It is 3:15 pm. School should be wrapping up, and yet I am covered in the contents of the junk drawer—not the little one that has pencils and vitamins. No, I am in the Drawer of Lost Causes. (I am sure you have one, too.)
Why am I wading through Spirograph parts, lanyards from third grade, and various junk we’ve accumulated over the years? Because I need two things for a science experiment: a red balloon and two D batteries. (What even runs on D batteries anymore?!) You have been there before, right? Please tell me that you, too, find yourself scouring your junk drawer at the last minute for random bits to make your science activity a success.
I had become the mom who hates science experiments. Scattered science experiments and unexpected disruptions like missing parts were making science my least favorite subject.
Lack of Planning Was Taking the Fun out of Science
Before I began teaching science with my five elementary students, I thought of myself as a reasonably organized person. I could plan and follow instructions, but science had me scrambling. It seemed no matter how prepared I tried to be, we were always missing some element from an experiment the kids wanted to do.
Our current science situation was the problem. It was hard to plan because we didn’t have a specific curriculum. I began the year hoping that the freedom to learn about what we wanted would fuel the kids interests. With five kids, there were a lot more interests than I was prepared for. The trouble was, it was always too much to cover at one time. As a mom, I was feeling less than inspired because the kids' choice of experiments seemed like little more than a way to make a huge mess with no real focus on learning.
Creating a New Plan Gave Us Just Enough Structure
The first thing we changed so I could start loving science again was choosing a theme for our science time. We blocked out a month to learn about a specific topic from our newly chosen Sonlight Science program. The kids were engaged because they could take turns choosing topics they were interested in. I didn't worry about working straight through the Instructor's Guide. We just hopped around based on the topics we wanted to study.
We Created a Science and Creativity Station
I’ll admit, experiments are a stumbling block for me. They take time. With a big family, the school day gets filled quickly with must do items. Experiments can quickly slip down the list until we are out of time. We can watch a video, but the kids crave hands-on discovery and invention.
My heart’s desire for science this year was simple: no more delaying fun experiments, no more frustration with missing parts and hardware store runs. We needed to make a change to make science less complicated and more fun for all of us.
Our solution was to create a science and creativity station. It was easier than I thought.
We ran through the experiments that we had on our list for the month and wrote down all the supplies we would need. After a few months of purchases and with the help of our Sonlight Science Supplies Kit, we built a solid supply of left-over parts. This became our Inventors Kit. The kids will often make their own experiments with parts from our kit, and they know they are free to look in the box if they find an experiment that appeals to them in their free time.
We Are Loving Science as a Family Again
When I was swamped or too busy to do an experiment, I began letting the older kids lead the experiment time. Because I had a list, they could follow the video links or watch the DVDs and use the parts we had ready in our kit.
With this change, I realized one of the reasons that I had felt science time was a burden, was that every decision was on me. The greatest benefit of having a clear plan is that I can delegate tasks to my husband or to my older children. Grandma is even teaching science lessons. Sharing the fun has helped us all love our science time.
Now that we are organized and aren’t looking for random parts, I discovered I don’t hate science experiments. I actually never did hate science.
- I hated the complications.
- I hated disappointing my kids.
- I hated dealing with the Drawer of Lost Causes.
If you are hating science and are skipping all the fun activities, make a change!
Narrowing our focus down to a specific topic and choosing a time frame helped us plan more specifically. Gather your supplies on one place. Have some fun by creating a science station of your own. It can be as simple as a tomato box with a lid. That is what we have under our basement sink. It is loaded with fun items that will keep the kids using it even in summer. These two small shifts have made me a mom who loves science again.