Visual Learning Systems – Review of Digital Science Online

VLS_LOGO_PRINT_LARGE_zpscizfrv4yI am excited to share my review of Digital Science Online, a product of Visual Learning Systems! This is an incredible science program, offered in two levels: Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12). Within each edition, there are videos (with written scripts), animations, still images, student activities, and teaching materials. The best thing about this particular curriculum is that it is VERY flexible! It can be used as a standalone program, for developing unit studies, in delight-directed homeschools, as enhancement to your existing science program, etc. There are endless possibilities for how you can use this!

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Because the kiddos I’m teaching at home are ages 4 and 7, I’m going to tell you about our usage of the one-year subscription for the online Elementary Edition. It includes a primary section (for grades K-2) and an elementary section (for grades 3-5). We actually used both sections interchangeably, dependent on the subject matter. There are over 136 units available to use! These units include topics in earth science, life science, physical science, and even health. They go from very basic overviews of science concepts to more in-depth looks at specific topics. Here are some examples of topics covered in the K-5 edition:

  • Energy and Heat
  • Gravity
  • Electricity
  • Matter
  • Measuring
  • Weather
  • Seasons
  • Day and Night
  • Plants & Animals
  • Biomes

We started out using certain videos to supplement another Science program that we were using. However, the videos were so comprehensive that we ended up stopping the other program and switching to just Digital Science Online for the duration of the review period. My kids are so young (and not reading yet), so our lessons mostly consisted of watching the videos and talking about them. For your older kids, the printable activities are awesome!

At the beginning, we learned about basic Science concepts, then we moved on to animals (my kiddos love animals). :) While we were waiting for our caterpillars to turn into butterflies, we watched videos about animal life cycles and discussed what was happening. During severe weather week, we used the weather units to talk about tornadoes and hurricanes. There is so much great stuff packed into this curriculum that we only scratched the surface!

We used an iMac when accessing this online program. As the kids’ iMac is an older one, this program was not compatible with the older version of Safari that was loaded onto that Mac. It worked great on Google Chrome, however! The site itself is very easy to maneuver. Sections and topics are very clearly labeled and it’s easy to move from one video to another. You can print a complete teacher’s manual along with any of the student worksheets that you would like to use.

My kiddos love this program! One day, they sat and enjoyed several animal videos one after the other. Even with a short attention span, younger kids are fascinated by shows that come up on a big screen! :) I like it, as well. The only note I want to add is that it is a secular program. If you are Christian, just be ready and willing to navigate the difficult conversations with the kids.

We are planning to continue to use the program throughout the year and definitely recommend this for any style of homeschool environment! Homeschool subscription pricing is significantly lower than classroom cost (only $99 per year). If you prefer DVDs to an online subscription, those are available as well at 50% off list price!

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