Biology, Chemistry, Physics, & Astronomy: The Real Science 4 Kids Curriculum
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.
Tell us about yourself. What brings you to this page?
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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!
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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 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.
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?
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:
Exploration Education - Physical Science Curriculum
- Physical Science Curriculums and Programs - Reviews
This is an article I wrote with reviews of several physical science programs. My favorite is the Education Exploration curriculum because most kids really enjoy making the various projects and then using them in experiments! It's very hands-on.
© 2011 JanieceTobey