Visual Learning Systems is an educational science program which provides high quality, visual-based content to instruct, challenge, and inspire students. There are videos, interactive graphics, animations, and images that are great tools for teaching science. Certainly there is no better way to learn how the human body works , the forces which cause earthquakes, or chemical reactions than with these powerful teaching tools. That said I was quite eager to review this one when the opportunity presented itself. After all, we love science (especially my younger son who is 5) and having access to over 136 units of study from Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) , we simply could not pass this one up 🙂 We also were given access to the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12) but we did not really explore this part much since my oldest is only 9. Did I mention this was for one full year too? Awesome!!
My kids love to watch videos; they are very visual learners (and I am just the opposite), so this program was a great fit for both of them! And there were plenty of hands on activities for helping them to understand the application of these lessons too.
The primary edition of this program contains approximately 64 videos. These are organized into 17 units. The elementary edition contains 62 videos within 15 units. The primary videos are about 10 minutes each, and the elementary videos run about 15mins (perfect for both of my boys). In addition to the videos there are also images, printable worksheets and teacher’s guides. The worksheets available for use contain: multiple choice pretest and post-test, video review/quiz, and some even have hands on projects. For the elementary video activities included: application worksheet, a short answer/multiple choice pretest & post-test, video review, vocabulary, writing activity, read & answer and most also include a hands on activity. These did vary depending on the videos.
My oldest two were allowed to choose the science topic each week; this really was fun since my oldest loves life science and my younger son is all about chemistry and earth science. The videos are all broken up into sections such as: “You Decide” or “You Observe.” I admit this was a favorite of mine when it came to the videos since it really made my son try to focus more9h e struggles in this area) knowing that he was going to have to give an answer at the end. Good for accountability 🙂 At the end of these videos the student is asked a couple questions in order to determine how much they understand (again once he knew this was constant it really seemed to improve how attentive he was to the information being presented). So these were very handy for helping my oldest through some his materia; plus as things got more complex qwe were able to see where we needed to study a bit more.
There are also teacher’s guides provided for each section. If you love science but teaching it really scares you, these are truly a blessing. They contain for each section: objectives for the student’s learning, connections to literature (I am a big reader so I LOVED this part of it), questions for discussion when introducing topics, vocabulary, answer keys for the student worksheets, and other activities such as labeling sections, characteristics, and word searches (we love puzzles like this too).
One downside for us was that this is not a creation based program. So there are plenty of references to “millions of years,” within these videos. If you are looking for something creation based this may not be the best fit for you; I do want to say though I was rather impressed that my boys wanted to discuss the difference between what we typically use and this. Certainly I do believe our children, especially as they get older, need to understand both sides ~ Needless to say this did bring about some great discussions as to varying beliefs in this area.
Overall this really was a very fun program however! My younger son loved all the videos and animations that were there. I do wish there had been a bit more hands on, especially for the primary grades, but we did manage to add in our own from various books and websites around the house so he could be more involved in the learning. It was good to be able to dust off some of our science picture books and do some basic science experiments together as we were able. It definitely engaged him a lot more being able to do and see some of these things in action. As for my older son, he really wanted to see more puzzles (word search or crossword) within the elementary level. He really enjoys puzzles of all kinds within his learning. We really learned so much in the time we have used this and we will learn much more as we continue on through the year. From Electrical Circuits, to Magnets, Rocks, Stars and Galaxies, Plant Parts and Simple Animals to Complex Animals, as well as Marine Biomes there is so much to explore here!
I cannot say enough what a great tool this is for curious little scientists in the making. And Visual Learning Systems even has an option to purchase Digital Online Science as a homeschool family at a reduced rate.
As I said before, we will definitely continue to explore Digital Online Science more, as this is one the kids really are enjoying. Anything that stirs up a desire to learn more is great in my book!