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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