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Monday, April 13, 2009

review of Apologia Science texts

I was very excited to get to review 2 science texts from Apologia, as a few moms in our group who use this curriculum had nothing but glowing reviews of it themselves. I had already planned to possibly add a text or two into our high school curriculum, and seeing this product now has made me certain I want to do so.

I never forget what an awesome experience this is, as these vendors really have gone out on a limb to send so many of us so many (and mostly expensive!) products, hoping we really will utilize them and spread the word about them. I occasionally receive a product that just isn't a fit for our family, no matter how wonderful, and writing the reviews is just a tad harder. But then along comes a product that is so nice I am not sure how we ever made it this far without it. That is how I feel thus far with Apologia.

We have used many textbooks in our unit studies as supplemental reading; oh what we could have learned if we had used these texts instead! They are presented from a Christian worldview, saving parents the frustration of weeding through scientific "facts" found in secular texts. They are written in an approachable manner so that the children enjoy reading them. The author of the upper level text, Dr. Jay Wile, noted homeschool advocate and professor, has a sense of humor and it comes out in the readings as well.

The texts we received were Exploring Creation with General Science (middle school level) and Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.

Let's begin with the Flying Creatures text. I had a few doubts how long a study on birds and flying creatures could possibly take. This is a year-long course. I wondered if my son would understand the reading or whether it would be too technical, and if we would become bored with it at some point. I began by reading the first few pages aloud to all my children, regardless of age, and this is how I had planned to continue on, as I figured each child can glean something by listening in on the other's lessons. But as usual my best-laid plans were thwarted by life's busyness, and I end up having to let my third grader start reading solo. About twice a week I turn him loose to silently read for 30 minutes or so and then come back and tell me what he has learned. I also have instructed him to read over every experiment listed and pick a few random ones to work through. The book has easy experiments, clear-cut instructions, and LOADS of color pictures to break up the text. Reading doesn't seem so laborous when broken down into bite-sized "nuggets".

Now whether is it because this particular child has been given a heart for animals, particularly birds (thank you Lord for sending EXACTLY the book You knew my son would desire to read!) or if he just understands what he is reading, I don't know, but something is working! Not only does he read and tell me what he's learned (and its clear from looking over his text that he has truly grasped it), but he has begun, on his own, to write down his observations in a notebook. You have to understand what a struggle this child has had with penmanship and how much he abhorred writing. Suddenly this happy little scientist is reading, observing, and taking really clear notes too! I am thrilled! All with a MINIMAL amount of time on my part. :)

As with my younger son's text, I began reading aloud to all levels from my middle school son's text as well, just to kick us off. I also did this to make sure he was going to understand what he was covering, as the first "module" in the book was a bit dull. The author warns the reader that this first section may be a bit dull, as it covers mostly the history of science and famous scientists. He assures the reader that future modules will be more exciting, but he also makes it plain why we study these scientists and thinkers of the past: so we can learn from their mistakes. Nick is still reading alone his text twice weekly, and we haven't come to the point of taking a test yet, but since they were also included with this packet, we are going to use them. He too, enjoys his reading and likes to come and report on people or stories he's read. I am also making him add diagrams and reports for his science work; he especially enjoys sketching some of the diagrams for his own records.

I can see that there is no way to work only two days a week and get through these meaty books by the year's end, especially considering we've only had these texts for a couple of months. But they are simply too good to waste so we'll either use them as general reading all summer, or get back into them next school year.

As a Christian mom and lover of nature, I have a true desire to understand and pass on facts of God's creation and world to my children. These books are one great way to do that. Even if all one did was buy the books for general read-aloud or supplemental reading, you'd learn so much just from going that route. I give this company an enthusiastic thumbs up for making the complex things of this world fun and easy to understand, and helping children see God's hand in all things so they can build a firm foundation for sharing the Gospel, based on truth and fact.
To view more products or to see what topics these texts cover, please visit the Apologia team at:

1 comment:

julie said...

We also LOVE these texts! we have completed Exploring Creation with Astronomy and Botany and can't wait to try flying creature next! My oldest has just about completed General Science and that has been a wonderful journey! as well! coming from a science geek (ex-industrial chemist turned mom)I LOVE Apologia what a refreshing way to study!