Otter's Homeschool Chemistry Curriculum

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Welcome to Otter's Chemistry. This was one of our FAVORITE years of science ever! We both learned a lot!
This year really deepened his understanding of the world around him. Even though it's been awhile, Otter still retains much of what he learned thanks to the great variety of books, materials and activities and he loved this year so much that he can't wait to do chemistry again in high school. I will be working on a high school chemistry schedule in the future!

Just a quick note: Otter LOVES science. A regular 2-3 days a week, 30 minute science class just isn't enough. I couldn't find anything that went in depth enough for the chemistry study we wanted to do and so I created my own schedule from the following materials (along with various websites, worksheets and other extras which aren't listed right now). This is NOT your normal scratch the surface kind of study. It's overkill, lol. Well, for most anyway. For us though it's perfect.


If you have a science nut, hopefully my sharing what we are doing will be helpful. If not, perhaps you can browse the titles below to add in a few "living books" to spice up your chemistry or science course and make it more interesting for your science-hater.

Download the .doc version of Otter's Chemistry schedule

Download the PDF version of Otter's Chemistry schedule

Scroll down to see the materials and books I've scheduled!

Click here to see a sampling of what our year looked like with pictures and posts!

I've listed the books, movies and other items schedule in the table down below. They are not listed in any specific order. It's been awhile since I used this program and I'm posting my schedule nearly a year after we finished, so there may be a few things listed below that didn't make it into the schedule. Feel free to use whatever you like, whether it's listed or not. Also, don't be afraid of substitutions! If your library doesn't have a book, you can use any other book or material that covers the same topic.

Warning, what might be right for one family, may not be for another. Use at your own discretion!

Otter is rated the books as we went through them. The ratings reflect his personal opinion of the material(s) and may not match mine, lol.
1 star = Awful
2 stars = Not that great
3 stars = O.K.
4 stars = Good
5 stars = Terrfic! I LOVE IT!

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry
Designed for grades 4-8

View the table of contents
View Lesson One

I'm using this book as a "spine" to work from. I was originally just going to use The Elements along with RS4K's chemistry book. However, I decided I wanted to include a book that has a Christian perspective, so I added this one. Honestly, I could have done without it. It really didn't emphasize the Christian element like I wanted it to and it was a bit dry when compared to Ellen McHenry's Chemistry programs (which we also used and are listed below).

This book by itself could be considered a complete elementary chemistry course. You can use it alone, or not use it at all and just use a combination of the books/items below.

The Elements

The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe An introductory Chemistry Course for grades 4-8.

Ellen McHenry has created an awesome chemistry course with lots of printables, songs and activities to help students retain what they are learning. I didn't use her curriculum by itself as a spine because I wanted to cover more topics and add in a Christian element. After all was said and done though I would have been happy using this as my main spine and supplementing with RS4K (listed below).

If you don't purchase her program, you can still get some freebies to go along with any other chemistry program from her website.

If I could choose only ONE chemistry program from this list, this is the one I would choose, followed by Carbon Chemistry.

Read my in-depth review here.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

Carbon Chemistry

 

Carbon Chemistry
For grades 5-9

Check out the first chapter for free.

Ellen has done it again! She's created a follow-up curriculum to The Elements with humor, hands-on activities, games, experiments and more.

I've scheduled this program for the latter half of our schedule.

Read my in-depth review here.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry

Real Science-4-Kids Chemistry Level 1 Student Text

This is the original chemistry text I purchased to use with Otter, since we used some of the other RS4K programs in the past. I wanted something "more" though because we go through the RS4K books really quickly.
Also, this book doesn't go in depth enough for us. We needed to add more meat at an elementary / middle school level. I'm keeping it in the schedule since I already have it. It's optional. It does cover a few things Ellen's materials didn't. You can get an idea of what by looking at Otter's Chemistry schedule.

You may want to add the teacher's guide and the experiment sheets, if you want to use this program. I schedule all of the experiments except one. There are plenty of other experiments to do though if you are using any of the other "spines".

Otter's rating: 5 stars

Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter

Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter *Literature link!

"Fourteen-year-old Itchingham Lofte, nicknamed Itch, has an unusual passion: collecting specimens of every element in the periodic table. So what if that means he's had a few ... mishaps? But when he gets his hands on a suspiciously warm rock made of a new, previously unknown element, things really begin to explode. Soon, a malevolent teacher, an evil-doing corporation, and a top-secret government agency are all after Itch. Can his science know-how keep him one step ahead of everyone...and help him stay alive?"

*I was given the opportunity to preview this book AFTER Otter and I completed Otter's Chemistry. Otter would have loved it, especially how it ties in science, the elements and a heavy does of adventure. I didn't schedule it in. Get it as a supplemental literature link to help get students excited about science & the elements.

What's Chemistry All about?

What's Chemistry All About? (Science Stories)

See some pages inside this book.

This is a great book with fun, cartoon like illustrations and easy explanations. Otter has another book in this series and has read it over and over. You don't need it, but your student(s) would probably enjoy reading it independently. I think it will help make chemistry feel much more accessible.

 

How to Think Like a Scientist

How to Think Like a Scientist: Answering Questions by the Scientific Method

During the first weeks, I thought it was important to review the scientific method. This is the book I chose. It's easy to understand and the illustrations are "cute" but unfortunatly entirely in black and white. It has quite a bit of text separated into small chapters. It really helped Otter understand the scientific method and gave him a good foundation for working with some additional assignments I scheduled for this subject.

Otter's review: 5 stars

Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

Investigating the Scientific Method with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

Google preview

This is an alternative (or addition) to the book above that would proabably appeal more to visual learners or kids who love comics.

Otter's rating: 4 stars

Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier: Founder of Modern Chemistry: Physical Science

I thought it was important to not only study chemistry, but to also study a bit of history relating to chemsitry. I've scheduled in some biographies of different people who made discoveries, etc. These are totally optional.

Alternate books:
Antoine Lavoisier: Founder of Modern Chemistry (Great Minds of Science) This is the book we actually read because our library didn't have the book above (which would have been my first choice).
Otter's rating: 5 stars -I was quite surprised he gave it such a high rating. I thought he might think it was dry, but he really enjoyed it.

or

Antoine Lavoisier: Father of Chemistry

Mystery of the Periodic Table

The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library)

Look at the first chapters online at Google Books.

I really like this series of books. They are like stories and science combined.

Otter's review: 5 stars
I however think this series of books is a little dry. Most of the homeschool community agrees with Otter though. wink

 

Basher Periodic Table of the Elements

Basher The Periodic Table: Elements with Style!

Otter loves the Basher series of books. They are cartoony and fun and help make learning the elements less intimidating. In this book, the elements are personified. There is a pull out poster of the elements in the back.
Sometimes it does try a little too hard to be "cool".

Otter's review: 5 stars

 

The Elements

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

This beautiful books is optional. You can look at the pictures for free online (I link to each one in my shedule), if the book itself is not in your budget. However, you will be missing out on some of the book's text. There is also a beautiful pull out mini-poster in the back.
I personally think it's one of those books that belong in a home library or on a coffee table!

Otter's rating: 5 stars

 

The Day-Glo Brothers

 

The Day-Glo Brothers

This is a true story with fun illustrations about two brothers who experimented with chemicals and created day-glo colors and glow in the dark paint.

Otter's rating: 5 stars
* Cool tip: If you have a black light, take a look at this book with it in a dark room! Fun!

The Story of Salt

The Story of Salt

Two elements, which on their own would either easily burst into flame or make a poisonous gas - combine to make a compound we can't live without. This is an interesting book and wonderfully illustrated book that combines science with history.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

What's smaller than a pygmy shrew?

What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?

This is an optional picture book I scheduled as a reader. Start out with a pygmy shrew and keep getting smaller until you get down to the parts of an atom and then on to quarks!

Otter's review: 5 stars

Fizz, Bubble and Flash

Fizz, Bubble & Flash!: Element Explorations & Atom Adventures for Hands-On Science Fun!

This book takes you on a tour of the elements with simple experiments you can do to learn about them. It's very kid-friendly with easy to understand text and fun illustrations. It's totally optional. I scheduled it in because I like the extra experiments as well as the accessible explanations.

Otter's rating: 4 stars

Robert Boyle

Robert Boyle

 

Robert Boyle: Trailblazer of Science (Sowers)
Take a look at the table of contents and part of the first chapter online.

This is a Christian biography of Robert Boyle who made many discoveries during a time of turmoil.

or

Giants of Science - Robert Boyle

Marie Curie

Marie Curie: Scientist Who Made Glowing Discoveries

Otter LOVES books by Mike Venezia. He was thrilled to see the new science series. You can use this book, or any other about Marie Curie.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

There are also several other commonly available books about Marie Curie. Any of them will do.

Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish & The Discovery Of Hydrogen

All of the biographies are optional. Most kids will probably think they are on the dry side.

 

Priestly
Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen (library)
J.J. Thompson
J. J. Thomson & The Discovery Of Electrons
John Dalton
John Dalton and the Atomic Theory

Henry

 

Henry Bessemer: Making Steel From Iron (library)

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

 

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

This is a book written for adults. I'm using it as a read-aloud. There is a lot of history in it, as well as science. I am getting ready to preview it from my library to make sure it's appropriate.

Recommended only for an advanced or bright student.

*Ah well we never got around to reading this one. I checked it out from the library and did absolutely nothing with it.

 

George Washington Carver: Teacher, Scientist, and Inventor

 

George Washington Carver: Teacher, Scientist, and Inventor

Google preview

This is a simple picture book that can be read in one sitting. I scheduled it in because Otter still enjoys picture books along with meatier stuff.

Otter's rating: 4 stars

Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History

 

Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History

This book is written for adults. We will be skipping some of the chapters (like the one on the "Pill"). It has some very interesting stories that mix chemistry with history!

Recommended only for an advanced or bright student.

I didn't read this to Otter, but did read some of it myself. I really enjoyed it and will be including it in the high school chemistry course I will be designing in the future.

The Periodic Kingdom: A Journey Into The Land Of The Chemical Elements

 

The Periodic Kingdom: A Journey Into The Land Of The Chemical Elements

Recommended only for an advanced or bright student.

 

*Never got to this one

Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life

Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life

Google preivew

*Warning: This book was written for adults. There may be material in it that is unsuitable for your family.

This book is full of fascinating and sometimes humorous stories.

Recommended only for an advanced or bright student.

Otter's rating: 5 stars for the few stories I read out loud from it.

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

 

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

Google preview

A professor of chemistry explains all kinds of food related chemistry. Some kids may find it boring, but Otter loves cooking and science so, for him, it's a great excuse to mix chemistry and the kitchen.

There are recipes in this book besides all of the info, so if your science kid likes to cook, you might want to check it out.

*Didn't get to this one

 

Chemistry Connections, Second Edition: The Chemical Basis of Everyday Phenomena

 

Chemistry Connections, Second Edition: The Chemical Basis of Everyday Phenomena

Google preview

Lots of interesting stuff here like "Why do carbonated drinks go flat as they warm?"
A great deal of the book will be over a child's head...but we are going to read parts of it together.

Recommended only for an advanced or bright student.

Another one we never read

Linus Pauling: And the Chemistry of Life

 

Linus Pauling: And the Chemistry of Life

We didn't get to this.

It's Elementary!

It's Elementary!

Learn about the elements in this very visual book. There are some old earth billions of years comments in a few sections. This books is totally optional. I use it to add a visual element to learning...the elements.

I consider this one of the most optional books. I skip several parts in my schedule.

Otter's rating: ?? stars

Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made

Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made

I wanted Otter to make the connection between chemistry/chemicals and every day things so I scheduled in this book. There are some other every day items in it that have nothing to do with chemistry. Still, it's worthwhile to take a look at, especially if it's at your local library.
I also linked to some similar items that are free online, so this book is totally optional.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

Exploring Chemical Reactions

 

Exploring Chemical Reactions

Google preview

This is a book to help expand on some of the basic lessons.

Acids and Bases (Chemicals in Action)

 

Acids and Bases (Chemicals in Action)

Google preview

The Solid Truth About States of Matter With Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

The Solid Truth About States of Matter With Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)

Google preview

Otter loves comics, so I schedued in this one about matter, as a review.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

Inexpensive gold panning kit

I plan to use this when we study gold as an element. The kit contains real, small nuggets of gold, silver, copper and hematite. What a fun way to get to "play" with some real elements.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

Zometool Bucky Ball Kit

I have 3 bucky ball options scheduled, a model made of Jujubes candy and toothpicks from the Carbon Chemistry program, a free buckyball paper model you can download, or this Zome buckyball kit.

I know Otter would have loved this, but it was not in our budget at the time!

Videos

Absolute Zero - NOVA

 

Absolute Zero - NOVA

Watch for free online

Great show - probably will be boring for younger kids.

 

NOVA: Percy Julian - Forgotten Genius

NOVA: Percy Julian - Forgotten Genius

Watch for free online

 

 

(PBS) Island of Stability - Follow the decades-long quest to create the elusive element 114.

 

NOVA: Kaboom! - The Sizzling Story of Explosions

 

NOVA: Kaboom! - The Sizzling Story of Explosions

October Sky

 

October Sky

" Coalwood, West Virginia, 1957. Working in the coal mines is an inescapable way of life in this small town. When high schooler Homer Hickam, Jr. (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees the Sputnik satellite in the night sky, he dares to break free of the mines and reach for the stars. With the support of his teacher (Laura Dern) and three friends, Homer sets out on an inspiring quest to build his own rocket. Overcoming a poor education, a tough father (Chris Cooper) and a series of misfires, Homer turns his dreams into reality in this incredible true story of hope, determination and triumph." quote from Amazon

This is an inspiring movie. I also have it scheduled in American History Year 2.

 

Back to the future

 

Back to the Future

What can I say? It's a plutonium powered car. You've gotta watch it for science's sake.

*Warning: There may be material in this movie unsuitable for younger children or for your beliefs.

Otter's rating: 5 stars

Edison the Man

 

Edison the Man

The Absent-Minded Professor

 

The Absent-Minded Professor

It's not real, but why not watch something fun about some pretend chemistry?

Lorenzo's Oil

 

Lorenzo's Oil

A family researches biochemistry (to develop a dietary cure) for their son who developed a strange and rare disease at the age of 7.

*Warning: rated PG-13

The World of Chemistry (free online)
This is a series of 26 online movies (approx. 30 minutes each) that cover various chemistry concepts. A few parts can be kind of dry, but the experiments are fun to watch.

Otter's rating: 3 stars

Discovery Streaming Movies

MythBusters: Chemical Changes: 101 Uses for Cola

Standard Deviants School Chemistry Series: *I recommend this series for older children.

  • The Basiscs
  • Elements and Equations
  • Gases
  • Heat
  • Inside the Atom
  • Molecular Geometry
  • Percent Composition
  • Solutions and Dilutions
  • Chemical Bonds

Discovering the Elements This video also has a pretty good teacher's guide and blackline masters.

Greatest Discoveries with Bill Nye: Chemistry This is pretty well done.

The Periodic Table of the Elements Video Library:

 

 

Books that are not scheduled, but that you may be interested in:
Crazy Chemistry
Crazy Chemistry (Weird History of Science)
The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry
The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry
This books is a bit advanced, but it offers humorous drawings and visual explanations. It might be worthwhile if you have an older teen along for the ride and want to cover more material.
Adventures With Atoms and Molecules: Chemistry Experiments for Young People

Adventures With Atoms and Molecules: Chemistry Experiments for Young People

This is not a pretty book, but the experiments are easy to do and understand. It would be a great supplement if your student is starved for more experiments.

 

 

 

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