A Look at Science: The Microscope

There are some subjects we just love. We love every little detail, every little hidden gem, and even every little chore that comes with that subject. With these subjects we are excited to teach our kids, we know what we are looking for in a curriculum and we don’t need any extra help.

There are some subjects we cannot stand.

We can’t focus on the subject, cannot follow what it is about, and cannot gather the motivation to start with that subject. With these subjects we often try to find a curriculum that is easy to follow, is video taught, or is as hands-off for you, the teacher, as possible.

Then, there are the times when we don’t mind the subject, might even like it, but there is just a concept or two that we are really not confident or comfortable teaching our kids. These concepts are often avoided or skipped over. Usually, this is not a bad thing, our kiddos still learn a lot of wonderful things but sometimes it is a concept our kiddos really want to learn about.

I would like to spend some time, maybe every other week or so to write on these daunting concepts. These will be in no specific order and will jump from subject to subject.

The first concept we will dive into is the Microscope

Science is one of those subjects that I have heard many parents say challenges them. I personally am one of those people that loves science and

thankfully, my kids are learning to love it too. Learning how to explore and investigate the world around us is monumental but not everyone shares my love for it.

Microscopes are so complicated

I don’t know how to use a microscope myself

We don’t even have a microscope

Looking at microscopic things gives me the creeps

Yes, these are all things I have heard, and yes they are good reasons why people have avoided teaching their kids about microscopes but the surprise and joy that you see on a kiddo’s face when they see the hidden patterns and parts of something under a microscope is worth it.

Simple beginnings 

To start out, you and your kiddo don’t need to be too complex or even to buy anything. When I first started introducing the microscope to my kids, we started with YouTube videos. I simply searched for videos that taught the parts of the microscope, safety using a microscope, and beginner use of them.  There are so many videos that come up under those searches alone that it was the perfect introduction to my kids. Then, to add some fun to the sometimes dry videos, I would have them color a picture of one while watching a magic school bus show with one in it or that talked about microscopic things. As the magic school bus is pretty much always being shrunken, this is was easy.

Stepping it up

Videos and coloring pages are helpful and a simple start to learning about microscopes but that is only just the start. Next, pick up a book or two. Below I have two books that I have picked up second hand for only a dollar or two and they are filled with wonderful information. Treat the books like a unit study and investigate a section at a time together. If there is a lot of information in that section, do just a page or two. Encourage discussions with your kiddo about what they are reading and how they could use it today. My youngest learned that he could look at a bug wing under a microscope and he became excited because he had seen a dead cicada outside with its wings sticking out to the side. In the book, it showed a magnified picture of the wing and my kid couldn’t wait to get back outside and look at the wings again to see if he could see what the picture showed.

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Time to be brave

After videos have been watched, books have been read, and connections in our lives to what has been learned has been discussed, the next step is to either buy a microscope or borrow one from a friend or family. When my twins were younger, I purchased a basic but sturdy microscope designed for little learners. This worked well for getting their little minds working and connecting what they had learned with what they can do. They could name the parts, put something under it to look at, and turn the dial to bring it into focus. Years later, my hubby brought home his old microscope kit from his parent’s place. It came with pre-prepared slides, more common parts like the mirror for a light source, and empty slides for us to use.

My kids and I recently worked with the one that their Dad used to use and we had a blast. I had them practice “catching” the light with the reflective mirror but then used a flashlight for a light source to better see what was on the slides. I also had them turn the nose piece themselves to change the magnification strength and focus it themselves. I then would look and help dial it in a little when needed but we had so many “oh wow” moments. One of my kids even asked to make a slide of his own so we examined our own skin (that we may have gotten from peeling from sunburn on one kid lol). About thirty minutes of that and we were done.

It doesn’t need to be a long drawn out lesson or all done in one day

Start out small and introduce the microscope. Let your kids explore this whole world of microscopic wonders. Yes, sometimes it is nasty and gross. Given that right now we are all dealing with Covid-19, this could be a great tie into a lesson on germs even. Be curious with your kiddos. Be brave with them too. There will be topics and concepts that gross them out too but learning about them can still be fun.

Enjoy the journey

rachel-ns-pic-canva

Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 9 years now. I am also a military spouse, so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it.  As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs, or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.

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