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Favorite science experiment books for elementary school?

Plaid Dad

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My dw has kindly agreed to take over some of the teaching next year as my work schedule changes. Best of all, she is willing to do hands-on science with dd, who will be in 2nd grade. What books can you recommend for science experiments that don't require a lot of specialized equipment or materials?

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If you like The Geography Book, there's a book called The Space Book which is the same format. We're using that as our astronomy base but you might not be doing astronomy.


I came across some as I was looking for living books for science, I haven't seen this except for online excerpts so you might want to preview them through the library:


Glues, Brews and Goos by Diana Marks

- contains all sorts of recipes for art, science, geography and more.


Science for Kids: 39 Easy Chemistry Experiments by Robert Wood


The McGraw-Hill Big Book of Science Activities by Robert Wood



Science in Seconds for Kids: Over 100 Experiments You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less by Jean Potte



365 Simple Science Experiments by E. Richard Churchill, Louis V. Loeschnig, Muriel Mandell, and Frances Zweifel


We really enjoyed Hands-On Earth Science by Carson-Dellosa and Evan-Moor books are great too.


Hope this helps, look for "everyday materials" so you don't have to buy special items even though what 1 might consider "everyday", that doesn't mean it'll be a part of your "everyday", lol!

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it's available as a "Kids Kit" (or, at least, it's called something like that) that includes the "wierd" materials such as plexi-glass and colored cellophane squares (and a buzzer, which we haven't gotten to yet!).


I'm using this with my 4th grader this year, though my 7th grader always has to "watch". We do 2-3 experiments each week - and the great thing is *THEY HAVE ALL WORKED*!!!!! (And, the materials are not hard to find.)


The experiments are normally pretty quick, so I have him read a related book from the library (sometimes he finds other experiments he'd like to try), or watch a video on United Streaming on our "non-experiment" days. (I've just recently started having him write a paragraph describing the experiment.)


(of course, I really like mom-of-7's idea of just letting them read library books for about 20 minutes a day, but both my boys have really enjoyed these experiments.)

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I'm a big fan of Janice VanCleave's books. There is a variety of topics and most are available at the public library, which is always a plus! They also use relatively simple materials, so no hunting at a specialty store for the supplies to do your experiments.

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and so I retract my earlier recommendation for Usborne's "Science with...." series. These are also bundled as "The Usborne Book of Science Activities" with three books in one (and there are at least 3 volumes). I don't know if they sell kits for these now or not.


FYI, if you do "Science with Batteries", cut off christmas tree lights and strip a small part of the wire to use in place of the "bulb holders". (Just cover with electric tape.)


Have fun!


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I know it has been mentioned a few times but Janice Van Cleave books are wonderful. Most of her experiments have a good wow factor; they work well; they are very clearly set out with good explanations and they are easy for a parent to do. I would also recommend you get a nice picture-filled science encyclopaedia like an Usborne for any further questions (wikipedia and howstuffworks.com are also very helpful).

At this age I also think it is important not to ask a child to write much, if anything. In my experience it really inhibits pleasure and learning and I really don't think it is necessary.

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As a biology/chemistry major, some problems I have found with the "kid science books" by companies like Usborne etc is that they do not explain the difficult concepts that fully explain the experiments or they use. They approach science with kid gloves and do not approach or explain necessary subjects.


For example, when my ds was in 2nd grade, I had a very hard time trying to find a definition of density for him. Density is a pretty important topic for learning chemistry. All the kid science books in my library either did not explain it or did not deal with the concept at all.


The above mentioned books deal with these harder concepts, I feel, the way SOTW addressed historical facts with younger children. It does not avoid harder material, it puts the facts on their level.


In the same vein, I also like the Rookie Read About Science Series. Again, it deals effectively with atoms, molecules and density on a child's level.


When I teach science classes in our co-op, I usually refer to these two books for chemistry. As a plus, not only are these books very educational, they use things that you either have at home or can find very easily at your local discount or drug store.


This year for physics, we are using the Knex Simple machines, which is costly but my boys LOVE it. It is really great for hands on kids.



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