As I shared in an other post, science is the hardest thing for me to teach, in spite of a science degree in microbiology. It is the subject most frequently bumped from our schedule, so when I heard about Science4Us.com, I was very interested in this K-2 program, especially, for J-jo. He resists being read non-fiction books, but he loves being in front of any screen! I received a six month Science4Us.com Online Subscription to review and I am happy to report that both J-jo and I are loving it.
Science4Us.com offers a scope and sequence, but I noticed it after we had already started. I just asked J-jo what he wanted to learn first and he chose space. I recommend perusing the scope and sequence as I found some good information there; however, it is not required that you follow the order of the scope and sequence.
J-jo used this almost daily. He even requested it on weekends. He is still requesting it a month later. He loves the lessons. At the time of writing the review he had worked through all of the space lessons, inquiry lessons, and living/nonliving lessons. He chooses what to pursue next. We are now doing the lessons on energy and he did all of the first unit in one sitting; it was that enthralling!
My initial reaction was a very positive one:
- It’s an engaging, entertaining kindergarten science curriculum. J-jo is constantly requesting it.
- It provides follow up discussion questions, worksheets, prior knowledge activities. Really, the teacher section of the website is fantastic.
- It includes activities in language arts through vocabulary, songs, writing sentences, and keeping a science notebook.
- It provides assessment through notebooking, discussion, and online and offline tests.
- It is easy to use.
- No one complains about it. Ever.
- It was a perfect fit for J-jo.
I always go through the teacher lesson plans and read them, but we don’t always do these activities, especially if they are worksheet based and will use up printer ink. I think these are great for a classroom setting, but realistically with just one student, I can assess pretty well if J-jo gets a concept through our discussions. Some of the activities he has enjoyed though, such as a booklet about space.
Things to note:
- Initially, my son (who is 4) needed lots of help with the mouse so I needed to be present for each science lesson. This was actually fine because then we did the discussion together and it also kept me aware of what he was learning. There is a lot of drawing using the mouse in the science notebook, so he just tells me what to draw and I do it for him. (However, after over a month of using it on a daily basis, he managed to learn how to use the mouse. The click and drag was the most challenging part of that.)
- I found there weren’t many variations between the K and 1st worksheets or the 1st and 2nd grade worksheets or activities. Sometimes the K and 1st grade worksheets or activities were identical, and sometimes it was the 1st and 2nd grade activities that were identical.
- I don’t prefer clipart. For some worksheets, I knew of Montessori resources that were similar and substituted, such as the living/nonliving sort shown below. I wanted the cards to be of photographs, not clipart. I only substituted because I knew I already had this material already printed out and prepared in my Montessori files.
- So far in our use of it, we have not encountered any experiments. It is more a means of transferring information about science, not engaging in scientific exploration.
Details about the program:
Science4Us.com includes 4 books of science: Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth/Space Science. Each of these books has units (such as Living Things and Balance in Nature in the Life Science book), and each unit has modules (living/nonliving, plants, animals). Altogether there are 28 modules and each is supposed to take 2 weeks to complete. However, we are able to go through them much more quickly because J-jo completes several online activities in one sitting and we do not complete all the offline activities. Below is the child’s homepage. The books of science are on the right.
More about the teacher section:
The teacher section includes the module description, the core concept, and some links to professional development for that science topic. The professional development (I explored the one for energy) was a short video explaining that energy was not matter and discussed ways to get children to deepen their knowledge and learning. The professional development can be printed out instead of viewed as a video.
The offline teacher support is discussion questions to facilitate discussion with your child. There are also offline activities, which I mentioned in my Things to Note section above. There’s a session time so you can see exactly how long it might take to do all the online and offline activities for that one session.
If you have more than one child using it, you can manage your students in the teacher section. You can assign assignments and see what they have accomplished. I never assigned tasks to J-jo since I always sit with him in the room while he works on Science4Us.com. This part was really irrelevant to me. However, for a classroom teacher, this would be very useful.
My final thoughts:
Easy to implement, engaging, non-messy way to accomplish science lessons at home. I am so glad to have been able to use this and it has been perfect for this season, but ideally I would want to supplement this with hands-on explorations or experiments. I have been letting J-jo zoom through it, because I wanted to be able to see as much of the website as possible before the review was due, but it would benefit him to slow down and add some memory work related to the modules he has done so that the information remains in his brain.
Key Points at a Glance:
Age Range: K-2. We found this to be very accurate. Children in grades 3-5 could use it as review, but it would depend on the child. Bear, for instance, though in first, already knew much of the material from all her previous readings of non-fiction science books.
Normal Pricing of Science4Us.com Online Subscription: $7.95 per child per month. Though I didn’t have to pay for this current subscription, I think this is a very reasonable amount to pay for the amount of info, the amount of teacher/parent resources, the quality of the program, and the thoroughness of all the lessons.
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