I just adore Apologia Educational Ministries’ elementary science curriculum, so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to try out one of the books from their What We Believe series, What on Earth Can I Do?
The What We Believe series is a set of 4 books that help your K-6 student see the world through the eyes of God. The fourth book, What on Earth Can I Do? consists of:
- What on Earth Can I Do? (hardback book) – $39
- What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal (spiral bound) – $24
- What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal (spiral bound) – $24
- What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book – $8
The last three items are optional and complement the text book and you would choose either the Notebooking Journal or the Junior Notebooking Journal depending on the writing abilities and age of your child. The Junior Notebooking Journal is recommended for ages 6-9. I received all four books for the purpose of my review.
What on Earth Can I Do? teaches the Biblical worldview of stewardship. Your child will become a ‘good and faithful servant’ by learning the truth that God owns everything and He has given us our possessions, time, talents, and body for a purpose and we must use them responsibly so that we can bring Him glory.
The book consists of 8 lessons which can take you roughly 16-24 weeks to complete if you work on the course 2-3 days per week. Each lesson is broken down into several parts –
- The Big Idea – each lesson starts off with an introduction of the main topic and a brief overview of what has been covered so far.
- What You Will Do – these are the learning objectives for the lesson.
- Short Story – you will follow the stories of other children that are learning a Biblical worldview.
- Think About It – this section has comprehension and thought-provoking questions related to the short story.
- Words You Need to Know – vocabulary words from the lesson and their definitions.
- Hide It in Your Heart – scriptures that are ideal for memorization and copywork that relate to the lesson’s main idea.
- Integrated Learning – these are interesting article throughout the lesson that are about a page in length that expand on the lesson through the fields of art, music, science, history, and more. For example in one of the short stories it mentions that the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony started every BBC wireless broadcast during WWII, so one of the Integrated Learning sections is about Beethoven.
- What Should I Do? – this section helps students apply the main idea of the lesson in their daily lives.
- Prayer – the main part of the lessons end with a prayer.
- Parables of Jesus – each lesson ends with an expanded version of one of Jesus’ parables told through the perspective of one of the characters from the story. The stories are elaborated to help them be more understandable and engaging.
- Going Deeper – these are questions about the parable to help the student relate it to their lives today.
- House of Truth – four of the lessons end with a new piece to add to the House of Truth. This visual model is constructed throughout the entire What We Believe series.
At the beginning of the textbook there is a 2 day per week schedule that can help you with your lesson planning. However, the lessons are very flexible and are adaptable to your family’s needs.
The Notebooking Journal
The Notebooking Journal is a complement to the textbook and aids in the completion of many of the activities in the book as well as provides additional supplemental work.
The Notebooking Journal has pages to answer the questions from the story section of the lessons and the parable questions, a place to write down and define the vocabulary words, pages to copy the lessons scriptures, word puzzles, mini books (think lapbook components), praise reports, and more.
The Notebooking Journal also has a flexible schedule in the front that can help you keep track of your progress or make your assignments.
The Journal Notebooking Journal
The Journal Notebooking Journal has much of the same as the regular journal but on a smaller, simpler scale. The scripture copywork has dotted middle lines for writing, the vocabulary is fill-in-the-blanks, the word puzzles are simpler, and there are coloring pages spaced throughout.
The color book contains 64 coloring pages that relate to the lesson topics and stories.
I used this curriculum with my 11 and 9 year old sons. I had my 11 year old use the regular Notebooking Journal and my 9 year old use the Junior Notebooking Journal. My 11 year old used the coloring book while I read aloud since the Junior Notebooking Journal had coloring pages in it for my 9 year old to color. We worked through the book 2-3 times per week combining the suggested schedule from the textbook with the one in the Notebooking Journal as a guide.
My sons really enjoyed the readings, especially the short story parts. They were engaged with the reading and contently (not normal for my boys) colored their coloring pages while I read and they would asked appropriate questions.
As a parent, I appreciated that the main focus was on a Biblical worldview of stewardship. I feel the age of my boys is a perfect time to teach this, however there were parts of the readings that were a bit advanced for my boys, and in my opinion would be over the heads and maturity level of anyone younger than 8.
The lessons are very long! They take about 2-3 weeks to complete depending on how much time each week you spend on this course. I would much prefer shorter lessons so that the material isn’t so spaced apart. I feel that they tried to pack too much into each lesson.
The Junior Notebooking Journal was too easy for my 9 year old, although I think that the regular one would have been too advanced. My 11 year old did well with the regular Notebooking Journal. If I were to do this course again with my younger kids (when they are older) I would not buy the notebooking journals; in my opinion most of it is just busy work. I also felt that the notebooking journals were disconnected from the text and didn’t flow well together. Sometimes I was even unsure about what to do on some of the notebooking pages.
From this point forward we are going to scrap the journals and I will continue to read aloud to them and we will discuss the readings and I will have them answer the question aloud. And speaking of questions, I was surprised that there wasn’t an answer key for the discussion questions. That was a little disappointing. We will keep using the coloring book because both of my boys really enjoyed doing that during the readings.
Overall I feel that what is being taught in this course is excellent. The message is great. The way it is being presented and taught just didn’t seem to work for our family. I love Apologia though, and when we are done with this book, we will try out the first book in the series (I already have it sitting on our bookshelf).