Child-led Science Experiments

When we tailor-made this year’s homeschooling for my youngest (she’s 12-years-old) she requested ~

Science Experiments

As I have learnt to “let go” and let her take the lead for her maximum learning enjoyment, I wanted her to be able to “do her own thing”.  We set up a Science Experiment center on our bookshelf.  I simply gathered whatever I had accumulated from our homeschooling curriculums.  Our Science kit and reference books are all from previously purchased Sonlight packages.

Science experiments3

We spent our first session looking through and discussing each item in the Science kit.  We browsed through our Science books and decided which topics she most wanted to study or which apparatus she most wanted to work with.

I have found that if I establish the correct procedures and a few basic safety rules, my children can work quite independently.  (This is true for all other activities such as art, cooking and baking, cleaning house, sewing, washing and ironing.)

Essentially ~ Be safe.  Work carefully.  Clean up after yourself.

Science experiments1

Although I wanted her to have fun, I explained the basic approach used in scientific methodology.  Worded informally, yet covering science concepts, I have found that these principles develop proper scientific thinking.  For example:

  1. What are you studying? = Title
  2. What are you trying to find out? = Question
  3. What is needed? = Materials
  4. What do you predict (or think) will happen? = Hypothesis
  5. Describe what you do step-by-step = Method
  6. Compare with something that does not change = Control
  7. What did you see? = Observation
  8. What did you learn from this? = Inference

Of course, many experiments require a very simplified version of these points above, and, depending on your child’s age and ability, these questions could be simply summed up ~

  1. Title
  2. What I did.
  3. What happened.
  4. What I learnt.

I created a variety of Science Experiment Notebook pages for her. I printed the notebook bundle and she selects a notebook page to suit her experiment and her approach.Science Experiments

She has spurts of Science lessons, some weeks doing almost 3 a day, and other weeks simply reading the books.  Recent unseasonably warm weather made water experiments fun outdoor activities!Science experiments2

My daughter is very visual and loves to draw very detailed diagrams of her experiments.  I have requested that she label items clearly in print and give every picture a caption or descriptive sentence.

I am often her lab assistant and scribe.  I jot down her dictated notes because I want her to focus on the actual activities and not get bogged down in the difficult job of writing her notebook pages, but I have gently encouraged her to note some of the simpler experiments.

In essence, she initiates and leads her Science lessons and activities.  I am there, but as support and encouragement, participating as one discovering alongside my child, and it is really exciting and awesome!

It works for us!  What works for you?

Here is your free download ~ Science Experiment Notebook bundle

Blessings,

10 thoughts on “Child-led Science Experiments

  1. Thank you very much for this post. I bought an Usbourne experiments book a while ago, but we have unfortunately only done a couple of the experiments. However the youngest (5yr) has started showing an interest in “experiments” like how water erodes the sand in his sandpit, and what happens if you add an egg to water, or flour, etc.
    I thought today that I would like to put together a “kit” with bags of flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt, dishwashing liquid, etc. that they can “experiment” with, and that way, we just grab the box and go outside where we can “safely” do experiments.
    Any recommendations for contents in the kit?

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    • @elizevdm, I love how you have facilitated your son’s natural interest, and I have done much the same for my daughter. Your son is very young and should continue to play and discover and learn with those “experiments” in a very informal manner.
      The contents of our Sonlight.com kit are listed in the collage photo of the Science books. You could collect measuring cups, measuring spoons, plastic tubing and pipes, jugs & funnels, syringes and basters and sieves would make an excellent water-based kit. Children love to play with magnets, and you can do a lot with mirrors (use safety mirrors for young children). I highly recommend “365 Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials” that uses items virtually every household can easily find. Enjoy!

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  2. Great post! I love how you show that you can use resources you already have and let your child take the lead. Interest-led learning is the best! Thanks for sharing your notebook pages!🙂

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  3. I am a teacher in a small (very small) Christian school. As my class looks to be 4 students this fall, I began to look into using more of a homeschooling approach. In my search for resources I came across your posts. I have been encouraged,blessed, stimulated by them. (even in areas not applicable to my situation). Have been thanking the Lord for the internet and for the contact I enjoy with other Christians I would likely l never meet in person. Keep up the wonderful work!

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    • @anne Devermann, welcome to Practical Pages and thank you for your kind comments. I am always delighted to encourage and inspire others. I, too, am blessed to “meet” and befriend such inspiring people via the Internet. Wishing you the very best with your new class this year. Blessings!

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