First Summer Science Lesson

While working for A Beka Book, I met a science teacher who was helping us with some science texts: she wrote, and I edited. And, of course, being women and mothers and all, we chatted. A comment she made during one of our chats stuck with me for years. It was an insignificant remark really, one of those comments that slips into a conversation virtually unnoticed but then never leaves you. She just happened to mention that she taught her five year old son the correct animal classifications. He knew, for instance, that a whale was a mammal, not a fish.

“How much harder is it to teach him the right information?” she stated very simply.

My son was barely two at the time, but I was left in awe at the fact that a five year old could learn about mammals vs. fish. I put her theory to the test this last year, and both my kids learned about mammals, fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and arthropods as we ventured through our geography study and learned of animals from other countries.

This summer, I wanted to extend those lessons to our backyard and expand on our information just a bit. Nothing too intense—a read-aloud and nature study format rather than a formal study. A friend loaned me her copy of Answers in Genesis’ World of Animals textbook, which we are using as a read-aloud. And I tried it out the other day on our first day of summer science.

Lesson 1: vertebrates and invertebrates.

I read the page and a half of text while waiting for my breakfast to finish toasting (the kids had eaten earlier while I was feeding the baby). As I slathered home-made apple butter on my toast, we discussed vertebrates and invertebrates. I had them feel each other’s backbones, and we talked about which creatures had backbones and which didn’t. Then, I named different creatures while they shouted out either vertebrate or invertebrate. We did this a number of times; then, I called out vertebrate or invertebrate, and they shouted out a creature.

Finally, I sent them on their assignment: go outside and find one vertebrate and one invertebrate, then come back in and tell me about it. I ate my breakfast in silence while they roamed the yard. A few minutes later, they burst into the house with their answers—a squirrel and a bee.

The nature study books were thrown open and the coloring pencils busily sketched their lesson. I even pulled out my Usborne I Can Draw Animals for a quick lesson on how to draw a bee.


A fun first summer science lesson, and all before I’d eaten breakfast!


Disclaimer: I am a consultant for Usborne books because they are a mainstay for our homeschool. Find out how you can get free/discounted Usborne books for your home library.

Published by Tracy
Our life is creative chaos, and our homeschool is loud and busy and distracted and challenging and lovely. My name is Tracy, and I homeschool my crew of three kids with ADHD/dyslexia, finding creative ways to use their strengths to teach their weaknesses. As a homeschooled homeschooler, I love customizing curriculum and making adjustments to incorporate fun, hands-on projects for out-of-the-box learners. Stop by to find grace for the messes and mistakes, and knowledge to pick up the pieces and make something special. Let’s grow together!