Simplify Your Virtual Science Instruction


With the new year coming up, I have been so excited to be teaching science again! It’s one of my favorite subjects.

However, with virtual instruction being in place, I knew that I needed to figure out how to make virtual science instruction work and I needed to simplify things as much as possible!

In a normal classroom setting, I like to plan interactive science lessons that might include sorting activities, role-playing activities, or manipulation of materials. That just isn’t possible with virtual science instruction. So, I had to get creative.

Here are my top tips, plus a free resource, for teaching science virtually. You can download the free resource here: Narwhals – Adaptations NGSS-Aligned Free Science Unit (Digital & Print)

Teach with High-Interest Science Texts

In order to get the biggest payout for your instructional time, I recommend integrating science content into your reading block.

There are tons of reading standards for informational text that can be covered while reading about science content. This also allows you to cover your science standards at the same time as your reading standards.

It can be hard to find science texts that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards so I created a set of texts that I could use with my students whether I’m teaching in person or virtually.

I wanted to create a science text that truly integrates the reading standards for informational text and the science standards so I included headings, pictures, captions, and more. This helped me make sure that I was using reading materials that represented what students would see in the real world.

If you’re looking for an engaging text that you can integrate into your reading instruction, make sure you check out the nonfiction text included in this fun and free narwhal resource about physical traits and adaptations. You can download the free resource here: Narwhals – Adaptations NGSS-Aligned Free Science Unit (Digital & Print)

Develop Vocabulary

When you’re teaching science virtually, it’s really important that you take that extra step to make sure students are understanding the content. A big part of understanding the content is understanding specific science vocabulary.

Since we can’t be right there beside our students to explain things, building in vocabulary activities is key!

I love using a strategy from Project GLAD called a Cognitive Content Dictionary so I created a simple vocabulary grid that can function similarly to this but still work with virtual science instruction and learning. You can find a copy of the vocabulary grid in my free narwhal science unit, too!

Another fun way that you can incorporate more vocabulary practice and concept building during your virtual science instruction is through the use of crossword puzzles. Students will feel like they’re playing a game and it will feel less like a boring digital worksheet.

Integrate Opportunities for Students to Contribute to the Lesson

One of the things that I have missed the most during virtual instruction is the ability to chat with my class and connect with them thought the day. So, to help bring that back into virtual teaching, I recommend using a “Connections to Home” component in your science lessons.

Here are just a few reasons why I love having home to school connections as part of my virtual science instruction.

  • Provides opportunities for meaningful connection with individual students
  • Allows you to easily see who is forming deeper connections with the science content and who needs more support
  • Allows students to have ownership over their work
  • Increases the likelihood that students will contribute to class discussions
  • Provides an opportunity for families to work with their students on science concepts
  • Allows you to see what students are taking away from your science instruction so that you can tailor your future lessons and discussions to better fit their needs and interests

Make Sure Your Assessments are Well-Aligned with Your Instruction

Since we have to give students grades just like we would with face-to-face instruction, it’s important to help students feel comfortable and confident with their science assessments during virtual learning.

Making sure that your science assessments are directly aligned with your teaching content is key! It’s also really helpful to make sure that all of your science assessments follow a predictable format. This is going to increase your students’ comfort and confidence when they’re completing their science assessment virtually.

Make sure that your science assessment has simple instructions, uses the same types of visuals, labels, and formatting so that students can more easily recall information and identify what they’re being asked to do.

You can create a Google Form assessment to make it easier to assess your students during virtual instruction. As an added bonus, you can set up the form to be self-grading which will take grading off of your plate as well. If you want to try out a self-grading Google Form assessment, my free narwhal science unit has one included.

I created an assessment to match each of my science units in both a printable format and a Google Form version so that I can use the same assessments whether I am teaching science virtually or in person. It has been a total life saver.

With these tips, you’ll be able to simplify your science instruction and feel confident teaching science virtually. If you need more help teaching science virtually, I have created a yearlong bundle for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.

This bundle requires no prep on your part (other than setting up the assignments) and it will cover all of your science standards for the year. As a bonus, I’m including all of the assessments, too! You can grab the multigrade bundle here.

Related Resources


April Smith

Curriculum Writer and Online Professional Development Coach. 


Join my email list to get this guide and additional free online training & resources throughout the year.

Grade Level



Escape Challenges





Test Prep