the Layers of the Atmosphere. From there, we have gone on to talk about Weather and Natural Disasters.
Changing the subject back to biology… the kids have always loved animals so when they were younger we did a study of Animals (our Animal Packet) doing basic classification (feathers/fur/scales, vertebrates vs. invertebrates, insects vs. spiders, animal homes and shelters, animal tracks, etc.). We also talked about the World Animals (animals from the 7 continents). We also talked about animal Life Cycles when the kids were younger (different stages in the life cycles of the chicken, sea turtle, frog, mosquito, butterfly, dragonfly, bee, mouse, and ladybug.) Last year, we did a more in-depth discussion of Scientific Classification and Taxonomy (on the middle school/early high school level). We have also touched on Botany, though we’ll be going into more detail this coming year.
This year we started delving into Environmental Science. My 5th grader did a unit on the Water Cycle (including ground water). Then we moved on to what happens to our waste doing a unit on Trash & Recycling. We learned so much — including what all the recycle symbols mean on plastics and the huge problems looming for the U.S., Australia and elsewhere as China stopped taking recyclable materials. Then we moved on to the Carbon Cycle. We talked about Nonrenewable Resources (like coal, oil & gas) and then went on to explore Renewable Resources.
We’ve done a Study of Cells (cell organelles and their function, plant vs. animal cells, Eukaryotic vs. Prokaryotic cells, etc.) several times through the years. And then from there we often talk about human body, tissue, organs & body systems. We usually dive into a study of one of the body systems in depth such as the skeletal system. Each year we’ve studied a different body system so we’ve also studied the digestive system and circulatory system and touched on the brain and nervous system and the muscular system.
We have done quite a number of different units in Chemistry as well. When the kids were younger we talked about the States of Matter. We have also done a unit on Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter followed by a unit on Electricity and Circuits (which the kids loved, loved, loved!). This past year we did a fabulous unit on the Periodic Table and the kids really “got it” with the activities we did. Our Chemistry Packet has chemistry cards and Bohr Diagram cards for the first 20 elements. I’m itching to share a picture with you, but I’ll have to let you go check out the store or the actual chemistry post!)
Physics – We have done quite a number of physics units over the years. When the kids were little we did a fun unit on Simple Machines. We weave various engineering challenges into our homeschooling. Here’s a fun post with 7 fun STEM Engineering Challenges for kids. 🙂 Last year, we did a huge Physics Unit with my son (age 14). We used a science textbook and online video lectures for that.
If you are interested in checking out our Science Packets, be sure to visit our store. We have packets for almost all of the science units in bold above and they include worksheets, notebook pages, interactive notebook pages and (very important to us!!) lots of hands-on activity ideas!! We have a number of bundles available, so be sure to check into that if you are interested.
These posts might really help you get a feel for what science looks like for our family (since we do science together as a family). We often review topics from year to year (for example, we go over the organelles of the cell most every year even if we don’t do an entire unit on it).
What are we studying for science this year?
We are starting with an activity about Where We Live (from the universe, galaxy, planet on down to the continent, country, state, city, street, home!). There’s a booklet and an interactive notebook activity. 🙂 I had a team of homeschoolers from around the globe who have been helping me to make this work for Australia, the UK, Canada, Europe, and New Zealand.
Layer of the Atmosphere – Then my 5th grader will be doing a unit on the Layers of the Atmosphere.
We’re also starting a unit on biology again touching on symbiosis… and the relationships between biological organisms (they work together and both benefit, one organism benefits and the other is unaffected, one organism benefits and the other is harmed). So, we’re talking about birds that clean parasites of a big animal like an elephant and how both benefit (bird gets food, elephant is cleaned and protected from parasites)… and things like that. That’s from our biology unit. (This packet also goes over the different biomes, habitats, food chains, food webs, etc.)
My 5th grader (age 10) will also be studying the African savanna (a section I’ve added to the World Animals Packet). She’s excited to watch some documentaries too. My kids always love those!
This spring, we have been doing some Environmental Studies Units. We started with a unit on the Water Cycle
Here are some of the units we’ve been studying in the past couple of years (elementary/middle school levels):
Earth Science Unit: Last fall, we had a ton of fun with our Earth Science Unit… and added in lots of new hands-on activities and interactive notebook pieces that the kids added to their science notebooks. This time around (we’ve done this unit several times… with the kids as preK/early elementary, then a few years later and this past year we did it as a “science club” (see posts about that starting here: Week 1) with a group of kids ages 9-14. Fun!
This unit is a wonderful one to start off your homeschool journey (if you’re new to all this) because it works so well for any age!! When my kids were younger, we obviously spent more time on the “hands-on” activities and less time on the meat-and-potatoes. Then last year, we went into a lot of depth about how/why things happen!
We spent time studying chemistry again. The kids learned about the periodic table and we used a chemistry video series that the kids really liked.
Don’t forget we have a free Chemistry packet (for ages 7-8 or so) – Introducing Kids to Chemistry – Fun, Simple Science Experiments for Younger Kids
Last year ED worked on a unit on Land Animals — covering things like animal adaptations, animal habitats, animal homes, animal characteristics, migration, camouflage, animals and their young, vertebrates/invertebrates, herbivores/carnivores/omnivores, conservation – extinct vs. endangered animals, etc. She’ll keep working on that into next fall. (She read a book by Joan Gottlieb — Land Animals (affliate link), which she is reading on her own.)
If you’re interested, you can check out our Animal Packet here: It’s a unit I added to almost every year because my kids loved studying animals so much!! It includes topics like types of animals, animal characteristics, insects vs. spiders, domesticated vs. wild animals, animal tracks, animal shelters and homes etc.
Then we did a Biology Unit on the Biosphere: biomes, habitats, feeding relationships, biological interactions etc. 🙂 We covered a lot!
We went on to do a unit on Ocean Systems & Ocean Life (including tides, currents, ocean zones, as well as animal life). This unit was *amazing!!* We all learned so much. 🙂
States of Matter: We started off the school year with a unit on the States of Matter and Changes in States of Matter. My youngest daughter (age 8) really needed to learn this material and my older kids needed a refresher. In this unit we did a TON of hands-on activities. 🙂 We finished talking about some of the properties of air (it takes up space, has weight) and looked at the composition of air (and did a graphing activity for that). And then talked about some of the properties of water (adhesion, cohesion, buoyancy, etc.)… And went on to talk about the changes in states of matter (really focusing on a couple terms they didn’t know well – sublimation and deposition)! I have an exclamation point because we did some activities that the kids adored! Find out more here:
Properties of Matter: Next we did another chemistry unit on the properties of matter. (My youngest, but this was definitely geared more towards my 11 and 13 year olds.) We talked about elements, compounds and mixtures. We spent some time reviewing the organization of the periodic table. And we spent quite a bit of time on the various physical and chemical properties. We did a lot of hands-on activities about density in this unit.
Electricity and Circuits: Then we dove into a very hands-on unit to learn about electricity and circuits. The kids LOVED this unit!! (So did I! It was pretty fun!) We did a half-dozen hands on activities as we learned about electricity, batteries, amps, ohms, simple circuits, parallel circuits, resistors, and basic symbols so they could sketch out (very basic) schematics. The best thing about this unit, though was how hands-on it was!
We did a ton of hands-on activities with this unit!! The kids built their own circuits with LED lights, did paper circuits, tested various conductors, blew out light bulbs and then protected them with resistors, made an art bot and more!! See more about this unit here: STEM: Electricity and Circuits Unit
We have started studying the Human Body Systems again. We spent some time reviewing the organelles of the cell again. We did a full study of cells a couple of years ago. Our cell packet is now over 100 pages.
Then we talked about the Human Body Systems again (in general).
Now we are in the middle of our circulatory system unit. We are currently talking about the blood vessels and heart. Then we will talk about blood and move on to cholesterol and some diseases that affect the circulatory system. The kids are in the middle of their hands-on circulatory project (and I’ll share that on the blog sometime in February probably)!!
The packet will be shared then too (though contact me if you need it earlier.) ~Liesl
From there we’ll talk about the muscular system. Then we’ll shift gears completely and will probably do an astronomy unit. (That’s my thought at this point!!)
You might be interested in what we covered for science in 2015: This post has tons of links to our various science activities.
You might also enjoy our new Science Unit Tab — with links to ALL of our Science Units!! 🙂
Here are some Quick Previews of some of our Science Packets
These 5 packets are included in our Big Animal BUNDLE
- Animal Packet Quick Preview
- World Animal Packet Quick Preview
- Rainforest Packet Quick Preview
- Life Cycle Packet Quick Preview
- Winter Packet and Hibernation Unit Quick Preview
We’ve made a number of science packets that are available here at our blog. These links will give you more information:
Earth Science Packet: Plate Movement, Earthquakes Volcanoes and more!
Animal Unit: Vertebrates and Invertebrates Worksheet Packet: (By the time we finished the unit, it actually turned out to be more than 40 pages!)
Plus, we have a Weather Unit, A packet on the Layers of the Atmosphere and lots of animal classification worksheets and printables. We also have some notebook pages I made for the kids on chemistry, animal characteristics, animals and their groups… and much more! 🙂 Again, the easiest place to scan through all our posts at one glance is using the Science Unit Tab above!!
A few weeks ago I also made a Language Arts Checklist. You might want to check out that post as well. Plus, this post that talks about the language arts curriculum we use in our homeschool is pretty popular too: Our Homeschool Language Arts, Spelling and Grammar Curriculum.
You’ll find our the Homeschool History Checklist and History Activity List here. You will find a list of our history posts and units in the History Unit Tab above. We have tons of free notebook pages on everything from Ancient Egypt and Ancient China to the Civil Rights Movement and tons more!!
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter! ~Liesl
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.