I’m not a fan of textbooks in general, but I especially don’t like them for high school use (yes, I know this makes me the opposite of most people). If your child wants a textbook format, I recommend all of Prentice Hall’s high school science textbooks. They are rigorous and interesting enough if you like that format. However, homeschooling high school chemistry can be so much more than what you find in a textbook. Today I want to focus specifically on resources that will help unschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, and people who design their own curriculum. Some of the links below are affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.
Since we aren’t using a traditional textbook, I’ll be referring to two sources to help me make sure we are learning both the math and concepts involved in a well rounded chemistry program of study. The first is Thought Co.’s High School Chem Topics. The second is Khan Academy’s Chemistry. Both of these resources are free. Khan Academy also has AP Chemistry and Organic Chemistry online.
- We’ll be using a Thinking Tree curriculum book for the first time this year. The Science Handbook and Portfolio by Sarah Janisse Brown is written for grades 6 to 12. I’ve seen a lot of great reviews for this book, so we are going to try it out. I like the idea of having a place for most everything (books, videos, websites, reports, etc).
- Intro to Chemistry Coloring Workbook is useful as a review tool for an Intro Chemistry class, not a literal introduction to the subject. The Underling studied chemistry prior to high school, so I don’t anticipate any struggles.
- The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. I can’t wait to start reading this. The Underling is cautiously optimistic (we’ve had some seemingly good books go sideways and turn into bore-fests). It seems the chapters can stand alone, which is a format we both like, so we can read the chapters out of order and as they are relevant to our studies.
- Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur. I don’t know if we’ll read every chapter, but I’m hoping to read a few of them. This book also appears to be divided into chapters that can be read independent of each other. I’m a big fan of this type of format.
VIDEOS, DOCUMENTARIES, and MOVIES
- Crash Course: Chemistry has 46 episodes and is an great addition for middle or high school chemistry. Each episode is between 8 and 15 minutes, making them incredibly bite sized. Don’t be fooled by their brief length, they are chock full of information.
- NOVA’s Hunting the Elements is a great way to learn about different elements. We love this series. You can buy the whole season’s DVD from NOVA or individual episodes through iTunes.
- The American Experience’s The Poisoner’s Handbook is one of my all time favorites. It was interesting enough to capture and keep the Underling’s attention. I recommend this series for chemistry, forensic science, and history classes. It is available on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.
- Period Videos used TEDEd’s platform to produce a very cool interactive Period Table. Click on the element and watch the video. If you want to go a little deeper, click on the lesson plan. Remember TEDEd is free. If you want to customize your own lesson plans, all you have to do is register.
- The Mystery of Matter was produced by PBS a couple years ago. You can buy the DVD via PBS or you can purchase episodes on iTunes. I really enjoyed it when it aired, so I’m hoping it makes a good addition to our studies.
- I have one more TEDEd recommendation, The Genius of Marie Curie.
GAMES (APPS, ONLINE and BOARD)
- The American Chemical Society’s Puzzles and Games page has links to free online chemistry related games.
- Play Science Games has games for several different branches of science. The link will take you to the section for free online chemistry based games.
- 12 Excellent Chemistry Apps for High School Students from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning explores 12 iPad apps.
- The Elements by Theodore Gray (Touch Press Inc) is hands down our favorite iPad app. It’s an expensive app, but worth every penny.
- Compounded Board Game came highly recommended to me from a friend with a chemistry degree. It’s on my wish list for next semester.
- ChemMatters is a chemistry magazine for high school ages. There are four publications a year. You can get print, digital, or both. There are free Teacher Guides to each publication on their website. This will be our first year using them.
- ZomeTool’s C60 Fullerene kit is a fantastic kit to add to middle and high school chemistry classes. We are huge fans of ZomeTool here, we use them all the time for science and math. There is a free quick guide to C60 on their website.
- MEL Science is a monthly subscription kit we just started. The Underling will be writing lab reports for the experiments (we’ll be stapling them into the Science Handbook). I’m hoping each experiment will lead us down another rabbit trail and inspire different experiments. I’ll admit I have an insane amount of science experiment material here at the house we can easily add to this kit.