If you’re looking for a God-centered, creation-based science curriculum for your elementary students, Apologia’s Young Explorers series might be the perfect fit for your family. After several years of homeschooling and trying a few different science curriculums, our family decided to give Apologia a try and we will never look back. My only regret is that we didn’t try it sooner.
Apologia Educational Ministries offers six (with another one in the making) different elementary texts in their Young Explorers series that use the “immersion approach” to engage students with the quality of topics, rather than quantity. The publisher recommends these texts for grades K-6. To enhance the learning experience, Apologia also offers two levels of complementing Notebooking Journals for each text – a Junior Notebooking Journal for the younger scientist, and a Notebooking Journal for the upper elementary explorers.
Our family has used the Young Explorers Astronomy and Anatomy & Physiology texts in the past and were recently given the opportunity to use and review the Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day text and the corresponding regular Notebooking Journal.
As you and your child learn about God’s creations of the 5th day, you will explore things such as animal classification, identifying birds, bird behavior, bird anatomy, bats, flying reptiles, insect life cycles, and butterflies. You will study these topics and many others by reading the text, conducting experiments, completing notebooking activities, doing projects, and narration prompts.
The text incorporates Charlotte Mason methodology by scattering several narration prompts throughout each lesson. This feature is helpful in determining if your child is grasping the concepts and information being taught.
The Try This! sections throughout the lessons help to break up the reading and reinforce the material with a hands-on or interactive activity. This is nice if you have an antsy child or one with a short attention span that requires more focus. These activities are quite simple and not as involved as the projects or experiments.
In our homeschool we study science twice a week. The Notebooking Journal provides a convenient, easy-to-follow, 2-day per week schedule that will take you through 28 weeks of lessons. The schedule helps cut my preparing time tremendously and all the material and assignments are nicely spaced out over the 28 weeks. If you follow the schedule, each lesson will typically take two weeks to complete. To avoid any confusion, I want to reiterate that this schedule is in the Notebooking Journal and not in the textbook.
You do not need the Notebooking Journal to complete the course; you can make your own notebook by following the prompts at the end of each chapter. The Notebooking Journal is a convenient complement to the text book by providing a place to keep and organize all the Notebooking Activities, a place to answer the review questions, and a place to record the scientific data from the experiments and projects . The Notebooking Journal also has, for each lesson, a place for the student to write down any “Fascinating Facts” they learn, a vocabulary crossword puzzle, a full-color minibook(s) to complete, a scripture copywork page (in both print and cursive), as well as suggestions for further study and book suggestions. At the end of the Notebooking Journal you will find 50 final review questions, the answers to the crossword puzzles and review questions, and a place to record any zoology related field trips you took during the course. The Notebooking Journal serves as a record of your scientific studies throughout the course and makes a nice keepsake or portfolio at the end of the year.
The thing we love most about the curriculum is that it is God-centered. I love how the author points out God’s handiwork at every opportunity. For me, this is very important when choosing a curriculum. I prefer to read the book with my kids, but I like that I have the option to let my upper elementary (grade 3 and up) students read independently if needed because the author’s words flow so well and are easily understood. They can also work independently on a majority of the Notebooking Journal as well. We do the projects and experiments together because mom doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun. I adore the Notebooking Journal because it makes the notebooking process so easy and provides further reinforcement of the materials; plus it contains the schedule I mentioned previously which eliminates the planning on my part (smile). The variety of projects and activities keeps my kids’ excitement levels high and makes them eager to learn. The retail price of $39 for the text and $24 for the Notebooking Journal can’t be beat and is worth every penny.
I was a bit unsure about whether my eight and ten year old sons were going enjoy a whole science text about flying creatures, but they have proven me wrong. Besides, what young boy wouldn’t like a science book that starts right off the bat (no pun intended) with an activity where you get to spray your brother with water (okay, it doesn’t actually tell you to spray your brother, but that’s what ended up happening at our house) and an experiment that entails flying homemade gliders around the house? My boys say this curriculum is fun, interesting, and they love the experiments. There you have it.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.