Nancy Larson Science

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jeg1997

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, June 3, 2014
  • Grades Used: K, 1, 2 on 3,5, and 7 yos
  • Dates used: 2012-2014
We tried Nancy Larson Science after reading the glowing reviews here and I felt compelled to put in our two cents since I did not at all agree with the reviews after using the program. I had high hopes going in because the kits look so neat, but they are a bit expensive and in retrospect filled with some superfluous things, and we have done many better science programs. Also, although we teach a Christian curriculum, I was looking for a secular science option which is why we tried NL, but I am too disappointed to find it worthwhile. What we didn't like:
1) Honestly, the content is VERY VERY basic for the first three levels. I would say grade K is really meant for a 3 yo, grade 1 for a 4 to 5 yo, and grade 2 for a 6 yo at most. The problem is, the worksheets pretty much require the child to be reading and writing. So there is a huge chasm there. For example, grade K spends about a dozen lessons reviewing names of body parts like ankle, head, and the only new word for my kids was "torso." There were several lessons about the difference between a baby, toddler, adolescent, come on! This is clearly for an only child who has never left their house, ever! It just seemed like such an easy concept to waste so much time on, and most of the content was just like this.
2) The lessons, which are extremely redundant and basic, are also scripted to be about 3-4 times longer than necessary. I guess if you have zero science background it might be nice to have a script, but the script is very involved for such simple concepts. If I had taught every word as dictated, we would still be doing grade K today, 3 years later.
3) The few ancillary books are pretty uninspired. There are SOOOO MANY excellent scientific children's literature out there, and we are a Charlotte Mason-ish family, I was very disappointed with the book choices.
4) The examples and "labs" are buried in the scripts, and the materials that come with the kit are used only a few times over 60 lessons. This made is very very hard to "cut to the chase" and abbreviate things. I often had to read the whole ridiculous script just to figure out what the heck the writers intended for the lesson. It is not fun to be the teacher and be as surprised as the student, and it takes time as a teacher to prepare, which makes having a script sort of meaningless. Also, if I shelved the program for a while then came back to use some of the "cool stuff" I had to spend half an hour trying to find the specific place where it is used.
5) The "teacher collected" materials list can be very long for each lesson. Granted, this complaint is a bit weak since I didn't have too much trouble coming up with legos or bananas or whatever, but the list could be quite extensive. And if you didn't have things, again you were back sifting through the lengthy script to try to figure out what they intended so you could substitute.
6) The materials are not very homeschool friendly. The manual comes with blackline masters in the back, as though intended for the schoolroom, but why not just include that in the lesson worksheets? The materials come with extensive warnings not to photocopy for additional students, and then you are stuck repurchasing the materials if you want to re-use for siblings or share. The "booklets" are neat, but not easy to photocopy, largely because of this copywrite issue too, and the materials are not cheap to buy from NL. So, this was another factor that really turned me off.

We have done Sonlight Science A, B, and C, and although we often fall behind at parts of the year, and Sonlight is a non-secular science, I find it way superior. For one thing, it rarely asks you to use things outside of the kit. Secondly, the content is intellectually better suited for grades K-2. Thirdly, though the worksheets suffer to some degree the same issue with a kid being required to read and write, they have more pictures and activities suitable for younger kids. Fourthly, the instructor's guide lets me quickly pick and choose parts of the lesson without having to go through a lengthy annoying script. Fifth,the book choices are way better. Sixth, if you are a script-dependent person, you can just read from the books, then show your kids the science DVDs and let them go to town. Seventh, if you don't have time to experiment, then the DVD at least offers a short visual example of the experiment. Eighth, Sonlight offers a great repurchase discount and the activity sheets are cheap.

We have also done some of Pandia Press Science, and that too was better than NL, though I won't probably continue it for different reasons.

We have ordered the Stratton House Science kits, and those too are way better.


mothermayi

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, October 8, 2013
  • Grades Used: Levels 2, 3, and beginning 4
  • Dates used: 2011-2013
We used Nancy Larson Science Levels 2 and 3 and we LOVED it!! The teacher’s manual is scripted, but if you don’t like that sort of thing you can just read over it and use your own words when teaching. The program came with almost everything you would need for the activities; you just supply household items like paper clips, scrap paper, etc. The program teaches the material in a very child-friendly way without insulting the child’s intelligence. The lessons take about 20-30 minutes and are hands-on. My kids always ended the lessons with a comment similar to “Wow! I can’t believe I didn’t know that already!” The material teaches so naturally! There are reviews and tests built into the curriculum, as well as science word lists to help with vocabulary retention. The CD-ROM has supplemental resources to help “drive the lessons home.” It appears to be a little expensive but it is sooo worth it! Keep in mind that the cost covers your supply kit, resource kit, teacher’s manual with solutions, tests, student worksheets, student booklets, and more! Not only does it include the things I’ve listed, but it even teaches study skills and the kids learn how and what to hi-light in their booklets to help them during study time. You will even find some grammar teachings, which may appear as a latent function to parents but never-the-less, it is intentionally and creatively woven into the curriculum. For example, level 4 teaches the Greek root bios, and then the child learns about the suffix –ology, then the derivative “biology” makes sense.

NLS has a built-in reading reinforcement as well. My son struggled with reading comprehension for a few years and we were beginning to think there was some sort of delay or diagnosis. However, after using NLS for one year, his reading comprehension rocketed up to grade level! Now, here is the part that made my eyes swell with happy tears: After completing level 3, my son tested into 9th grade reading/comprehension! Oh my, I get weepy just thinking about it! After all, every mother wants her child to do well in school. Every mother wants her child to have confidence in his or her academic ability. Every mother’s heart hurts a little more each time her child cries because he or she just don’t seem to be able to understand something in school. It seems odd that a science curriculum can hugely impact reading, right? Well, Nancy Larson did her research and developed such a curriculum! It is fun AND easy to teach! My kids actually remember things they learned months ago so this alone makes me a happy camper.

Update:
This school year we went with a different science program because of finances and changes in our family structure. It has been 7 months since we have used NLS and we are going through withdrawal ;-). My son had a backwards turn in reading comprehension. At first, there was the stagnation. Now, we seem to have shifted gears into reverse. We were doing so well and progressing very nicely with comprehension for the last two years with NLS. Now, he is losing those skills and regressing. It is similar to how the brain dumps information over a long summer break. Well, that is what’s happening to my son. It’s as if he is on a summer break as we use this other science program. Mind you, we are using a reading curriculum—the same reading curriculum that we used over the last couple of years so this variable is constant. I truly believe his decrease in skill is because of our hiatus from NLS. My sweet child is now frustrated with reading and narrations and all of those yucky feelings we had in our days prior to NLS have returned. Oh, what is a mother to do?? This question has left me puzzled for months and my dear child has asked when are we going to return to Mrs. Nancy (as he calls NLS). So you know what, the answer is we are going to return to NLS! There is simply no question about it. I want to see the joy return to my son’s eyes as he narrates and comprehends with success. I want him to feel the butterflies in his tummy as he identifies the main ideas in the student booklets. I *need* my son to feel confident in his academic abilities, so we *need* to return to Nancy Larson Science. So to answer my own question “What is a mother to do,” it’s simple. NLS Level 4, here we come!!! Thanks NLS for helping my once struggling reader to gain confidence and skill in reading and comprehension, including a fantastic and superior understanding of science vocabulary and concepts. He burst through the barriers that once kept him behind in reading and we look forward to vaporizing more of these obstructions. We are amazed by NLS' methodology, focus, scope, and sequence. Yes, NLS is THAT good!

My family highly recommends this program!

tagglelim

  • Reviewed on Friday, May 18, 2012
  • Grades Used: 2nd (Science 1)
  • Dates used: 2011-2012
I am wrapping up my first year using Nancy Larson Science 1 with my 2nd-grade daughter. We love it! Without a doubt, I can say that this year has been my most successful year in the subject of Science. I have tried and shelved countless science programs over the last three years, but Nancy Larson Science 1 will be the first that I actually complete. Both my daughter and I have enjoyed the program greatly. In fact, my daughter asks to start every day with science!

Here are what I think are the program's strengths:

1) It is all-inclusive. Personally, if I have to gather 50 supply items, requiring 4 different trips to the store, that science lesson just isn't going to get done. What is great about NL Science 1 is that the box arrives with pretty much everything in it. Each lesson is ALL laid out, including scripting - so easy to follow! I simply pull out what I need each day and, voila!, science happens!

2) It employs a spiral method and is systematic. Science 1 at first appeared fairly simple and it is indeed laying a foundation for the higher levels of the program. Though the topics seemed basic at first, it quickly became apparent that my daughter was being systematically introduced to concepts that I assumed she already knew in detail, but actually did not (or didn't remember!). It also became apparent that my daughter was being introduced to more advanced vocabulary. She is learning to define her surroundings in a scientific manner. Science 1 really does a good job of covering all the bases for an introduction to science. The program employs a spiral method - meaning new topics are introduced in steps as old are continually reviewed. I've found this method has shown a high level of retention in my daughter - yay! We've read countless fun science books, but with this program she is really walking away with a firm memory of how to label the world around her. She feels confident in science now, making it one of her favorite topics. I've looked ahead at the next levels in the program and see that, in stages, it increases in difficulty. The entire program seems to layer upon itself.

3) It is hands-on and fun! The program and supplies haven't been experiment-heavy, but rather more focused on investigation and interaction. So far, my daughter has enjoyed that more than any experiments we have tried to do in the past - especially considering the experiments that failed, ha! The "See, Touch, and Do" approach also seems to last longer in her memory. We have real x-rays to build a body with, we grow butterflies and ladybugs, we play with pine cones, and each lesson includes reading, writing, and creating information booklets. Fun, without being overwhelming. For this young age group, I think this approach has been wonderful. We are looking forward to dissecting owl pellets next year!

So those are what I feel are the programs strengths. To be fair, here are what I consider some aspects of the program that might not work for everyone.

1) It is scripted. Personally, I LOVE that. It has worked very well with me as we've begun our science journey. It has given me confidence. I might not always need scripting, but it has certainly been a huge help for me. However, if scripting drives you batty, this program might not be for you.

2) You are a science-saturated home. If you have been delving deep into life science for years, then the early levels of this program might seem too simplistic for you. I would still recommend looking at the higher levels, as they increase in difficulty, but Science 1 is an introduction to life science. Again, I've LOVED it and my daughter has a great science vocabulary now and has enjoyed the program, even when reviewing topics she has been introduced to before. But, the introduction might not be for everyone.

That is all I can think of, really, We've loved it and seen retention. We look forward to next year!

Creativelearning

  • Reviewed on Wednesday, February 22, 2012
  • Grades Used: K
  • Dates used: 2012
We are using the Nancy Larson Science K curriculum. So far we LOVE it! The curriculum is so well planned out and I love how the teacher's guide is scripted for you. It just makes things so much easier.

I am also amazed at how quickly my daughter is picking up what is being taught in each lesson. The way in which it is taught is fun and interactive. Which makes it very easy for a child to pick up quickly. She is even using vocabulary words you would not expect a grade K child to know. For example, observe, torso, and abdomen for example. She's already impressing her grandparents. :)

The Nancy Larson Science company is also very friendly and eager to help.

I highly recommend the Nancy Larson Science K curriculum.
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