Science4Us.com is an online science program primarily for grades K-2, though it can be used as a review for children in grades 3 through 5.
When I first tried out the Science4Us.com Online Subscription, I let my girls, especially PB & J Girl (5), explore the site and try it out. While they had fun doing this, the activities lacked cohesion when done this way. My girls went wily-nily through the site, and I wasn’t sure how much they were getting from it. This kind of exploration was good in the beginning, but then I sat down to learn how to run the program correctly.
Utilize the Teacher’s Corner from the Beginning
If you try out Science4Us.com, which costs $7.95 a month per child, please take the time beforehand to explore the Teacher’s Corner and watch the getting started video there. Once I watched that and understood how the program worked, I was able to use the program as PB & J Girl’s science program for kindergarten.
Our first unit that we tried following the instructions in the Teacher’s Corner was Magnets. In addition to the online lesson, I utilized the Teacher’s Guide (which can be printed off). There are Teacher’s Guides for each lesson and for each level (K, 1st grade, and 2nd grade.) However, I don’t think the Teacher’s Guides have to be used as many of the activities and lessons are self-explanatory.
In addition, each lesson gives an estimated time to complete. Most state that they take 30 to 40 minutes to complete. There are 8 lessons in each unit. Students are expected to complete four lessons in a week, making each unit two weeks long. (We usually finished each lesson faster than the recommended time, though.)
What’s Available in Science4Us.com?
Science4Us.com offers four primary topics–Inquiry, Physical, Life and Earth/Space. In total, there are over 350 online lessons and activities. If you live in a state that requires reports from homeschool families, Science4Us.com offers automatic reporting for homeschool portfolios.
One very nice feature is that you do not need to purchase a book or any extra materials. Everything you need to teach your children science at this young age is included in the online program.
Through the Teacher’s Corner, parents can assign their children particular lessons and assignments as well as monitor and look over their children’s work. Each child who uses Science4Us.com will need to have their own account.
The lessons follow a general pattern. For instance, in the magnet unit, children start with the “Engage” portion and immediately write or draw what they know about magnets. The drawing option is great for kindergarteners who may not be able to write yet. However, unless you’re working on a touch screen, drawing is difficult with a mouse, especially for young children. What follows is a video about magnets. My girls enjoyed this because they learned about types of magnets they hadn’t encountered before. Then, children are given discussion questions to talk about what they’ve learned.
The next lesson in a unit is “Explore.” In the magnet unit, there were several objects on the screen that the child should drag toward a large magnet. If the object would be drawn to a magnet, it would click onto the magnet when it got close enough. My girls were a bit confused by this. They know that metal objects are attracted to magnets, but the coins in the activity didn’t stick. The girls didn’t know why because they thought they were metal. An explanation here would have been very helpful, but the activity was simply hands-on.
The last lesson, “Explain” delves deeper into how magnets work and also explains why coins are not attracted to magnets. I wish that this section would have been before the “Explore” section because my girls would have understood the previous activity better. (Science4Us.com asks that in every unit, you follow the lessons in order–Engage, Explore, Explain.)
The Explain lesson ends with some activities to test children’s understanding as well as discussion questions.
Beyond these three basic lessons in every unit, there are also nine other activities children can choose from or do all of them. The activities include having stories read on the topic, playing mix and match, or playing which is which, to name a few. At the end of the entire unit, there is a quiz. When students are done with the quiz, they can see immediately which ones they got wrong and right. I thought the quizzes were a bit difficult for a young kindergartener like PB & J Girl (5). As far as I could tell in the Teacher’s Corner, it looks like the quiz is the same for all grade levels.
Science4Us.com is an interactive science program for kids. While my girls enjoyed doing it and asked to use it often, the quizzes were a bit too difficult for kindergarten. This program would be a good fit for kids on the upper end of the age range, especially 2nd graders.
However, despite these drawbacks, Science4Us.com is a good way to teach young children about the world around us in a fun way. I’ll continue to use it, but I’ll have my kids skip the end of unit quizzes.