Elementary Dissection Lab

Dissection Day

by Lynne

Whenever I have a question about homeschool science, I ask my friend Lisa. Lisa’s ten-year-old daughter has an insatiable appetite for science knowledge, so out of necessity, Lisa has had to do more than the average homeschool mom’s share of research into science curricula and science opportunities for her daughter. She is a veritable treasure trove of science information and has been able to parlay this research into fantastic science classes at our local homeschool co-op.

This session, Lisa is teaching a dissection class to a group of nine students, aged 9-14. They will be dissecting everything from clams to chickens. I was able to visit the class and take a peek at the students working on their crayfish dissections.

The kids read up about the specimen before coming to class. Each student has his own dissection kit and works on his own specimen, but they are seated in pairs and work together on each project. They discuss how to proceed and share their discoveries with each other. They record their information on a lab sheet.


I asked Lisa a few questions about the class, and she told me that the very first thing she did was to go over all the items in the dissection kit and explain the safety procedures to the class. Nine-year-olds wielding scalpels have the potential to be dangerous if they are not properly cautioned! The first specimen was an earthworm, and the kids enjoyed seeing its five hearts. Each week they will explore a new specimen and learn more anatomical terminology. Lisa’s goals for the class  “ . . . are for the students to have a basic overview of anatomy and learn the language that is science. I’m a big believer in exposing children to scientific terms so they build a language bank.”

There are many benefits to doing science classes in a co-op format, such as sharing the cost of expensive materials and the opportunity to swap information. A co-op dissection class, as Lisa says, “also helps busy moms keep sheep hearts out of their dining rooms.” I think many homeschool parents would appreciate having a separate location to work on some of the more messy science projects.

One of my favorite things about this class is that it is open to younger students.  Normally, dissection is reserved for high school biology and anatomy classes. This class is for late elementary and middle school aged kids. Lisa is of the opinion that many kids shy away from more advanced science classes out of fear of “scary words.” She hopes her ambition to build up a science language bank in younger students will encourage them to pursue science even further than they ever imagined possible. Judging by the excitement on the kids’ faces in that room, I have a feeling Lisa may be on to something.

Lynnlynnee–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past three years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

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