REAL Science Odyssey – Life


REAL Science Odyssey- Life is a year-long, secular homeschool life science curriculum for early elementary grades. Students learn key concepts in life science through an incremental series of lessons and hands-on exploration.

Pages: 328

Grade level: most appropriate for K – 2nd grade

Course type: textbook


What is Life Level 1?

REAL Science Odyssey- Life is a year-long, secular homeschool life science curriculum. Students learn key concepts in life science through an incremental series of lessons. They start with the definition of life itself, and work up to the diverse creatures that share our world. Age-appropriate math and labs are woven into the course, providing students with many opportunities to apply the scientific method and reinforce their knowledge. The course guides elementary-age learners as they Read, Explore, Absorb, and Learn life science:

  • Read– Fun, engaging readings introduce big ideas and details for the chapter. The text is designed to be read aloud to students, fostering questions and discussion.
  • Explore– Carefully crafted, hands-on experiments demonstrate life science concepts. Your student will observe and record the subtle patterns of nature throughout the course.
  • Absorb– REAL Science engages visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic learners, to help every student understand and retain key concepts
  • Learn– with RSO Life, you don’t just learn about our amazing natural world, you get your hands dirty and learn how science is done!

It’s also important to understand what REAL Science Odyssey is not. This curriculum is NOT:

  • A random selection of labs. It’s a fully developed, incremental homeschool science curriculum.
  • Children will learn REAL life science, in the real world, and they’ll use the real scientific method.
  • Dry or boring. Children will get their hands dirty with this elementary life science curriculum! They will play, sing, dig, and get outside, bringing concepts from the page alive.
  • Influenced by religion. All REAL Science Odyssey courses are secular and based on valid, empirical science.


Who can use RSO Life?

RSO Life is an elementary life science curriculum designed for grades K-2.

Elementary-age students are naturally curious about plants, animals, and the natural world. The RSO elementary life science curriculum leverages this curiosity. It gets children into the natural world to explore the diversity of life with all five senses. It starts with their own body, and broadens into a systematic study of the animal and plant kingdoms. The curriculum deepens their understanding of living systems through fun songs, observation, and experiments.

What’s more, you don’t need to have a science background to use this homeschool science curriculum! All materials are written with the life science novice in mind, so you don’t need to do a lot of extra research in advance of the lessons.

You can also use RSO Life as part of a co-op or with multiple students.  If you’re using the curriculum with more than one student, you can purchase extra copies of the consumable student pages separately.

If you need a homeschool science curriculum for a different grade or a different subject, check out the REAL Science Odyssey homepage!


Science Topics Covered

RSO Life starts with the basics, and each unit builds on the last. Every unit reinforces aspects of the scientific method and critical thinking. Each unit explores a big idea or question in depth through reading, experiments, and conversation.

What Is Life?

What Is Life?

  • How do we know if something is alive or not?
  • Living things are made of cells
Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

  • Animal classification
  • Animal phyla examined in detail: the squishy and the spiny, the scaly, and the winged. (And their real names: cnidaria, echinoderms, reptiles, and more)
  • Comparative anatomy of different animal phyla
  • Vertebrates vs. Invertebrates
  • Warm vs. Cold Blooded
Plant Kingdom

Plant Kingdom

  • Plant classification
  • Flowers, pollination, and seeds
  • Leaves make energy from sunlight
Human Body

Human Body

  • Body systems
  • Structure and function of various systems–Respiratory, digestive, circulatory, etc
  • Growth and genetics


Science Skills Covered

In addition to being a complete, homeschool science curriculum, RSO Life will guide your student in learning essential skills that will serve them throughout their education and life, such as:

  • Applying the Scientific method
  • Critical Thinking
  • Observation
  • Presenting scientific data
  • Reading and interpreting informational texts


Lab Experiments

No homeschool life science curriculum would be complete without hands-on experiments. Your children will get their hands dirty, gain a few interesting new pets, and see how concepts play out in the real world. With RSO Life, your child will:

  • Examine the one type of cell that’s big enough to see without a microscope: a bird egg!
  • Find out exactly how long it takes a message to get from their eyes to their brain, then to their hands
  • Learn how seemingly very different creatures share features by comparing a garden snail to its mollusk cousins
  • Dissect different types of seeds to observe the parts that are needed to grow a plant

. . . and much more! Each experiment includes detailed supply lists, step-by-step instructions, and, when needed, safety precautions.

Lab sheets guide your student through implementing the scientific method. Your student will gain experience:

  • Formulating hypotheses based on knowledge gained from the reading
  • Recording observations and results
  • Drawing conclusions based on those results
  • Reinforcing their knowledge by answering questions about the experiment.


Planning and Scheduling

Research shows that science is best learned in deep investigations of a single subject, rather than short hops from one field to another. All REAL Science Odyssey curricula align with this methodology. Each RSO curriculum is designed as a full-year homeschool science curriculum. It includes:

  • 36 weeks of material, assuming you teach science one or two days per week.
  • Suggested weekly schedule for the entire year
  • Supply list break down for each week
  • Instructor pages that guide you in implementing each lesson and lab
  • Student pages are available if using the curriculum with more than one student


Important Copyright Information: If you choose the eBook version of this course, you are purchasing a license to use the PDF for your own children. You may make copies for your own children, but you may not share (email, download, print and distribute, resell, etc.) this eBook or any portion of this eBook to others.

Licensing is available for group, school, and co-op use. Please contact Pandia Press for details on group licensing (

Most supplies are normal household items that you can find either in your home or at the grocery, craft, or big-box store. You’ll also need a 3-ring binder for lab and notebook pages. Field guides to your local birds, insects, and plants will also be helpful.

Since our homeschool life science curriculum is hands-on, some of your “supplies” will include critters–insects, worms, snails–that you find or dig up. You will need access to an outdoor space (garden, yard, park) where these things live. All our experiments are designed to avoid harming these test subjects.


Uncommon Supplies Needed for Course Labs:

Science Thermometer– The liquid in good science thermometer goes down on its own, unlike the liquid in a medical thermometer, which must be shaken down. Some kitchen thermometers will work, but most do not go low enough. You will need a thermometer that will go down to 30° F or 0° C.

Butterfly house– homemade or purchased one from online science supply stores (comes with a certificate to get five butterfly larvae).

Live critters- garden snails, earthworms, butterfly larvae, spiders (optional), isopods (aka pill bugs or roly-polies)

Glass eyedropper

Triple beam balance (optional)

Binoculars– avoid the $10 ones, but you don’t have to spend $100


Refer to the Try Before You Buy file for a complete detailed list of the lab supplies needed to complete this course.

Don’t have time to search around? Home Science Tools offers kits containing the harder-to-find materials you need for each REAL Science Odyssey curriculum.