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Biology, Chemistry, Physics, & Astronomy: The Real Science 4 Kids Curriculum

Updated on July 31, 2017
A tree frog we raised from an egg as part of our Real Science for Kids science curriculum.
A tree frog we raised from an egg as part of our Real Science for Kids science curriculum. | Source

Real Science 4 Kids Is A Complete Science Curriculum, with an illustrated text and a lab for each chapter

Real Science 4 Kids is the science curriculum our homeschool co-op chose to use for our science program in 2009-2010. Each week, we read a chapter in the book at home, and then reviewed the chapter and completed a fun lab assignment that went along with it at our homeschool co-op class. The colorful texts are full of illustrations to aid in understanding! But what I loved best about the program were the exciting lab projects!

There are different levels to the program.

Pre-level 1 is for grades K to 4.

Level 1 is for grades 5 to 8.

Level 2 is for grades 9 to 12.

The level we used of Real Science 4 Kids, and the one that I'm most familiar with, is level 1. At that time, there were three sets of texts with hands-on labs in level 1: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Since then, an Astronomy set has been added, and in the works right now is a Geology set. All level 1 books in the Real Science 4 Kids program are designed for 4th through 6th graders.

On this page, I'll tell you a little bit about the level 1 Biology, Chemistry, and Physics sets, and share some of our experiences with using this curriculum!

Real Science 4 Kids - The Levels, and What They Include

  • Pre-Level I for Elementary (Grades K-4)

    Pre-level 1 books include: chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, and geology (coming soon). The younger children in our co-op used this level.

  • Level I for Middle School (Grades 5-8)

    Level 1 books include: chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, and geology (coming soon) The older children in our co-op used this level.

  • Level 2 Chemistry for High School (Grades 9-12)

    Although there is a level 2 chemistry book, it is in the process of being revised and expanded. At the moment it works as a half credit of high school chemistry, but once it's revised and more topics are added, it will be a full year long high school

  • Level 2 Biology for High School (Grades 9 to 12)

    A high school biology curriculum is also currently in the works.

Why teach kids biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy before high school?

How We Set Up The Real Science 4 Kids Program For Use In Our Homeschool Co-op

A few tips on setting up your own co-op!

Our homeschool co-op met once a week for several hours. One hour was allotted each week during co-op time for our Real Science 4 Kids science class. (Students also participated in other homeschool co-op classes, including writing, countries and cultures, critical thinking, and recorder.) Each student was responsible for reading the assigned chapter at home before coming to class. In class, the teacher would do a quick review of the material covered in the chapter, sometimes adding in additional illustrations or other information. Following the review, the students would work either in small groups, or as a whole class, to complete (or at least begin) the lab exercise for that week. If a particular lab assignment was expected to not take very long, the teacher often found an additional activity on the internet or in a science book to go along with it. Other labs, such as the tadpoles and caterpillars labs, went home with the students for continued observation over an extended period of time.

Before the academic year began, the parents signed up for particular chapters to teach. By knowing well in advance what information they would be covering, they had plenty of time to do additional research on that topic if desired, as well as gather any necessarily lab materials. Teacher preparation time was usually not excessive for this class, since most of the time everything we needed in terms of experiments and factual information was already available in the Real Science 4 Kids curriculum.

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Biology Curriculum

Real Science 4 Kids Biology

This was one of my favorites books in the Real Science 4 Kids Curriculum! We had so much fun doing the biology labs!!

The Real Science 4 Kids Biology text covers taxonomy, cells, photosynthesis, parts of a plant, the means by which plants grow, protists, ecosystems, the water cycle, the air cycle, the food cycle, the life cycle of butterflies, the life cycle of frogs, and more. The illustrations in the book are colorful, interesting, and child-friendly! Every page, except the end-of-the-chapter summaries, contains either one or more helpful illustrations or photographs, or both. The illustrations add a great deal to the book, making even the more difficult parts easier to understand.


Real Science -4 Kids: Biology Level 1

Real Science-4-Kids, Biology Level 1, Student Text
Real Science-4-Kids, Biology Level 1, Student Text

This is the textbook for the biology program. Each chapter has a hands-on lab that goes with it. The textbook provides the information, while the lab manual provides the hands-on labs. Even if you don't want the other books in the series, I highly recommend that you get both the textbook and the lab manual. These two components are really essential for anyone wanting to do the program.

 

Here is one of the many labs we did with this curriculum!

Watching two butterflies that had just come out of their chrysalises.
Watching two butterflies that had just come out of their chrysalises. | Source

Caterpillars to Butterflies

Watching caterpillars turn in to butterflies was one of the highlights of our science program that year! The caterpillars came in cups with lids and food. For several days, they ate and ate. Finally, they crawled to the top of the cup, attached themselves to the lid, and changed into a chrysalis. The next day, we taped their lids onto tree branches in an aquarium. In the photo above, you can see our two butterflies soon after they completed their metamorphosis! And yes, we did get to watch them emerge from their chrysalises!

The Lab Manual

I have to admit that it wasn't really the text that endeared the level 1 biology program to my heart! It was the lab experiments and activities in the accompanying lab manual! We had so much fun doing them - children and parents alike! I'm a big believer in learning by doing, and do believe we learned considerably more from the hands-on labs than we did from reading the text.

Real Science-4-Kids, Biology Level 1, Laboratory Worksheets
Real Science-4-Kids, Biology Level 1, Laboratory Worksheets

The students did a variety of experiments ranging from finding out what would happen if they took away the light from a leaf and/or placed the leaf in water, to looking at pond water under a microscope. They created an ecosystem in a jar, and studied the life cycles of butterflies and frogs first hand. It was so much fun for the entire family to watch the caterpillars become chrysalises and then change into beautiful butterflies! We also watched frog eggs hatch into the tiniest little tadpoles, observed the tadpoles grow in size and then grow legs and lose their tail, and delighted in watching the tiny frogs hop all over their terrarium.

 


We started this lab off with pond water that had frog eggs in it. The next day, most of the eggs hatched into tadpoles. This is one of our little frogs the day he metamorphosized from a tadpole into a frog and left his "pond" for life on land! As you can see, he hasn't lost his tail yet! We had so much fun watching our tadpoles and frogs grow and change! My son and I both developed an appreciation and a fondness for tadpoles and frogs during the time we had them! This is one of those homeschool memories we'll never forget!

Other Components To The Curriculum: Connects to Language, and Teacher's Manuals.

Each of the three original subjects, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, has a "Connects to Language" book that goes along with the corresponding Real Science 4 Kids textbook and lab manual. The program works fine without the Connects to Language component. However if you would like for your child or students to begin learning science related Greek and Latin roots, you may want to look into this part of the program too.

Each subject also has a teacher's manual. The teacher's manuals provide you with a list of materials needed for each experiment and give helpful tips as well. If you are teaching this in a co-op or other small group, everyone will need their own text, lab manual, and Connects to Language (If you're using it), but you could probably get by with a few teachers sharing one Teacher's Manual, as long as they don't mind passing it back and forth to whomever will be teaching next.

Biology Connects To Language

Real Science -4- Kids, Biology I Connects to Language
Real Science -4- Kids, Biology I Connects to Language

The "Biology 1 Connects to Language" is a workbook that helps kids learn Greek and Latin roots so they can better understand scientific terms (and other words as well). Our homeschool co-op had a separate class period just for those who wanted to study the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Connects to Language books. During the class, the students studied the Greek and Latin Roots, played games with them to help them memorize them, and took tests on them. The experiments, along with a review of that week's chapter in the textbook, were done during a different class period.

 

Physics

Real Science 4 Kids Physics

Like the biology textbook, the textbooks in both chemistry and physics are full of colorful illustrations. Some people panic when they think about physics, assuming that it will be full of difficult math! Keep in mind that this program is designed for kids - not high school or college students! The kids had a ball with the labs! Instead of teaching the kids to be afraid of physics, it helped them develop a love for the subject!


Physics Textbook

Real Science-4-Kids, Physics Level 1, Student Text
Real Science-4-Kids, Physics Level 1, Student Text

The topics in physics include force, energy, work, kinetic and potential energy, motion, light and sound, conservation of matter, electrical energy, magnets, chemical energy, and more.

 

Hands-on Physics Labs

The kids in our co-op really loved most of the physics experiments. They did experiments with marbles, pennies, fruit, toy cars, slinkies, and many other items! As mentioned before, we usually had the necessary lab materials already at home. If we didn't, we simply sent an email out to the other families in our co-op, as someone else was sure to have them when we didn't! It really cuts down on costs when you don't have to also buy a separate lab kit!


Physics Lab Manual

Real Science-4-Kids Physics I Laboratory Worksheets
Real Science-4-Kids Physics I Laboratory Worksheets

In one lab, they got to try to smash a piece of banana that was at the bottom of a ramp with a toy car rolling down the ramp. It's actually more complicated than it sounds. The kids loved it and learned some new physics concepts in the process!

 
Will the car smash the banana at the end of the ramp?  Will it go fast enough to do so? If not, what can we do to get it to smash the banana?
Will the car smash the banana at the end of the ramp? Will it go fast enough to do so? If not, what can we do to get it to smash the banana? | Source

How high do you have to raise one end of the wooden plank in order for the car to smash the banana?


Will 2 inches do it? 4? 6? If we weigh the car down, does that make a difference?

An example of a Level 1 Physics lab in the Real Science 4 Kids curriculum

Chemistry

Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry

Chemistry was the hardest of the three texts for most of of the students. But just like with the biology and physics, the illustrations were a huge help! The curriculum definitely helped prepare the children for higher-level science classes, as they learned about atoms, molecules, DNA, and more.



Chemistry Textbook

Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry Level 1 Student Text
Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry Level 1 Student Text

Topics in the chemistry text included atoms, molecules, matter, acids, bases, polymers, mixtures, carbohydrates, starches, cellulose, proteins, DNA, and more.

 

Hands On Activities in Chemistry

Even though some of the material in the chemistry book was a little difficult, most of the experiments and activities were a lot of fun! Observing chemical reactions is lots of fun!

Chemistry Lab Manual

Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry I Laboratory Worksheets
Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry I Laboratory Worksheets

The chemistry experiments include making marshmallow molecules, making and using an acid base indicator, observing chemical reactions, looking for starch, and others. The children came in excited each week, eager to find out what they would be doing that day!

 

Making Models Helped Make Chemistry Easier!

We made molecules with K'nex.
We made molecules with K'nex. | Source

This is our model of the amino acid glycine. The 5 smallest gray circles represent atoms of hydrogen. The white circle is nitrogen. The black are carbon. The red are oxygen.

Making Models

My son and I found that using K'nex to create models throughout the Chemistry textbook helped us better grasp on a molecular level how molecules can combine, have chemical reactions, and create new substances.


K'Nex were great for making models of various molecules and exploring their interactions

K'NEX Super Value Tub
K'NEX Super Value Tub

K'Nex worked well for making chemistry models!! And of course K'Nex are fun to play with other times too! You can see one of our models in the photo above.

 

Here's a Pre-level 1 Chemistry Experiment from the Real Science 4 Kids program.

Astronomy

Real Science 4 Kids Astronomy

The Astronomy set wasn't out when our homeschool co-op used the Real Science 4 Kids program, so I can't provide you with any personal experiences for this one. The study of the night sky has always been a favorite in my house though!

With the eclipse coming up in August for people in North America, astronomy might be a good subject to delve right in to!

Which program sounds most fun to you?

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Physical Science

Physical Science has been defined as: "Any of the sciences, such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, and geology, that analyze the nature and properties of energy and nonliving matter." - The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

So by combining the Real Science 4 Kids physics, chemistry, and astronomy books, and possibly the geology book as well, you'd have a nice physical science program.

A different year, our homeschool co-op had a class on physical science. We used the advanced version of Exploration Education. It, too, is a very hands-on physical science program! You can find my review of it here:

© 2011 JanieceTobey

Comments? Questions? Have you used the Real Science 4 Kids curriculum? Or are you considering using it? What do you like or not like about the curriculum?

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      top-telescope-eyepieces 4 years ago

      Good stuff. It is vital that kids get a solid base in the sciences. And what better way to get and keep them interesting than to make it fun. This looks like a really good program. In my astronomy club we carry out a lot of public out-reach and public observing sessions. It is so gratifying to see kids take such an interest.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      Fun, hands-on real science is the best way to get kids involved and interested in science. Great photos!

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      Ditto what ComfortDoc said, except it took me even longer! Hooray for the sciences... I try to encourage even the slightest interest on the part of my grandkids, but I'm not getting as far as I would like.

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      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      Wish we'd been encouraged more as girls to be interested in science. It wouldn't have taken me until high school to discover that I enjoyed the methodical thinking about what makes us tick.

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      grannysage 5 years ago

      I am so impressed with parents who are able to homeschool. I wouldn't have had the patience or enthusiasm. This is a great resource for homeschooling parents.

    • ngio64 profile image

      ngio64 5 years ago

      Found you on facebook. Blessed by a squidangel!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Your Home school co-op sounds wonderful and the Biology, Chemistry, Physics, & Astronomy: The Real Science 4 Kids Curriculum sounds great.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      I read this with interest because we need to do something different in our homeschooling efforts. I will read the website but these appeal to me much more so than the textbooks we are working from. Angel blessed.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Excellent lens. And I learned some things. I had no idea butterflies need the sun to fly.

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      Joan4 5 years ago

      I did not enjoy science as a child - and I think if we had had some of these super activities, it would have been much more interesting to me!

    • JanieceTobey profile image
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      JanieceTobey 5 years ago

      @robertsugar lm: Thanks, Robert!

    • JanieceTobey profile image
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      JanieceTobey 5 years ago

      @Hedremp: Glad you liked the K'nex chemical molecules idea! And thanks for sharing my page with your Home Education Resource Emporium!!

    • robertsugar lm profile image

      robertsugar lm 5 years ago

      Recommended by a scientist!

    • JanieceTobey profile image
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      JanieceTobey 5 years ago

      @Paul Ward: Ha, ha, Paul! Thanks for sharing your story!

      I have a similar story! I did a project at school with tadpoles in an open habitat. Took it to school on a Friday. Returned to school on a Monday to discover lots of baby frogs hopping all over the school!!!!

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Happy memories of the day all the tadpoles in the huge tank in my bedroom (looking after it in school hols) decided to become frogs and make a break for freedom - Mum was not pleased!

    • Hedremp profile image

      Sandra Wilson 5 years ago from Wilson Education Resource Centre

      Love it! Thanks for sharing, the k'nex chemical molecules is my favourite idea. I will definitely share with the fans of my Home Education Resource Emporium page!

    • JanieceTobey profile image
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      JanieceTobey 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks, Tipi! The experiments and activities were a lot of fun!

    • JanieceTobey profile image
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      JanieceTobey 6 years ago

      @ajgodinho: Me too! I loved biology! In fact, I loved 10th grade biology so much, I took Biology 2 AP in my senior year, during a time when hardly anyone did. I never had the opportunity to take physics, but think I would have really enjoyed that as well. (I've enjoyed the physics I've done as a homeschooling parent.) Like you, chemistry was never a favorite.. The lab part was okay, but the lecture part took place in a huge hall of over 100 students in college.

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      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Indeed a great resource for homeschooling. One of my favourites subjects, among the sciences, in school was biology. I liked physics too...chemistry, not so much.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      What wonderful resources for learning, real science is something I sure would enjoy myself. I love the person pictures...adds to the interest!

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      olpampam 6 years ago

      Looks great.