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Schoolhouse Review: Visual Learning Systems

Science has always been one of the subjects that gets pushed for another day (that doesn’t ever seem to come).  It’s not that I think of it as an unimportant subject, but with math, grammar, writing, spelling, reading, and phonics. . . well you get the picture! 
Visual Learning Systems Science
Review item:  Visual Learning Systems is an online science program. Visual Learning Systems has science for the elementary (Grades K-5) and secondary (Grades 6-12) students. We are using their Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition.

Price: $99 per level 

Who helped with this Schoolhouse Review: Ethan my 6th grade 12 year old son.

How Visual Learning Systems works: Once you sign up for the course you and your child will have an account. Both accounts are almost identical. The main difference is the parent account has the teacher guide which includes the answer to the activity sheets.

My review is focused on the elementary level. This level includes: physical, earth, and life science. You can choose where to start. You don’t have to go in order. Just click on which topic. We chose life science.

Once you click on the word ‘life’ you will see all the lessons pertaining to that science topic.
Visual Learning Systems 1
When you're ready to have you and/or your child watch the video simply click on the lesson you chose.

Each video lesson is about 10-15 minutes. You can watch the whole video at once or in chapters, you can even watch in full screen.
Visual Learning Systems 4
What you get when you sign up with Visual Learning Systems:


I already mentioned the videos but I’ll recap. The videos are about 10-15 minutes long. Narrated by Nina Keck, her voice is very pleasant. The videos are colorful and very well done. There are questions asked throughout the video and a video assessment at the end of the video lesson.

Activity Sheets:

for your child to take before watching the video

*Post-Test: for your child to take once he/she completed the unit

*Video Review: questions to answer while watching the video

*Vocabulary: fill in the blank vocabulary sheet

*Information Sheet(s) for example with the Cells unit the article would be: Developing the Cell Theory with some questions to be answered.

Experiment: some units/lessons have a simple experiment to complete like dissecting a flower or make your own cell.

*Writing Activity: there are fill in the blank and ‘In Your Own Words’

There are activity sheets where the child can label the picture for example in the Cells unit your child will label the parts of an Amoeba.

Teacher Guide:

The Teacher Guide comes in pdf format. It includes all the activity sheets, answer keys, learning objectives, introducing the lesson, and the video script.

Who helped with this review: My 6th grade son Ethan.
How we used Visual Learning Systems: The first thing I did was print the guide and student pages for the lessons I wanted to cover over the next 6 weeks.
I had Ethan complete one lesson a week.

~Monday he took the pre-test, watched the video, and completed the vocabulary sheet. I usually sat with him for the first viewing to make sure he paused the video to answer the questions and to give further information if needed.

You don’t have to watch the video at all if you find that one week is to hectic. In the Teacher’s Guide you can always read the script!

~Tuesday he watched the lesson again with his video sheet in hand. He would pause the video as he filled out the sheet. I loved this aspect of the program because it really kept Ethan on his toes! He wasn’t allowed to just watch it but really listen and watch with more interest.

On Tuesday we would read the some of the articles.

~Wednesday watching the video is optional mid week, but  Ethan did work on one of the Activity sheets.

~Thursday I had him watch the video again and do another activity sheet.

~Friday is post-test day! It’s amazing to see his progress. Usually his pretest will have more than half of the answers wrong. By the time Friday rolls around he has almost all of the answers right.
Visual Learning Systems
We didn’t use all the activity sheets each week but I did try to fit most of them in. Of course some of it can be completed orally. Here at Homeschooling6 I’m trying to add more pencil to paper, so I had Ethan complete the activity sheets.

What I thought of Visual Learning Systems: I loved the videos. They are really well done. The clips were great too. Especially if you want your child to sketch a flower or part of a cell.

The activity sheets were not overwhelming. I loved the Video Review sheet because it help to ensure that my son was paying attention to the video.

My school-at-home type of homeschooler in me loved the pre & post test. It also gave my son a sense of accomplishment. He worked hard all week and to see how he improved was very encouraging to him.
Visual Learning Systems Plants
I did want to mention that this is not a faith based or young earth science program. With the lessons we have completed I have not encountered evolution, so it’s not the main focus. I did notice in the upper grade (middle/high school)  one lesson is clearly titled “Evolution”. This can easily be skipped.

You will hear billions of years and such. For the younger “Primary” students I would sit and listen with the child (at this age I always watched what my children watched anyways, from cartoons to movies).  Ethan he is older and knows that we don’t believe the earth has been here for billions of years. I used it as an opportunity to discuss what others believe.

One of the Crew members brought to my attention about using the catalog as a guide to group topics together. For instance I focused on life science. The way I was using Visual Learning Systems was to click life science and go down the row in order. This is why one week Ethan was studying plants and another cells.
Visual Learning Systems by topics
But there’s a better way, simply click on the catalog link found at the bottom of the website in the green section. Once you have the catalog open scroll down until you find the topic you are studying. I printed the pages that show the order for life science.

Final thoughts: Ethan and I were pleased with this program. Especially because he was not getting too much science before.

Visual Learning Systems Review
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  1. The catalog really offers some great direction!

  2. Yes it does, I'll be using it for sure now ;)


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