Cover for blog post Teach Homeschool Physics to Your Children showing physics books, magnets, and electronics.

Teach Homeschool Physics to Your Children

We often think of physics as a high school science subject.  But, physics is a great subject for children to learn during the elementary school years.  And homeschooling provides the flexibility to add this subject at whatever age you want!

Physics is the study of matter, forces, velocity, friction, simple machines, energy, aerodynamics, magnetism, electricity, and more!  It ranges from sub atomic particles to the universe around us and the world in between!

Homeschool physics is a great way to answer so many of the questions your children ask on a regular basis.  And, it is a great way to teach your children how to answer those questions through experimentation.

The easiest way to study physics is first to pick a good, hands on curriculum.  Then, pull in some living books and more hands on activities!  Read on for the specifics on how to do this.

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Physics Curriculum

We chose the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Physics Curriculum for our homeschool physics.  We had used their Chemistry Curriculum the year before and the boys had loved it.  I knew it would lay everything out for us, explain things in terms I would understand, and include lots of hands on activities.

It is a secular curriculum that emphasizes scientific inquiry and theory using measurable evidence.  It is designed for small groups and teaches science in incremental steps with lots of emphasis on concepts and related vocabulary.

The Physics Curriculum is geared toward 3rd-6th grade with a target grade of 4th grade.  We started it mid-year of the boys’ 2nd and 5th grade years and finished it up in about 12 months.

Units included: What is Physics?, What Matters, Newton’s Laws, Friction, Work: Plane and Simple Machines, The Invisible World of Air, Sound and Waves, Magnetism, Electricity, and New Worlds to Explore.

Lay out of the units: Each unit contains reading passages and labs.

Each reading passage is approximately two pages long and contains a simple, but deep enough explanation of a topic.  Black and white drawings and diagrams are included.

Sample reading passage from physics curriculum about aerodynamics. Sample reading passage from physics curriculum about levers.

Each reading is followed by typically one lab, although some have two or more labs. For example, after reading about air pressure, there were several short labs to demonstrate the topic through hands on activities.

Each lab tells you the materials you need.  These are usually household materials or low cost items you can purchase at Target or on Amazon.  I include some of the bigger purchases we made, below.

The book gives you an actual script to read to your children to walk them through the procedures.  I love curriculum with scripts!  Answers and potential discussions are given at the end.

Sample lab with script about air. Sample lab with script about magnetism.

The children have their own lab sheets to fill in.  They include fill-in the blank sentences with choices, open ended questions and drawings.  Children are encouraged to think about why something happened and how to design different experiments.

Sample of child's lab sheet with drawing of a pulley. Sample of child's lab sheet with questions completed.

We usually read the passage and completed a lab for each of our science lessons.  If there were additional labs for a given reading passage, we completed those labs on separate days.

Toy soldier standing on cardboard taped to a small toy car.
Forces when you accelerate.
Two batteries hooked up in a circuit to a coil of wire hanging over a magnet.
Electromagnetism

Useful tip: I pulled each of the lab sheets out and photocopied them to use with both of my children.  We then hole-punched them and stored the sheets in their Case-Its.  You may want to buy the ebook to make printing multiple copies easier.  It is also cheaper!  If I had done this, I would have also printed the reading passages for them to look at while I read them aloud.  I might have also made 3-ring notebooks specific to physics rather than storing in their Case-Its.

Useful tip: You will need space for hands on activities and sometimes a sink.  So, this is not a curriculum you can pack up for the day and do while at coffee shops or in doctor’s waiting rooms, etc.  So make sure to schedule a 30ish minute slot at home to complete each lesson.

Living Books for Homeschool Physics

While the above curriculum provides you with a full year of physics by itself, we enjoyed pulling in some biographies of famous physicists throughout the school year.  We did these as read alouds.  Sometimes, we read them before a physics lesson and other times we read them on days off from physics lessons.  Either way, it was easy to make the connection between the books and what we were learning during physics.

Here are some of the books we chose along with some others that would be great.

Who Was Albert Einstein?

During our unit on mass, matter, and density, we learned about Albert Einstein.  Not only did we learn science, but we also learned about how he fled to America in the 1930s during rise of the Nazis.

Sale
Who Was Albert Einstein?
  • Brallier, Jess (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 02/18/2002 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)

Who Was Isaac Newton?

We read about this English scientist from the 1600s during our unit on Newton’s Laws.  We learned a bit about the plague, too, from this book!

Who Was Isaac Newton?
  • Pascal, Janet B. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 10/30/2014 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)

Who Was Nikola Tesla?

Somehow, we missed reading about Tesla during out unit on electricity, but it would have been a great person to include!

Sale
Who Was Nikola Tesla?
  • Gigliotti, Jim (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 12/04/2018 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)

Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?

This is another great book related to the invention of electricity that we had read in a prior year.  Comparing Edison and Tesla’s different forms of electricity would be a great learning activity!  Our Niagara Falls and Great Lakes FREE Unit Study has more resources for learning about this!

Sale
Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?
  • Frith, Margaret (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 12/29/2005 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)

Who Was Stephen Hawking?

This book would be great to save for the last unit of the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Physics curriculum, New Worlds to Explore, but we actually read it earlier in the year.  Not only did we learn about the big questions Hawking asked, but also about ALS.  His resilience during this progressive disease was inspiring!

Who Was Stephen Hawking?
  • Gigliotti, Jim (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 06/04/2019 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)

Other Hands On Materials

Many of the materials for the labs are household items, but we did purchase the following to complete some of them.  The clay was for some models, the spring scale was used during the simple machine unit.  The magnet kit provided a little more than we needed, but it was a nice kit that the boys enjoyed playing with outside of the lessons.

South Bend Digital Hanging Fishing Scale and Tape Measure with Backlit LCD Display, 110lb/50kg Weight Capacity (Batteries Included)
  • Extremely accurate scale with a 110 pounds/50 kg weight capacity that reads in: lb. (pounds), lb.: oz. (pounds/ounces), oz. (ounces), kg (kilograms)
  • Equipped with a easy to read, hi contrast blue backlit LCD display runs on 2 AAA batteries (included)
  • Auto off function ensures you won’t drain your batteries and an audible weight lock sound helps you know when your weight is ready to be viewed accurately
  • Includes an ambient temperature reading (F degree and C degree) and a Retractable tape measure (39.375 inch/100 centimeter)
  • Retractable handle and foldable hook make this scale extremely portable and easy to store anywhere for you to be prepared to document your trophy catch. Also useful for weighing luggage before your next flight

Eisco Labs Junior Science Magnet Kit
  • A kit of magnets and accessories for science experiments, 16 pieces in total
  • 1 Pc. Each of square iron, aluminium, zinc and copper metal
  • 1 Horseshoe magnet with keeper, 100mm 2 Ceramic bar magnets 75 mm Long. 3 Ceramic ring magnets, 38 mm dia, face polarised. 2 Plotting compasses, clear both sides, 19 mm dia. 1 Pack Iron Fillings
  • Kits comes with a 29 page teacher activity guide that is perfect for in classroom experiments, demos, home-school education, and science fairs
  • Some popular activities done with the kit: What sticks? Attractive or Repulsive? Earth is a giant magnet. Seeing magnetic fields? Interactive forces.

During the electricity unit, you build some simple circuits.  These supplies here from Amazon worked well for us to complete them.  You will also need some wire cutters if you don’t already own some.

Magic&Shell 10PCS E10 2.5V/0.3A Miniature Screw Base Light Bulbs and 10PCS E10 Golden Light Socket Bulbs Lamps Base Holder for Home Experiment Circuit Electrical Test Accessories
  • E10 Bulb: Nominal Voltage:2.5V. Rated Current:0.3A. Thread Diameter: 9mm/0.35Inch.
  • E10 Bulb Holders: Height: 13mm/0.51Inch.Diameter: 10mm/0.39Inch.Total Length of Two Feet: 19mm/0.75Inch.
  • E10 Bulb is a kind of tungsten filament bulb, made of glass, metal, insulating materials and so on.Can be used as the light source of the flashlight, the indicator light of the distribution box.
  • This product is mainly used in electrical experiments in primary and secondary schools. This product is of high quality, bright and durable. It is a necessary electrical equipment for primary school science, middle school physics laboratory and student home laboratory.
  • Package List:10PCS E10 Bulb,10PCS E10 Bulb Holders.

1 Slot D Cell Battery Holder with Two Wires (4)
  • Product Name : Battery Case;fit Battery Type : for 1 x 1.5V D Size Battery(Non included)
  • Body Size : 7 x 3.5 x 3cm/ 2.8" x 1.4" x 1.2"(L*W*H);Cable Length( Each ) : 14cm/ 5.5"
  • Materials : Plastic, Metal;Color : Black, Red
  • Net Weight : 20g
  • Package Content : 1 x 1.5V D Battery Case Holder

BNTECHGO 26 AWG Magnet Wire - Enameled Copper Wire - Enameled Magnet Winding Wire - 4 oz - 0.0157" Diameter 1 Spool Coil Red Temperature Rating 155℃ Widely Used for Transformers Inductors
  • High Quality enameled Copper Wire!Durable and not break while winding the coils.Highly Efficient!
  • Magnet wire is copper wire that coated with a thin layer of insulated enamel.This 26AWG magnet wire is 4 ounces (323 feet).
  • This enamelled copper wire the insulation is made from Solderable Polyurethane,and protects the coiled wire from short-circuiting.Temperature rating 155°C (311°F) makes it suitable for several thermal overload applications.Raw copper is drawn to meet specific size requirements based on NEMA MW-35-C standard.
  • 26 gauge enameled magnet wire: Wrapped in spool and color is red.Outside diameter 0.0157"for perfect thickness.
  • BNTECHGO magnetic copper wire is widely used in the construction of transformers,wound coils,motors,solenoids,instruments,inductors,speakers,electromagnets,and other applications that require tight coils of insulated wire.

Another fun activity that we have loved for years is Snap Circuits!  They are great way to expand on physics lessons about electricity, but were definitely not necessary for the curriculum above.  This one is a very basic, but inexpensive set:

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit, Over 100 Projects, Full Color Project Manual, 28 Parts, STEM Educational Toy for Kids 8 +
  • SO MANY TOYS IN A SNAP: Make dozens of cool electronic gadgets - all from one box! A safe and fun way to introduce children ages 8+ to the basics of electrical engineering! Build exciting projects and toys using the included colorful instruction book!.Ideal for ages:8 years and up
  • PROJECTS THEY'LL LOVE: So many fun electric-powered projects you can make and play! Ages 8 to 108 will love building 100+ projects! Have fun while building practical skills and learning the basics of circuitry. Build a flying saucer in a snap and watch it take off and sound the alarm! Kit includes 29 Snap Circuits parts.
  • GREAT GIFT Give the gift of learning and fun this holiday season! Snap Circuits kits will keep kids busy and having fun all year round. Combine with other Snap Circuits kits for even more projects!
  • NO EXTRA TOOLS NEEDED Elenco Snap Circuits kits include everything you need to start learning immediately - and more. Unlike traditional electronics kits, no soldering or tools are required to build. The numbered and color coded pieces snap easily onto the included plastic grid. Batteries required.
  • AWARD WINNING KITS! We're proud to produce high quality products loved by kids, parents,and educators. Snap Circuits kits have won a number of awards - including the Specialty Toy of the Year Award, Seriously STEM! award, Good Housekeeping's Best Toys, Purdue University's Engineering Gift Guide, National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval, Toy Insider's Top Holiday Toys, placement on the Dr. Toy list of 100 Best Children's Products and placement on the Dr. Toy list of Best Educational products, and the "Stem Approved" Trustmark from Stem.org.

What are some fun physics activities you have done?

Check out more fun physics with our Teach Simple Machines to Your Children post:Cover for Teach Simple Machines to Your Children showing printable posters.

Other Science Studies:

Cover for blog post Teach Homeschool Chemistry to Your Children showing some experiments and the chemistry book.