Nancy Larson Science Review

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Science isn’t every homeschooling parent’s favorite subject to teach.

With its engaging and hands-on curriculum, clearly scripted lessons, convenient science kits, helpful digital links and fun activities, Nancy Larson Science can be a very easy, effective and tear-free way of teaching students K-5 science that can ultimately help generate a lifelong interest in STEM.

What We Like

Engaging, hands-on K-5 science learning
Multisensory lessons
Clear, understandable teaching style
Experiments are fun and guided
Easy to teach, open and go curriculum
Strong science learning
Supports teaching students of different ages
Not a lot of shopping required
Relatively short lessons
Stronger language arts connection than most

But watch out for

Not all that cheap
Parent intensive

What Is Nancy Larson Science?

Created by Nancy Larson, the author and longtime educator behind Saxon Math K-3, Nancy Larson Science is a hands-on homeschool science curriculum aimed at elementary school students.

Covering a wide range of science topics, from life science to astronomy, the program uses a variety of methods to teach, such as hands-on science kits, discussions, highly structured lesson plans, student booklets, reviews, assessments and even science-related literature.

What Ages Or Grades Is Nancy Larson Science Intended For?

Nancy Larson Science is largely aimed at K-5 students and is made up of six levels. 

Unlike many other homeschool science programs out there, however, these levels are not directly linked to specific grades. 

Instead each level contains a selection of different topics in science, increasing in overall complexity, and are aimed at a range of recommended ages. 

LevelAgesExamples of Topics Covered
Science K5-7The human body and its senses, health, plant growth, living/non-living, characteristics of objects, force and movement, seasons and weather.
Science 15-8Life stages of human beings, trees, sunlight, water, soil, animals and their habitats, anatomy, insects.
Science 27-9Properties of matter, rocks and minerals, forces and work, simple machines, sound, light, birds.
Science 38-11The solar system, elements, compounds, physical change, the atmosphere, weather, the Earth’s structure, plant structure and function, amphibians and reptiles
Science 49-12Cells, classification of plants, animal characteristics, ecosystems, energy and electricity
Science 510-13Exploring the universe, structure of matter, matter and its interactions, Earth systems, forces and motion, tools and machines

By building each level to accommodate students in a range of ages (rather than a specific grade or age), we feel that Nancy Larson Science makes it a little easier for parents to teach students or siblings of close age. 

This is, in fact, made even easier by the program’s teacher’s manuals, which often include ideas and extra readings that can help deepen the learning and provide more of a challenge for older students. 

In addition, the program can make things a little easier for students learning outside of a traditional grade progression (such as those a bit ahead or a bit behind in their studies), as there are no obvious grade references that may embarrass or intimidate the student.

What’s Included In Each Level?

As might be expected of a hands-on elementary school science curriculum, Nancy Larson Science uses several components to teach its material, including a Teacher’s Manual, some student materials, a science kit and various resources to which the company offers access. 

Teacher’s Manual

A teacher-led program, parents will spend much of their time reading and guiding lessons from the program’s Teacher’s Manual. 

picture of nancy larson science teacher's manual

This spiral bound, black and white book contains everything parents need to teach the Nancy Larson Science curriculum, including a general overview of the program and its methods, a master materials list, lesson plans, lesson reviews, a glossary, experiment instructions and more. 

The Teacher’s Manuals are largely text-based, with few illustrations or charts to look at, so they are somewhat plain, although they do contain copies of student workbook pages with the answers filled in, which is always helpful.

The Teacher’s Manual is highly scripted, providing parents with clear and easy to follow directions as well as a word for word dialogue to follow. 

This makes it extremely easy for parents to conduct lessons, requiring little to no science knowledge or experience in teaching on their part. 

This is especially true given the fact that the manual frequently inserts teachers notes as sort of an aside, which explain each scientific concept to parents in clear, concise and plain language. 

screenshot of nancy larson science teachers manual showing scripting

It also means that parents don’t have to spend a great deal of time preparing for each lesson as they can simply open the book, gather the relevant materials for the lesson and start teaching.

All this can make Nancy Larson Science particularly useful to parents new to homeschooling and those uncertain about their own ability to teach science. 

On the downside, such heavy scripting can sometimes feel a bit constraining to more experienced homeschooling parents, as well as those who like to teach using their own personal style. 

Student Books

In addition to the Teacher’s Manual, each level of Nancy Larson science also requires the use of some student materials, a student materials book and several student booklets, which is where students will spend most of their time during lessons. 

The student materials book is a black and white pad made of tear-out sheets that are holepunched can easily be removed and stored in a binder of some kind when complete.

The materials books contain the program’s study guides, lesson reviews and assessments that are done at the end of each unit. 

By and large the student materials books are pretty well organized, containing lesson numbers that are rather prominently printed on each review page, making them easier for students to navigate. 

It should be noted that, although they may be called reviews, the lesson reviews contained in the materials books are actually more like worksheets, offering students a variety of exercises and problems and more to help reinforce concepts introduced in the lessons. 

In fact, these reviews do contain a good mixture of exercise types, from short answer questions and multiple choice to circling, matching and more, which can keep the tedium of practice down quite a bit and improve student engagement.

picture of page in student materials book for nancy larson science 2

In addition to the materials books, students also make use of a few (6-7) student booklets. 

These are short softcover consumable books that are each linked to a topic in the level and act as sort of a combination text/workbook. 

This is to say that these booklets contain topically relevant readings that students follow along with as a parent teaches, as well as a variety of interesting activities that students can complete, such as writing, drawing and coloring exercises or periodically filling out diagrams and charts. 

picture of nancy larson science 3 student booklet page

As with the student materials books and Teacher’s Manual, these booklets are also printed in black and white, although they often contain a variety of pretty good quality illustrations that students will work with.

picture of student pages in nancy larson science booklet

Tool Kit

Nancy Larson Science is a very hands-on science curriculum, and each level in the program comes with its own materials/science kit, called a “tool kit,” which contains a variety of resources that link to the lessons in each unit. 

What each tool kit contains really depends on the level in question and the topics it touches on, but in general parents can expect to find a pretty varied collection of STEM materials, such as magnets, samples of rocks and minerals, prisms, gears, beakers, measure tools, weights, cubes, various lab and testing materials, educational posters, and much, much more. 

For the most part, these materials are used to help bring science concepts to life, whether through demonstration or formal experimentation, and their use can really help illustrate concepts and help students more firmly grasp more complex or abstract ideas. 

Interestingly, the tool kits also contain a variety of topically-linked books that students can either read or have read to them in order to explore certain science concepts a little further. 

picture of science literature included in nancy larson science tool kit

These books are full color, science resource titles that are highly educational, usually a lot of fun to read and generally pretty on grade in terms of their reading difficulty. 

In addition to presenting the learning material in a slightly different way, the use of literature in Nancy Larson Science lessons introduces a language arts component  to STEM learning that we always enjoy and that we feel will be similarly appreciated by homeschools interested in literature-based approaches to learning.

One thing to note, however, is that the books are non-fiction, educational resource type books and there isn’t much in the way of living books, which might be a bit of a disappointment for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. 

Resource materials

Finally, each level of Nancy Larson Science also offers students and parents access to a number of resource materials that can be used to help teach or review concepts. 

These differ from level to level but often contain things like charts, word cards, teaching masters, glossaries, word labels and more. 

Families also get access to digital materials hosted on the Nancy Larson website, such as videos, photos and slideshows, that parents can then incorporate into their lessons as an added audiovisual component that can make learning a little more fun and interesting for students. 

When integrated into lessons, these resources and aides can really help to round out the teaching and help students drill key facts and vocabulary, but can also mean more things for parents to organize and keep track of, which is something to keep in mind. 

Nancy Larson Science Approach to Teaching

Broad science learning

Unlike some homeschool science curricula, such as Real Science Odyssey, which divide their books by science subject, each level in Nancy Larson Science contains several different topics or units based around different subjects in science.

For example, in Science 3 has units on:

  • The solar system (astronomy)
  • Elements and compounds (chemistry)
  • Physical changes (physics)
  • Earth structure (earth science)
  • The structure and function of seed plants (life science)
  • Amphibians and reptiles (life science)

This all in one structure can not only be more convenient for parents when it comes to managing and organizing their child’s science learning, but can also be something of a cost savings as they don’t have to buy quite as many separate books.

Interestingly, as each topic or unit in the book contains some 10-20 lessons, students do get to learn about each concept in a fair amount to depth, addressing a common issue that parents have with this sort of integrated course structure. 

One thing that parents should keep in mind is that some students do prefer to study one subject at a time, diving into the material deeply in sort of a mastery learning style, which is something to keep in mind. 

Parent-led instruction

Nancy Larson Science is a parent-led curriculum that relies on explicit and direct science instruction, somewhat similar to a traditional classroom.

Lessons are highly structured and contain a script that parents read aloud in order to introduce and discuss science concepts and materials while the student follows along in their booklet. 

This teaching style has a number of distinct advantages. 

In particular it makes the program very easy to teach, as lessons clearly guide parents and students from one concept and task to another.

It also keeps lessons fairly organized and allows the program to tackle more complex science concepts in more depth without the risk of things getting confused or off-track. 

On the downside, however, it does mean that lessons do require more time and effort on the part of parents.

Additionally, this sort of top-down instruction is not always to every homeschool parent’s taste, as some may prefer an discovery or inquiry-based approach where the student takes a more prominent role in the lessons and are more actively engaged.  

Hands-on learning

As we’ve mentioned, Nancy Larson Science is a very hands-on and experiential science program, usually including at least one hands-on learning experience or experiment per lesson.

The science kits for each level are filled with a wide variety of topically-relevant resources, demonstrations and experiments that allow students to touch, play with and otherwise get their hands dirty doing science.

Not only can these learning aids and experiments help students get a firmer and more relevant grasp of abstract concepts and ideas in science, but allowing students to touch and interact with scientific items and demonstrations makes Nancy Larson Science lessons far more multisensory.

This in turn can make lessons more memorable and more appropriate for students with different learning styles.

Unlike many other science programs out there, however, a good deal of the program’s required materials are included in these kits, with the exception of a few of what the program calls “collected items” (usually a few household items), so there isn’t a huge list of things that parents will have to go out and buy – something that’s a definite plus for many parents. 

Strong emphasis on vocabulary and terminology

Compared to other science programs, Nancy Larson Science really emphasizes the proper study of scientific terminology.

Throughout the lessons, the program gives students a good deal of practice at reading and using key terms in context, highlighting them in text, building word lists, using them in lesson exercises (fill in the blank questions, for example) and periodically using resources like word cards, reviews and word wall charts in lessons and in reviews o help students become comfortable and more fluent with this new vocabulary. 

example of nancy larson science word list and focus on vocabulary

In fact, when combined with the science reference books within each science kit, there is a very strong overall literature arts connection with Nancy Larson Science that we feel many homeschools will appreciate. 

How it Works

As we’ve mentioned previously, Nancy Larson Science is made up of six levels, Science K-5.

Each level in the program is divided into several specific topics of study, such as amphibians and reptiles or forces in motion. 

Each topic is subsequently divided into a fair number of lessons, usually around 10-20. 

The exact number of lessons per level varies, but gradually increases as the series progresses, being anywhere from around 61 in Science K to around 95 in Science 5. 

The pace of study and length of lessons also tends to vary as the series progresses, with the curriculum recommending a 2-3 day per week schedule of 20-30 minute lessons at the lower levels and up to 45 minute lessons 5 days a week at the upper. 

Consequently, while the program isn’t specifically designed around particular grades or ages, it does take into account a student’s developing attention span and ability to study, which is nice. 

The lessons themselves follow a fairly consistent format, being something of a back and forth dialogue between parents and students.

Lessons usually start with parents introducing a concept orally or reading from a text, stopping at times to ask students questions or to think about what they are learning. 

example of student interaction and engagement in nancy larson science

When lessons include readings, they are printed in the teacher’s manual and read aloud by parents, with students following along in their student booklet.

screenshot example of reading in nancy larson science lesson

At times, parents may introduce items from the tool kit, directing students to look, touch or otherwise interact with what is presented. 

Experiments, too, are done in a scripted/guided and sequential manner, introducing students to the scientific method and proper method of conducting experiments in a step by step and careful way.

picture of experiment in nancy larson science lesson

Interestingly, and something that sets Nancy Larson Science apart from other experiment-heavy curricula we’ve seen is that this guidance also extends to data recording and interpretation, helping students learn to analyze and record their results in a more organized and systematic way from the start.

example of guided experiment recording in nancy larson science

In a similar manner, lessons often include practice exercises and these are worked on with the parent during lessons in a sort of guided, step-by-step manner.

example of guided exercises in nancy larson science lessons

At the end of each lesson, parents give a student a specific review sheet to work on.

As with the practice exercises, both students and parents go over the directions and exercises together, but in this case students complete them on their own with the help of their student booklet. 

At the upper levels, these exercises can include independent research projects, as well, where students use their readings or the Nancy Larson Science weblinks to investigate, record and report back on certain concepts that they’ve been assigned. 

At the end of each section, there is also a formal assessment (usually 1 or 2 per booklet) that parents can hand out, which is sort of a short test that contains a good mix of short answer, multiple choice, true or false and fill in the blank questions. 

Our thoughts

Overall, we feel that Nancy Larson Science is a very easy to use and straightforward homeschool science program. 

The Teacher’s Manuals are highly scripted and are able to guide parents and students quickly and easily through lessons, introducing scientific concepts using simple and clear language.

In a similar vein, the experiential component of each lesson (whether that’s a formal experiment or a demonstration) is also quite guided and scripted, carrying students and parents through each step of the process slowly and sequentially.

As a result, the program’s lessons are very easy to teach and require very little in the way of pre-lesson preparation or review on the part of parents. 

At the same time, the science learning itself is pretty solid and in-depth.

Students are challenged to learn (and learn to use) all the proper scientific vocabulary in the subjects they learn about, and at times they are able to explore topics that are a little more advanced compared to many other homeschool science programs out there, such as friction, force, planes of motion, light and the color spectrum in level 2. 

In addition, while the program is parent-led, we liked the fact that the lessons often pause to challenge students to think about and offer their ideas on what they are learning about, something that not only increases student engagement but also can help students hone their critical thinking skills, which is always a plus. 

As mentioned, we also like the fact that Nancy Larson Science does make its lessons quite multisensory, with hands on experiments and demonstrations (tactile), parent-student dialogue (auditory) and interactions (kinesthetic), readings and diagram work (visual) and a variety of optional audio visual links that can be brought in.  

As a result, we feel the program can be well suited and engaging to a variety of different students and their learning styles.

Finally, we like the fact that Nancy Larson Science tends to keep its lessons fairly short and to the point. 

With lessons at the upper level taking around 45 minutes, and those lower down quite a bit shorter, they tend not to be as frustrating or intimidating to students and can be a lot easier to fit into a busy homeschool schedule.

On the downside, the heavy scripting in each lesson may, at times, feel a bit directive and somewhat constraining for certain homeschooling parents, with the very sequential guidance and specific dialogue requiring a bit of a workaround for those who like to improvise or use their own teaching style.  

Further, as the program’s lessons and exercises are very parent-led, they are very parent-intensive and do require a good deal of time and effort on the part of parents to complete. 

How Easy Is Nancy Larson Science To Teach With?

By and large, Nancy Larson Science makes it extremely easy for homeschooling parents to teach science. 

The lessons are highly scripted and extremely well organized, sequentially guiding all involved through the introduction, exploration, experimentation and practice of important science concepts. 

In addition, and in contrast to many homeschooling science programs out there, the program provides most of the materials used in its demonstrations and experiments, which means there is far less shopping and preparation for parents to do. 

The only real issue when it comes to the program’s ease of use is the fact that it is not a self-study program and does require parents to be very engaged and present during lessons. 

Is Nancy Larson Science A Secular Science Curriculum?

Overall, we would say that Nancy Larson Science is a neutral science curriculum.

While it makes no mention of God or the Bible, and while it discusses things like geology and fossils, it doesn’t really teach evolution, leaving this up to the parents. 

Ultimately, we feel the program is well suited for most homeschoolers so long as they aren’t looking for a strictly religious or secular curriculum. 

Pros and Cons


Very hands-on science curriculum

With at least one demonstration or experiment per lesson, and plenty of opportunities to touch and use whole body movements throughout the learning, Nancy Larson Science offers students a lot of opportunity to get involved with their learning do science, rather than just read about it, which can make lessons much more engaging, interesting and relevant.

Multisensory lessons

Aside from reading, with Nancy Larson Science students and parents will discuss topics, move around, watch videos or slideshows, read, color, draw, touch and interact with the learning materials.

This multisensory teaching can make the program far more relevant and useful for students with different learning styles, as well as help make learning more fun and engaging overall.

Approachable, understandable teaching style

Nancy Larson Science lessons use clear, straightforward and understandable language to introduce and explain scientific concepts, making them seem far less intimidating to both students and parents. 

More than that, the program actually guides students and parents slowly and carefully through its experiments, allowing students to more easily learn how to proceed methodically through the scientific method and collect/record data correctly. 

Strong K-5 science learning

Although the program uses clear and understandable language to teach, it does treat its science topics very seriously, teaching their concepts in a good amount of depth and helping students learn to use all the relevant scientific terminology properly and fluidly. 

Easy to teach, open and go

With its highly scripted and sequential teaching style, Nancy Larson Science is quite easy for parents to use and requires no teaching experience or science knowledge.

With little preparation required before lessons, parents can also pretty much pick up their manual and start teaching right away.

Not a lot of shopping required

Unlike many other homeschool science programs, Nancy Larson Science includes most of the materials that parents and students will need in conveniently pre-packaged science kits, meaning that there aren’t any long shopping lists to go through with this program.

Short lessons

Nancy Larson Science lessons tend to be pretty short, usually between 20-45 minutes a day depending on the level, which means they tend to be less intimidating and less frustrating for all involved. 

Stronger language arts connection than most

In addition to the strong, standards-aligned science learning, Nancy Larson Science also includes fun and educational science reference books in its science kits, which can introduce a fun literature-based learning component, as well as various exercises designed to help improve comprehension and vocabulary development in its student materials. 


Not the cheapest science curriculum around

Starting around $310 for a bundle, although it offers a lot of material per level, Nancy Larson Science isn’t the cheapest science curriculum and can be a little hard for those on a strict budget to afford.

Very parent intensive

As parents are expected to lead lessons, following a script to introduce, explain and discuss various concepts, the program can be somewhat demanding in terms of a parent’s time and energy compared to some more self-study options out there.

Who is Nancy Larson Science Ideal For?

Parents looking for an easy, open and go science curriculum

Nancy Larson Science lessons are very scripted and well-structured and as a result they don’t really require parents to review anything or really prepare before lessons, allowing them to pretty much open the book, gather any relevant materials and start teaching.

New homeschooling parents, those uncertain about their own teaching skills

The guided and scripted nature of Nancy Larson Science can make the program ideal for parents new to teaching or those wary of their own science skills, as the lessons will pretty much explicitly tell them what to do and when to do it, requiring little to no experience or science background.

Fans of multisensory learning

Homeschools that enjoy multisensory lessons will have a lot to enjoy with Nancy Larson Science, as each lesson typically includes a dialogue, kinesthetic movement readings, hands-on work, coloring and even audiovisual materials from the company website.

Parents who enjoy engaging with and discussing things with students during lessons

Every lesson in Nancy Larson Science is built around a back and forth dialogue between parent and child, with parents introducing and explaining concepts while challenging students to think about what they’re learning and respond to various prompts. 

Fans of literature-based learning

Unlike many other science programs out there, the program also includes various interesting and fun science books in its science kits that can introduce a strong literature-based learning component to the program. 

Those looking for a standards-aligned homeschool science program

Nancy Larson Science is NGSS standards aligned for its science curriculum and, interestingly, also meets some common core English language arts standards, due to its vocabulary activities and literature components.

Who is it Not Ideal For?

Those looking for more of a self-study option

Nancy Larson Science is a parent-led program and requires strong parental involvement throughout its lessons, meaning it may not be an ideal option for busier homeschools and those looking to promote independent learning.

Parents who like to teach their own way or who are looking for more of a student-led program

Nancy Larson Science lessons are heavily scripted and do guide parents and students through lessons fairly sequentially. 

Although this does make teaching easier and far more organized, and while with a little work it can be adapted to pretty much any teaching style, it may not be the most ideal option for those who like to put their own spin on things or those looking for an inquiry-based/student-led approach to learning.

Those on a stricter homeschool budget

A full set of Nancy Larson Science, while offering a lot of material to work with at each level, isn’t really all that cheap and may be hard for those on a strict budget to afford. 


Note: Prices correct as of writing. All prices in USD.

As we’ve discussed, Nancy Larson Science contains several items at each level that parents will have to purchase, including a Teacher’s Manual, student materials, a science kit and access to digital materials.

These are usually available as a bundled package and generally speaking, parents can pick up a complete kit of Nancy Larson Science for between $310-$365, depending on level.

Parents interested in teaching multiple students will also need to pick up additional copies of the student materials (as they are consumable), which cost between $32-68 depending on level. 

Parents can also buy spare copies of the Teacher’s Manual, which cost between $150-175 depending on the level and if any photo cards or other resources are included with them.

As always, parents should make sure to check for the latest prices, as well as for any discounts or offers that may apply.

Is It Worth the Price

Although perhaps not the cheapest science curriculum out there, we believe that Nancy Larson Science can offer a good deal of value to the right homeschooling families. 

The program offers students a thorough, clear and in-depth examination of important and interesting science topics, from exploring the universe to the organisms around them, and gives them a lot of opportunity to get hands-on with the science through the many demonstrations and experiments in each unit. 

The lessons can also be very engaging and multisensory, teaching using a back and forth dialogue between parents and students, colorful and interesting science books, in-lesson demonstrations, activities and even online audio-video materials.

Finally, although it does require parents to take an active role in teaching the lessons, Nancy Larson Science is extremely easy to teach and doesn’t require much in the way of pre-existing teaching experience, science skill, preparation or even shopping on the part of parents. 

Bottom Line

Science isn’t every homeschooling parent’s favorite subject to teach.

With its engaging and hands-on curriculum, clearly scripted lessons, convenient science kits, helpful digital links and fun activities, Nancy Larson Science can be a very easy, effective and tear-free way of teaching students K-5 science that can ultimately help generate a lifelong interest in STEM.

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About the Author

David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.