{Curricula Update} Here’s Why Science Is Fun!

While we do use a hodge podge of science curricula, Nancy Larson Science is our “main” curricula.  We may not always get to the extras, but we get our Nancy Larson lessons done.  

When we first began homeschooling, I saw several science curricula options and I thought for sure that we would use those in our homeschool.  We tried some of them and they weren’t hugely successful for several reasons – they took too long, they were too complicated, they had too many supplies to purchase, they weren’t developmentally appropriate and much information was quickly forgotten, or they just simply did not get done at our house.

I’ve finally been successful at science.  It’s all thanks to this program.  I can fit science into our schedule and we actually complete and lessons on a regular basis.  The best curriculum for your family is simply the one that gets done.  And this is it for us!

We aim to do science 2-3 days per week but my kids ask to do a lesson daily, so I often comply.  This means that we might finish a level before our school year is over.  I try to take some weeks off and simply do extra reading on our topic, using the reading list provided by Nancy Larson Science.

I’ll give you a little glimpse into a lesson with Level 2 (for Curly) and Level K (for Bee and Tiger):

Level 2  – Lesson 47 – Identifying the fulcrum, load, and effort of levers/Identifying how 2nd and 3rd class levers function 

We began the lesson by reviewing the levers we learned about in the previous lesson – hand truck (or dolly as I call them) and scissors – and discussed how levers make work easier.

Then we talked about how a wheelbarrow is lever while looking at a picture.  I had Curly identify the load from looking at the picture.  We talked about how you move a wheelbarrow and the type of effort needed.  Then we talked about how a wheelbarrow is different from the hand truck in the previous lesson.  She noticed that the fulcrum is in the front while the load is behind the wheel.

Next we looked at a picture of a nutcracker and discussed the place for the load, fulcrum, and effort.  Then we examined tweezers, a stapler, a hammer, and a baseball bat, discussing the different locations of the load, fulcrum, and effort. (I never thought about a baseball bat being a lever!  New info to me!)

After our discussion, Curly got out her small physics booklet and we worked on the page for the day.  We looked at the diagrams of the various objects and Curly labelled the load and effort and highlighted the fulcrum on each object.  Then we discussed which were 2nd class levers and which were 3rd class, examining the differences of each.  After she understood the differences, we looked back at the previous lesson of 1st class levers and compared and contrasted the 3 types of levers.
She completed the lesson review about the types of levers the next day.  

Curly’s favorite lesson so far was the lesson where she chose someone to interview about the different types of simple machines that they used.  She chose to interview her Pops (my dad).  She called him and asked him the questions on her interview form.  She asked about the types of electric or battery-operated machines he used in his daily life.  Then she asked about times when he used an inclined plane, a wedge, a screw, a lever, a wheel and axle, and a pulley.  She wrote down the examples he provided and they had a cute little discussion of about the various machines she had studied.  She was very excited to show me her results!  Hearing her tell me about the interview allowed me to see how well she understood the concepts and the various types of machines. 

Level 2 Breakdown
So far in level 2 we’ve studied

  • properties of liquids, solids, and gases, 
  • transparency
  • magnetic attraction
  • physical properties of minerals
  • gravity, mass, and friction
  • simple machines 
  • properties of sound
  • properties of light

Level K – Lesson 39 – Observing and describing mixtures of liquids
This lesson began with a review of the previous lessons.  We discussed how we had frozen various liquids until they became solids.  Then we talked about how we had let them melt and become liquids again.

Then we mixed sand with water in a bottle and made observations about the buoyancy of sand – not at all buoyant!  Then we shook the bottle and saw the sand mix with the water and then settle back to the bottom.

Next we mixed oil and water and made observations about the buoyancy of oil – which was very buoyant as it floated on the water.  We then shook the bottle to create a mixture and then watched it separate.

We shook a bottle of salad dressing to observe it as a mixture.  Then we added food coloring to a bottle of water and watched our new mixture.  We also mixed powdered drink powder in a bottle to create another mixture.

Some of Tiger and Bee’s favorite lessons were the lessons about using our senses when we tasted sweet, salty, sour, and bitter foods in a fun taste test.  They also loved the lessons when they learned different ways to describe matter through making observations of the foam blocks included in the kit.

Level K Breakdown
So far in Level K we’ve studied

  • the different parts of the body
  • the five senses
  • the different food groups
  • good hygiene
  • characteristics of pets
  • describing characteristics of objects
  • characteristics of sea shells
  • how to compare the mass of objects
  • identifying objects that are bouyant
  • making and separating mixtures with solids and liquids
  • forces that move objects such as wind, magnets, and gravity

Here’s why science is fun (and it’s fun for me too!):

Everything is included – No shopping trips for me.  I don’t have to hunt down strange and random supplies.  Nope, the main things are all in the box and I just grab a few household items and we are ready for our lesson!

Very little prep is needed – I don’t have to spend time looking over lessons and making lesson plans.  Everything is very clearly laid out in the teacher guide – to what supplies we need and what papers from our notebook to tips for planning ahead for later lessons.

Instructions and lessons are clear – Yes, this program is scripted.  No, I never, ever thought I would use or enjoy a scripted program.  But I very much do!  Have you ever tried to explain physics concepts to a 2nd grade in words they understand?  I have, and I do a very terrible job.  With this program I just read from the guide where the language is geared for your student and the concepts are put in terms they can understand.  I never have to worry about how to present a lesson or a topic.

The program is developmentally appropriate – The program does not contain very detailed experiments or complicated demonstrations.  The lessons are presented and with each lesson there is an activity or demonstration.  All of them can be performed by your child.  This means that I’m not the one setting up for the demonstration, doing it, and then cleaning it up while my children watch and quickly become bored because there are too many steps.  No, the child can complete the activities and they are the ones who get the hands-on learning.

The lessons are short – The lessons do not take us more than 20 or 30 minutes (which does not count any additional reading we do on a topic).  This means that science can easily fit into my schedule.  This science gets done at my house!

The lessons are incremental – Each lesson builds upon itself within the program.  You learn one concept on Monday and then the next lesson takes that concept one step further.  However, we never experience information overload!

My kids remember everything – I am amazed at the concepts that they retain and I love seeing them apply those concepts in other situations.  Just this month, Curly launched into an entire explanation of sound waves and decibels after complaining that her brother’s iPod was too loud.

We really enjoy the hands-on activities with Nancy Larson Science.  They clearly illustrate the lessons while the lessons seamlessly build upon each other.  The program uses scientific vocabulary pared with developmentally appropriate explanations.  It is easy to teach and simply gets done!  We look forward to our science lessons!

Do you want some more blog posts and information about Nancy Larson science?  Well, I’ve written about it before and I’ll add some links for you!

Common Questions about NL Science (with my answers)
10 Reasons I Like Nancy Larson Science
A Comparison of Science Curricula I Have Used

Hip Homeschool Moms
If you want to purchase this program I’d be thrilled if you use my affiliate link by clicking the banner below:

9 thoughts on “{Curricula Update} Here’s Why Science Is Fun!

  1. I used Level 2 with Curly (turned 8 in Dec) and K Level with Tiger (turned 6 in Dec) and Bee (just turned 5). So, I am using it approximately on grade level. My kids have had no problems with the content using Level 2 in 2nd grade or Level K in Kindergarten. My PreK girl was able to tag along with the K Level without any problems.

  2. LEXI- Can you compare this to Apologia? We have used the land animals this year for first grade, and while my son enjoys it, so much is over his head and all of the reading is wearing me out. He really enjoys worksheets, so this looks like a good fit for him. I think we need a strong program that looks at a little of everything for now, not just one subject all year long.

  3. That is exactly why I looked into this rather than Apologia. Apologia was information overload for us. This covers a variety of topics each year – not 1 like Apologia. It has a worksheet for every lesson (they are easy for the child to complete independently). My kids love worksheets! The lessons are super short and scripted so it's easy for me and it's easy for them to follow along and not get lost. You create a small booklet with each topical section. The booklets have text that you read with your child and they highlight key words. There are also places to record results of experiments, draw pictures, or fill in diagrams. My kids love the booklets and they are awesome for saving in our notebooks as our portfolio of work completed. There is one activity or experiment per lesson. They are very doable and simple. My kids love them and find that they are helpful in understanding and visualizing the topics. So, I love everything about the program – how easy it is to use, how I actually get it done, how my kids retain everything…….it's a great fit her-especially for younger ones who are overwhelmed with Apologia. When we use Apologia it turns in to tons and tons of reading. There aren't a lot of activities and some of them are too time consuming for me to do. There are so many scientific terms that we get lost. And the chapters are super long! It's also hard to known what to notebook or write down with Apologia – even with the journals. It's just a lot. Nancy Larson is science in daily bite-sized pieces. Very incremental. If you have other questions let me know or email me! I've used 3 Apologia books and 3 NL levels. We use Apologia as an extra read aloud right now. My kids like the pictures. NL is our main science for now.

  4. Thanks Lexi! Would you at least start with the 1st grade material (he will be 7, second grade) so as not to miss amything? How is creation versus evolution handled? I agreee with the info overload with Apologia. I love the books but we are overloaded. I think we need to go back to them at a slightly older age.

  5. I would pick whichever level has topics that interest him. The first section or two of Level 1 will probably seem very easy to him. But it does get progressively difficult. Or you could just start with Level 2 if you wanted to. It probably depends on how much science he's already had. OR it would actually not be difficult to do 2 levels in one year if you did science every day. We finish our NL science long before the school year ends because we do it pretty often. So, I would look at topics and if Level 1 has lots of things that interest him then you could start there. Level 2 is a step up in difficulty but it worked well for our 2nd grade year for my daughter. Creation vs. evolution – neither is mentioned in the levels I have used. They don't talk about origins. They just cover what is readily observable today so I (young earth creationist) have not had any issues with anything so far. I think I did hear that there is one sentence in Level 3 that I will want to omit but other than that, they leave it up to the parent to express their views on those topics. So, it has been very easy for me to include our beliefs in the lessons and nothing has contradicted them. I have some other blog posts about NL science. Let me go back and find them and link them in the blog post.

  6. Thanks Lexi! Just what I needed to hear. I think we are going to give it a try and save the Apologia for maybe 5th,6th, and 7th grade- two each year!

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