The Curriculum Choice

May 22, 2009

Apologia Elementary Science

Filed under: charlotte mason, classical, Curriculum choices, Science, Written by Kristen — Kristen @ 12:08 am

Apologia publishes a full-range of science texts for the Christian homeschool. They began with high school science texts which have been very popular with homeschoolers for many years. More recently, Apologia began publishing elementary texts. Currently, the elementary science series includes five titles: Astronomy, Botany, Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, and Land Creatures. These texts follow the immersion principle of learning. Rather than study a wide-variety of unrelated science topics during the course of a school year, these texts dig deeply into one science topic.

Features of Elementary Apologia Books

  • Engaging hard-cover text with many full-color pictures
  • What Do You Remember? questions to discuss
  • Common household items used in experiments and projects
  • Master list of necessary materials
  • Notebooking activities included

All of these texts have 13 or 14 lessons. But don’t be fooled into thinking that with a small number of lessons the books won’t last a whole year. These are not short lessons. They each include 10-20 pages of text (I read these aloud). In addition, all the lessons include at least one notebook assignment and either an experiment or project. Many lessons have both a project and an experiment. I like that the author has clearly separated projects and activities from experiments. In the experiments, the scientific method is emphasized including discussions of variables, controls, hypotheses, data collection, and drawing conclusions. So although the book could easily be read in less than a school year, completing all the included notebook pages, projects and experiments will extend this text to easily encompass a year’s study. However, if you do want to complete more than one of these texts in one school year, the Astronomy and Botany books are a little shorter than the Zoology books.

I love that this one text can be used with all my students. I can customize the notebook assignments to fit their abilities. (Some of the notebook assignments have two options: one for older students and one for younger.) My first grader loves to sit and look at the pictures. He doesn’t participate in very many of the activities, but he is still learning with us. Many first graders could easily participate more than mine does. My daughter who is in 3rd grade now, completed the astronomy book when she was in kindergarten. She completed the notebook assignments and still remembers much of what we studied. I say this as a reminder that this text is easily adapted to the needs of families with widely varying ages and abilities of children.

So why would anyone not like Apologia?

You will not like this text if you do not want to include any of the Bible in your science lessons. These texts are unapologetically (pardon the pun) Christian. The author believes in creation and presents evidence that supports creation in the text. It does not give equal time to evolutionary theory believing that is better left to science geared to older students. Of course, most any animal book checked out of the library contains references to evolution, so this book helps provide a balance with its absence of evolutionary content.

You might not like this text if you want a more traditional approach to science including worksheets, tests and quizzes. The reinforcement of material in these texts is through talking about the text and creating notebook pages. The writing style is also different than most science books. These books are written like the author is talking directly to you. I don’t mean vernacular speech, but it contains questions that are somewhat rhetorical. It also goes into great detail.  Additionally, if you want to study many different topics in one school year, these texts would not be a good fit.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the other Apologia Elementary Science books, they are available from many vendors of homeschool products. They can also be purchased directly from Apologia at their website for $35.00.

Written by Kristen

The Curriculum Choice

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April 20, 2009

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Biology 2nd Edition

Apologia: Exploring Creation With Biology 2nd Edition  Am-biology2

This is a college-preparatory, high school level, biology course that would be recomended in a student’s freshmen year. It is designed to be an independent study. It includes tests, labs, and video clips to go along with the course. Dr Jay L. Wile is the author of this course.  

 
Overview of the program : 
 
The are 16 modules to be covered in one year.  The student will read the modules and answer review questions throughout each module. There is a study guide at the end of each module to be done before the student takes a test. There are tests for each module. There are 1-2 experiments for each module. Many of the experiments are examing prepared slides under the microscope. There are four animal dissections.  
 
Supplies: You need to purchase Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology textbook or CD-rom version. Both versions are the same. You need a student micropscope, prepared microscope slide set, dissections tools and animal specimens. All of these supplies can be easily purchased from Apologia or many other homeschool suppliers. I do suggest to shop around for the best prices.
 
The student will be introduce to the study of biology in the first module. The student will then start to study the five kingdoms of the animal world. The course starts at the microscopic level of Kingdom Monera. In the second module the student will collect samples of pond water, and will study the samples under a microscope.
 
Kingdom Protista is the third module. Microscopic life is studied under the micropscope. There are some great video clips of Amoebas.
 
Kingdom Fungi is the fourth module of the course. The student will have opportunties to do experiments with yeast, and different types of mold. The student will study  samples under the microscope.
 
The fifth module is a basic introduction of chemistry. The student will perform experiments that explore diffsion and osmosis. There is also an experiment with organic bases and acids.
 
The sixth module is the study of the cell. It is great chapter that explains the magnificent world of cells.
 
The seventh module is the study of cellualr reproduction.  Again ther are some great video clips to go with this chapter.
 
The eighth module is a short chapter on genetics. Experiments with punet squares are done in this chapter.
 
The ninth module is a great chapter on creation vs. evolution. Dr. Wile goes over microevolution and macroevolution. Charles Darwin is introduced along with his theories.  It is great chapter with wonderful tidbits of interesting information.
 
The tenth module is thestudy of ecology. Dr Wile did a great job making this chapter interesting with true stories.
 
The eleventh chapter is where all the fun begins. This chapter is the study oinvertebratesThe student will disect the earthworm. This is a great disection to start with. It’s interesting and easy to do.
 
The twelth module studies one phylum; Pylum Arthopoda. The student has the oppprotunity to disect a second time. This time it is the crayfish. This is another great disection. It is very interesting and fun. The student will also study insects and spiders.
 
The thirteenth module is the study of Phylum Chordata. There are two more dissections in this chapter. The student will study Class Osteichthyes and will dissect a perch fish. This was my least favorite dissection due to how bony the perch fish is. I would reccomend getting a fresh fish to dissect as oppose to a preserved fish. The student will then study Class Amphibia. You can guess what dissection comes next. Yes, its the infamous frog dissection. My kids loved the frog dissection. It is amazing to see all the organs in a small creature. My daughter took the heart out and sliced it in half. It was amazing to see the chambers of the frog’s heart! 
 
Modules fourteen and fifteen are the study of Kingdom Plantae. Again, their will be experiments using the microscope. There is an experiment to dissect a flower, not as fun as the frog but still interesting.
 
Module Sixteen is the last module. You study reptiles, birds and mammals in this chapter. The last experiment is examining a slide with chicken embryos.
 
What are the pros? This is an excellent college-preparatory course for high school. There has been claims that some students have been able to clep out of a college biology class after taking this course. The course is set up for independent study. There are some interesting video clips that can be seen on the CD-Rom version or the CD companion that goes along with the hardcover textbook. The microscopic slides are  wonderful quality, and are a great teaching tool with the course. The dissections are fun, easy, and interesting. The textbook reads easily. The author has a wonderful writing style that keeps the student interested. There are tests to go along with the course. The author has a pro-creation view point given through-out the book.
 
What are the cons? Can be costly especially if you don’t own a microscope.
 
If you would like more info here is a link:
Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology
Written by Korey
 

The Curriculum Choice

April 4, 2009

My Father’s World

My Favorite Curriculum

by Korey

When I began homeschooling 3 years ago, I was looking for the perfect curriculum for every subject. In my first year I was so full of new ideas and excitement. I wanted to try everything and boy, did I. I had a separate program for Bible, geography, history, art, art history, music, science,  math, grammar, spelling and and and……….. 

world_view_b2You get the point. I had a lot to cover in one year. It was a perfect recipe for disaster. Did I get it all covered? No way! I had visions of nature studies, studying historical art pieces, reading classic novels and beautifully written pieces of writing but instead I was frustrated that I couldn’t meet up to the standards I had set for myself.

So when the first year of homeschooling was under my belt, I had to rethink my way of homeschooling. As a homeschooling mom, you know what that means. It means hours of looking at catalogs, searching the web, talking to other homeschool moms and even calling many curriculum companies. I was trying to figure a way to get perfect curriculum in all subjects! As I was searching I remembered someone mentioning “My Fathers World”. I had looked at it before but it was one of those pre-package curriculums and that was not what I wanted. I wanted to put together my perfect plan of curriculum on my own BUT I kept going back to “My Fathers World”.  After hours and even weeks of deciding, I purchased this pre-package curriculum. Why would I do what I said I wouldn’t.  I discovered that My Father’s World was the closest thing I could find to my perfect curriculum all in one package. So let me explain why I love it.

First, I love the philosophy of this program and how they put the heart of child first.  That is what drew me to the program first. So let me go through the program and explain how it works. It combines the methods of Charlotte Mason and classical education.

My Father’s World has many one year unit study type programs starting with kindergarten and all way up to the high school years. We started with the Exploring Countries and Cultures program. This program is designed for 2nd-8th graders.

It is a multi-age unit study: The program is designed to be used with more than one child at a time. This is a big time saver! I teach all the subjects together except language arts and math.

Strong international focus: In Exploring Cultures and Countries you visit a country every two weeks. You learn about the country’s geography, ecology, and cultures. You spend time learning about the common religions in each of the countries you study.

Integrated Bible content: In Exploring Countries and Cultures you spend the year reading the book of Matthew and memorizing many verses from Matthew. You read about missionaries from the past and present. You learn what God is doing in other countries and you are shown how you can pray for each country specifically.  It teaches a wonderful biblical worldview.

Geography: You do plenty of map work each week and with that you learn plenty of mapskills. Older students can do research projects as they study each of the continents. You play games to learn the names of all the countries, oceans, capitols, and continents.  You make a passport and you place a flag sticker in your passport as you “travel” to each country. There are hands on activities such as cooking and flag making. You learn new geography terms every week which the student keeps in a journal.

Science : You spend the year studying habitats from all over the world. You spend time taking nature walks and keeping a nature journal.

Reading: There is plenty of living books provided with this program! My Father’s World does something called a reading basket. Everyday the children read books you have selected from the library or have purchased. The books are all related to what you are currently studying such as rain forests. You may have many subjects to chose from some fiction and non-fiction. There is a read alouds included in the program. The read alouds coincide with the country you are studying.  In ECC the read alouds are true stories of missionaries.

Art and Music The program has plenty of art projects based on the countries you are studying. There is also a CD with ethnic music from around the world.

Language Arts, Math and Foreign language : They suggest certain LA and Math programs but you can add whatever you choose.

Now let me tell you the pros of this program: I love how it combines the methods of Charlotte Mason and classical education. It is a perfect mix of both of these philosophies. I love the journaling and the nature studies. The teacher manual is a huge plus. It so well laid out. Each week is laid out on a grid and then additional informational is given for the planned activities. The TM tells you what needs to be photocopied for the week and what extra supplies are needed. The supplies are easy to find items. The TM gives a list of books you can check out at the library or purchase for your reading basket. The TM is so easy to use, generally this program is an open and go. The bible is my favorite portion of the program. I love the memory verses. Easy to do but challenging. I love how it tells you to pray specifically for each country. You learn what challenges missionaries face in the field. I love how you can combine your kids for so many subjects. It turns learning into a family time together.  I love the biblical worldview that is taught throughout the program. The crafts are easy to do and fun. I love how you can chose you own math and LA. The program is designed to be done 5 days a week and Friday is a light day. It can easily be turned into a 4 day week by combining Friday’s plans into other days of the week.

Now let me tell you the cons of this program: I felt the science to be a bit light for my taste. We did add more science to the program. My Father’s World is coming out with an updated version for ECC and it looks like they have added more to the science. You have to be okay with having everything all laid out for you. For me this was a plus since it is done so well. The music was not my favorite, a bit too kiddy for us. In the other programs of MFW the music is done more to my taste with classical music. We felt the read alouds to be a bit dry. We did add some of our own read alouds. If you don’t live near a library with a decent selection of books it would be hard to incorporate the reading basket idea.

My Father’s World is coming out with a new edition of Exploring Countries and Cultures. The science looks improved.  There is less photocopying, and there is a nice supplement you can order for 7-8th graders. 

We are in our second year of My Father’s World. We are presently using the Rome To Reformation program. We are loving this program just as much!  We plan to stay with My Father’s World for the long road maybe even all the way through!

The Curriculum Choice

 

Korey, is our, no twaddle (great books), Charlotte Mason devotee and she homeschools two precious children. Her first-born has already flown the nest, and is away at college. She is also a part-time nurse.  She loves science, spending time with her family and the splendor of the Lord.

April 3, 2009

Cycle of Sciences

Filed under: Science, Written by Brenda — Brenda @ 5:15 pm

4 Year Rotation of Science

1.) Life Science – animals, human beings and plants
2.) Earth science and astronomy
3.) Chemistry
4.) Physics
This has taken the guess work out of what our main science focus will be for a particular year. If you are worried about learning how you were taught in school, with small segments of different sciences each year, I want to share with you what I learned. You can not get very in-depth with a particular subject if you are skimming the surface each year. But, to do a thorough study, depending on the age of your child, you are able to dig deeper and understand more. Plus, the child has time to get into what you are studying. Often when you study something for a few weeks, they are just really understanding it when you are done and ready to move on. The tricky year for me is the life science year. So, to be honest with you I have gone into the summer on that year and into a portion of the next year. If you are still worried about them getting bored, or them not learning a wide array of topics for that year, there are plenty of other opportunities to use other fields of science as you are teaching to one specifically. For example while teaching chemistry I have been able to also talk about physics, biology and earth science as we went very thoroughly through the periodic table and learned what each element was found in.
I don’t worry about missing something because I know that after 4 years we would have (theoretically) touched on all the sciences. I have children that took an interest in marine biology and now I send them to a marine biology camp during the summer, another child interested in robotics has a robotics camp to look forward to in the future. I also have one interested in archaeology and they ALL like to dig, so we are going on a local dig soon and on our next family vacation we are stopping to dig at a real site in VA, all day with a scientist. We also have started nature journaling which requires us to be outdoors observing each week and this will be an ongoing life science study for many weeks to come. So there are other times to pursue other science interests if we cannot “get to it” during our school time. That’s what homeschooling is all about to me. It’s been a lifestyle change. We learn all the time, in everything we do. And while doing it, we enjoy each other’s company. If you are homeschooling for the long haul I would like to encourage you to keep some sort of cycle of the sciences. It lifts the burden of what to teach next and gives you the freedom to be creative within certain parameters.
Side note to moms not sure if you will homeschool next year: If you are not sure that you are able to homeschool for more then a year or two, I would stick with the traditional textbook style curriculum so that your child is not behind when they re-enter. That’s my opinion.

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