What do you do during the summer in terms of home education? Are you 365-homeschoolers? Do you focus on just one subject for the summer? Do you take a break from academics for the season? Do your children participate in summer camps and special events? We like to take a more laid-back approach to give everyone a break from our routine. The state of Florida doesn’t require schooling over the summer, so I don’t log our attendance and record every activity we do. But, we do school year-round, so we pick a couple subjects and just focus on exploring those in a fun and interesting way. This season we chose to focus on science!
As the summer draws to a close, I wanted to share some of the wonderful projects and experiments we did for the season! We focused on our map unit study and summer science! Aside from reading, reading, reading, those are the two topics we invested in learning and being inspired by each day. Because we are unschoolers, we allowed our science topics to naturally come to us and we learned from what organically arose. As usual, our lesson plans weren’t lesson plans, but child-led investigations based up on seeking answers for questions my children came up with.
We started the summer off by slowing down and observing nature. Like I shared in my Summertime blog post, there were several key changes that prompted enriching learning experiences for us. We found lizard eggs and created a mini-lesson surrounding those while we waited for them to hatch. A colony of bats moved into our tree, so we studied them and charted their behavior. And, half of our coop’s community garden plot was passed onto us, so we participated in a garden work day by helping everyone harvest their vegetables and clear out their beds for the season. Click here to see photos and read more about those summer mini-units.
Summer Science Experiments
Roo takes a monthly STEAM class at one of our local libraries. In June, the theme was Ocean; In July, the theme was Sun and Light. The library does a wonderful job of educating the kids in a fun way and providing excellent hands-on learning opportunities. The facilitator starts with a 15 minutes lecture followed by the class taking turns at the various activity stations for child-led crafting and experimentation.
June STEAM Class
For the Ocean STEAM day the children:
- made a mobile of the zones of the ocean
- performed a sink + float experiment by placing models in salt vs fresh water
- weighed and compared the density of salt vs fresh water
- created ocean art using stencils, oil pastels, and a watercolor wash
- played an animal ocean game by choosing which animal is larger out of the card pairs
- took turns observing an ocean kaleidoscope
Ocean Zones Mobile
Sink vs Float Experiment with Salt and Fresh Water
Weighing Density of Salt vs Fresh Water
Oil Pastel and Watercolor Ocean Art
Ocean Animal Card Game
July STEAM Class
For the Fun In The Sun STEAM class, the kids:
- built a solar oven
- created a sun spinner
- tested light through different fluids
- observing light through glass prisms
- crafted a sun dial
Testing light through different fluids
Observing light through glass prisms
UV light bracelet
Sun Dial Craft
Summer Science At Home
In addition to the awesome STEAM class, we have been diving into hands-on science at home.
When all of our flowers bloom in our yard, we end up with a lot of bees to observe! The kids were asking a ton of questions about these amazing insects, so we created a mini-lesson to learn the importance and anatomy of bees. I crafted a little felt diagram with anatomy labels so my kids could become familiar with the parts of a bee. We read from our vintage book handed down from my Nana, Insects That Live Together by Starting Point Library, as well as Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman. These are excellent learning resources as they are filled with fascinating information and beautiful illustrations. We also had the pleasure to include some amazing printables from 2 wonderful content creators, This Humble Hive and Home Ed Printables. If you are putting together a honeybee or nature unit yourself, definitely check out their resources. They are affordable and beautifully created to cover multiple academic subjects in one packet. We also used our Safari Ltd life cycle of a honeybee models in conjunction with the books and worksheets.
Bee Mini-Lesson Unit Study
We also studied mushrooms. With all of the rain we’ve had this season, mushrooms have been popping up all over our yard! One morning while we were letting our dog out, the kids were observing them and asking lots of questions! “Are they a plant?”, “Are they poisonous?”, “Why do they grow in Florida?”, “Are they alive?”. So, we went around and picked all the stems we could find and brought them inside to investigate them further.
We left the mushrooms we picked out for the whole day and it was fascinating to see them slowly shrivel and shrink as time passed!
We often frequent Hobbytown shops as we are a very tinkering kind of family. My husband is always looking for Metal Earths’ and various hobby activities that he’s interested in. They have a wonderful selection of different science kits that I love to use for our home education program. We found a lemon clock kit on sale and thought, why not give it a try for summer science? This was such a cool experiment because it yielded immediate results. My kids love to see the fruits of their labor right away and I have so much fun watching their little eyes light up!
We started by cutting a lemon in half and setting it aside. We twisted some wire around both the copper and zinc plates provided. Then, we inserted the plates into half of the lemon. Sure enough, the LCD clock screen powered up right away! We set the time and date and allowed it to sit undisturbed for several hours. We were happy to come back to see that it had kept time accurately! What’s happening is the lemon juice acts as a conductor of electricity by transferring electrons from the zinc plates to the copper plates and completing a circuit!
Lemon Clock Kit Materials
Lemon Clock Experiment Results
Water pH Testing
Again, because of all of the rain, we decided to take science to the next level and test various types of water. I ordered some litmus strips online and we got to work! We collected 6 different kinds of water:
- our fresh well water (deep well)
- our well water filtered through carbon filter
- bottled water (spring)
- lemon water
- vinegar water
- baking soda water
I explained the pH scale to the kids and they predicted what each water would test at. We poured our waters into our test tube rack and they took turns dipping testing strips into each test tube. You can see our results have a wide range of acidity and alkalinity! We had a lot of fun doing this experiment because again, the results are immediate and it’s science you can see! The cost of this is minimal and it is easy to set up and clean up.
As you can see, we have been super busy incorporating science for our science studies! I hope these overviews help to encourage you to experiment with your littles! Please comment below and share which lesson looks most interesting to you. Also share if you try any of these or if you have a unique science experiment you’ve tried that you’d like for me to know about!