Inside: Discover ways to simplify your day by teaching science to multiple kids using activities for the entire family, as well as a family-style homeschool curriculum.
I remember the days when school wouldn’t end until three in the afternoon. And we didn’t start at ten in the morning. It was more like eight or eight-thirty. It wore all of us out by the end and was the perfect storm for homeschool burnout.
I had three kids that were pretty spread out and I was trying to teach all of them individually. Picture a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth. That was me!
I missed out on so much of the fun that comes with teaching my kids because I didn’t have the time to sit and learn with them.
One day it occurred to me I needed to combine the kids for subjects where everyone could learn together. 😲 This isn’t rocket science I know, but it took me a while to catch on. What can I say, the public school mentality runs deep.
Science is the perfect subject to do this. It doesn’t matter what topic you’re studying, there’s a way for each of the kids to absorb the information together and then adjust the activities to fit their age.
I received a Level E BookShark Science curriculum package along with financial compensation for this review. My opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.
Benefits of Learning Together
There’s something to be said for the one-room schoolhouse. When your kids learn together, there are many benefits both of you gain.
- Saves time– When you have multiple children, trying to teach all subjects individually is almost impossible. Combining everyone for the subjects you can will save you time and energy.
- Older children can help the younger– This not only benefits the kids, but mom too.
- Younger children feel older– They get to do what big brother or sister is doing. They also catch on to more difficult content this way. It might surprise you what they pick up.
- Builds family bonds– Children studying together build a special bond they normally wouldn’t get when learning separately.
- Learn cooperation and patience– When a group of children are learning together, they learn patience while waiting their turn and cooperation when doing group projects. (I have one who needs to do extra credit in this area.)
- Mom is not stretched thin– Bouncing back and forth between kids and teaching the same subject multiple times is exhausting. Instead, gather them together, pour yourself a cup of tea, and watch the magic happen.
- Increases the older children’s IQ– Research shows when older students mentor a younger sibling, it increases their IQ. (Who couldn’t use an extra point or two?)
How to Teach Science with Multiple Kids
I know you might think this is impossible when you have a large age range or several children. However, there are lots of things you can do to include everybody. Here are some examples:
- Pick a topic everyone will enjoy.
- Listen to an audiobook or do a read aloud.
- Get books for each grade level from the library- each child can read a book on the same topic that’s at his grade level.
- Work on a project or experiment together- have the older kids do more of the research and writing. Let the younger kids draw and dictate what they’ve learned.
- Have a simple coloring page for your younger kids to do while listening to the book while the older kids take notes or draw a picture.
- Use videos
- Play games- It might surprise you the number of science games available.
- Internet-Linked Usborne Books- Give your kids an Usborne encyclopedia and let them explore to find an interesting topic. Most of the topics have links to websites to learn more.
- Skype a scientist
- Take virtual tours
- Take field trips to museums
- Read biographies- The Who Was Series is great.
- Use science activity books
- Use a family style homeschool curriculum for science
Family-Style Homeschool Curriculum
Using a family style homeschool curriculum can take the stress out of teaching the same subject multiple times a day. A fun one we’ve used for doing science together as a family is BookShark. Their materials have a reasonable age range, which makes it easy to include both my girls. Even if you have a child that’s a little older or younger than the suggested range, I think it’s doable. Children will still pick up on information and any learning cracks get filled in over time.
Our Experience with BookShark
We used the BookShark Science Level E package Electricity, Magnetism, and Astronomy. It’s for ages 9-12, but you could include children a little younger or older.
Pros to BookShark
Lots of Great Books to Read
I’m stating the obvious here, but BookShark science includes a lot of outstanding books to read because it’s a literature-based approach. This is the foundation of the program. They use biographies as well as literary fiction and nonfiction to teach the concepts.
Here’s an example of the books included in Level E:
The Usborne Internet-Linked Book of Astronomy and Space
Diary of an Early American Boy
Mysteries and Marvels of Science
Electricity and Magnetism
TOPS 32 – Electricity
TOPS 33 – Magnetism
Usborne Complete Book of the Microscope
Light & Color
Who Was Alexander Graham Bell?
If you’re an Usborne book fan like we are, the selections will thrill you! My kids love to look through them for fun. They’re colorful and full of interesting facts the kids pick up on without realizing it.
Great Instructor’s Guide
Their instructor’s guide is nice. It’s 3-hole punched so you can put it into a 3-ring binder. Each week has a set of lesson plans which explains what book you need to be reading, the experiments that go along with it, and other optional activities.
It also contains one set of student activity pages (you can purchase other sets separately) and answer keys. The only thing I would say is that the questions on the activity pages may be difficult if you’re including children below the suggested age range (I found them to be at the higher age range), but you could give him an alternative activity to do that’s easier.
In the back, there’s a section for families who are new to BookShark that’s helpful.
- tips for using the internet
- how to do record keeping
- determining if your child is learning
- modifications you can make
- recommendations for teaching science
- breakdown of supply list by weeks
- subjects taught by week
And here’s a great bonus! You also get a digital version of the lesson plans for one year. That means you can do your planning while waiting on your child to finish up her violin lesson and you don’t have to haul a big binder with you.
Supply Kit for Science Experiments
“You had me at supply kit.” Seriously!
I’m an enormous fan of kits because if I have to go buy or search for a ton of materials, chances are I will nix the experiment altogether. I hate having to remember to put things on my grocery list a week in advance (I can’t even remember what I was looking for half the time. A week is asking a lot!)
The BookShark kit that came in our package impressed me. Not only did it contain enough materials for multiple children to use it, but it also contains almost everything you will need. That’s a plus in my book! There were only a few simple items we needed to find around the house to go with it. My brain can handle that.
Level E kit included:
- aluminum foil
- D battery
- styrofoam cup
- clear, plastic cups
- 3’x5′ index cards
- construction paper
- rubber band
- steel wool
- 22 gauge wire
What kid doesn’t love experiments? This was a common thread with all three of mine. Any time I would mention doing an experiment over the years, everyone wanted to be involved, even if they weren’t doing that subject together.
There’s just something about digging in and getting your hands dirty that makes learning more meaningful. Your kids will remember the fun and the concept you were trying to teach them.
The BookShark science curriculum is built around hands-on activities your kids will love. Not only that, it caters to children with a kinesthetic learning style. This is my favorite part of the whole program! (Besides that beautiful kit!)
My girls really enjoyed the science experiments. They did things like trying to make a light bulb light up through trial and error while testing conductors and insulators.
Trying to make different connections to get the lightbulb to light up.
Create electricity puzzles to solve- which we had a lot of fun with!
We also made a compass with a needle and styrofoam- very cool!
All the Planning Is Done for You
Another favorite of this family-style homeschool curriculum is that I can just open and go. The only prep required is making sure I’ve pulled the necessary materials from the kit to go with the experiments.
I know exactly what I need to do each day. I can look at the weekly overview and quickly see what is on the agenda. But there is also a notes page that breaks each day down with any extra information that might be helpful.
4-Day Week Schedule
I love when a curriculum has a 4-day week schedule. It gives you wiggle room to finish things on the fifth day, plan other fun activities, or better yet, take the day off.
DVD’s to View
There’s nothing worse than failed science experiments. We’ve had our share of them and they kill your kids’ enthusiasm.
The Discover & Do DVD with Justin the “scientist”, shows how to do all the experiments and makes it much easier for your students to have success when they try them on their own.
If you’re a book loving family and your kids enjoy lots of reading, this is the program for you! You can gather around the table or snuggle up on the couch and read some fantastic books while learning at the same time.
Cons of BookShark
There aren’t many cons to this program other than if your children don’t love to read lots of books, then this may not be for you. However, in the instructor’s guide, they give suggestions for how to make this work when your children don’t like to read.
Also, the activity sheets have questions that can be a little tricky but nothing too hard. If you are a relaxed homeschooler and don’t like worksheets, you can omit them altogether or come up with your own activities to do. They state right in the guide that it’s not necessary to complete every question. You pick and choose and make it fit for your family.
You do not have to wear yourself out teaching all subjects to multiple kids every day. Combining children for science is the perfect way to get more done without exerting as much time and energy while enjoying the process of learning together.
Try out some ideas I’ve listed. They’re easy to do and your kids will enjoy the break from their regular studies.
In addition, using a family-style homeschool curriculum makes your life easier. You can slow down and enjoy teaching instead of bouncing back and forth between kids. And best of all, you can finish school before dinnertime! Check out BookShark and see if it would be a great fit for your family!
1 winner will receive the Science program of his/her choice. Open through June 29, 2020. USA addresses only.