Tag Archives: lesson plans

Get Started Teaching Science: You, Too, Can Be a Science Teacher!

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Teaching Science … Who, Me?

So, you’re teaching science next week… Moms, teachers: please raise your hand if you were a science major in college.

{Crickets chirping}

Chances are, you raised your hand – and that’s okay. Because most people weren’t. As a result, you know that teaching science is something that you must do this year… But where to begin?

You probably have a teacher’s guide for language arts. On your desk, you have workbooks with tons of math problems and handwriting practice. Maybe you boast ten lifetime memberships to computer game sites. And, of course, your library is filled with just-right books for you children. But the “what” and “how” of teaching science intimidates you.

So, to help you out, I will share ten tips for getting started teaching science ~ ways that anyone can begin. Choose any of these tips, and stick with it for 30 days, and you will be on your way to building a solid science teaching habit in your homeschool or classroom. I promise.

10 Tips for Getting Started Teaching Science

If you are anxious about teaching science, maybe you have one of three main problems:

  1. You have no clear science topic in mind;
  2. Perhaps you have a topic, but don’t have any ideas for presenting it;
  3. Or, you have a topic and some ideas, but wish you had more science knowledge.

So, let’s look more closely at each of these problems, and talk about some tips for solving them.

http://simplesciencestrategies.com getting started teaching science

You might be worried about finding a topic for your science lessons ~ but you need go no farther than your own yard to find one! {Photo credit (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2016}

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Zoology Lesson Plans and Links!

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Exploring Creation with Zoology 

I just posted a NEW schedule for Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day (Apologia Science). In our house, we worked out a daily schedule that allows us to do more nature study (Outdoor Hour Challenges), expand the experiments and hands-on portions, and do more independent work outside.

Check it out on A Child’s Garden… Better yet, follow my nature study blog for updates directly to your inbox.

Coming Soon…

Next up: Lesson 1 (“What is Zoology?”) Resources

  • Unwrapped Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, to match the lesson content;
  • Connections to the Next Generation Science Standards (2nd Draft)
  • Extra notebooking pages we created that we’d like to share
  • Links to online resources and videos, and more!


Stay tuned!


 Zoology www.simlesciencestrategies.com

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Biomes: Teaching With the ‘One Small Square’ Series

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I spent seven years of my teaching career as a third grade teacher in an urban school district. The elementary school where I taught was actually located at the edge of town, so we had a school full of kids from the city, attending school in the country. The children delighted in the horses that lived at the farm next door, and enjoyed just rolling in the grass and watching the butterflies in our nature garden.

While working on building nature activities to give the students experiences which they had not previously had, I stumbled upon the One Small Square Series of non-fiction children’s books, by Donald Silver.  Each 48-page book covers a different habitat, and guides kids through a close-up look at what you might find if you observed one small piece of that habitat.

  • Backyard
  • Cactus Desert
  • Cave
  • Night Sky
  • Pond
  • Swamp
  • Woods
  • African Savanna
  • Arctic Tundra
  • Coral Reef
  • Rainforest
  • Seashore

There are over a dozen titles in the One Small Square series, by Donald Silver. For the remainder of this post, I will focus only on Backyard, for the following reasons:

  1. While people reading the post might live in different parts of the country, and (hence) in different biomes, everyone has something that they can call a “backyard” – a patio, a planter, a parking lot, a school garden, a playground, or a park. The learning tasks in Backyard can be performed in any kind of outdoor area, including one of the other biomes.
  2. The Charlotte Mason Method of instruction recommends beginning nature studies with the child’s own surroundings, then moving to exotic locations. In all instruction, we do well to connect new information with what the learner already knows. See “Nature Study: Charlotte Mason’s Cure for Tired, Text-Taught Tots” for more on the Charlotte Method philosophy of outdoor education.
  3. Becoming familiar with the “One Small Square” method of nature study in one’s backyard makes the other studies easier.


One Small Square: Backyard, from $2.96 at Barnes & Noble. Click image for ordering information.

50 Helpful Links for Use With One Small Square: Backyard


These two links provide helpful reviews of the series, one by readers through Google Books, and another from a homeschooler:

Cornerstones of Science provides excellent reviews of many fiction and non-fiction books that can be used in your science instruction. Search by title, topic, author, grade and reading level.


Lesson and Unit Plans


This section includes a huge variety of types of web links, from .pdf versions of lesson plans to print out and put in your public school lesson plan books, to laid-back, Charlotte Mason-style homeschool nature studies using Backyard, to  unit studies compiled by the National Park Service. You will find plans for preschool through high school students in this list. I think the list is exciting! And all materials are free.

[NOTE: While I did select only links that were relevant (i.e., contained actual lesson plans, included appropriate learning tasks, used Backyard as a “spine” and addressed important educational goals), a site’s presence on the list does not mean that all linked lessons will align with state or national standards (although many provide this information for you). The teacher always has to consider the needs of her own students, as well as any school or state requirements, when choosing lessons and curriculum. ]


Many who used Backyard as a basis for their lessons tied it into studies of soils, life underground and worms. For older students, the “meter square” links introduce the idea of quadrat studies, in-depth, scientific investigations of the plants, animals, soil, light and weather of a specific area used in the field of ecology. See also the Creative Curriculum link (which describes a center-based learning approach to teaching with the book).

Learn more about observing in your backyard in “Science Skills: Making Observations and Asking Questions Like a Scientist” (Photo credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2009)

Resource Lists


Some links did not specifically include a lesson plan, but had other interesting and important information that might be helpful to a classroom or homeschool teacher, such as schedules for using the book, the role of nature study in a balanced curriculum, lists of materials to include in a comprehensive outdoor study program, and general information on nature study. Think of these as a “shopping list” for a teacher intent on infusing science into classroom practice.

Learn how to “look closely” in “The Power of Observation: Life in a Tiny Ecosystem” (Photo credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2009)

For More Information…


All these sites, and others, can be found on my Pinterest board, One Small Square. New sites will be added as I find them.

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Welcome to “Simple Science Strategies!”

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Maybe you landed here through a Google search. Maybe you’re looking over your science materials for next year, and getting a jump on planning for September. Maybe you linked here through one of my other blogs. Whichever it might be, I welcome you!

Science is my passion. I love everything about it, and I find science in everything I do, as a mom, a gardener, a teacher and a homeschooler. I hope you find this blog to be a helpful tool as you plan to work more science, and better quality science activities, into your repertoire.

The purpose of this site is to help you, the teacher or homeschooler, find simple experiments and investigations that you can conduct that teach big scientific ideas. You will notice that none of the activities use hard-to-find materials or complicated procedures. You will also notice that ALL of them require kids to ask questions and do some big thinking. Science is about asking questions, then figuring out a way to answer them on your own.

These activities and experiments can be used with any age student — you will notice, at the bottom of each post, suggestions modifications to the basic experimental design, for different age groups of students. Most of the modification involve different types of questioning or follow-up, rather than major changes to the actual activity.

You have a couple of ways to navigate this site.

  1. The main navigation bar, at the top, guides you to strategies and activities, organized by the three dimensions of the Next Generation National Science Education Standards: scientific and engineering process skills; cross-cutting, multidisciplinary concepts; and key ideas in physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology and science applications. ]
  2. To the right, you may access the site by browsing according to the cognitive process that you want to reinforce with students: defining, describing, comparing, classifying, showing part-to-whole, showing cause-effect, and illustrating an analogy (see Hyerle’s Thinking Maps for more information on these processes).
  3. Of course, you can always browse the site using the “Recent Posts” links in the sidebar, the search function, or just the front and back navigation arrows at the top of each blog post.
  4. If you are looking for Common Core connections, type the notation for the CCSS into the search box, and see a list of activities linked to key literacy and numeracy standards.

Please visit often over the summer, as I will be adding to this blog using topics that are seasonal, to help teachers connect their science instruction to real-life situations. For updates directly to your email box, subscribe to our newsletter (the September edition should be posted on August 24, 2012).


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Leave me a note if you have any suggestions or topics that you’d like to see covered. Or just to leave a word of encouragement!

– Kim at Simple Science Strategies

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