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Apologia Educational Ministries is a favorite among Christian homeschoolers and if you haven’t heard already, let me be the first to tell you, that they have a brand new edition to their elementary astronomy called, Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition. In the 7 weeks my family has had to review this curriculum, we were able to get through the first 3 Lessons (Note: When I say “Lessons” I am talking about each chapter in the book. Apologia calls each chapter a “Lesson” in this curriculum.) and I am enjoying it!
Now, there is a suggested lesson plan at the beginning of the notebooking journals that you can follow. If you use the curriculum 2 days a week as laid out in that lesson plan, you will complete it in one year. I want to be done with it by Christmas so we can get through two of Apologia’s elementary science books this year, so we do it 4 days a week. (We did miss some days, so we still won’t be done by Christmas, but it will be close!)
To facilitate this review, Apologia sent me the Astronomy textbook, a MP3 CD audio book, a notebooking journal, and a junior notebooking journal.
I was pretty excited to receive both of the journals since I have a younger child and an older child that would be using the program.
I LOVE curriculum that includes a well laid out lesson plan, so that is one thing that I adore about Apologia. Anything we have ever used from Apologia has included a lesson plan.
Like I mentioned, the lesson plan is at the beginning of the notebooking journals. It is color coded, so you know that when you see green, it is talking about the textbook and blue is in reference to the notebook pages. There is an additional science kit you can purchase to go along with this program. Things from that are also included in the lesson plan and they are brown. We do not have the kit, so we just ignored the brown segments of the lesson plan.
Each lesson (chapter) has a set of daily assignments. If you are using the 2 day a week schedule, you will finish half of the lessons in 2 weeks and the other half will take 3-4 weeks.
I do wish the colors were a bit more bold in the lesson plan. My old eyes sometimes had to try hard to figure out if the words were blue or green. When I mentioned that to my kids, though, my 14 year old laughed at me. She had no trouble distinguishing the colors.
The other thing on my wish list of changes of the lesson plan would be to add page numbers. For the text selections, it only lists the title of the section and for the notebook pages it only lists the name of the activity/assignment. I would love page numbers just to help me get where I need to be, faster.
Those two wishes are a bit nitpicky, I know, but I just thought I would mention it. They definitely wouldn’t cause me not to buy it.
Using Apologia Astronomy in our home
On day two of the lesson plan, the kids had to make up their own mnemonic to help them remember the order of the planets. We had a lot of fun with that!
Here are some of the ideas we came up with … On the bottom dry erase board, we thought of words that began with the same letters of the planets and then on the top erase board, you can see some of the sentences we came up with as mnemonics!
For the first lesson, which is titled, “What is Astronomy”, I facilitated the learning. However, for Lesson 2 (The Sun) and most of Lesson 3 (Mercury), my 14 year old daughter facilitated the learning.
My daughter is in 9th grade this year and taking Biology. That being said, she has not yet studied astronomy, so I am having her either sit in on the lessons OR teach them to her siblings. That way she will learn the information too. I don’t have her do the notebooking journals, though, because she already has enough work to do with Biology.
This has worked really well for us. I work in the afternoons, so sometimes we don’t have time to do science in the mornings. With my daughter teaching her siblings, that opens up time in the morning for me to do other things with them. And then in the afternoon, they do science together. My oldest has to help her sister with the notebooking journal sometimes, but other than that, she is basically just reading the textbook portions out loud to them.
The Notebooking Journals
The Notebooking Journals are so great to add to the curriculum. You could absolutely do this curriculum without them, but I love them so much I wouldn’t want to go without them.
Some of the things in the journals:
- pages to take notes
- crossword puzzles
- copywork (in manuscript and cursive)
- extra activities and pages to write about them
- “What do you remember” pages – questions about the lesson (Can be used as a test)
Here is a picture of my son finishing up a mini book on Mercury and my daughter is doing her crossword puzzle for Mercury.
Junior Notebooking Journal Differences
On the cover of the Junior Notebooking Journal it says, “junior Version for Beginning Writers” and as such, there are a couple of differences between it and the ‘regular’ notebooking journal. Many of the pages are exactly the same, but there are some subtle differences. (Subtle enough that the younger child feels like they are doing “big kid” work, but big enough that they are able to do that work!)
On the note taking pages, the lines are farther apart and have the dotted line in between them, like you would normally see when a child is practicing handwriting. The same goes for the copywork pages. In the regular notebook, there are just solid lines, but in the junior notebook, there are solid lines with a dotted line in between them.
The crossword pages in the junior notebooking journal has the first letter of each word already completed for them. (You can probably see that in my picture above.)
And, in the Junior Notebooking Journal, instead of “What do you remember” pages with questions about the lesson, there are coloring pages relating to the material in the lesson, along with a Bible verse also related to the lesson.
So, my daughter got to color while my son answered those questions. Then, when we went over the questions, I (or my oldest daughter) would have my youngest answer the question out loud, before my son told me what he wrote down as his answer. This is perfect. The writing would have just been “work” for her, with no real educational benefit.
I think it’s wonderful they make a notebook for the little ones that are writing and reading, but not quite ready for “big kid” work!
We love it!!
My oldest daughter noticed she could see Mercury in the sky the other night when we were at the drive-in. She learned how to find it with this book!!!!! (Remember, she is the one not technically taking the class, but she is teaching it.)
We will continue to use Apologia Astronomy until it is finished! I truly can’t say enough good things about this new Astronomy currriculum from Apologia.
Information at a glance:
What is it? Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition by Apologia
For whom? Elementary age children
How much is it? $39 for the textbook, $27 for each journal, and $29 for the audio CD.