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Chey

Opinions on Real Science Odyssey & Nancy Larson please!

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Hello, new here 🙂 So a little bit about us. We pulled our oldest daughter out of PS at the end of 2nd grade June 2018 and began homeschooling July 2018. So this is our first year homeschooling and we've basically been filling in gaps and such for a while but as of October we've been doing more 3rd grade level curriculum. Without funds we had only been doing a Spectrum Science 3 workbook for science. With taxes well have the funds now to get what we've been wanting curriculum wise. 

So after a lot of research I'm looking into Science for my 3rd grader/recently turned 9 year old that my 4 year old can join in on a little bit. I'm stuck on deciding between Nancy Larson Science 1 and Real Science Odyssey Life level 1. With only having gone through 2nd grade in PS she hasn't had much, if any, exposure to decent science so beginning levels aren't a bother to me for the two curriculum options I'm looking at. 

I've already gone through RSO's materials list and found what I would be able to get at the Home Science Tools site, though not the already premade kit. Still with everything on the list I'd need to get it's still cheaper than Nancy Larson. Despite that it is a pain to have to find all of that stuff I don't have while Nancy Larson has everything for you already. My main concern is which curriculum is just a great all around science foundation that's fun. 

Anyway, I'd like to try and find opinions from those that have used both curriculum and which you like better and/or what you didn't like about them?

Thank you!

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Also maybe if you also have kiddos spanned in ages like mine, how would you do science for the younger kiddo as they got older? Redo the levels you've already done with your older kids that they've listened in on or find something new? 

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Well, I kind of feel like I shouldn't say anything since I haven't used those particular programs, but I'm going to speak more generally.  Level 1 of Nancy Larson would be an enormous waste of money for a 9 year old.  Don't buy that.  Maybe RSO would work, but I would look at whatever your 9 year old needs and not worry much about the 4 yo.  I have yet to find something that combines that wide of a range without either seriously short-changing someone or requiring the teacher to essentially teach at two different levels.  Do you have a good library system?  I think for that age a bunch of excellent trade books from the library beats a pricey curriculum.  Have you read the well trained mind?

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Thanks for your input 🙂 And like I said she hasn't had much if any at all exposure to science other than our Spectrum 3 Science workbook which is why I wanted to start at lower levels. They didn't do anything other than watch a seed grow from what my daughter tells me regarding science when she was in public school 😕 I don't want to jump into something over her head but not super kiddish/easy either, which sounds like what Nancy Larson Science 1 would be based on your response. 

We live in a small town so our Library isn't the greatest but we can borrow from other library's through our local one. We're planning on using Kids Discover Online as well. 

I haven't read it yet but it's been on my todo list. 

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Have you looked at Mystery Science? It’s such a good website/program. If you subscribe, you’ll find age-appropriate science for both of your kids. 4 & 9 year olds are at much different developmental levels; I can’t imagine combining them successfully. I’m sure your 9-year old has picked up a lot more science content than you realize just being alive for 9 years, such as weather, life cycles, some basic classification, etc. I agree with a previous poster that you should definitely NOT buy a first-grade Level program for a 9-year old.

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I can't compare them because I've never used NL but we really like RSO. If you really want to hit all the levels you could start with Life, but you could also start with any of the other level 1's and be fine, you don't have to do them in order. If it were me starting with a 3rd grader, I would let her pick from all the RSO level one curriculums. There's Life, Earth and Space, Earth and Environment, Astronomy*, Chemistry, and Physics. You can do any of those without having done anything prior. I'd choose based off of interest. 

*Earth and Environment and Astronomy are newer and expand and update the info in Earth and Space. 

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Nancy Larson is very explicit, direct instruction teaching.  I would read the samples carefully and decide if you can picture yourself reading the script to your child and if it sounds fun to you.

Science is a content rather than skill subject, so I would do same/similar lessons at various skill levels for each kid.  I'll put in another plug for Mystery Science if you are considering programs. The only materials you need are what you have readily available to you for the most part.  If you are more confident, I'd suggest Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding, but the flowchart can feel overwhelming and it requires more prep.

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21 hours ago, Chey said:

Thanks for your input 🙂 And like I said she hasn't had much if any at all exposure to science other than our Spectrum 3 Science workbook which is why I wanted to start at lower levels.

 

I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of previous science instruction.  Most elementary science is information based not skill based so you can jump in later. Any previous vocab is reviewed and if not you can just explain it or show her how to look it up. 

I would base which level I chose off of her interest level. Will it seem tedious if it is too long or packed with too much info. How abstract is it? If it is abstract do they explain in a way that makes sense to a child? Magic School Bus is a good example of a way to make some fairly abstract stuff fun and at least make a lot of vocab memorable to really young children.

Reading level would be the only other important thing if she is expected to read on her own at all. 

 

I would have 0 issues though starting at whatever grade level my child is the age for regardless of the fact I've never done science with them before. I would not say the same for math or LA.

Edited by frogger

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I think you could get good mileage out of checking out all the Let's Read and Find Out books (especially level 2 ones) and Gail Gibbons books from the library and watching Magic School Bus videos.  Or Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding....level one would be good for both ages.  But in general, even without any science instruction at school, I think it's going to be tough to combine those ages.  Your nine year old, unless there are intellectual issues, probably has picked up concepts and vocabulary from daily life.  Mystery Science would work for both, too.  I absolutely wouldn't use Nancy Larson 1 with a nine year old.  

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I meant more on the line where my 4 year old can listen in and watch, she wouldn't have to fully understand what was happening in the experiments or anything 🙂 but I think we've decided on Earth & Environment 1 paired with Astronomy 1 from RSO. It's targeted for 2nd grade but for grades 1st-4th. She loves collecting rocks though and was excited about the rock kits we saw. Next year we'll try Chemistry or Physics with her and do the Life Science for my youngest.

Thanks for your input everyone 🙂 

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So I've used both and also Mystery Science. Just background information, I have a bachelors in Environmental Science and a minor in Chemistry. My husband is a chemist/chemical engineer. I've never been able to find a science program I'm completely satisfied with, but haven't had the patience/confidence to put together my own thing. I used Nancy Larson 1, 2 and 3 and yes, it's very scripted. I didn't mind and frequently departed from the script. I felt like the science was really solid and my oldest daughter really enjoyed all three levels. Level 4 wasn't out at the time so we moved on to something else. My youngest daughter didn't like it as well, but she did love the lady bugs, butterflies and we grew a tadpole into a frog. There are workbook pages that accompany each lesson and, though I didn't know it at the time, youngest is dyslexic so the reading/writing portion were challenging for her. I skipped a lot of the workbook pages for my oldest because she didn't need the end of lesson review. I loved that each lesson had a hands on component and all of the materials were included in the kit.

RSO: I've used some of Chemistry Level 1 and Biology 2. My oldest daughter is a pretty serious child and she really hated that there were science poems in the text. She felt like it was talking down to her. I felt like the hands on stuff was hit or miss. Some of it was great and some of it seemed significantly below grade level. I was pretty frustrated with Biology 2. I know you aren't considering that one, but I'm just going to put this out there anyway. I hate that some of the things weren't accurate. I don't have the book in front of me (we are moving and it's already packed) but the punnet squares had you use tongue rolling and eye color and neither of these are straight up genetic as they are presented in the book. There were others as well. Finding these sorts of inaccuracies always makes me question other material and I just don't have the time to fact check everything. I remember feeling this way about some of the materials in the chemistry book as well, but sadly, this book is also packed so I can't point to the examples. (And this is super nit-picky, but the font really annoyed me, just saying...)

Mystery Science was by far my favorite for my youngest daughter. She loved the short video investigations which were followed by the hands on stuff. I was happy that the materials were organized by level but I had the freedom to choose from every level so we could skip things she already knew and use materials out of grade level order to provide the right level of challenge. I was sad when we finished with this, having completed everything that was relevant to her ability at the time. 

Anyway, I know a lot of people are fans, but I have to say that RSO has been my least favorite of the three. It seems like you've made your choice. I hope you have better luck with it than I have.

Cheers,

Teresa

Edited by zarabellesmom
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I know you say she has not had much science previously which is why you are looking to start with 1st grade level, but, what you should know about science and history is that it is not like math and reading. They do not learn skills they build on. It is more about reading and math level. Every topic in these subjects act as if the child has no prior knowledge. Even for kids who have had a bunch of science and history prior to that year, it might not be the exact same stuff and most likely, they forgot the facts for the most part. You will want to start your child in science where her reading and math level is. There is no such thing as a science level when it comes to grade school or even middle school.

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Also, Mystery Science has been a big favorite here. Also, for us, Considering God's Creation which you won't like if that is not your religion. But Mystery Science is not only great, but with just one subscription, you can run videos meant for younger children and videos for the older children. The activities are so easy to follow that there won't be tons of time constraints on your either.

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Does anyone else feel like Mystery Science is really light though?   And that there are a lot of gaps because it jumps around so much?  I've only ever done the free trial, so maybe my feelings are unwarranted.   But I never felt like there was much depth in the program.   

I used RSO Biology for first grade, and I really liked it.   I also used RSO astronomy/earth science in second grade with a small group, and I really liked it.   I tried to use RSO Chemistry, but I found that I didn't love it as much.  (I ended up switching to Elemental Science for chemistry).   And I didn't even try RSO physics.   We used Exploration Education for physical science which I also loved btw.   I am trying RSO Biology II this year, but as others have stated, there are errors.   

BUT--to be honest with you, I think I mostly liked all of those programs because they gave me some type of spine to follow....not necessarily because they were that great on their own.  When I look back on those years, the things that really made science great were things that we added to the program.   I used their recommended read aloud lists HEAVILY with a few substitutions and additions.   (We read all of the themed "Lets Read and Find Out" packages from Rainbow Resource each year for example.  Here is the one we paired with RSO Biology.)   We also would read through a decent encyclopedia for each topic each year.    And we paired all of that with grammar stage memory work for the science topic.  So there was retention and drill of the most important information.   The labs and demonstrations added an element of fun and hopefully helped make memories.    Plus, we took a lot of related field trips.   

However, there were a lot of things I didn't like about all of those programs.   First, they all contain a LOT of writing.   For some kids, this can turn them off of science and make them hate it.  I'm not sure you need that much written output at that age.   I also really didn't like the science poetry.   (I mean....why?!)   

 

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Lol thank you all for your input and advice. I'm really at a loss honestly... so I may even just put together our own thing with books/activities and hands on stuff etc. We can use Kids Discover Online/Usborne's Science Encyclopedia as a spine and just chose topics we're interested in and go from there.

I think I really liked the idea of RSO because of the hands on materials/experiments to do and like their rock kit for earth & Environment level 1. I believe in the idea of getting your hands dirty and doing things/observing to learn about science. Not just reading about it. 

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Does anyone else feel like Mystery Science is really light though?   And that there are a lot of gaps because it jumps around so much?  I've only ever done the free trial, so maybe my feelings are unwarranted.   But I never felt like there was much depth in the program.   

I used RSO Biology for first grade, and I really liked it.   I also used RSO astronomy/earth science in second grade with a small group, and I really liked it.   I tried to use RSO Chemistry, but I found that I didn't love it as much.  (I ended up switching to Elemental Science for chemistry).   And I didn't even try RSO physics.   We used Exploration Education for physical science which I also loved btw.   I am trying RSO Biology II this year, but as others have stated, there are errors.   

BUT--to be honest with you, I think I mostly liked all of those programs because they gave me some type of spine to follow....not necessarily because they were that great on their own.  When I look back on those years, the things that really made science great were things that we added to the program.   I used their recommended read aloud lists HEAVILY with a few substitutions and additions.   (We read all of the themed "Lets Read and Find Out" packages from Rainbow Resource each year for example.  Here is the one we paired with RSO Biology.)   We also would read through a decent encyclopedia for each topic each year.    And we paired all of that with grammar stage memory work for the science topic.  So there was retention and drill of the most important information.   The labs and demonstrations added an element of fun and hopefully helped make memories.    Plus, we took a lot of related field trips.   

However, there were a lot of things I didn't like about all of those programs.   First, they all contain a LOT of writing.   For some kids, this can turn them off of science and make them hate it.  I'm not sure you need that much written output at that age.   I also really didn't like the science poetry.   (I mean....why?!)   

 

I do not feel like it is light only because I feel that grammar school is more about teaching a child to love school. And if a child were IN school, there would be a new topic every week or two. And they would spend maybe an hour or two a week on science. If you do just one mystery and then the add on activities, you have spent more time as the brick and mortar school would have spent on a topic in a week. My children love Mystery Science so much that we do it in the evenings too. It is not focused on one topic for the year, which may be someone else's preference, but it is definitely not light. 

Edited by Janeway
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On 2/19/2019 at 12:56 PM, TheAttachedMama said:

Does anyone else feel like Mystery Science is really light though?   And that there are a lot of gaps because it jumps around so much?  I've only ever done the free trial, so maybe my feelings are unwarranted.   But I never felt like there was much depth in the program.   

 

I have trouble following this line of thought.

Mystery Science promotes scientific thinking.  It WANTS kids to ask questions, experiment, and be able to see science as a field of discovery and understanding.  The programs you listed are explicit instruction.  They tell a child straight off what makes things work, and use experiments to demonstrate why that works.
There are not many gaps when you follow an entire line in Mystery Science.  When it is talking about plants, it will eventually come back and reference things learned in earlier lessons.  It does not go as deep into any one topic, like you would get in an entire year's worth of astronomy or biology, but it isn't light or full of gaps, either.  It is a different method.  That method is part of why we're using BFSU in our house - like Mystery Science, it follows a few main tracks, and like MS, it uses what was previously learned to make inferences about how things will work in the new topic.

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I’ve been using Elemental Science or RSO now for about 3 years. Neither is great. Both are spines with suggested readings and experiments. You don’t need to get all of the suggested reading. You generally need one spine. Like an encyclopedia. All of the experiments have been pretty basic and not always successful. My K’er enjoys some of the readings so I try to get basic picture books on her level. A lot of it is pretty dry and doesn’t always hold my 3rd graders attention. I’m not at all science-y so I like to have a spine to hold my hand. You could also do it yourself if you are science oriented. A lot of these type of teacher’s guide refer out to an experiment book so you could add on that and picture books. 

Our favorite science has been Science in the Beginning. It’s very well written and incorporates experiments really well. It’s the only one that actually explains a concept in the short reading. It’s also held the attention really well of both my kids and they both enjoyed the experiments. It is based on the idea of the seven days of creation so it starts first with light. I think it would be very easy to skip the biblical stuff if that wasn’t of interest to you unless it’s inclusion bothered you. It’s by far the best we’ve found. All the other science is annoying with its assigned reading without incorporating the concept well. Since I’m not up to the task of winging it I want my science to explain it well. SIB does that for me and actually seems to do the experiment to show something instead of just to do an experiment. It talks about the experiment after it’s done too high is great because it all goes together. 

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I am currently using levels one and four of Nancy Larson. My 6 year old is in level one. I have a 9 and 11 year old combined in level four.  I really, really, really love Nancy Larson science. I do not read the script word for word. I love the skills it teaches with highlighting key words. I like the workbook type pages. I like that it comes with everything I need. I like that there isn't an experiment every single day.

I am on round two of these levels. I've already done both of them previously. I still like it on round 2.  I wish it wasn't so expensive. 

 

I wouldn't get level one for a 9 year old. I'd probably stick her straight into level 3. It's been a couple years since I looked at level 2, you could consider that one, but I do think level one is too easy for the average 9 year old.

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