Thursday, February 27, 2014 Review

My kids love science. They love it so much that I think they could spend all day exploring and experimenting. I knew they'd be excited to review a 6-month online subscription. is an online, interactive, standards-based curriculum made by the creators of Although it's geared toward kids in grades K-2, students in grades 3-5 can utilize the lessons for review. Their mission is to provide a solid foundation of scientific concepts to early elementary students and to equip the teachers with the support and resources necessary to ensure that it happens. 

There are over 350 lessons that are divided into books of science: physical, inquiry, life, and earth/space.

This book teaches kids how the world around them works. It focuses on matter (materials and mixtures, observing matter, states of matter, changes of matter), energy (sources, light, heat, sound, electrical, transformations), and force and motion (location and perspective, motion, force, magnets, simple machines). It teaches the student the name and reasons behind concepts that he already understands (gravity, energy, friction, perspective). It makes learning these new terms fun by teaching with hands-on activities, games, and interactive lessons.
This book consists of two units: science tools and think like a scientist. These lessons use a student's natural desire to play and experiment, begins to show how observations can be analyzed, and builds skills toward the scientific method. It uses tools such as quantitative and qualitative observations, the 5 senses, rulers, balances, scales, and hands-on activities. It helps students understand that there are different ways to solve problems, compare and contrast, and evaluate data. The student will study graphs, table and charts and even language skills. This book allows the student to learn valuable science skills at his own level.

This book is divided into two units: living things (living/nonliving, plants, animals) and balance in nature (food webs, habitats, eco awareness). In this branch, the student will practice classifying, categorizing, observation, and record keeping. He'll learn to distinguish mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. He'll also study how living things interact with the world around them. Using animated characters, engaging activities, and fun games to master vocabulary terms such as omnivore, herbivore, carnivore, predator, prey, extinction, and endangered and invasion species.    

These complex topics are also divided into two units: earth (history, materials, features, weather) and space (exploring the universe, earth in space). This study involves both tactile exploration and abstract concepts. It starts with building a timeline of the student's life and works through imagination using concrete activities to teach about abstract concepts. It studies, rocks, water, landforms, thermometers, gauges, patterns, cycles, and seasons. Using example a young child can understand now, will build the foundation for further study of our planet, solar system, and universe. 

Considering the elaborateness of the program, you'd think it would be difficult to navigate. It's not. Not at all. There is a section for the parent/teacher. There, you can choose specific modules for the individual student's lesson plans, review the students' reports, learn teaching strategies, watch explanatory videos, and download corresponding worksheets. Once the student is logged in, he knows exactly what is on the lesson plan for the day. 

Though the option of specifically setting the activities for the day can be very beneficial, we chose not to follow that route. My kids Jake (8), Alyssa (5), and Zac (4) can log-in to the program and completely navigate it by themselves. They choose which books and study of science they want to learn. Because we have two computers and three children old enough to use the program, I often have two children sitting and "playing" science and one child running back and forth between the two. Eventually, I'll hear, "Is it my turn? Can I play now?" None of them ever get off without my telling them to--that's how much they love this! They would sit and play for hours, if I'd let them. They have so much fun watching the videos, playing the games, singing the songs, and learning valuable science skills. They ask to play even on days that aren't typical school days. To my kids, this isn't just school. It's fun!  They have the option to save the tasks in their notebooks. Because they enjoy this so much, Alyssa has started to write things down in a real notebook. She draws pictures and makes notes of the things she's learning.

To say that we're enjoying would be an understatement. I love its complexity of information, yet simplicity of use. The kiddos reference the program many times a day in their vocabulary and observations. It's not simply a fun way to bide their time, it's truly teaching them scientific facts.

A membership costs $7.95 per child per month. If you'd like to see if this program would work for your family, read their scope and sequence or check out the demonstration lessons. Even before we received our subscription, my kids played the demos many times. 

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