Homeschool Chemistry Unit Study

Homeschool Chemistry doesn't have to be intimidating or complicated. Here are resources for a Chemistry unit that is engaging, fun, and easy-to-do at home. This unit focuses on:

  • Simple hands-on chemistry experiments

  • History and people who contributed to the science of chemistry

  • Engaging videos for each element of the periodic table

This unit is intentionally holistic to meet the needs of different kids. My 10yo son is more technical and engineering-minded; my 13yo daughter is more artistic and creative. This unit was able to spark interest and curiosity for both of these diverse learners.

In this post, I will detail all of the resources and books we used, to make it easy for you to have your own chemistry unit study, too! This unit is geared for late elementary or middle school grades, ages ~9-14yo.

Exploration, NOT Mastery

When embarking on any particular subject with your kids, it's important to think about your overall objectives first. For elementary and middle school science, perfect mastery is not the goal. We're not trying to make science seem really technical or hard or arduous. That's not the point.

Rather, we're trying to give kids a chance to fall in love with science by awakening their curiosity and getting their brains moving in a scientific direction. We want to focus on fostering exploration and delight.

This means that, if there is any particular topic that is not sparking your kids' interest, just let go and move on. There is no need to force or require or cajole. If it starts feeling like a chore to either you or the kids, you've gone too far and it's time to switch to another topic on another day.

Choose a Chemistry "Spine" Book

Using a "spine" book for chemistry will give your kids exposure to many of the foundational principles of chemistry, while also providing a flowing narrative that you can use as a jumping off point for further learning. Having a "spine" book will work best if it is used as a read-aloud book, so there is plenty of opportunity for discussion.

There are two different chemistry "spine" books I would recommend. Both of these tell stories of the history and real scientists who contributed to chemistry. Just choose one to use as your "spine" book.

  • The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker: This book is a bit lighter reading, and was preferred by my more-artistic older child. This book includes simple experiments in some of the chapters, so browse ahead to be prepared for those.

  • Exploring the World of Chemistry: From Ancient Metals to High-Speed Computers by John Tiner: This book a bit heavier reading, but my younger more-technical child actually preferred this one. There are more pictures in this book. There are quizzes at the end of each chapter, which my kids enjoyed doing out loud with no pressure or stress. This book does include some brief Christian references, which can easily be skipped if desired.

There's no wrong choice here. Both of my kids enjoyed both of these books. If you're not sure which one to use, Mystery of the Periodic Table would probably be better suited for 9-11yo and Exploring the World of Chemistry would probably be better for 11-14yo.

Periodic Table Videos

The Periodic Videos are a fantastic free resource to complement the chemistry reading. There is a video for each element of the periodic table, and the videos range from 4-18 minutes long. We used these videos after our chemistry read-aloud, to further explore the specific elements we learned about in our reading.

Hands-on Experiments

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has a free middle school chemistry curriculum that includes relatively simple experiments. The experiments serve as a great hands-on addition to the chemistry reading and videos. (The actual ACS textbook that accompanies the experiments is typical and kinda dry for reading, which is why I prefer to use the "spine" books mentioned above instead.)

There are over 40 experiments. Don't feel the need to do *every* lesson or to complete the full series of experiments. Keep it fun and be okay with stopping whenever your and your kids reach the end of your interest. We made it through about 20 experiments in one semester of Chemistry, and that was enough. Just print out the materials and prepare for a few experiments at a time, so you won't feel invested in having to do more.