May 24, 2016

Introductory Science for Elementary Students from Science Shepherd {Curriculum Review}

We love science at our house, but I don't much care for all the prep work that can come with it. I am always game to try new science curriculums to get an idea for what companies are out there to make my job easier. For the last few weeks, we have been reviewing the Introductory Science program from Science Shepherd, to see if this program was something our family could enjoy.

Product Information

Science Shepherd Introductory Science is a complete Christian worldview curriculum for science, suitable for students ages 6-11. The curriculum provides online on-demand videos for your family to fit into YOUR schedule. The subscription provides 12 month access ($35) to the daily videos each 2-5 minutes long, and is divided into a 35 week course. The course includes topics on creation, geology, biology, astronomy, oceanography, meteorology and more!

There is also a workbook available for reinforcing the knowledge covered in the lessons. There are two versions of the workbook available: Level A (ages 6-8)--$12 and Level B (ages 9-11)--$15. The information is the same in each workbook, but with more activities for the older age group. You can check out the scope and sequence of the program to determine what is best for your family. There is also an answer key ($3) available for each workbook.

We were given the Introductory Science curriculum to review using the Level B workbook with Little Britches, age 10. 

How Did We Use This Product?

When we received our log in information, I was able to quickly set up my profile for using the program. The videos are accessible right from the dashboard as soon as you log-in, as they are clearly marked.
Sidebar menu--clearly marked!
When you click on this, the link takes you to all the on-demand videos for your course. Every unit is clearly marked, as are the weeks. Each week's work, has all the videos needed--including the activity videos so showcase any experiments in the lesson.
When we received our log-in information, we didn't yet have the workbooks. I was hesitant to start, but after talking to other crew members, decided it was okay. The first unit is all about the days of creation, a topic my boys are very fluent on. 

Although this curriculum was intended for Little Britches, I allowed Baby Britches to watch all the videos too. I decided not to purchase a workbook for him at this time, though I encouraged Little Britches to ask him questions from his own workbook, which worked very well. They also worked on any activities together. 

Every video is taught as a seminar with a REAL teacher on the screen with videos and slide shows. We used Chrome and never had any issues with the videos freezing or needing to buffer. They were very clear and HD.
Every video is clearly marked, and once we did get our workbook, we quickly caught up on the pages to match where we were for the videos. The pages in the workbook coordinate perfectly with the online portions. 
Clearly marked pages to match each video

Some extra activities are included throughout the lessons to reinforce the lessons
Every week's videos consisted of five lesson videos, plus 1-2 activity videos. The activity videos were the "experiments" to go with the theme of the lessons. They match the experiment/activity information that is in the workbook exactly and demonstrates the process for each experiment for you. Sometimes it's simply an activity that they explain before you do it yourself. 

a classification activity

Had to record classification notes
The activity video is presented by twin girls who walk you through the process.
Here they are demonstrating how to make an anemometer for measuring wind speed

Holding our anemometer

Our anemometer in place to catch the breezes
As of this week, we are in the middle of week 6 in the course, which is part of the meteorology unit.

What Are Our Thoughts?

LIttle Britches really enjoys this program. He likes that it is almost entirely independent and he can even do a few days all at once. He says the videos aren't too boring, and the information is easy to understand. He likes the the experiments are things that he can do even on his own--and with the activity video, he doesn't even really need me to help him. He does wish the experiments were a bit more complicated and not things he did when he was in Kindergarten, although they throw something new in for him every so often.

I like that the program is very self-explanatory and independent for my child. Once I log in, he simply finds the video he needs to do next, watches it, and completes his coordinating activity pages when done. The experiments are very low key, easy to reproduce, and very kid friendly. I have had all the supplies on hand thus far for the ones we chose to complete.

I appreciate that the science lessons are from a Christian worldview, so everything is attributed to God and scripture is quoted throughout the program. 

I only have two cons:

1. There needs to be a student log-in.
I haven't found any way to do that though. It is rather annoying to have to log him in through my parent account every day--he can't remember my password and log in information. There should definitely be a way to view the videos through a student account.

2. The workbook and activities are too easy.
Even though we have the Level B workbook for ages 9-11, the work is WAYYYYYYYYYYYY too easy and I found the experiments to be geared to a lower elementary student, and not a 9-11 year old. I would prefer more open ended questions in the Level B workbook, and not just the fill in the blank, multiple choice questions there are currently. Because the videos and the workbook are so easy, we can complete a whole week in a day. If this is going to be a 35 week program, technically, I could finish the whole curriculum in a little over a month. That's a problem if someone wants to use this for a full science curriculum. It's just not meaty enough.

However, I do believe it IS enough for a lower elementary student. I would put the age range on this curriculum as 6-8 years old--or K-2nd grade. I WOULD definitely use this program for my younger son (Age 5).

Interestingly enough, when I asked Little Britches about it, he said he LOVED the way it was and didn't think it was too easy at all....which translates into--I don't have to work hard or think hard on it, so I like it. LOL.

Will we continue to use this program?
Yes. He likes it and I appreciate that he can do it 95% on his own. I also appreciate not having to worry about mentions of evolution when discussing the science. 

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes. This program is very easy to implement and provides quite a bit of independence for the student. The lessons are short and easy to understand. The workbooks are straight forward and provide all the information your child needs to finish the program. If you are looking for something that multiple children could work on at once, this is something to consider. If you want all the experiments demonstrated for you, so there is no wondering how it works--this program does that too. If you are looking for something giving credit to God for the design of the world and how it works, this program is for you too. I think the price is good for the program, especially when you can do it with multiple ages.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed the Introductory Science program from Science Shepherd. I hope you will check out the other two selections that our team was given to review! 
Science Shepherd Review
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We have enjoyed using the  Science Shepherd Introductory Science program, and I enjoy having it be independent enough that Little Britches can work through it on his own. It is definitely a program that I am glad is out there for other homeschool families looking for an easy to implement science program for their family.
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May 20, 2016

A Peek At our Week~ May 15-20

I thought I would change it up this Friday and give you a peek at what a week here on the farm was like. We didn't do anything highly exciting, so just consider this a rambling post! LOL!

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Let's see. On Sunday we did a second Mother's Day for my mom who has been in town the past week. My brother even drove down from Cincinnati to be with us. The boys gave her extra love and kisses, and a homemade post it note holder they made. We gave her a gift card to her favorite store: Cracker Barrel. Man she adores that store when she comes out here to visit. For dinner, I took over and we did a big get together with my in-laws for a Mother's Day feast! I plan on sharing that steak recipe I used, because it's definitely a winner. I enjoyed using my own Mother's Day present...a new stainless steel grill! Sunday night was full of laughter as we tested out a new game called Tenzi. There were times we were laughing so hard, that we had to stop playing. The game is a product I am reviewing for Timberdoodle, so be on the lookout for my upcoming review on it.

Best part of this regular old day was getting a fire in the firepit and roasting marshmallows. First night of S'mores is ALWAYS a good night!

Accidentally squirted himself
The next day worth mentioning is Tuesday. After a half day of school, we surprised the boys by taking them into town to go see The Jungle Book and then eat dinner at Bob Evans (did you know kid's eat free every Tuesday?). They were VERY excited about the movie and absolutely enjoyed it. I agree. It was very very well done. Intense at times--the animal fights could scare some sensitive kidlets. My boys just loved the story and I enjoyed the whole production. After the movie, we enjoyed dinner and then we came home and just hung out with my parents.

A boring regular old day. We get quite a few of those here on the farm. LOL


Papa and his helper
What's not to love about spending a day out in the garden after school? Baby Britches and my dad tilled between the garden rows, and then I hoed the weeds and then planted a couple more rows--primarily squash. Our squash hasn't done well thanks to the heavy rain we've had so far this spring and lack of sun. But now we are to having sun and less rain, so I'm hoping that this second round of squash will do better. I also planted some herbs and flowers. The only thing left to plant now is some onions. We enjoyed fresh picked lettuce from the garden served with roasted hotdogs, mac n cheese, and corn on the cob. And for dessert? S'mores round 2! A simply delightful evening around the fire!

Turning on the LED with the circuit
Today we enjoyed a half day of school and my dad taught the science lesson today. He used the DIY Electro-Dough Kit from Timberdoodle and the boys learned all about how circuits and conductive materials work. Then the boys went out with the men, while I worked on getting the house ready for Sabbath. My parents went out looking for property (they are planning on moving out here within 2 years). The rain moved in about 5pm and we all went in to have a final family dinner before my parents leave tomorrow. 

Silly boy loves his Papa
We have a little restaurant that is simply amazing and the food is fabulous. I think my husband licked his plate clean--he got a filet mignon with a Cabernet Bordelaise sauce that is just indescribable in how good it is. I devoured his little button mushrooms that came with his dinner. I think I could drink that sauce....... I enjoyed a delightful Chicken Parmesan that never lets me down. I also paired it with a Washington Apple cocktail. Those are delightful too. All in all, the family enjoyed a wonderful meal together.

And so there you go. Not very exciting as I said, but enjoyable all the same. We will be sorry to see my parents go, but they might be purchasing property soon which is very exciting! Won't be long before they never have to leave! What a blessing that will be to have both sets of parents nearby!

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May 19, 2016

Bringing the Night Skies to Life with Astronomy from Memoria Press {Curriculum Review}

Little Britches loves looking at the stars. We live in the country and the stars are bright nearly every night, just begging for your attention. I could identify the basics for him, like the Dippers and Orion, but I am not doing more than making guesses about the others. When Memoria Press offered our Schoolhouse Review Crew the chance to review their Book of Astronomy Set, we jumped on the opportunity and Little Britches really hoped it would give him the information he needed to be able to learn more about the stars.
Memoria Press: Book of Astronomy Set Review

Product Information

Memoria Press is an award winning company known for producing some of the top Classical curriculum available for homeschooling. Offering up a full list of subjects, you can find products ranging from Language Arts materials to Art, Music, and Latin for all grade levels. Some of their more popular sets are within the sciences.

Book of Astronomy Set is one of these more popular curriculums. It is designed to give your student a close look at the constellations, movements of the earth, the names of stars, and the ever changing night sky, as it moves through the seasons. The lessons focus on teaching key identifiable points throughout the seasons, including the more notable Summer Triangle and fall/winter zodiacs.

It was designed for the upper elementary (3rd-5th) grades and the set includes the Teacher Manual and Student Book (retail $31.90). The website product description mentions that D'Aulaires Greek Myths book is a great resource to have on hand, since so many constellations have their origin in Greek Mythology.

We were given the Book of Astronomy Set to review with Little Britches who is in the suggested grade level.