I’m so excited to share my review of Apologia Educational Ministries homeschool curriculum for science with you guys! My girls have been having a great time working through Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition.
What it is:
The curriculum set we received includes a gorgeous Student Text with such fantastic pictures that my preschooler has deemed it her “planets book” and insists on poring through it every time she sees us get it out. We also received a Notebooking Journal for grades 3rd/4th to 6th, a Jr. Notebooking Journal for grades K-2nd/3rd, and an Audio CD.
The textbook offers an in depth astronomy course with an emphasis on how mighty God is and what an amazing universe He created. It also has a ton of step-by-step instructions for incorporating hands-on activities into our study of the universe! The notebooking journals offer a space to chew on the lessons and really digest the information through writing prompts, scrapbooking pages, crossword puzzles, mini-books, and various other activities. In the lessons we’ve worked through so far, the junior notebooking journal has seemed to be pretty much the same as the regular one except that it replaced the final two pages of questions to answer with a couple coloring pages.
How we use it:
Because there’s soooo much to do with the activities in the textbook plus everything in the notebooking journals, we’ve been spending two to three weeks per lesson.
I started out playing the audio CD while my girls followed along in the textbook, but since we’re not actually tackling an entire lesson in one sitting it was a bit difficult to find our place again so I ended up mostly having my 9 year old read it out loud. By the time we started the lesson about Mercury I was so intrigued by the lesson that I started reading it to my girls myself so I could learn along with them. 🙂
The notebooking journals have a suggested daily schedule but I found that for us it was too much at a time so we just worked at our own pace. There were also occasionally activities we skipped, such as creating a solar eclipse viewing box, because my craftiness skills are about a negative 5 on a scale of one to ten, and the absolute chaos that ensued with four kids under ten, including a toddler and a baby, when we blew up eight balloons to represent the planets scared me off from such involved activities for awhile. We did have a lot of fun melting butter with a magnifying glass, though!
We also ended up picking and choosing what all to do with the notebooking journals. My kindergartner, Boo, can’t actually read on her own yet, much less write anything more than her name, and cat, so for her to fill out all the pages of questions in her journal I’d have to write her answers down myself, and well, ain’t nobody got time for that. (Yeah I know, tons of you super moms totally make time for that every day, but I just can’t even.) 😉
Artist, my 4th grader, is super opposed to anything that smells at all like busy work (and anything that smells like a vegetable, but that’s another story) so she’s always as brief as possible when answering questions, a.k.a. on all the questions similar to “Do you remember why you see color?” She puts, “yes.”
Rather than fight with her about her answers and turn Astronomy into a chore, I ended up mostly just asking both my girls questions, letting them tell me their answers, and then skipping those pages of the journals.
We did a majority of the activities in the journals that were less focused on writing, though, such as creating our own mnemonics to help us remember what order the planets come in, a fun cut and paste vocabulary matching activity, and the Bible verse copywork. Boo really enjoyed her coloring pages, and I’m pretty sure Artist was a bit jealous that she didn’t get any.
I also hit up the course website with additional resources for each of the lessons, as well as some great websites with information for looking at the night sky and catching events like meteor showers and such.
What we think:
Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition is definitely a hit! Artist is really interested in Astronomy right now. (For her birthday over the summer, the one and only thing she wanted was a telescope!)
I think if I forced my girls to fully complete every portion of the notebooking journals the lessons would quickly start feeling like work, but having them available to use as much as we want to is awesome. I don’t ever want to do science lessons without notebooking along with it again — Apologia has totally spoiled me! 😀
I wish the Jr. Notebooking Journal was more accessible to pre-readers and offered more little-kid friendly activities that Boo could do on her own. She did enjoy having some extra mommy time while we worked through her journal together, though, and she was very proud of herself when she knew all the vocabulary words! Fortunately her older sister can step in and help her out at times, too. In fact, there have been a few times that they’ve run off together with their notebooking journals and art supplies and had a blast working together. As much as they seem to argue these days, anything that brings them together definitely earns itself brownie points in my book! 😀
The Audio CD is a nice addition to the curriculum and the narrator’s voice isn’t annoying, grating, monotone or any of the not-awesome adjectives that can all too often be used to describe audio books. 😉
I love the Student Text. As I mentioned before, it’s very in-depth which is great! It also strikes the best balance I’ve seen between either not being specifically Christian at all or spending so much emphasis on being a Christian curriculum that it almost feels more like a Bible study than a science lesson.
I’m excited to continue using this for science this year! I love how much my girls are really learning. It’s also a huge plus that the textbook, activities, and journals appeal to both my nine and six year olds so they can learn about astronomy together without requiring separate lessons. I definitely recommend this Astronomy curriculum! 🙂
Be sure to check out what other reviewers are saying over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew link-up!
And let me know if you have any questions or anything. I’m happy to try to help you out – at least with questions about this curriculum. Don’t even start asking me how to make a soufflé or you know, actually make it out of the house without spit up on my shirt and at least one kid who hasn’t brushed their hair in a week. 😉