At Little Monsters Universe, we believe in creating lifelong learners through science-based homeschooling. In this article, we explore how to enhance your homeschool science lessons through investigation and analysis practices.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) advocate for inquiry-based approaches, emphasizing science and engineering practices that guide students in understanding and explaining natural phenomena. These practices foster curiosity and investigation.
In a previous blog post, we explored analyzing and interpreting data, planning and carrying out investigations, developing and using models, and asking questions and defining problems. In this article we’ll look at four more practices including:
- Using mathematics and computational thinking in your science homeschool curriculum
- Constructing explanations and designing solutions for your homeschool lesson plans
- Engaging in argument from evidence to enhance your homeschool science lesson plans
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in your science homeschool
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
Nurturing a love for math and computational thinking early on can have a significant impact on future success. In today’s technology-driven world, it’s more important than ever to help children develop critical thinking skills through hands-on activities and problem-solving exercises, especially during homeschool Pre-K and Kindergarten.
Here are some tips and examples on how to incorporate math and computational thinking into early education in a way that’s both fun and educational:
- Pattern recognition: Encourage your child to identify patterns in everyday life, such as repeating shapes in wallpaper or repeating sounds in music. Recognizing patterns can help children understand how patterns can be used to solve problems.
- Coding games: For homeschoolers in first and second grade, introduce your child to coding through fun, interactive games like ScratchJr or Code.org. These games help children develop their computational thinking skills and learn to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts.
- Real-life problem solving: Use everyday scenarios to help your child develop their problem-solving skills. For example, ask them to help plan a grocery list or calculate the change from a purchase. This helps children see the practical applications of math in real life. Checkout our World of Weather unit for a fun way to incorporate math into your curriculum.
- Encourage questions: Motivate your homeschooler to ask questions and seek answers. By fostering a curious and inquisitive mindset in your child, you’ll be helping them develop the skills they need to succeed in math and computational thinking.
- Hands-on activities: Use hands-on activities and manipulatives like blocks, pattern blocks, and counting bears to help children understand math concepts. Hands-on activities make math more concrete and easier to understand, and help children build a love for the subject.
By incorporating these tips and examples into early education, you can help your child develop a love for math and computational thinking that will set them up for a lifetime of success and discovery. Start building their foundation now to help them thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Constructing Explanations (for Science) and Designing Solutions (for Engineering)
If you want to help your child develop important skills in science and engineering, here are some tips for your homeschool science lesson plans:
- Encourage curiosity: Foster your child’s curiosity by encouraging them to ask questions about the world around them and how things work. This helps develop their critical thinking skills and paves the way for them to become lifelong learners. (This can begin well before kindergarten)
- Teach observation skills: Teach your child how to make observations and record their findings. This helps them understand scientific thinking and develop the ability to construct explanations for their observations. A great way to practice observation skills is by having your learner use a nature journal to record what they see when exploring outside.
- Engage in imaginative activities: Engage your child in imaginative activities, such as building towers with blocks or creating prototypes for new inventions. This helps them develop their problem-solving and design skills, which are important in both science and engineering. Little Monsters Universe’s Light and Shadows with Peter Pan Unit brings imaginative activities into your homeschool curriculum.
- Real-world problem solving: Use real-world problems to challenge your child’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, you could ask them to design a solution for reducing waste or creating a more efficient way to water plants. This helps them see the practical applications of science and engineering.
- Collaboration is key: Encourage your child to work with others on projects and problem-solving activities. This helps develop teamwork and communication skills, which are important in both science and engineering.
- Make it hands-on: Use hands-on activities, such as building structures with blocks or conducting simple experiments, to help kids understand and apply scientific and engineering concepts. Hands-on activities make learning more engaging and help kids remember what they’ve learned.
By incorporating these tips and examples into your child’s early education, you can help them develop the skills necessary for success in STEM fields and equip them with the tools they need to solve real-world problems. Our What Lies Beyond Unit is a great way to make science and engineering practices fun.
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Engaging in argument from evidence is an important skill that involves using knowledge to support and defend ideas, analyzing information, evaluation, and presenting arguments that are backed by reliable data. While this can be a complicated concept, here are some ways parents can help their young learner develop this skill:
- Encourage curiosity: By providing opportunities for hands-on experiences and asking open-ended questions, you are encouraging your child to explore and develop critical thinking. Little Monsters Universe offers many units that encourage hands-on activities, like our Flowers, Bees, and Honey unit (pictured here), which explores how all living things are connected.
- Model critical thinking: Ask your child questions that encourage them to evaluate information and evidence. For instance, if your pre-k or kindergarten students say, “I think it’s going to rain today,” you can ask, “What makes you think that?” As your child progresses into first and second grade, you can transition to more specific questioning, such as, “What evidence do you have to support that idea?”
- Expose children to different perspectives: Introduce your child to diverse viewpoints and encourage them to consider multiple sides of an issue. Read books about different cultures or have conversations about current events. Some good books we recommend are Where are You From?, A Ticket Around the World, and Lunch from Home.
- Teach children to evaluate evidence: Help your child understand what reliable sources are and how to find them. Show them how to evaluate the quality of evidence by asking questions like, “Is this information based on facts or opinions?” or “What evidence supports this claim?”
- Provide opportunities for argumentation: Encourage your child to defend their ideas with evidence. Have a debate about whether or not animals should be kept in zoos or ask your child to explain why they think a particular toy is better than another.
By promoting these practices, parents can help their children become critical thinkers who are better equipped to make informed decisions throughout their lives.
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Effective communication is a vital skill that children need to learn, and parents can play a significant role in helping them develop this skill. Below we outline a few ways to help your learner develop their communication skills.
- Encourage children to practice communicating their ideas and findings in different formats, such as written reports, oral presentations, posters, blogs, and multimedia projects. Parents can provide feedback and guidance to help improve.
- Teach communication skills through visuals like graphs, charts, diagrams, and images to communicate complex information effectively.
- Parents can emphasize the importance of clarity and organization. Encourage children to be concise and logical in their communication, and to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Motivate creativity in children’s communication through suggesting the use of storytelling, humor, or metaphors to make a point and keep communication engaging and interesting.
- Parents can provide positive feedback to their children to motivate them to continue developing their communication skills. This can celebrate their successes and help them learn from their mistakes.
A great way for students to develop their communication skills is through pretend play. Parents can encourage games such as doctor or nurse, chef or baker, news anchor, detective, teacher, or animal caretaker. These games allow children to practice their communication skills, such as explaining symptoms, giving orders, and describing animal behaviors.
Little Monsters Universe units serve as a valuable starting point for science homeschool for Pre-K to second grade. For a specific example, the Force and Motion unit is an excellent choice for practicing these particular skills.
Embrace These Practices For Teaching Homeschool Science
Delving into the world of science offers homeschoolers an invaluable opportunity to cultivate their minds and develop critical thinking skills. By embracing essential investigation and analysis practices such as using mathematics and computational thinking, constructing explanations and designing solutions, engaging in argument from evidence, and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information, students lay the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.
So, go ahead and encourage your child to dive into the world of science and unlock their potential as a future engineer! Little Monsters Universe is here to help along the way!