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Homeschool Chemistry - High School Plans

Updated on March 13, 2015

High School Chemistry - Looking for More Than Apologia Chemistry

Planning a high school level chemistry course in your homeschool takes some effort but with the right links and resources you can soon have an exciting and rigorous course outlined.

Our family approached chemistry with some trepidation. Our family loves science but planning high school chemistry for some reason seemed to be a little intimidating with all the choices we had put before us. We couldn't find a text that we liked so we pulled together quite a few resources to make a taylor fit high school chemistry course.

There is a little of everything in the modules below and I hope you find something that will either make your chemistry program better or give you some ideas for components of a great high school chemistry program.

Whether you want to stick to a textbook approach, use real lab equipment and experiments, research the periodic table or do a combination of all the above, you will find wonderful links to get you started here on this page. Planning is the first step to a great high school chemistry experience.

We schedule four hours a week for our chemistry course.

Planning Chemistry

We are balancing our time between:

*Reading a text and responding in some way.

*Completing meaningful and information labs and demonstrations.

*Reading supplementary books to add interest.

*Learning more about the periodic table of elements.

*Applying what we learn to everyday life.

*Keeping good records and lab books.

Planning Chemistry

Each time I offer a grade to one of my children, I try to customize it a little to fit their skill level, interests, and personality and chemistry is no different. I tried to take into consideration the strengths and learning styles of each of my boys as well as the financial aspects of chemistry.

We have no opportunity for an outside course in chemistry so I have tried to make this as meaningful a course as I can on my own.

We use a mix of approaches to chemistry.

1. Teaching Company High School Chemistry DVD series.

2. The Joy of Chemistry for easy to pull together labs.

3. The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry - more complicated labs every few weeks.

4. The Elements-Visual Guide to the Periodic Table - reading, researching, and recording information on each element.

5. The Disappearing Spoon - free reading.

6. Apologia Chemistry text - supplement the DVD series with a few modules.

7. The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension- read and keep notes.

Pre-made notebooking pages help gather your notes and labs together.

Chemistry high school lab equipment
Chemistry high school lab equipment

Our Chemistry Schedule

One day = Video from the Great Courses - one lesson.

One day = Lab work with write-ups from either of the lab books listed.

One day = One or two chapters from the Story of Science and 3 or 4 elements from the Periodic Table of Elements (both include writing up summaries and/or notebook pages)

One day = Extra research, reading in the Apologia text, or another lab.

Home Chemistry Experiments - "All Lab, No Lecture"

Remember back when there were real chemistry sets and you could perform real experiments on your kitchen table? Those days are gone but this book revives the art of the chemistry set with all the bells and whistles.

We are going to have a hard time to fit in even a fraction of these labs but my boys are in heaven when this book gets pulled out for their chemistry time. It has loads of safety information, lists of sources for chemicals you will need, and complete step by step instructions.

Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture (DIY Science)
Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture (DIY Science)
Amazon. says: (since I cannot word it any better) With plenty of full-color illustrations and photos, Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments offers introductory level sessions suitable for a middle school or first-year high school chemistry laboratory course, and more advanced sessions suitable for students who intend to take the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry exam. A student who completes all of the laboratories in this book will have done the equivalent of two full years of high school chemistry lab work or a first-year college general chemistry laboratory course. This hands-on introduction to real chemistry -- using real equipment, real chemicals, and real quantitative experiments -- is ideal for the many thousands of young people and adults who want to experience the magic of chemistry.

The Elements - Our Favorite Book of the Year!

Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
There is so much to this book, more than just a picture book and yet still a visual feast. My boys are assigned three elements a week out of this book to read about, investigate further, and then write about on a notebook page. They love researching more about each element and how it is used today.

The Joy of Chemistry - Another Great Choice for Labs

The Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science of Familiar Things
The Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science of Familiar Things
We have worked our way through this book one demonstration at a time. I like that it uses mostly household items for the labs but yet it still keeps the demonstration at a high school level. The book is set up with a demonstration of a scientific principle and then a chapter to read afterward that explains what you saw in the demonstration. This is a fine addition to any chemistry course even if you are using another text. You can easily match up the labs with the chapters by topic.

High School Chemistry - Teaching Company DVD Course

Chemistry, 2nd Edition (Great Courses) (Teaching Company) (Course Number 1012 DVD)
Chemistry, 2nd Edition (Great Courses) (Teaching Company) (Course Number 1012 DVD)
This is well done by an interesting instructor and can be used with any Chemistry text you have by matching the topics in the table of contents. The instructor makes things very easy to understand, especially the math part of chemistry. Read more on the Teaching Company website High School Chemistry.

Periodic Table Videos For Each Element

My boys love these short Mythbusters Style videos for each of the elements of the periodic table. They are entertaining, creative, and memorable!

Here is a sample featuring the element Hydrogen.

You can see the link to the website below.

Perfect Companion for The Study of Chemistry - Make chemistry come alive with the stories of great scientists and their discoveries.

The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension
The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension
My boys are thoroughly enjoying this book as a supplement to their chemistry study. This book gives more background to the scientists and the discoveries of the 20th Century. They read a chapter a week and keep notes to share at our Friday meetings.

Chemistry for Beginners - Cartoon Style

Some of us need to start off with the lighter side of a subject and this book by the esteemed Larry Gonick will introduce and explain with humor the basics of chemistry. My high school age sons devoured this book and gave us a basis for more in-depth work in high school level chemistry.

n addition, here is a fun unit for beginners and younger students: LEGO Chemical Reactions. It would be fun to extend this lesson for high schoolers. Free printables and lesson plans included.

The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry
The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry
Introductory information in an easy to understand format. You would use this book as a teaser and not as the meat of your high school chemistry program.

YouTube Video Introductions to Some of the Books I Suggest - Watch and decide for yourself!

Apologia Chemistry-Text and Supplements - If you absolutely want a more traditional approach to chemistry.

We used this text with our oldest son five years ago and it was a good fit for him. He is the kind of student that was not really interested in science or exploring chemistry too much so the text and accompanying labs was perfect for him. He used the text, companion CD, and completed the reviews and tests.

My younger two boys are only using some of the modules in this text and matching them up with The Teaching Company videos.

I will list the resources here in case you want to check them out for your family.

Please leave a comment!

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      This is great! Do you mind sharing how you wrote up your course description for the transcript?

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Did you use your own note booking pages or something online? Could you post some examples of your pages? Thanks so much for this blog. You answered several questions swirling in my mind

    • athomemomblog profile image

      Genesis Davies 

      6 years ago from Guatemala

      This is some useful info that I'll be checking out when my boys are older. Thanks.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      7 years ago

      Re-reading this after 3 weeks in Apologia Chemistry and I am finding that it is not a good fit for my son. I don't think I am able to spend another $100 plus on the DVDs you mentioned, but wondering how to get through the year. Just read your blog and it was helpful. Anyway, back with a blessing from a struggling non-scientific homeschool mom.

    • Barb McCoy profile imageAUTHOR

      Barb McCoy 

      7 years ago

      @anonymous: We started with the Teaching Company video topic and either looked in the table of contents or index to find corresponding info in the Apologia text. They read and we did discuss their reading at our Friday meetings.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Barb, how did you decide which Apologia modules to use? Thanks for any advice you can offer... Jenn

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great resources here! My first is doing Apologia Chemistry, but my next needs a bit of a different approach.

    • profile image

      DianaHarper LM 

      8 years ago

      I read your blog first - about changing your methods for chem ed. It was as though you read my mind. I was at a what next stage, and your blog (and this lens) helped tremendously. Pinned, Liked and Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • JanieceTobey profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm starting to think about what we'll do for science next year. Thank you so much for sharing how you're doing chemistry with your boys! Blessed, again, by a Squid Angel!

    • waldenthreenet profile image


      8 years ago

      Love your lens on Chemistry. Most valuable. I just did one on a subtopic, the periodic table. Will visit with you again soon. Thanks .

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you so much for these. I've seen your nature study lenses but not these. While Apologia is not for us, I can easily find a substitute and use your other suggestions.

    • JanieceTobey profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your chemistry plans with us! Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • ngio64 profile image


      9 years ago

      blessed by a Squid Angel. Very interesting.

    • LilliputStation profile image


      9 years ago

      My older boys will be doing Chemistry next year. I'm marking this page to refer back to. Great resources! Thanks for doing all the work for me. :-)

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      We loved the Cartoon Guide to Chemistry. My daughter also loved learning about the Periodic Table. We used Standard Deviants videos when learning the Periodic Table. With all this helpful information I just had to give it a SquidAngel Blessing.

    • GonnaFly profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Those Chemistry videos are so great to have for homeschoolers. We don't need to miss out on experiments and demonstrations now. Makes chemistry a lot more fun!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is great. A chemistry site that's fresh.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Chemistry can be a lot of fun. I was surprised at how much Sprite enjoyed learning the periodic table. What I feared would be dry was quite interesting to her.


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