The last several weeks we have been enjoying Visual Learning Systems in our homeschool. We have used Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) for our science studies; the Review Crew members were given full access to all levels for Admin, Teacher, and Student accounts. We used the Elementary Edition, because at 4 years old that fit Lexie best. But Crew members were given access to Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (6-12) also!
About Digital Science Online
The elementary edition of Digital Science Online is an annual subscription service ($99/year) to science videos and clips, animations (showing how things work), images, student sheets and teacher’s guides. It is divided into two grade levels, actually- primary, and elementary. The primary grade level includes the following subjects:
While the elementary level covers:
Both primary and elementary levels cover a wide range of topics included in over 136 units of study combined! The curriculum does meet state standards, if that is a concern for your family. The videos are indexed and searchable using keywords, which I love because no matter what we are discussing I am able to do a quick search and find just what I need. Videos are only about 6-20 minutes long (at longest) and are available anytime, just log in! Everything is in one place, on one screen, which is so nice for me and very easy to navigate. Digital Science Online is a very clean interface, and simple to navigate, which is especially great for students working independently. Lexie isn’t quite old enough to work independently on the computer, but had we used this on the ipad I have feeling she could have done it on her own!
The videos themselves are clear and broken into segments allowing the student to answer questions on their student sheets. Each video has a teacher’s guide section; here you will find: an introduction to the lesson, the student activities, learning objectives, and the script to the video (so if you need to help with a student sheet, you can skim the video or the script).
Each video’s student sheets include: What Do You Know Now?, What Have You Learned?, Video Review and Quiz, and then a few specific lesson-related worksheets. Some include diagrams (very cool!) while others are instructions for hands-on activities. There are a lot of hands on activities included in the program, so this is great for those visual and kinesthetic learners!
Our favorite so far has been the “Your Body” lesson, from the health subject under primary. A few of the hands-on activities include: tracing your body and drawing in the organs, drawing in healthy foods on your plate, using magnets, taking soil samples, and dressing a paper doll (weather). There are many more, too many for me to cover here!
How We Used It, What We Thought
I did need to modify how we used the student resources because Lexie is only 4.5 (but does mostly Kindergarten work). I simply did the teacher’s guide introduction with her (and tag-along little brother) before we watched, so she knew what we were going to be learning about. Then we went over video quiz and pre-assessment pages together, orally. While we watched the video, I wrote down her responses to the questions (dictation) for her, since her writing skills are not yet developed enough for so much writing. This was great dictation practice for her.
For the post-video assessment I let her elaborate as much or as little as she wanted on what we discussed. She was so proud of herself when she answered questions in the video correctly (and she usually did). Little brother (2.5 years old) loved tagging along, and thought everything was so interesting. The videos kept both of them engaged, and they were able to really tell me about what they learned; provided they were on two different levels, but Max being able to apply wind in his ear makes his ear “wiggle,” aka vibrate, inside is pretty cool!
A few things I really liked about Visual learning Systems
- It is straight forward- no fluffy stuff or crazy cartoon characters that distract, but is still interesting to young children (including my 2.5 year old)
- It is clear, concise, and factual- we were able to easily understand what was being said in the video because the voice over spoke clearly, images were clear, and animations were very easy to understand.
- Interaction- the children are able to/need to interact during the videos- the videos have stopping points, and the student sheets kept my daughter engaged.
If you are a homeschooling family looking for a no-fuss, simple but complete visual/video-learning based science curriculum, look no further! This is a good program, and we will enjoy using it for the rest of the year!
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