It can be SO hard to pick out curriculum! It seems to be feast or famine–sometimes I find too many options, sometimes I can’t find anything.
Last summer, when planning the upcoming school year, I decided I wanted a more formal science curriculum. It was time to level up from the basic videos and book series like Magic School Bus. But how? I had flashbacks of sitting in science class with 20-plus classmates, where the education involved me reading a paragraph aloud, then the person behind me, then the person behind them, until we all read the whole chapter aloud. It was neither inspiring nor particularly useful, and I wanted the opposite of boring book work. I wanted inspiration!
Looking through various programs and reading in forums, I found Generation Genius and let my son watch a free preview lesson. He LOVED the videos, it seemed thorough, and we got a year subscription.
The main attraction is the videos, which are a blend of educational content, entertainment and a hands-on experiment that you can also do at home.
Also included are
- Discussion questions for both before and after watching the video
- Vocabulary words
- Information about the experiment
- A quiz. For the third through fifth grade material, the quiz is simply regurgitation of what was covered in the video. You can print a paper copy or do it online.
For me, Generation Genius works because my son loves it and is excited about science, but it’s only 75% of what I want. I felt like something was missing, some next step to make sure he was really understanding and retaining information beyond their discussion questions. I tried a few things but wasn’t sure how to get this last bit. Until I found the Critical Thinking Company and their Science Detective series.
The Beginning level Science Detective book goes along with Generation Genius quite well. Since I didn’t find it until we were halfway done with Generation Genius, we’ve been doing some review using the Science Detective book, but that’s fine. Moving forward, we are doing the Generation Genius lesson then following up with the corresponding sections in Science Detective.
Both programs are firmly based on the grade level guidelines for science, and cover the same material. By adding this book to the Generation Genius program, I find it is truly a complete program that goes one step beyond explaining into getting the learner to process the information to make sure they understand it. If they cannot answer the Science Detective questions, then it’s probably a good idea to review the lesson with Generation Genius.
The Science Detective book doesn’t feel like a complete program to me either. Being “just” a workbook, it benefits from the pizzazz and laughs of the videos and experiments of Generation Genius.
Science Detective helps give Generation Genius structure. When you first sign on to Generation Genius, the videos are presented in what looks like a random order. They aren’t organized by difficulty or by topics, e.g. the “weather versus climate” lesson isn’t next to the “extreme weather” lesson. I was attempting to collect the topics that went together because it felt scattered to me. Science Detective solves this because you can follow their organized lesson order that is divided into clear categories and builds from more basic to harder topics. You still have freedom to move around, perhaps doing earth science before life science, but Science Detective provides a structure to use with the Generation Genius program.
I love both Generation Genius and Science Detective, and think they work well together by filling the gaps of what the other is missing. Check them out!