If you are like me, science, can be a tough thing to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum. That's why I was so excited when I was given the opportunity to review EdTechLens online curriculum: Rainforest Journey. EdTechLens creates online science curriculum programs for students in grades K-5. I actually had the opportunity to use the program for my first grade boys as well as my daughter. While she isn't in Kindergarten yet, we worked through some of the Kindergarten program which she was able to do with guidance from me. For the sake of this review, I'll be mostly focusing on what my boys did as they were the chief participants in the program.
This program works very simply. You buy a 1 year membership for your student. There is a membership available for just 1 student or for up to 5 students in the same grade. For our family, we would purchase the "up to 5 students" option for first grade. We would then purchase a second membership for the Kindergarten student. Once the purchase is complete, you become the teacher and create a virtual classroom. The cost of the membership is $50 for one student or $75 for up to 5 students in the same grade. This is very inexpensive considering there are 5 Units (which have roughly 1-5 chapters per unit). There is also a really fascinating section which details the trip of one couple to the rainforest. Very interesting! You could easily spend an entire semester just using this program a few times a week.
But even better is this coupon right on their website which entitles you to the program for 50% off! That means you can get it for just $25.
Your students then log in and work through the program much like a textbook. As the teacher, you can see what they have done and what tests they have completed. You can even grade their open-ended questions right on the computer. There are also worksheets that go with each unit. These can be printed out and the answers written down as the student goes along. In my case, I printed out all the worksheets for a unit, stapled them together, and then had the kids sit down in front of the computer on their own and answer questions as they went along. Most of the questions are very subjective in nature with a lot of potential for the students to come up with their own answers.
As far as the difference between the grade levels, I could definitely see a marked difference between my daughter's Kindergarten work and the work my boys were doing for first grade. And while not everything might fit their ability level perfectly, there was obviously very well-thought out planning when creating this program in making it applicable for the appropriate ages. The program was relatively the same for my boys and my daughter but you could see differences in some of the content as well as the activities on the worksheets.
So what did we love most about the program?
- Well done videos and incredibly beautiful color pictures! When I read more about EdTechLens I found it fascinating that they were going after the look and feel of a "coffee table book." That is exactly what they accomplished. Much more visually stimulating things to see then things to listen to or read.
- The option to read OR listen to information under pictures. I thought this was wonderful considering not all first graders can read at the same level. If they can read, then they can read the content. If they can't read well, they can listen. My boys did both. My daughter did all listening.
- Lots of personal connections included like pictures of real children in the rainforest, journal entries from people who have visited the rainforest, and interviews from scientists.
- Easy-to-follow worksheets.
We thoroughly enjoyed the program. Our whole family -- parents included -- loved watching the videos and seeing the pictures. It was visually amazing and simply breathtaking. So much to learn in a way that was fun to participate. I thoroughly recommend this program for a semester science unit.