Finally! After years of watching from the sidelines; wondering, considering, questioning, and weighing whether we should try one of Apologia Educational Ministries science programs, we got to try one! I am so excited to tell you all about their Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition. We received the student text, Notebooking Journal, Jr. Notebooking Journal (this is the one we used for Kindergarten) and Audio CD for review.
Y’all- I cannot tell you how much this EXCEEDED all expectations I had. But first- about the program itself.
It just so happens that my kids are crazy interested in Astronomy right now- all things planets and stars, so this worked out perfectly with their interests. The journal has a suggested schedule based on each lesson being broken up into 4-7 daily assignments. If you were to do 2 daily assignments each week this program would last a year.
About the Text:
The textbook itself is just beautiful! I am a total “literature” based, living books learner- not a huge fan of textbooks. But this textbook isn’t dry like I remember textbooks being in school. The pictures are vibrant and beautiful; the information is nicely organized and presents lots of opportunities for discussion and dictation from the student (-love that!). After a few paragraphs on a topic the text will have the student tell what they know about XYZ “to a friend or family member.”
I like that important vocabulary words are in bold lettering which makes it easy for a young learner to pinpoint those topics when looking back at information. It is definitely written in such a way that a student can read it themselves; after rest time in our home, I often find this astronomy book taken down from the shelf where my Kindergarten daughter has been reading it on her own. For our actual lessons, I read it aloud so that I can explain things to my preschooler, who also loves to listen in and look at the pictures with us.
The binding is so sturdy and such high quality it will last through multiple children, and probably multiple families. Inside you will find glossy and thick pages that are fun to turn (book nerd, anyone?). The pictures are colorful and detailed and span the entire page; throughout you will find Biblical wisdom.
The author (who partnered with an engineer from NASA to write this book) does a beautiful job paralleling science and astronomy to Biblical truths. There are sections throughout, highlighted in blue boxes, titled “think about this,” which give Biblical facts and scripture (explained beautifully) to support what we know about that particular astronomy topic.
The pictures and infographics are not just beautiful they are informational and perfect for those visual learners. In the first lesson (pages 13-24), the infographics demonstrating how planets, satellites, and and the sun all work together and orbit in space are helpful for learners of all ages and abilities.
Activities are also abundant in the text- and the best part? They are NOT labor intensive on parents, but they are meaningful to students! They are simple, yet effective activities that get kids moving; whether it is blowing up balloons, “orbiting” each other like planets, or using a globe & flashlight to understand the seasons, the acitivites are fun and perfect for kinisthetic and hands on learners. The content is rich, and includes wonderful history lessons.
I am telling you, this is not your typical “text” book style learning.
The journals are just … perfect. =) Really, they have thought of everything. Each journal is spiral bound on a big, thick, sturdy spiral that will stand up to even the
most careless ehum, youngest, of learners.
We used the Jr. Notebooking Journal, because my daughter (and oldest child) just turned 6 this past week and is beginning kindergarten. The biggest difference I found between this and the regular Notebooking Journal are the size of the writing lines; the Jr. Journal has dotted lines apropriate for younger writers, while the regular journal has notebook-paper style lines for writing.
Inside the journals you will find the suggested daily schedule and an abundance of opportunities for journaling in 328 pages. This is my favorite part about the program- we love journaling! It makes a perfect keepsake and is an ideal way to document your child’s learning and growth.
We are going at our own pace with a goal of 36 weeks of “scheduled” school per year (though we really school year round with breaks … oh we the baffling homeschoolers). So I just took the total number of lessons and divided it into the number of weeks we plan to formally school, and that’s how many lessons we shoot for each week. Sometimes we do more, other weeks less. But regardless for the first time ever we are doing science EVERY WEEK! We always get to our science reading and journaling; not because we have to but because we want to.
My daughter is young, so we did some parts together (like the crossword puzzles), while she did the journaling of her thoughts/what she learned and drawing pictures on her own. We also did some dictation if we had a day that she had done a lot of writing for school overall, and I knew she needed a break. The copywork provides an opportunity for both print and cursive writing.
In the Jr. Notebook there are coloring pages that include a Bible verse at the bottom; the coloring pages vary from illustrations from Bible stories, of nature or scripture, to outer space. Along with pages for scrapbooking, there are minibook and matchbooks included in the journals. These were great fun! (Below is an example of our dictation- I simply asked her what she knew about the topic; usually she told me much more than I was able to write.)
What is *really* awesome about the Apologia science series is that they take a submersion approach- you focus on the one topic, in depth, for a longer period of time. I like this because it means that for those months we can supplement our lesson with living books we love so much by topic- NASA, the sun, each individual planet, the galaxy, etc.
Apologia encourages that you read other books about the topics, and includes pages in the Notebooking Journal to document those books and what you learned from them.
Hello mamas (and papas ..) the work is done for us! No finding and printing pages, no coming up with ideas of things to notebook or scouring the internet for hours looking for activity booklets, etc. on each topic. IT IS ALL HERE!
Woo hoo! (I told you I was excited about this, right?)
I’ll be honest, we *love, love, love* science; and my kids consider everything from playing on the farm and nature walks around the pond, to staring at dirt science. And they’re right, those things are science. And they’re fun and interesting and *so* important. But I think it is also important to learn to do more formal science- to learn about the scientific method, how to read a text book and look for information, to get the nitty gritty details on things, and document it.
And without a little guidance chances are I may not actually get to those nitty gritty details, or that documentation. We may not get to go as deep as we’d like because we can’t find all the QUALITY resources to help us. But here it is- the quality resource (text) with the documentation (journal), that we can supplement with library books on the topics as we please. It is a win-win no matter how you look at it.
The Audio MP3 CD
We also received the audiobook MP3 CD, read by Jeannie Fulbright herself. The audiobook is the perfect supplement to the text book- it is read mostly word for word, and is done beautifully. There is expression in the reading and Jeannie’s voice is so pleasant to listen to.
The CD is divided into titled sections, just like the text, so you can follow along seamlessly while looking at the book.
I haven’t let the kids listen to it on their own yet, because my daughter will devour it and have the entire book memorized in days; so we have listened to the audiobook a few times after I have read it and discussed it with them. Honestly, if you choose to go with the Apologia science program, you really need to get the audiobook to go along with it; it is too great to pass over.
In summary- we are enjoying Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy immensely! We will continue with it and probably use their other science programs in the future.
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