I think that I've written before that science is one of the weaker subjects to teach for me. We struggle through it and the kids learn, but teaching it isn't one of my favorite things. So, I am always looking for creative ways to bring science to life for my kids. When I first began homeschooling, I wasn't a fan of online teaching. I wanted more of a personal approach with my kids. As we have worked with some online programs, I have realized that working online can have it's personal touch. I had never thought about an online science program, though, until we had a chance to review Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens.
Rainforest Journey is an online learning program that covers every aspect of the rainforest in five units. Each unit has 1-5 chapters and each chapter has 1-5 lessons. Each lesson takes about 15-30 minutes to complete depending on the grade level (right now they have kindergarten through fifth grade) and if you do all of the lesson activities. We worked on the 3rd grade level with Jacob and 15-30 minutes was more than enough time to complete everything with him. The five units for the 3rd grade level are:
- The Big Picture of the Rainforest
- Adapt or Die!
- Plants and Fungi
I really appreciated that everything goes step by step and they give bite sized information. Each lesson is three or four screens. Each screen is usually introduced with a colorful picture or a short film clip and then has a three or four sentence paragraph explaining the concept being taught. When I first saw Rainforest Journey I was concerned about how Jacob would do since he is a slow reader. I had nothing to fear however because at the end of each passage there is a speaker icon that the student compress and the passage is read to them. After the regular passage there is an enrichment passage that goes into the subject in a bit more detail. It can also be read back to the student. After once page is completed he just clicks on the arrow for the next page and repeats the steps. Thee are bonus videos and enrichment activities throughout that are very interesting as well. At the end of the lesson is a pdf review worksheet that I can either print out for him to complete or read from the screen and complete it orally with him. The whole process is extremely easy for him but the lessons have so much detail!
The Joshua's 5th grade level is exactly the same but each lesson goes a little deeper with a little more detail. I like that because I can have a discussion with both of them together about what they learned.
It is also very easy for me as the teacher. They have an abundance of teacher resources both to help me keep track of where Jacob and Joshua are and how well they are doing, but also how to help teach and interact with them during the lessons. I really like the way that Rainforest Journey's encourages the parent/teacher to interact with the child. They encourage you to:
They also provide three different types of assessments. Now, I am not a super big assessment person. My kids are not good test takers and I feel there are better ways to find out how much a child has learned. However, I really enjoy the different assessments that Rainforest Journey gives. There is the Depth of Knowledge assessment that shows a picture, asks the student a question about the picture and gives four multiple choice answers to chose from. The Factual assessment is much the same but has no pictures. It simply asks the questions and gives multiple choice answers to chose from. Finally, the Open Ended assessment asks an open ended question that can either be discussed or the student can write his answer out. Each assessment on Jacob's 3rd grade level had only four questions in each so it is not overwhelming for him.
I really like Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens because it can be personal where I can sit by Jacob (or Joshua) and watch and discuss things with him, or I can give it to him to do on his own and talk it over with him later. I have no worries about the reading, because he can click and listen to everything being read to him. He loves the pictures and videos and we have had some lively conversations about them. I also really like that if I choose to use the assessments they won't be overwhelming.
Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens is a real hit with us. I plan on allowing both Joshua and Jacob to complete the course because they both love it and it is easy for them to use. The information they give is thorough but not overwhelming and everything is beautifully done. We have learned so much in just the little time that we have been reviewing Rainforest Journey. To find out more about EdTechLens and Rainforest Journey just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what the other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say just click on the banner below. Happy homeschooling!