My children absolutely love science. Our recent review of Visual Learning Systems certainly did not go to waste in our house! While we mainly used their Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5), since all of my homeschool kids are in that age range, we were also given a subscription to Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12) for the purpose of this review.
What is Visual Learning Systems?
Visual Learning Systems is the company that offers Digital Science Online. It is a collection of many full length science videos, shorter clips, animations, related images, lesson assessments, student activities/worksheets, lab activities, vocabulary exercises, and teacher’s guides to assist in teaching and reviewing the concepts from the videos. It is available as a subscription, and the levels available are K-5 or 6-12 grades (so elementary or secondary). This is a great homeschool science option, priced at just $99 per level annually for homeschool families. The website is available anytime you’re ready to get to work on science!
How We Used Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (K-5)
My kids are required to do science lessons often, at least three or four days of the week. They love video-based science because I frankly have a hard time doing experiments and such with a small baby and a toddler in the house. The ability to learn online is very helpful to us in this season of life, but is also a great way for my children to retain the information as my 4th and 2nd grader are both very visual and auditory learners.
I chose to use this resource, initially, as a supplement to what they were already learning. For my daughter, I knew she was learning about solar power and other forms of energy. One of our first things that we checked out on there was their section about heat and energy.
Once we selected the type of science (divided as “subjects” and then listed to the right), the screen popped up with the video. The “chapters” are listed to the right of the video so we could easily watch specific clips. One thing I really liked was the video assessment provided at the end. It was a great way for her to think about what she had just watched and learned about and get quizzed on it.
Another thing I really liked was that there were several printable resources available. Under the “Teachers Guides” section, I found the worksheets and activities that I’ve pictured in the screen shot below. We used the Kinetic and Potential Energy sheet. I also printed out the Vocabulary sheet and went over it with her orally.
I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with the sheer amount of content available. At first glance, I thought that this was just a collection of science videos and wondered how this would be better than just searching the web for relevant information instead.
However, once I started poking around the site and actually using it with my kids, I saw that the video lessons just scratched the surface of the content available. When you factor in that it truly is set up like lessons, with chapters and everything, it makes a huge difference. Not only that, but the printable content makes each subject really meaty. This is a very thorough program, which I wasn’t expecting at all! There are 15-30 pages of printable content per subject, featuring all sorts of activities including vocabulary, writing exercises, hands-on activities, and reading.
By combining the online aspect with the printed material, it is much easier to appeal to students that learn in multiple ways. No matter their learning style, they’ll be able to engage in science exploration and can benefit from the vast selection available on this website.
I loved that there were so many topics to study and available on the Digital Science Online program. On the Primary level, there were subjects in the categories of physical, earth, life, and health available. Under Physical, examples include Chemical Changes, What is Science?, Gravity, Moving Things, and What Are Magnets? Under Earth, there were things like Changes on Earth, Planets, Biodiversity, Investigating Water, and Weather Safety. Life included things like Food Chains, Trees, Plant Life Cycles, and What is a Reptile? Examples from Health were Your Diet and Your Body.
Obviously, these would make terrific supplements to any other science studies that your child might be working on. They would also be a great way to teach topics that your children are naturally asking about anyway. This is especially true for any topic that you don’t personally know a lot about. (I’ll admit it, we checked out the information on Magnets and Electromagnetism when that came up in a casual conversation in the van one day. How the heck does that just come up!?)
The program would make an excellent stand-alone product for science instruction. You can choose how you go through the video lessons and their resources. There is no set path, so just pick and choose, and learn! The freedom to do that on this website was really important to our family, and a valuable thing to consider when selecting an online-based learning program.
I give it two thumbs up and highly recommend it! While it appears simple on the surface, there is so much more than meets the eye. The content is age appropriate, but still challenging for students of all ages.