Are you looking for a homeschool high school science curriculum that goes beyond just checking boxes off for a transcript? Whether your student already loves science or is not quite sure why science matters, the Friendly Sciences curriculum by Dr. Joey and Lisa Hajda will make science accessible to your teen now while also equipping them for future higher-level science study.
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The Friendly Sciences texts were easy to read and conversational in tone. I appreciated, however, that they did not talk down to the student or descend into irritating informality. I think that even for a non-science-loving student, they would feel accessible and easy to understand. At the same time, a more science-minded student would enjoy the depth of topics and the opportunity to apply what was being learned in sometimes quite innovative ways. Friendly Sciences definitely make science accessible while also equipping high school students for future higher-level science study.
The suggested labs and other hands-on activities are all things you can easily do at home. If you like to prepare ahead of time, you can even gather all of the materials together based on the suggested supply lists Friendly Sciences provides on their website for each text.
Periodically, the Friendly Sciences textbooks provide opportunities to stop and answer simple questions, with space to write the answers within the text itself. It forces students to slow down, process, and think about what they’ve learned before rushing through to the next topic. It’s just enough to help solidify the concepts without being annoying busy work.
Another thing that is absolutely amazing? The authors of Friendly Sciences are not only available but are willing and eager to answer any questions you may have as you use their curriculum! They’re available 5 days a week by email or phone to help you navigate the world of homeschool high school science. Especially for the mom who is definitely not an expert when it comes to upper-level science? That kind of curriculum support definitely sets Friendly Sciences apart from other companies!
I do wish that the textbooks included a glossary in addition to the included indexes. But as your students read the text, creating their own glossary could be a wonderful way to review and reinforce what they’re learning!
Physical Science always seemed a bit boring to me and maybe even a bit of a waste of time. I began paging through the Friendly Physical Science textbook expecting to have my assumptions confirmed. Instead, I found a text that not only communicated foundational scientific ideas in an easy-to-read manner, but also gave real-life opportunities to apply the concepts learned.
Because the Physical Science text begins with the basics, I think that even a student who has not previously had much formal science education would have no trouble beginning high school level science with this text. Like all Friendly Sciences curriculum, Friendly Physical Science is filled with plentiful, varied real-life examples to illustrate the concepts being taught.
Friendly Physical Science includes typical labs you can do at home like you would expect in a homeschool high school curriculum. For instance, students have an opportunity to create a homemade compass while learning about magnetism in chapter 16. But what really excited me were the design challenges!
The design challenges are designed to embody the ideas being learned in very tangible, hands-on ways. Stepping beyond a typical lab demonstration, these challenges encourage the student to think critically and solve problems in real-life situations.
Chapter 1 starts the student out with something quite simple. That chapter is teaching units of measurement, so the design challenge is simply to cut sticks to a variety of pre-determined, precise measurements.
In chapter 2 things get a bit more complex. Students must build a photo frame with specific assigned dimensions and sturdiness requirements.
By chapter 13 (a lesson on pulleys), students have the opportunity to design, build, and test a series of rather complicated pulley challenges. How cool is that?!
I will note that completing the design challenges is not required to successfully complete the course. In fact, knowing my own family, I doubt we’d be able to complete all of them in a typical school year. But I think that if even a handful of these challenges were attempted it would definitely change the way your student (and maybe even you yourself) think about Physical Science curriculum! And especially for the hands-on learner, the mechanically minded, or the student for whom typical academic book work is a challenge? I think the design challenges provide a way for them to experience success and achievement while learning important scientific concepts.
Friendly Physical Science could definitely work well for an independent learner since all the instructions and steps are clearly laid out within the textbook. Of course, parental involvement and oversight is not only important, but also quite fun. (You might have your opinion about Physical Science changed like I did, after all!)
I also think that Friendly Physical Science would work well in a co-op or group setting. Could you have a few families over to do the design challenges and labs together, for instance? Testing your creations alongside your friends and siblings could be tons of fun!
While all of the necessary material for instruction is found within the Friendly Physical Science textbook, there is also an accompanying student work book and a test book/answer key available.
The student workbook provides worksheets for each chapter with mostly short answer or fill-in-the-blank style questions.
The Tests and Workbook Solutions Manual is essentially what it sounds like. It includes the answer key to the student worksheets. It also includes the tests and test answer key for each chapter of the text. (Tests are also available in pdf form for ease of printing.)
The tests are all multiple choice. Because most of the learning has already been demonstrated through discussion, short answers, and hands-on work, the multiple-choice tests are definitely sufficient, in my opinion. Another bonus of multiple-choice tests? They’re super easy and quick to grade for the busy homeschool mom!
The Friendly Biology curriculum includes a student textbook, a student workbook, and a test/solutions book.
Friendly Biology provides a gentle, yet thorough, introduction to the world of life science. Colorful illustrations and diagrams join engaging text for easy-to-understand lessons. Key points and terms are set apart from the text in yellow boxes for easy review. There are occasional opportunities to stop and interact directly with the text in the form of short answers or simple demonstrations.
As you read through the Friendly Biology textbook, it’s easy to see that the goal of the curriculum is not merely to have high school students regurgitate facts. A respect for the “beauty and complexity of living things” permeates the text.
The student is discouraged from attempting to memorize enormous quantities of information for a test. Instead, they’re encouraged to “utilize these lessons to gain a greater appreciation for the vast diversity of living things which exist in our world today” (p. 257).
Not only that, but there are connections made to real-life experiences whenever possible! Learning about enzymes, for example? Your lab assignment is to make cheese and yogurt at home!
And that is something I noticed about each of the Friendly Sciences programs I reviewed. The high school science curriculum is not just a box to check for graduation. Each book clearly shows students how much science is all around us. The things your student is learning in science class matter in their life both now and in the future. It will even equip them to make more educated decisions in the future as consumers and will inform their personal choices. In Friendly Biology, for example, the text links the discussion of lipids to an understanding of common labels for milk fat percentages.
The accompanying student workbook includes a variety of fill in the blank, short answer, crossword puzzles, and word searches for review of the Biology concepts being learned. The tests are multiple choice, and will provide a simple, measurable way to gauge retention of the material.
Of course, what is a Biology course without labs, right? The labs use common or easily-obtained household materials, and the data or other results can be recorded within the student text itself. Friendly Sciences also offers a Biology Lab Report Template that can be printed and filled out.
But what about those pesky dissections? Because dissection labs can be difficult for some of us to manage, the Hajdas have provided video dissection alternatives. These dissections are unique because they were performed on fresh animal specimens! Do you remember in high school Biology looking at those wilted specimens smelling of formaldehyde and trying to figure out what was what while holding your nose? The colors, appearance, and textures in these video dissections are much more accurate than preserved specimens. While you could certainly use the video dissections on their own if preferred, the Hajdas do provide instructions for completing similar dissections on your own.
And remember, Dr. Joey Hajda, part of the curriculum-writing team, has a doctorate degree in veterinary medicine! Can you imagine a more expert tutor to guide your students through a cow heart dissection, for example?
Not only are video dissections available, but you can actually purchase video instruction lessons that correspond to each chapter of the text.
I know that an important question I ask when looking at a high school Biology curriculum is what it teaches regarding evolution. Friendly Biology actually does not include discussion of the theory of evolution either for it or against it. It does not discuss questions regarding the origin of life, but rather focuses on observations of living creatures currently seen around us. You will note that there is a “Christian Worldview” edition and a “Secular” edition. The Christian Worldview edition includes credit to God as the creator of all living things. For example, beneath a photo of a baby in the lesson on “Systems of Reproduction”, there is the comment “Babies are gifts from God.” The secular edition would omit such comments.
I do wish the textbook included bold type within the text itself. I think that if key words or phrases were bolded within the paragraphs it would be easier to follow. But with all the other things there are to love about Friendly Biology, this minor issue would be easy to overlook.
Does teaching Chemistry to your homeschool high school students make you nervous? Friendly Chemistry equips even a science-timid homeschool parent to learn alongside and lead their student through a thorough high school Chemistry course.
Friendly Chemistry comes with a 2-volume teacher edition. Not only do the teacher books include the student text, but it also includes teaching tips and game plans for each lesson. And you don’t have to be scared about the labs. The teacher book even includes tips like a helpful flow chart to guide the parent through the appropriate questions to ask as the lab progresses.
Even if you personally feel overwhelmed by science, the Friendly Chemistry teacher book leads you by the hand so that you can be a co-learner and mentor to your student. In fact, while the Friendly Physical Science and Friendly Biology seem designed for the student to read on their own, the Friendly Chemistry teacher book emphasizes plenty of parental engagement in the learning process. This makes sense when you consider the more complex topics involved in Chemistry. However, if you have an independent high schooler, you could certainly just give them access to the teacher book. Both the teacher book and student book are incredibly easy to read, so some students could certainly use this program on their own.
There is a library of teaching videos available for free on the Friendly Sciences website to help the homeschool teacher understand how to implement the labs and games. There are also videos available for purchase if you prefer to have Dr. Hajda teach each lesson.
While Friendly Physical Science and Friendly Biology include full color illustrations, Friendly Chemistry’s diagrams and illustrations are black and white. But the text is as easy to understand (dare I say as friendly) as the other curricula in the Friendly Sciences collection. The course includes textbook lessons to read, laboratory experiences, worksheet practice pages, and a set of games to reinforce learning. The games (like Ion Bingo and Element Family Demo Derby) are interactive ways to reinforce the Chemistry topics. There are also plenty of easily-grasped analogies and real-life applications to help make Chemistry understandable and enjoyable.
Chemistry is more math-intensive and complicated than Physical Science or Biology, so many homeschool parents will be relieved to hear that there is also an annotated solutions book leading you through each step of the solution rather than just giving you the final answers! You and your student will both discover that not only does Friendly Chemistry make sense, it’s even rather fun!