Making Time for Science: Creating an Integrated Science Curriculum

Science is a critical part of a well-rounded education, but with so many subjects to cover, and a huge focus on literacy, it can be difficult to find the time to teach science. However, the benefits of daily science education are too great to ignore. In this post, we will explore why it’s important to make time for science in your day and I’ll provide some practical tips so that you can have an integrated science curriculum. Whether you’re a seasoned science educator or a fresh off-the-block newbie, you will discover how you can make science an essential and engaging part of your student’s routine, even if you have limited time!

As upper elementary science teachers, we have a lot on our plates. It can be difficult to try to fit science into our already full school day. This post talks about how important it is that we teach science and provides tips on how you can create an integrated science curriculum. It is possible to fit science in!

The Importance of Teaching Science

It can be easy to just push science off to another day and tell yourself you’ll get to it tomorrow. If it isn’t being tested in your grade level then it may not feel like a priority- or at least not as big of a priority as the students learning language arts and literacy. However, that’s just not so. Teachers need to teach the disciplinary core ideas of science in their upper elementary classrooms every day because:

  1. The science disciplines help students make sense of the world around them. It helps students to ask questions, make observations, and develop explanations for the things they see in the world.
  2. Science is an essential subject for the future workforce. As we are starting to see, many of the jobs of the future are requiring a strong understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
  3. Science helps develop important critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It also teaches young adults to think logically and systematically.
  4. Science helps students become better citizens. Students learn about the importance of the environment and the complex interrelationships between the different systems in the natural world.
  5. Science is fun and engaging. With hands-on experiments, interactive simulations, and group discussions, it can be the best part of a student’s day.

When we bring (the next generation science standards) science into the classroom, we are helping our students develop a wide range of skills, create their knowledge that is essential for the future, build a solid foundation, and preparing them for the workforce.

Creating an Integrated Science Curriculum

At first glance, it may sound like a daunting task to create an integrated science curriculum, but once you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll be a pro. Anything we do the first time will be a bit time-consuming and slow. The benefits will be worth it in the end. Here are some ideas and options to help make an integrated science curriculum possible.

  1. Integrate science into other subjects. Look for opportunities to integrate science into other subjects you’re already teaching, such as math, reading, or social studies. For example, you could use my science oral reading fluency cards to practice reading, use a science article to teach reading comprehension skills, or teach about measurement for science during math class.
  2. Prioritize the most important concepts. Rather than trying to cover every science concept in your integrated science curriculum, prioritize the most important ones that align with your learning goals and standards. This helps focus your limited time on only essential topics.
  3. Look for real-world connections. Look for opportunities to connect science concepts to real-world examples to help students see the connections between the fields of science and real-life.
  4. Use technology and videos. There are many online resources available that can be used to teach science concepts in a short amount of time. You could ask students to look at these resources before coming to school like in a flipped classroom.
  5. Incorporate science into homework assignments. Assign science reading or videos for students to complete as homework. This can help free up classroom time for hands-on activities, demonstrations, or discussions.
  6. Collaborate with other teachers. Consider collaborating with other teachers to share the responsibility of both planning and teaching science. For example, you could trade off teaching science lessons with another teacher or have a science specialist (if you have one in your school) come in and teach science lessons once a week.
  7. Use cross-curricular projects. Plan projects that incorporate science and other subjects together, such as project-based learning. I have a lot of those in my store, such as my ecosystem pbl.
  8. Plan field trips to museums. If possible, consider planning a field trip to a local science museum so students can learn about science concepts in a fun and engaging way.
  9. Enlist the parents. Encourage parents to help with science projects or experiments at home. This can help reinforce any concepts learned at school and parents can their student’s progress.
  10. Create a dedicated center for science. Designate a spot in your classroom for students to go to when they finish their work early. Have it set up with science materials for students to complete or work on in their free time. Make sure it is work students can complete independently.

Ideally, if you could set aside time for science every day, that would be best. Even if it’s just a few minutes each day. You could plan short, focused lessons that can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes. These lessons could include hands-on activities, demonstrations, interactive simulations, or discussions, and could be done at the beginning or end of the school day, during transitions, or during a “science minute.”

However, the reality is that teachers have so much on their plates and the content area of science is not always the priority. If that’s the case in your classroom, I hope that you found something here that you can use to create an integrated science curriculum.