Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Science4Us.com {Schoolhouse Review}

Science has been an area where we have struggled over the years. We tend to fit it in when it corresponds with another unit we are doing, but have not been able to stick with any formal science curriculum. This has worried me because I do not really have a way to assess if my kids are up to par on what they should know about science. Science4Us.com is a web based science program that is recommended for Grades K-2, but it is also recommended for grades 3-5 as a refresher course. That is what caught my eye and what made me realize that this was a product I really wanted us to review.

Science4Us Review

We received a six-month subscription to Science4Us.com Online Subscription for both Eli and Brynne. I was able to register both kids separately in my class. We do grade level work for 3rd and 4th grade, so we jumped right into the program. We decided that we would complete one module per week and that turned out to be completely doable.

Both of the kids were registered onto the program as my students. But, we have found that we most enjoy the program doing all of the activities together. So we always log in under the same child. The kids sit side-by-side on the couch and work on the modules together. The information contained within and the presentation are a little juvenile for their levels of ability, but they talk about what they are hearing and doing which I find to be very valuable. It has worked great for us as a peer review of science! (That being said, the presentation would be PERFECT for a K-2 aged student. I even enjoy listening to the lessons.)

How We Use the Product

On Friday afternoons the kids pull up their current module and complete the Engage, Explore, and Explain activity videos.

Then on Monday through Thursday of the following week they complete the remaining additional activities. THESE are fun and very educational! What we all found that we love about these activities is how it brings in language arts and math and so many other subject areas to reinforce the science concepts. Some of the regular activities involve syllables, alphabetizing, and matching.

Teacher Resources

There are separate logins for the Teacher and Students. The Teacher resources are extensive! Not only can you manage your students, but there are many Teaching Tools, including Lesson Plans, Teaching Strategies, Student Reports, Assignments, and Notebook.

Science4Us Review

In our case, my students have propelled through the program independently. But there are full Lessons Plans for a teacher who wants or needs a more hands-on approach to the program. For each Daily Session there is general information about the subject matter, Teacher Guide, and Offline Materials. The teacher has the option of doing much or little, depending on his or her particular student. I was extremely impressed with the Lesson Plan possibilities.

The teacher can add particular assignments for the student to complete and then review the work done. A neat feature was being able to review all of the saved work of the students. I loved being able to pull up their saved work to see how they have done.

And the Student Reports feature is fabulous!

Student Login

When the student logs into the program, this is the first screen they see.

For the purposes of this demonstration, I added an "Assignment" to Brynne's lab. When she logged on she would see that she had a particular assignment to complete. The teacher can pick and choose which assignments to assign for which module.

In our case, since the kids did all of the assignments for each module instead of me adding assignments, this is the screen they get when they open the program.

The items under Recent Activity that have stars are the ones that are complete. When they opened it on this particular day they were just getting ready to start a brand new module.

On this screen, they can look at their Notes, read Assignment Details, listen to a Mini-Explain, look at Reports of work completed, or look up words in the Glossary.

Or they can jump right into their lessons under Recent Activity. (This is what my kids do.)

When they have completed a module, they choose a new module out of the different Books of Science. So far they have completed all of the modules under Inquiry and are currently working on the modules under Earth/Space Science. We will then move onto Physical Science and Life Science.

Another fun feature are the songs on the S4U Music Player! There are songs on Scientific Senses, Animal Groups and Life Cycle Lullaby, just to name a few.

Pros/Cons of Science4Us.com

If you adhere strictly to a Christian Worldview in your homeschool, you will want to understand that the History of the Earth module does not follow that worldview. It discusses the millions of years the earth has been in existence, etc., that I know might bother some people. I just made sure I sat close to my kids during this part of the lesson and explained the differing opinions about the conception of earth and what we believe as Christians.

At one point one of the lessons stated that summer was from July to September. My kids were, like, "What? That's not right! Summer starts in June and fall starts in September!"

We also had a little trouble with the measurements portions because, as we have not done a lot of true science in our schooling, my kids were not used to the metric system. That caused us some confusion, but did show us an area where we need to expand our learning.

Overall the kids have absolutely loved this program, more than any other science program we have used. It is hands on, entertaining, and interesting. It is very rare that either of my kids purposefully remind me not to forget a subject. But almost every day at least one of the kids says, "Don't forget Science4Us!" They really enjoy it, and they are learning a lot!

My overall opinion is that Science4Us.com Online Subscription is an excellent program and I would highly recommend it for anyone who would like a comprehensive online science program. This is a product that we will continue to use after the review period is complete. In fact, we will complete the entire program.

Product Details

Science4Us.com is a web based full science program for grades kindergarten through second grade. It is also a valuable refresher course or assessment tool for third through fifth grades. The cost of the online subscription is an affordable $7.95 per month per child. The program can be purchased at Science4Us.com.

To read other reviews of Science4Us.com, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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