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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching for Home Learning: Primary Science. Join the course to learn more.

Embedding skills

Whilst there are some skills that are more difficult to practise when children are working at home, such as team working and cooperation, there are areas of working scientifically that the children can absolutely practise at home.

Working scientifically’ specifies the understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science for each year group. It should not be taught as a separate strand. The notes and guidance give examples of how ‘working scientifically’ might be embedded within the content of biology, chemistry and physics, focusing on the key features of scientific enquiry, so that pupils learn to use a variety of approaches to answer relevant scientific questions.’ DfE- Science programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 National curriculum in England September 2013

There is no one enquiry type that fits all types of investigations, and the method depends on what you are trying to find out. For example, if children want to find out how a seed changes as it germinates, they might decide to observe a seed each day for a week and draw the changes.

Children should have experience across five main types of enquiry: sorting, Identifying and Classifying; Pattern Seeking; Observation Over Time; Comparative and Fair Testing and Research. Over the next few steps we’ll look at some examples of each of these types.

Some key points to consider when planning practical enquiries at home are:

  • Activities should require few to no resources.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure any practical activity can be carried out safely, bearing in mind that some children may not be supervised.
  • They should be quick to complete so the child can complete them in the time they have.
  • They need to be easily explained and understood by the child and any adult helper.
  • Easy to record any outcomes
  • Suitable for the child to explore for themselves and build on previous learning.


Have a look at our Starters for STEM resources.

Additionally, CLEAPSS have drawn up a list of practicals which are suitable for home learning (and those that are not), with some health and safety advice.

Select ONE idea which you could use as the basis for an enquiry activity. Share the idea below, and which Year group it is for.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching for Home Learning: Primary Science

National STEM Learning Centre