Learn About The Rainforest With Rainforest Journey From EdTechLens - Review
Kids love learning about the rainforest! These easy to use video lessons make it easy to teach kids at home or in the classroom about all the amazing life in the rainforest.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product for review, all opinions are 100% my own. This post may contain affiliate links my full disclosure can be read here.
Our children all love science, it has to be their favorite subject! One thing all of them share is a love for nature and studying the natural world around them. So I was excited to try Rainforest Journey a new program from EdTechLens to help them learn about the rainforest.
Learn About The Rainforest With Rainforest Journey
Rainforest Journey is an online science program for children in grades K to 5. It teaches life science for elementary school by helping children to learn about the animals and plant life in the rainforest. This program is intended to be used as a science supplement and not a full life science study.
The program is made up of 5 units
Unit 1 - The Big Picture: The forest floor, understory, canopy, emergent layer, types of rainforests, importance of water to the rainforest, the water cycle, importance of light to the rainforest, using the sun.
Unit 2 - Adapt or Die!: body parts and coloring as defense, chemical weapons, physical weapons, adaptions for everyday survival, posture and movement, communication, teamwork, genetics.
Unit 3 - Animals: invertebrates, tarantula, amphibians & fish, reptiles, birds, mammals.
Unit 4 - Plants & Fungi: trees & vines, flowers, other plants, fungi.
Unit 5 - Ecosystem: parts of an ecosystem, energy in the ecosystem, humans and the rainforest.
For each grade level of the program the unit topics are exactly the same, but the depth of study increases in each level. There are also some small differences with the animals studied in each level. Each unit is broken down into chapters and each chapter into multiple lessons. The number of chapters and lessons is different in each unit. There are at least 2 to 3 chapters in each unit and at least 3 lessons in each chapter. Rainforest Journey also includes assessments and hands-on activities.
Using Rainforest Journey Curriculum
We have been using the 3rd grade and 5th grade science levels. When I first looked at the samples I decided to put my 7 and 8 year olds in the 3rd grade program because the lower level lessons looked below their levels.
Our children love science, especially anything nature related. They are always watching nature documentaries, reading animal books and of course, we do a lot of outdoor nature study. What I didn't realize at the time is the 3rd grade activities wouldn't be a good fit for them. The activities at that level involve a fair amount of writing and math.
I think that because this online science program may have been originally created for school use it's more grade specific than most curriculums I have used before. Many of the homeschool programs I've used are intended for a range of children's ages. I could have chosen to go down a level or two, but then the lesson information was too simple for them.
For my older 3 children ages 10, 11 and 13 I've been using the 5th grade program. For my 13 year old this is only a supplement to her normal science program but she loves Rainforest Journey!
Each lesson of Rainforest Journey has 1 or 2 beautiful photos on the page.
Under it is a short lesson, no more than a paragraph. The student can read it or click on the speaker symbol and it will read it aloud to them. Under that is a light bulb symbol. This is the enrichment lesson. Again it's about a paragraph in length and has more details about what they just have read. The speaker symbol is also available to have it read aloud. Under this is 2 buttons, one to go back a page in the lesson and the other to move to the next passage.
Once they have finished moving through the pages in the lesson the review page can be printed.
In the 3rd grade program, the review pages consist of simple open-ended questions and using ven diagrams to compare topics. There are questions like list 5 things about (topic) and what else would you like to know about (topic).
The 5th grade program has a notebooking style worksheet. In the first unit only one question is asked on each worksheet. Children are asked to write a paragraph describing what they might see, hear, smell in that rainforest layer they just learned about.
Later units ask more specific questions such as how can an animal's smell help protect if from predators.
At the end of each unit there are 3 assessment tests. They are depth of knowledge, open-ended assessment, and factual assessment. These test are available in 2 formats. Your student can complete the test online or print off a PDF and do the work by hand.
If you do the printable PDF you can then enter the grades in your teacher account. The tests are based on what the student learned in that units work. As far as I can tell so far students are not tested on the material in the enrichment sections. The assessment test are a mixture of matching images with their meanings, multiple choice questions and answering questions with written answers.
Rainforest Journey Easy To Use Life Science Curriculum
Rainforest Journey is an easy to use life science program. The photography they use is simply stunning! I could sit and work through the lessons all day just to see the photos! I really like that the lessons are broken into small sections on each page. This is not overwhelming to a child and also helps to give the photos the spotlight.
One of my favourite things is that they include an option to easily have the text read aloud. Many of the lesson text are at a higher reading level than the grade level it's in. So this makes an easy option for children that need a little help reading their lesson. It also means I don't have to always sit with my kids when they work on their science lesson.
That said, I often DO sit with them for this program because I love the photos and interesting facts mixed in.
Rainforest Journey can be bought with either 1 student access per grade level or you can buy a package that lets up to 5 students use the same grade level. If you have children needing each a different grade level you will need to buy a year license for each grade level you want to use.
With my older children I have them work through the science lessons on their own. This is one of their favourite programs because it's short and to the point with lots of visuals. They were not fond of the review pages from the first unit because the pages were all the same questions. Now that they are starting to get into different topics they are finding it more interesting. We try to do some of the suggested projects together and that makes it more fun.
For my younger children I had intended for them to work through the program the same way. After the first lesson I changed my mind and had both of them sit with me and we went through it together. Then instead of using the worksheets on their own, we answer the questions and I write their answers on the whiteboard. Sometimes I have them copy the answers onto their worksheets. Many times I use oral narration and have them draw their answers because this better fits their learning style then using worksheets.
I think that Rainforest Journey is a great supplement to a life science course for older children. With a little more work it could be turned into a great unit study program. I don't think I would use it again for my younger children because I don't think there is enough content for my younger children.
They really wanted more videos and interactive worksheets that were not only written questions. Later in the year we are going to be studying South America and the rainforest is a topic we had planned to cover. While I won't go over this science program entirely again, we will use parts of it to enrich our study!