Homeschool Science Year in Review (Grades 9, 7, 4)

Science Year in Review Grades 9, 7, 4This is always one of my favorite posts to write. It’s my chance to reflect back on the year and all the things we managed to accomplish!

Sometimes in the short-run it can feel like we’re not getting much homeschooling done. You know how our homeschooling can go…  we’re interrupted for activities, illness, errands, appointments, or the occasional blahs. But then when we step back to look at the bigger picture, we’ve actually covered quite a bit. 🙂

This year my kids were in Grades 9, 7, and 4. We still do our science activities together. Sometimes I focus a little more on my youngest (which is review for my older two) and sometimes we dive deep into a topics (which is challenging and hard for my youngest). I try to keep track of what we’ve done and circle back around to things for my youngest when she’s a bit older and ready for that material again.

This year had some unexpected twists and turns.  I’ll share a little bit about our journey in the first section below! 🙂  Reflecting back on the year, I think flexibility is still a key component of our homeschool journey!!

Before I dive into the year, I wanted to mention that I have a lot of posts that are similar to this one.  You might want to visit the last couple of years posts as well and I’ll link to more posts like this (from when the kids were even younger) down at the bottom of this post:

Science Year in Review for Grades 2, 6, 8

Science Year in Review for Grades 2, 5 and 7

This year, I also did a TON of updates to our packets and I’ll highlight those as well at the end of this post. 🙂

And now here are some highlights from our school year!

Developing Plans for Grades 9, 7 and 4 (Yes, starting to homeschool a high schooler! Yikes!)

My oldest started 9th grade this year.  It felt momentous and scary. After all, he was now a 9th grader… a freshman in high school! Yikes!  I felt like I needed to be more official and more public-school-ish. You know, covering one science subject for the entire year. My Sis (who has graduated two of her three homeschoolers and has one entering her senior year this coming year) tried to assure me that it didn’t have to be so overwhelming.  “Just do things as you’ve been doing,” she advised me.  “You’re all doing a great job.”  Still,I felt like I had to change things up.

Physics (Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion, etc.): Since we had done quite a bit with biology & chemistry, I thought I would jump into physics with my oldest.  I chose a physics curriculum that said it was algebra-based (rather than calculus based).  I worked with LD (separately) on that.  We actually got through about 6 or 7 chapters. He said he learned a lot, but we did not finish the book (not by a long-shot!).  We have plenty of time to circle-back round, of course. I am pretty happy with the Physics Curriculum we worked through. We’ll definitely pick up with it again (later).

He covered Linear Motion, Projectile Motion, Newton’s First, Second and Third Laws and Momentum.

homeschool physics curriculumBut as I said, the science school year didn’t quite turn out the way I had first envisioned. I had thought we would work through the entire book this year.  That turned out not to be the case.

As homeschool life would have it, we took a slight detour!  We wound up doing a Science Club with some other homeschoolers here at our house. So, this fall we did two other big units: Earth Science and Scientific Classification & Taxonomy.

And… we supplemented those units with two (wonderful!) courses from Coursera.

Earth Science:

In our science club, we jumped into a study of Earth Science. We did a lot of hands-on activities as we talked about tectonic plates, faults, earthquakes, mountain making, volcanoes and more!  You can see more about our science club in these posts, but I’ll also paste in  few of our favorite hands-on activities from that unit! 🙂

We did a lot of activities with the other kids in our science club, but our family went into much more depth the other days.  As I said, above we also watched the lectures in a course from the University of Illinois called Planet Earth…and You! taught by Dr. Stephen Marshak. It is released by Coursera, so is free to enroll in (if you select the “join for free” option).

You’re probably asking yourself, “Yeah, but what about ED (my 4th grader)?”  Well, she watched and enjoyed the lectures as much as my older two! (Yes, she insisted on watching with us!)  Will she remember what a Phreatic eruption is? Maybe not, but I figure that we’ll return to this material again some day for her. It’s one of the great benefits of homeschooling… we have time to circle around to things again, but as long as our units are hands-on and engaging the kids will get what they can out of it.

Here are some of the experiments we did last fall. You can find out more about our Earth Science Packet here.

Convection Current Activity Plate Tectonics Activity - Convection CurrentsPangaea Flip Book Activity

Earth Science - Earthquake VibrationsEven after the Science Club ended, we continued watching the Earth Science lectures, Planet Earth (from the University of Illinois)… finishing out the unit with an in-depth study of volcanoes: the different types of eruptions; the role different types of magma, gas build-up and other factors play in these eruptions; and different types of material the result from these eruptions. Below you can see the teacher pages (left) and student notebook pages (right) that I added into the Earth Science Packet this year.

Volcano WorksheetsVolcano Worksheets-Notebook Pages- Volcanic HazardsBecause we completed the Coursera course, I felt this was a really good class for my 9th grader. Plus, my girls got a lot out of this unit too. 🙂

Scientific Classification & Taxonomy

Another topic we covered in our Science Club last fall was scientific classification and taxonomy.  We touched on this when we did our Animal Unit several years ago, but this year we went into a lot of depth.

My kids did some dichotomous key activities and talked about how/why classification is useful.

Scientific Classification- Dichotomous Key Activities

In the science club, we went into depth about the basic classification system.

By the end of the unit, the kids understood animal classification (domain, kingdom, phylum, etc.), knew 10 or 11 the major animal phyla and some of the major differences among these groups (ie. the differences in the digestive tracts of the platyhelminthes, annelids, etc.).  We used the giant paper and sorting cards (that you see in the picture below) to sort the cards, so by the end the kids could each “teach” others about eukaryotes, prokaryotes, cnidaria, etc. etc!

(Also, as you can see, we did some fun Engineering Challenges in our Science Club.)

Science Club Week 3 - Taxonomy and Classification - Engineering ChallengeIn the club, we went into depth about many of the animal phyla and even did some dissection!

Fish-Dissection-ActivityHere are the links to the Science Club Posts, if you are interested in creating your own club or checking out what we did week-by-week:

 

Digestive System

Each year, we try to spend time diving more deeply into one of the human body systems.  Last year, we did a fabulous unit on the circulatory system.  We spent a lot of time delving into the flow of blood through arteries, veins, capilaries; the way the heart works;  the make of blood; blood types; various blood disorders and things like that.  In all, we all learned a LOT in our Circulatory System unit! (Even me!)

Circulatory System Worksheets and ActivitiesDigestive System: This year, it was time to learn about the Digestive System.  We went into a lot more depth than the first time around. While we still did a lot of hands-on activities, we spent quite a bit of time and detail learning about how food moves along the digestive tract and spent quite a bit of time learning about the parts of the small and large intestine. I added a lot of new material to our Digestive System unit. 🙂

Digestive-System Activities Digestive System Worksheet igestive-System-Worksheets

University Lectures: Once again, we supplemented our unit with online university lectures.  We watched many of the lectures from the course, Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis; a journey from basis to clinic.  These lectures were really informative, but quite intense as they used an actual human on the table for some of the lectures.  For that reason, only my oldest chose to watch those lectures.  My middle daughter said, “I’m fine with the cartoony-pictures, but the actual person is a little too much for me.”  (I gave my kids the option of watching or not.  I definitely recommend that you preview this course first!)

Nutrition:

We combined our studied of the Digestive System with a health unit on nutrition & exercise.  We spent quite a bit of time learning about the role of fiber in our diet and then moved on to learn about vitamins. We played many rounds of vitamin bingo as we learned about the role vitamins play in our diet and what happens when we are deficient in a particular vitamin. You can see more at this post: Nutrition: Fiber and Vitamin Worksheets

I added all the fiber & vitamin resources, notebook pages and game to the Digestive System Packet. 🙂

Vitamin Activity Sheets

Vitamin Worksheet Vitamin Bingo

 

Life Cycles

As we moved into spring, my youngest, ED, was interested in doing a unit on life cycles again. She really likes doing little independent research writing assignments, so I created a series of writing papers for her. These were the original pages (I can’t remember if I took pictures of her finished work.)

Life Cycles Worksheets

Since lots of kids study various animal life cycles in the earlier grades, I created a new Life Cycle Packet. It’s more than 50 pages and helps kids become familiar with the different stages in the life cycles of the chicken, sea turtle, frog, mosquito, butterfly, dragonfly, bee, mouse, and ladybug.

Life Cycle Worksheets - Activities - Montessori Cards

Chemistry Unit

We had touched on the Periodic Table a couple of years ago, but this year I really wanted the kids to understand what information the Periodic Table shows us, Bohr Diagrams (and how they help us understand the Periodic Table), Lewis Diagrams,  the difference between ions and isotopes, what ionic & covalent bonds are, and things like that.  I was really happy with how much the kids learned!  The kids really liked working with the element and Bohr Diagram cards and we did a number of hands-on activities so the kids really understood the material.

That was our last unit for the year. 🙂

Chemistry Unit - Building the Periodic Table Activity

Hands-On Chemistry Cards

Chemistry Packet - Periodic Table Ionic and Covalent Bonds and More

Chemistry Interactive Notebook PIece - Groups of the Periodic TableLewis Diagram Activity - Chemistry Hands-On Activities Chemistry PacketWe also talked about balancing equations and used a workbook (I’ll try to remember to add that in.)

What we’re planning :

We really need to do a unit on meteorology and the weather. We need to talk about topics like air masses, fronts, weather patterns and so forth. 🙂  That’s on the agenda for next year!

If you are studying this material, you might want to check out some of the material I made some time back. Most of these are currently free! See this post:

Layers of the Atmosphere, Weather and More!

We’ll also be doing a unit on light, sound, and the five senses… so going into depth about how the eye and how the ear works.

5 Senses Packet and Hands-On Activities

High School Biology Plans:

This next year we’ll be doing biology. As I mentioned last week, we have started with Thinkwell’s Biology Course. It looks like a good fit so far. Here’s what I wrote last week:

We are moving on to a more in-depth study of Biology this coming year (remember, LD is now 14 going on 15 and DD will be turning 13).  We decided to use Thinkwell’s AP Biology Course.  So far, we’ve done the first chapter and LD and DD are really enjoying George Wolfe’s lectures. We watch the lectures together and the kids work on the exercises (multiple choice questions) that go with that lecture.  Each lecture is about 10 to 12 minutes long.  You can try it for free for 14 days to see if it would be a good fit for your family. It’ll let you examine the first two chapters and all the videos. I think this will be a good fit for my older two kids (we’ve done a lot of science), but I’ll keep you posted!! (I’m glad we did the Chemistry Unit first, there was a section on isotopes and the kids totally understood that material!) Some of you may want to know that this course covers evolution in quite some detail.  If you do decide to purchase a Thinkwell course, you can enter my email (Liesl@homeschoolden.com) “Referred by” field for an additional $10 off for you. I would get a referral reward (an Amazon card) if you use this option.

We’ve done about 20 short lectures so far and my older two are enjoying it. George Wolfe, the instructor, is in the top right corner. Notes are added in the white board area (on the right).

We’ll be using this course (I watch with the kids) as well as some other materials.

My main suggestion (as I’ve noted so far) is that you’ll want to have covered some basic chemistry first. I’m glad we just finished the Chemistry Unit and talked quite a bit about isotopes, balancing equations, and so forth.

AP Biology - Thinkwell Course

 

I mentioned above that I did a TON of updates on our packets this year. I also made some combined bundles.  You can find those in Our store.

Here are just a few of the new updates to our Science Packets

Note: If you already purchased any of these Packets you should have received an email from SendOwl (the automatic delivery service I use) a couple of months ago with the download link. If you missed that, feel free to email me and I will make sure you get that link again! You can use the contact form above to reach me.  :) Liesl

Earth Science Packet: I added more than 50 pages to the Earth Science Packet this year! Including this interactive notebook page on the layers of the Earth:

Layers of the Earth interactive notebook page

Earth Science Unit - Layers of the Earth Activities Types of Volcanoes Worksheets - Interactive Notebook Pages

Simple Machines: I added some new interactive notebook pages to the Simple Machines Packet.

Simple Machines Interactive Notebook Activitysimple machines at a construction site worksheets

Biology Packet: I added new pages on the food chain, food web and energy pyramid activities to the Biology Packet. Read more about it at this post: Food Chain, Food Web, Energy Pyramid Activities

Food Chain Food Web Food Pyramid Activties - Interactive Notebook Pages

Biology Unit - biomes biological interactions

Digestive System Packet:

I added in a lot of materials including the new flapbook

Digestive System Flap Booknew materials on the small and large intestine

Small intestines, liver gall bladder pancreas large intestines notebook pagesand the new pages about fiber and vitamins.

Animal Packet

Animal Unit - feathers fur scales skin vertebrates invertebrates insects spiders - worksheets

I added in new pages on Animal Homes and Shelters:

Animal Homes and Shelters - Where do animals live worksheetsand I had added in these pages on feathers, fur, scales and skin as well:

Feathers Fur Scales or Skin Worksheets and Sorting Cards

 

World Animals Packet

World Animals Unit 3-Part Cards Montessori Cards ActivitiesI added in a number of new activities including a new game and pin map:
World Animal Activities

It was a busy year for sure!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. If you do use our affiliate links, thank you so much for supporting our blog! Warmly, Liesl

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :) ~Liesl

 

Homeschool Den Store

You might be interested in these free checklists:

How do we know what science units to cover from year to year? I created a Homeschool Science Unit Checklist for Elementary and Middle School that I think about as we move from unit to unit. I have a general goal of what I’d like for the kids to have covered K to 8, but we’re also flexible and go off on tangents when it’s warranted! It many of the units we hope to cover in elementary and middle school.

ScienceHomeschoolChecklistAnd this one for Early Elementary Science

elementary-science

Other Science Related Posts:

See the Homeschool History Units – Year in Review post here.

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