The Curriculum Choice

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 17, 2009

Rod and Staff English

Filed under: classical, language arts, Uncategorized, Written by Korey — Korey @ 1:32 am

Rod and Staff English: Grades 3, 4, and 5

Grade 4 English

I am generally a devout Charlotte Mason homeschooler but I do wander off the path sometimes. When it comes to teaching grammar I tend to go the way of classical education. We have been using Rod and Staff English for 3 years now and it has been one of my tried and truly loved curriculums. We started using Rod and Staff when each of the children reached 3rd grade level.

Rod and Staff is a publisher that produces bible-based curriculum for christian schools and homeschoolers. They produce curriculum from preschool to high school levels. They provide full curriculum or you can purchase individual subjects. I have used their English and Math programs. For this review I will only go over their English curriculum.

In third grade the student will study sentence types and structure. There are different types of writing exercises throughout the book. Simple diagramming is taught at this level. There are five parts of speech taught: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs. There are lessons that teach dictionary work, proofreading and communication skills. There are 125 lessons and 5 unit tests.In the fourth grade the student will learn seven parts of speech: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. Diagramming is included in many of the lessons. There are lessons on capitalization, punctuation, synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. A typical lesson has an oral drill, a written practice and a review. Composition skills are taught with various types of writing lessons. There are 127 lessons and tests for each chapter.In fifth grade the student will learn all eight parts of speech. The student will learn many new grammar terms. Diagramming is continued to be taught but at a higher lever of skill. There are composition skills taught including outlining, writing a report, writing a friendly letter, poetry skills, and writing stories. There are 119 lessons and tests for each chapter.

 What are the pros? Rod and Staff is an excellent and thorough grammar program. It is above grade level in my opinion. It is easy to teach, an open and go type program. The teacher manuals are easy to use. There is plenty of diagramming practice. It is a strong grammar program. It has a classical approach to teaching grammar.

What are the cons? If you don’t like diagramming or don’t feel it is important, you may not like how much diagramming is taught in many of the lessons. It is above grade level. If you have a student who struggles in grammar you may consider going a grade level down. If you don’t want a program that has any religious content, you may not like the bible references that are throughout the book.

If you are interested in finding more information regarding Rod and Staff curriculum, please click on the link below.
Written by Korey
The Curriculum Choice

April 16, 2009

Just Write, a Creative Writing Program

Filed under: charlotte mason, language arts, Written by Korey — Korey @ 8:02 pm

Just Write Just Write, Book 2Write About Me, Grade 1

Just Write” is a writing program for the elementary years. There are four levels taught. Each level is taught over one year. It is a workbook type program. It is a creative writing program that is easy to teach program with very little preparation. This is one program my children have truly enjoyed. This program does not kill the joy of writing as some programs can do. For my own children it has ignited a love for writing. When I started homeschooling I had researched many writing programs to fit our style and needs. This program has been a great fit for us.
In the first level there are the two books to choose from. One is called “Write About Me” and the other is called “Write About My World“. The publisher sells this book for the first grade level. In my opinion, it is for an advance first grader who is able to read and write or it is for a second grader. This book helps the beginner writer to understand how take his thoughts and put them into writing. This was one of my absolute favorite curriculums I have used with my own children. It is a book that you will keep as a keepsake for many years. With my children, I had used the book “Write About Me“. The book consists of daily writing exercises that are fun and easy to do at this level. The children will write about their family, friends, past experiences, and even their dreams. The writing exercises are cleverly done so the child does not have to write a lot but just enough to enjoy the exercise. The children can add photos to the book with some of the writing exercises. I truly believe this book helped my own daughter to love to write.
The second year is called “Just Write 1“. This is when the child starts a more formal writing program. In the beginning, the lessons encourage the child to just write without worrying about all the rules. This may be hard for the classical minded homeschooler but if you stick with the program it works! In later lessons the child will learn about capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and paragraphs.  There are chapters that teach how to use creative words, descriptive passages, and comparisons. There are lessons on how to edit your writing and make a final copy.  The child learns how to brainstorm, create characters, and develop a story. 
The third year is called “Just Write 2“. This is for 3rd to 4th graders. With each year of “Just Write” the writing lessons are becoming more focused. In this year the student will begin with a review of basic grammar, punctuation and capitalization. From there the student will learn how to construct and write a good paragraph.  There are lessons using comparisons and overused words. Then the student starts leaning skills to write a story. They start with story planning, creating characters and creating a plot. The child learns how to write and use dialogue. There are lessons on writing from different points of view. The child continues to learn how to edit and make a final story.
The fourth year, “Just Write 3” is the final book in the series. It is for 4th to 5th graders.  In this final book the student continues to perfect the skills he learned in the previous books. Now the student is introduced to the four types of writing; narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive. The student develops his reasons for writing such as what is the purpose of his paper and who is the audience he is trying to reach. The student learns how to construct a multi-paragraph paper. The student is taught how to research a paper and gather information. My favorite part is the lessons on learning to write a persuasive paper. My son wrote a paper on why it is important to put your dog on a leash. It was a typical persuasive paper. Then my son had to write the same report but to a different audience. This time he wrote it as if his audience were dogs. His paper was hilarious and well written. This last book is a great stepping stone to higher level writing programs.
What are the pros? Many of the lessons are fun. It really helps to foster the love of writing yet it helps your student develop excellent writing skills. Even though this is a workbook program I think the Charlotte Mason homeschooler will love how it allows the child to write from his heart. They will love how the lessons are short and to the point. For the classical minded folks, I think it will please them since it teaches grammar and well structured papers. It is affordable, the workbooks are around $10-$12. The teacher manuals are small, simple to use, and are also very affordable. It is so easy to teach! There isn’t any preparation, just open and go.
What are the cons? It is a workbook and that can be a turn off for some people. My daughter hates workbook type of learning but she has never complained about doing her writing assignments in “Just Write“.
There are few cons for me to give because I have loved using this program for our family.
Written by Korey
Here is a link if you would like more information regarding this curriculum:
EPS books

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.

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