Unschooling Plans – Science and History

Unschooling science and history

Here’s what we have planned for science and history this term. My children intend to keep me very busy!

See this post for our unschooling plans for maths and English.



C(10) wants to “explore the laws of physics. Like, what makes vacuum cleaners work? How do aeroplanes and helicopters fly? What charges up batteries?”

I’ll be learning this alongside the kids here. I enjoyed physics it at school but didn’t study it for long. When I was 13 I missed a term of school because of a road accident and had to drop a subject (physics). The time has come to catch up on what I missed!

J(8) threw in, “And I want to learn about quantum physics.”

“Sure!” I replied brightly, wondering where on Earth I’d find resources to teach quantum physics to an 8-year-old (or a 43-year-old).

I needn’t have worried – the scientists have it covered. Just look at this Minecraft Mod, designed to teach kids about quantum physics. And YouTube has dozens of videos on the subject. (The kids may be teaching me some science this term.)


J(8), meanwhile, wants to “make more potions,” so we’ll do more activities like Midsummer Potions, Alien Soup and Fizzy Fountains.

unschooling science
“Potions class”

Science investigations that all students should do before high school

In our spare moments I’ll use Phyllis’s wonderful collections of science investigations that all students should do before high school and concoctions for play. We’ve done many of these already but I’m eagerly following Phyllis’s blog so we don’t miss any fun.

unschooling science and history
Diet coke geyser fun

History (with a bit of English and science overlap)

C(10) and I will continue with our chronological study of world history (we’re two-thirds through The Story of the World volume 2). We’re especially looking forward to learning about the Elizabethan period and Shakespeare.


Shakespeare’s Globe in London is showing Much Ado About Nothing in April so we’re going to study the play and then see it performed. This week we laughed out loud at the Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross retelling.  Next we’re going to read the No Fear Shakespeare (Sparknotes) version, and watch the Kenneth Brannagh movie. And finally – the live performance!

Unschooling science and history

Explorers and navigation

We’ll visit the Royal Museums Greenwich to complement our SOTW study of the early explorers. The children are looking forward to standing astride the Prime Meridian, with one foot in the Earth’s Western Hemisphere and one in the Eastern Hemisphere.

World Wars

J(8) received an illustrated book on the World Wars for Christmas, which prompted him to ask to learn about the World Wars.

He’s more interested in machines and methods of warfare than people and motives so he loves these First World War Fact Cards I recently strewed.

unschooling science and history

There’s plenty of good quality historical fiction about World War I and II. Right now we’re enjoying The Silver Sword in the car, and Puddles in the Lane is our family read-aloud.

I’d like to use videos, too – does anyone know of any good videos about the world wars that are suitable for children?

Our local kids’ history club is running a workshop on the First World War this afternoon, which will get us off to a great start.

Do you have any suggestions for resources we might like? I’d love to hear from you!

Next time, in the last post in this unschooling plans series, I’ll share my children’s project plans for this term.


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28 thoughts on “Unschooling Plans – Science and History

  1. I just love your fabulous resources- those are some great science links! And I’m so jealous of all your history resources living in England. We wish we had time to spend another month there!

    1. Hi Cari, it’s lovely to hear from you! Thank you for your kind comment. 🙂 I can only dream of seeing as many wonderful places as you’ve taken your family!

  2. Wow, very busy term coming up for you guys! I’m just going to list some sources that you might find useful:
    1) physics – How Things Work from Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/course/howthingswork1) might be a good jump-off point.

    2) World Wars – the list that we use might be useful, but you might want to watch some of the videos alongside the children because they show some real historical footages that might be too gruesome for some children. (http://thetigerchronicle.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/lighting-his-own-fire.html)

    We’re also thinking of going to the Globe again, but I haven’t seen the programme for 2014 season yet. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for when the season opens. 🙂

    1. That’s brilliant – thank you so much, Hwee! I was hoping you’d have some good War resources, given Tiger’s interests. The coursera link is a bonus!
      You inpsired me to look at what’s on at the Globe. 🙂 I don’t think J(8) could manage it yet but I think C(10) and I will enjoy it! I’m so please Much Ado is on because there are so many great video versions available.

      1. I have thought more about the World Wars resources appropriate for children, but can only think of the “My Story” series (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Story-Collection-Books-Set-Pack/dp/1407136321/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1389549001&sr=8-4&keywords=my+story+series) as rather good historical fictions. Tiger leans more towards the actual battles and weaponry, so I don’t have many historical fictions to recommend.

        The plays at the Globe usually last about 3 hours each time, with a 15-minute interval halfway through. The ushers and the fee-paying audience there are generally not very tolerant of youngsters unless they (the youngsters) can sit still and be quiet for the duration of the play, so it’ll be wise to take these into consideration when booking. 🙂

        1. Just a bit more:
          1) “War Horse” by Michael Morpurgo is set in the First World War.

          2) There is much public debate lately about interpretation of First World War (this year being the centenary) so there are many interesting sources out there to dig through.

          1. Ooh yes, War Horse, for sure! Do you think that is better than Private Peaceful? I’m not sure which one to read first.

            Yes, this will be an interesting year for learning about WWI. We’re looking forward to it.

        2. Sorry Hwee – I missed the first part of your comment earlier. Thanks for the heads-up about the Globe. Definitely not a place for J(8) yet, I feel!

          I haven’t seen the My Story books before, thank you so much for mentioning them. I shall search them out at the library.

          I really appreciate you taking the time and thought to give me ideas. 🙂

  3. It’s almost a contradiction……. that’s a lot of plans for unschooling:) I look forward to reading your physics posts. We’re starting to study Shakespeare too. Have you listened to Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare on Librivox? My kids are enjoying them.

    1. Actually I was hoping I could send them to you for physics and engineering, Julie… 😉 Okay, maybe you’re a bit far away!
      This whole labels business is a bit of a nonsense really isn’t it? I guess we’re probably interest-led more than anything right now.
      Thanks for the reminder about the E Nesbitt stories. They are lovely. I shall find the Librivox version of Much Ado.

    2. We’ve not read Private Peaceful, but the book has rave reviews on Amazon so it’s probably very good too. Both books look at the First World War from slightly different angles so it really doesn’t matter which you read first. 🙂 There’s so much to learn about WWI and I’m looking forward to read about how you approach it.

  4. Awesome…..thanks for the links!
    My hubby feels I am not doing enough sci ( he could be right!) He is a sci teacher and he’s crazy nuts —they’d be doing science all day long if he was home ( That’s what I tell him..he refutes it though)
    ANyway, I clicked over with interest….great ideas…thank you So much. Pinning!
    Enjoy the weekend,friend!

    1. Wow a science teacher in the family – how handy must that be?! My husband remembers a lot of science from school but I always forget to ask him. I’ll spend hours researching something online and then it turns out he knew all about it! I guess like my kids I like finding things out for myself. 🙂
      Thank you for pinning. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, Chris! x

  5. Wow, you will be busy. Thanks for the Shakespeare links, something we are looking at currently. Have you checked out the education pack that you can borrow from the Dyson company? It is free for schools and home educators in the UK, it does need booking (and can be quite a wait) but well worth it – you get a complete Dyson to take apart and play with (just a shame you have to return it at the end) along with some interesting reading material.

  6. Lucinda,

    What a wonderful collection of ideas and resources!

    We’d love to go to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. You will enjoy Much Ado About Nothing, especially the Kenneth Branagh version. The Beatrice and Benedict scenes are delightful.

    We have read many fiction books based on the World Wars, but some of them are written from the Australian perspective. Have you read ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr or “The Borrowed House’ by Hilda van Stockum?

    I will have to bookmark some of your links. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Sue! Over the last few years I’ve asked my children many times what they wanted to learn, but in the past they hadn’t been very forthcoming. So I was delighted with how many ideas they came up with when I asked them over these last holidays. It makes me so pleased that we are all starting to “get” this unschooling/interest-led learning thing (whatever it’s called!).

      We began reading Much Ado today. It was so much fun. It would be even better if we had more girls to share out the parts between!

      Thank you for the book suggestions, they both look like excellent books. I’m so grateful that you suggested historical fiction to me a while back. You are so right, it is a wonderful way to learn.

  7. Brilliant plans. I shall watch agog, and hopefully use everything you’ve done with Shakespeare and take next year off!!
    I hope you have a really special year this year continuing along your wonderful journey!

  8. Hi, I’ve been watching your blog avidly for a few months now. I loved going to the globe when I was younger, but I now live in NZ so will have to wait for a trip back home to do that again!
    I remember reading Carrie’s War when I was at school – that would be from the perspective of those who stayed behind. And also Diary of Anne Frank – there is a great movie of that too.
    I hope you have a wonderful year and I’m looking forward to seeing what you are up to.

    1. Hi Jo, It’s lovely to hear from you. Wow – New Zealand! I’ve never made it there but I would love to visit one day.
      Thank you for the personal book recommendations, they always carry more weight for me than anonymous reviews. I’ll put Carrie’s War on our list. Anne Frank’s story is amazing too. I shall have to warn the children it is a true story though, they are rather used to happy endings!
      Thank you so much for your good wishes – I hope you have a wonderful year too. 🙂

  9. I’m enjoying the resources and topics that you guys have picked out for this semester. I’m going to especially watch for stuff on the world wars because that’s one of Firecracker’s interest areas.

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