Teaching Homeschool Science - Hands-On - for Elementary and Middle School Kids

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SUMMARY - Teaching science using hands-on approaches, science kits, science experiments,Magic School Bus science kits, ,elementary hands-on science, educational gifts, science kits for homeschoolers, preschoolers, kindergarten, and elementary aged children. This post has affiliate links to products that we love and would use in our homeschool.  Please see my disclosure policy.

Are you looking for a fun way to teach science to your kids?   Do you have a young one who learns best through hands-on approaches, like mine?

My 2e daughter learned so much from doing hands-on projects in our homeschool.

It was nice and cozy inside when my daughter had a fun project to do.  And she loved it when a new science kit came in the mail. 

At the same time, doing hands-on projects taught her so much, and with her ADHD tendencies, we saw improvement in attention span, concentration, attention to task, and more.  And doing these activities or kits together made some of my favorite homeschool memories.

Here are a bunch of science resources for you, including from our favorite educational publishers.

Let's start with science kits for experimentation:


For science in the elementary years, we mostly focused on simple science projects from Evan Moor, and hands-on science kits like these below, that my daughter chose herself.

That way we could follow her interests.

We did not use a homeschool science curriculum, but instead used science kits that were hands-on, supplementing with library books on our daughter's favorite science topics.  This approach was plenty for elementary science, and it was driven by her intense curiosity.

Another one of my favorite companies for science kits is the Magic School Bus Company. ..

Then, when my daughter was a young middle schooler, we found some great educational science kits from Science Wiz Kits. We especially loved these.  

Here is my review of one of them, if you would like more information.


Do you have a college bound teen in your house?  

This is my simple guide to college prep and admissions.  From a homeschooling perspective.

How do you know if your teen is ready for college writing?  
How about tips for writing the entrance college essay?

It's all in there!  And we are coming out with a second edition to the book soon.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is a homeschool blogger, former O.T, preschool teacher and published author of children's stories.  She is mom to her 2e college grad whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool about the early yearshigh schoolcollegeand is the author of "Homeschooling High School with College in Mind".  Betsy also offers homeschool help at BJ's Consulting.

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Copyright @ BJ's Homeschool, 2019

Blessed by our Twice Exceptional Homeschooled Kid

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Our daughter has been a blessing to us, ever since we flew to China to adopt her, as an infant.  At the same time, she has been quite a challenge.  

We knew she was gifted from the day we received her, on a bus ride in China.

Soon there were signs of ADHD and sensory processing disorder, but since we were already homeschooling, we didn't feel the need to go in for formal testing.  With my OT background, we just worked to accommodate things to meet her needs, as best we could.

A is for Apple
We knew that our school district did not have a gifted program that would meet her needs.  So we took the plunge and tried our hand at homeschooling.

Homeschooling worked for her as it gave us the opportunity to gear things to her own learning style.  

Of course, this took time to figure out, but we found ways to eliminate distractions, meet her sensory needs, and choose curriculum that was engaging for her.  And fit her visual learning style.  

She struggled with auditory processing.
If we had chosen the public school route, my kiddo would have been learning from the teacher, who spoke in front of the class. 

That would not have worked for her.  

When she was young, processing verbal directions was a big, big challenge.  And if she was tested, with only verbal directions, she would have failed, ie , those annual tests done at school.  We later found that she had auditory processing disorder.

However, as a homeschooler, she was able to learn in the ways that worked best. 

We used hands-on approaches and lots of visuals. Once we figured out that was what she needed.

It was trial and error, lots of errors...but we had time to try different things...and ways to meet her sensory needs.  Ways she would not have had in school.

Meeting Sensory Needs

As a little one, my daughter could wrap herself in a blanket, and study that way. She could take a break and jump on our small trampoline, whenever she wanted...or bounce across the room, on a big exercise ball.  Having her sensory needs met, made focusing so much easier.  

Our daughter had SPD, sensory processing disorder, and needed a lot of sensory input in her day.  She craved vestibular input, like you get from spinning or swinging.

She loved a spinner that we got from a consignment shop.

We also got a large exercise ball, with a handle, that she used to bounce across the room.  A LOT.  That is now one of my favorite memories!

A small trampoline for inside the house was a hit, too. Other ideas include providing different textures to feel such as in sand play, or small sensory bins.

As a little one, my daughter could wrap herself in a blanket, and study that way. She could take a break and jump on our small trampoline, whenever she wanted...or bounce across the room, on a big exercise ball.  Having her sensory needs met, made focusing so much easier. 

Some kids also use weighted blankets, especially for kiddos with ADHD and SPD like ours.

Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets provide deep tactile input, which naturally helps to calm overactive nerves.  These have small weights inside them to provide the calming deep pressure.  The photo below links to an article with instructions for making one of your own.

LINK - How to Make Our Weighted Blanket by Namafish  

NOTE - Precautions for using weighted blankets for toddlers and kids:

"Weighted blankets are not recommended for children under the age of 2 years old.  Keeping this in mind, be sure to use a safe weight.  Since the average weight of toddlers between 2 to 3 years old is 20 to 30 pounds, the recommended weight (10% of body weight plus 1 - 2 pounds) would be no more than 5 pounds."  .
... quoted from Harkla OT blog, author is a certified pediatric Occupational Therapist.

Photo from Fairfield World
Weighted Vests

Some kiddos do well with weighted vests.  They do the same thing as the blankets, providing a calming effect through deep pressure.

Fairfield World has instructions for making a weighted vests as shown to the right. LINK - How to Make a Sensory Vest

Provide Some Structure to the Day

Our 2e daughter did best with some structure in her day.  Knowing what was next helped her anxiety.

We set up a simple routine of meals, errands, etc.  We built a rhythm to our days.

Structure was a help.  We also needed to help our daughter to prepare for changes in her life.  Lots of kids with ADHD  struggle with change.  Ours especially did, with all the changes she had moving to the US and being adopted.

Preparing for Changes

We took time to prepare our kiddo for any changes. 

Kids with ADHD often get upset with changes in their routine.  So we let her know ahead of time if we could.  And she got a vote in any changes to physical things, such as rearranging the furniture.  Giving her some control helped her to process the changes and then to feel safe.

Now as a college student about to graduate, we still see the intensities, the sensory issues, and some ADD (not ADHD anymore)....

2.  We could find ways to teach the way she best learned and to develop task skills, eg, concentration, direction following,  problem solving.

My daughter benefited from the freedom to switch curricula or approaches when needed, gearing our homeschooling to her strengths.  

She was a visual learner, and we could set up her learning to focus on that, as opposed to auditory learning, and that made all the difference for her.  

She could work ahead on some subjects, take extra time for others. It allowed us to accommodate for her ADHD like behaviors and sensory issues day to day.  

We found that hands-on activities worked well for our ADHD kid, helping her to develop executive functioning skills in an enjoyable and comfortable way, while learning to weave, etc.

3.  We had the time to do a variety of outside activities.

We did a number of outside activities, through the years, including preballet, kid gymnastics classes, and tumbling, too.  Some of my daughter's best learning occurred in outside activities. 

Auditory Learning Issues

My kiddo wanted to try irish dance classes.  She saw one of the classes when we were at the Parks Dept.  To do that, she would have to follow the complex verbal directions for each of the irish dance steps. 

Now, auditory processing was very difficult for her.  At home, any verbal directions needed to be given 3 or 4 times, and it helped if they were written down.  But, in class, the verbal directions were somehow easier.

Since it was dance class, and my kiddo was so comfortable with physical skills,  she learned to process the many verbal directions that were given.  Of course, watching the steps at the same time was a big help.  But the teacher added in alot of verbal instructions, too, and my daughter began to really be able to process that information.

As her verbal processing skills improved in irish dance, they began to transfer to other areas as well.  At home, she began to use video courses , and DVD's, which involved listening to verbal directions and lectures. 

And, no longer did she struggle with auditory processing!  By the time she got to college, she could easily follow her college lectures! 

She had gradually build up her auditory processing skills, over the years, without the pressure that she would have had in public school.

4.  Interest-led learning gave our daughter the motivation to learn organizational skills and to accommodate for her ADHD.

Homeschooling helped my daughter to gradually learn, over the years, to organize her studies, plan her day, and prioritize and build her own schedule.......

This was a struggle for her, for many years, but by watching how I organized her days, early on, she picked it up pretty well. 

By high school, she was almost independent. And now she is doing her college studies, without any help or reminders from me. 

She even took our workboxing organizational style with her to college. Organizational skills learned at home were key to her success in her freshman classes at college.

5.  We got to build in nature and other calming activities into our day.

We could take off, and go to the park.  We could use the backyard any time we want.  We could hang out at the river, and watch for salmon spawning.  I loved that.

And getting out in nature was such a great way to calm and de-stress, for both of us.

We built in mini road trips when we could fit it in.  This was key to my daughter feeling comfortable to share her thoughts and concerns about her day.  

And this is still happening as a college student. 

When my daughter has a concern about college, or whatever, she still feels comfortable to come to me or my husband.   

We love watching her grow and learn in college, which is a real blessing.

6.  Learning how to Find and Use Resources

Having our daughter at home gave her a lot of opportunity to learn how to find and use resources.  She saw me do it each year, while looking for curriculum and making calls to find outside activities in the community.

I started, early on, to involve her in the process.  I would hand her to phone and let her do some parts of our phone calls.  Soon she was able to make these calls herself.

During homeschool, she often helped me search for resources, as we chose curricula, looked for a dance class, or surfed the net for help in algebra, from Khan Academy. 

That was another advantage of homeschooling.  Many milinials today struggle when they are looking for a job.  If they had experience researching and contacting resources, they would be ready to do that when job searching time came.

I am not saying that homeschooling was easy.  

But it worked well for us and our gifted 2e daughter.  

Do you have kids who are gifted and 2e? I love reading your comments.  Click here to enjoy all the other great posts in this GHF blog hop!

Are you  Homeschooling High School with College in Mind??? 

To find out more about validation, making your transcripts, and all the other components of applying to college, I invite you to check out My book on high school.  I put together all of my best tips for high school and college in one place.

Note - This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

Heidi, from Starts at Eight says:

"If you are planning on homeschooling high school then Betsy's book is the one that you want to have on the shelf"......click here to read the rest of her review." 
Available on Amazon 

SALE on Kindle this week @ $4.17
with 13 downloadable printables.

Good News!

Subscribers get the first chapter of my book free!

Click here to get yours!

If you subscribe to BJ's Homeschool, you will receive a link to the  first chapter - Researching and Getting Started - of my ebook - to download for free.  Look for your thank you email!  The link with be in it!

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

Want to stay in touch?  

Subscribers get the first chapter free.
Click here to get yours!

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Copyright, 2018, All Rights Reserved

Our Curriculum Choices for Homeschool Math - Preschool to High School

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Math has always been a mainstay in our homeschool.  From playful learning approaches during preschool/K to challenging courses in Algebra 2 and Geometry in high school, we have always taken a hands-on approach.  As much as possible. 

Sometimes our curriculum included living math, and when it didn't, we added it in.

Today, I'd like to share our favorite homeschool math curriculum choices, from preK through high school.

Let's start with prekindergarten.  
Here are our favorites for math, starting with preschool/K:

Early Math 
In the early years, we did not use a curriculum.  When you are four, everything is math!  Toys can be counted, towels sorted and put into sets.  Cookie making became a lesson in adding and subtracting, and beads got sorted into patterns as well, as making necklaces.  

Also, buttons, shells, rocks, sorted by shape, color, size, what have you.  Even laundry could be sorted into sets. All of this is good early math learning.

Math Play

Our little ones learn best through play.  Basic math concepts, such as counting, sorting, bigger/smaller, same/different, adding, subtracting, etc can all be learned through play with manipulatives. 

Manipulatives can really be any small object that you have around your house.  Buttons, shells, rocks, etc, can be sorted by shape, color, or size, and grouped into sets. This teaches early math concepts, as they are play!  

Even laundry could be sorted into sets, or by size, small, medium and large, such as with towels. 

here for tips for Making a Manipulative Kit 

This book gave us lots of ideas for learning about shapes and basic fractions.

We would take one page at a time, with my daughter acting out each concept with small toys, cookies, or whatever was available at the time. 

Starting with a playful approach, we did not need a math curriculum until first grade.  My daughter learned to love math, by starting with a playful approach.

Early Elementary

Then in the primary grades, we chose to use Saxon Math, as it relies on lots of hands-on approaches.  Young learners need to see, feel, and touch objects, as they learn the processes of basic math. 

Amy, of the Curriculum Choice, has a review on Saxon Math 
or Kindergarden. Saxon Math is available all the way through high school.

Upper Elementary

In fourth grade we switched to Oak Meadow Math.  It is based on Saxon Math, but has a few less practice problems, which felt less stressful for my daughter.

It is child friendly, and is not at all associated with common 

Oak Meadow Math uses the spiral learning approach, with lots of review.  Through this, my daughter gained skills that she could apply to real life activities, building retention. 

The Living Math that we added included helping with family purchases, 
making change, measuring things at home, etc.

Middle School

When we got into pre-Algebra I felt the need to get some  help with my math teaching. We found the Saxon Dive dvd's and loved how they explained each problems, with a chalkboard approach, where the instructor wrote out each problem as he discussed them.

Saxon also has another product called video education. A sample 5th grade lesson, using this product is here.  During these years, I also introduced my daughter to family finances, and introduced her to checking accounts, how to balance a checkbook, household bills, etc.

High School

We began Algebra 1 in 9th grade, and we decided to try Teaching Textbooks for that.  I liked how TT offered even more dvd help and we were happy using all their dvd's, especially the ones that explained errors in the practice problems.

photo credit - www.aop.com
Then in 10th grade,with the ACT testing coming up, we decided to switch to Alpha Omega Publication's Switched On Schoolhouse.  

These were a bit more intense than the Teaching Textbook approach.  
That helped with retention, which she needed for her upcoming college testing. I also loved how SOS was self-graded and included a video lectures for each lesson, plus lots of practice, and some hands-on math projects as well.

Living Math activities in high school centered on...getting and managing a savings account, learning about taxes, car insurance, and compounding interest, as well as family budgeting.

As you can see, we used a wide variety of curriculum for math, through the years. What are your favorites for math in your house?  I love getting and reading your comments.

Available on Amazon
Are you homeschooling a college bound teen?  Have you seen my book yet called Homeschooling High School with College in Mind? 

Heidi, from Starts at Eight says:  

"If you are planning on homeschooling high school then Betsy's book is the one that you want to have on the shelf".

Click here to read the rest of her review."

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh schoolcollegegifted/2e and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting,  and has had her articles picked up by the Huffington Post.

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Copyright @ BJ's Homeschool 2018

All rights reserved.

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