Tuesday, March 10, 2015

TOS Crew Review of Visual Learning Systems


Science is a subject that my family gets excited about. Recently, my family has had the chance to review a program from Visual Learning Systems and their Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Digital Science Online:Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).


My family received a year subscription. Visual Learning Systems is available for a reasonable cost for homeschoolers. Basically, you purchase per level (elementary or secondary). The program can be purchased also in the DVD or VHS format. It is also available in English and Spanish. The online program will also work on a tablet.

Videos-The core of Visual Learning Systems is the videos. The videos average around 15 minutes each. The videos are well done.

The videos are broken down in segments like, “You Decide”, or “You Observe”. This is intended to have the student answer the questions based off former knowledge. There is also an assessment based off the video.

Animations- are brief segments taken from the videos. It can be used to review certain aspects of the video.

Images- The sill images are captioned to help reinforce certain ideas in the video.

Teacher’s Guide and Student Worksheets- Can be downloaded and printed beforehand. It’s based off the National Standards and Learning Objectives. This will state the objectives of the lessons which have introductory questions.  Answer keys to the pre-test and post-test. Also, there are some hands on activities available on some of the topics.

You will also need a good internet connection for the videos to work properly. Along with a printer if you do the worksheets.


How did I use Visual Learning Systems in my homeschool?

All of my kids used this program Bug is 12 years old with learning challenges and Little Man is 9. We actually worked together on this program. My family did the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5). My review is going to focus on this particular level. There are three sections in the elementary section: Physical, Earth, and Life. I would basically look at the worksheets prior to use watching the video. Then I would determine how to tackle each segment.

I am going to focus on the Life section. This was coinciding with my current Science curriculum. The areas that are covered in this area are:

Activities of Plants
Animal Behavior
Blood and Circulation
Classifying Living Things
Complex Animals
Ecology Fundamentals
Environmental Problems and Solutions
Exploring Desert Biomes
Exploring Forest Biomes
Exploring Freshwater Biomes
Exploring Grassland Biomes

Exploring Marine Biomes
Food and Digestion
Investigating Earth's Natural Resources
Life Cycles
Microscopic Life
Moving Muscles and Bones
Needs of Living Things
Plant Parts
Simple Animals
Traits and Heredity
What are Plants?

We watched the videos 3 to 4 times a week. I didn’t get any complaints out of my children at all. They loved the videos. Depending on the subject kind of determined the extent we took on the topic. Some areas we read over the downloadable material and talked about it and other times we dived in and did the worksheets and activities. We did always focus on the vocabulary aspects of the worksheets. For the most part each video segment and the activities took us 2-3 days. For some topics we just watched the video and went over the vocabulary words.

One area that we did all the material was on the cells. We learned the difference between animal and plant cells. Bug and Little Man choose which cell they wanted to make. Which that was the hard part-choosing! After we watched the video we worked on the worksheets and at the end of the lesson we did the hands on activity of making cells.
The hands on activities that we did were material that I could find around my house or purchase at my local grocery store.

Overall thoughts:

Overall, my kids and this mom really enjoyed Visual Learning Systems.  This is not a Christian science program so it doesn’t come from a Christian Worldview and has some evolution and such in its contents. It was easy to pause the videos and talk to my children about it or they would pipe in before I could even hit the pause the video. I am okay exposing my children to evolution as they know the truth and how to deal with it.

This could be used as a whole science curriculum or as a supplement to your current science curriculum. My kids are very visual learners, and they really responded to this program! If this is your main program I think I would add some books into the mix on some subjects. I am a book person so I can't help not to want to add a couple of books.

When I asked my kids if they would like to continue with Visual Learning Systems after the review period they both said, "Yes, that they really like it a whole lot."
Don't forget to stop by the other TOS Crew blogs and see what they have to say about Visual Learning Systems.

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