I had been convinced by the ads for gigantic science kids and expensive microscopes that in order to successfully teach my kids about anything science related, I had to invest half of our life-savings. So, more often than not, we read about things instead of actually doing the experiments. Big mistake and a total misconception on my part. The things you really need to have on hand for your young scientist to complete experiments are actually much less expensive than you think – in fact, you probably have most of them already. Not sure? Here’s a checklist for you.
10 Things Every Young Homeschool Scientist Needs
If you can only afford one purchase, a handy dandy magnifying glass like this should be the first investment. It’s perfect for taking outside and exploring, it’s durable, and, best of all, it’s inexpensive.
2. A NOTEBOOK
Just a simple notebook or journal, nothing fancy, for your young scientist to record his or her scientific observations and data in. Think dollar store for this one.
Construction paper is not just for crafts. In fact, it’s perfect for science experiments and activities, because it can be folded, cut, rounded, etc. etc. Want to build a tube for a marble contraption to test gravity? Construction paper will work! Studying the sunlight? Place a piece of black paper outside in the sun and put a spoon or knife on it. When you come back at the end of the day, the sun will have faded the black everywhere except where the spoon is. Construction paper is inexpensive and versatile, but a definite must-have.
In science experiments, there’s usually something to cut, so get a durable pair of kid-safety scissors.
5. BENDABLE PLASTIC DRINKING STRAWS
For about a dollar, you can get a box of 100 or so flexible drinking straws from Target. You’ll use them for a lot of different experiments, so get a box or two.
Yes, you read that right – tinfoil. A box of heavy-duty, extra long tinfoil will be perfect for making a solar oven, creating a boat, and so much more. Helpful Tip: Buy the name brand tinfoil if possible. I’ve tried buying the inexpensive tinfoil for science projects in the past, but it tends to rip and tear mid-experiment or not even come out of the box properly. The extra fifty cents is worth it!
Insects are fascinating and capturing a ladybug in a bug jar can provide hours of scientific observation and delight. You’ll want to make sure the jar is vented and that you can easily get the lid off at the end of the observation period, so that the ladybug can go on her way.
8. A RULER AND TAPE MEASURE
I’m lumping these two together, but ideally it would be best to have both. The ruler is great for measuring small distances, of course, but the tape measure is perfect for when you’re measuring how far the mini-catapult you made shot the berries. They don’t need to be fancy, but I’ve found that a wooden or hard plastic ruler often works better than a flexible plastic ruler, because you don’t have to worry about it bending or popping up while you’re trying to measure.
9. CARDBOARD BOXES
Save packaging boxes, shoe boxes, tissue boxes, and, my personal favorite, jewelry boxes for all sorts of science fun. Jewelry boxes are especially wonderful, because they’re the perfect size for sorting and classifying different objects. Store different types of rocks or seeds in each box and make your own science observation station. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to how you can use the different shapes and sizes!
I know, I know, no one wants to wear goggles, but when you’re doing experiments like the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment, you sure do need them. Your kids don’t have to be thrilled to wear them, but it’s important that they understand that they’re an important piece of protection during any science experiment.
So, there you have it – 10 things to stock up on for your budding scientist. Remember, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to make science hands-on. You just need some basic supplies, an open mind, and possibly some paper towels to clean up the spills. Have a great time learning!