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May 28, 2014

What on Earth Can I Do? ~ An Apologia Review

Apologia Educational Ministries helps parents teach their children, using a Christian lens with classes in Bible, sciences, apologetics, and worldview.  We're familiar with several of the elementary science courses and have really enjoyed using them.  The What We Believe series has been on my short list for quite a while.  I was very happy to receive this review for book 4 in the What We Believe series.

Apologia Review

This volume teaches children to be good stewards of all God has provided and helps them discover where they fit in His story.  I received the following books for review.
What on Earth Can I Do? textbook $39
This hardcover text is about 300 pages, with a sturdy binding to last your family for many years.  It is written at a 5-6th grade reading level.  Older students can simply work through the text on their own while younger students will need a parent or older sibling to help complete the work.  Each lesson includes parables, short biographies of notable people, applying each lesson in your own life, a prayer and a memory verse,and more.  The first few lessons use World War II as the focus for many of these.

Passwords to access online materials are found inside Apologia's textbooks.  These resources include teacher helps for each lesson, which consist of memory verses, book lists for extended learning, vocabulary, and a synopsis, suggested activities, and discussion starters for each section of the lesson.  You'll find a guide for the coloring book connecting each of the 64 coloring pages to a section of the textbook.  There's also a picture of the steps to complete the House of Truth, which is fully covered in the complete What We Believe series.  A Notebooking Journal sample is also located there.  Hopefully, soon a Jr. Notebooking Journal sampler will be added.

What on Earth Can I Do? Notebooking Journal $24
A spiral bound journal of 236 pages, for ages 9-14

What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal $24,
(Excited!)  This one is spiral bound and 184 pages.  For ages 6-9, or those with limited writing skills.

Each Notebooking Journal begins with a very thorough How To Use This Book section, which gives clear instruction for each of the lesson assignments.  These books consist of detailed lesson plans/schedules, which breaks the text into 48 chunks, followed by plenty of assignments and activities to help reinforce the ideas in each lesson.  A Find Out More section, at the end of each lesson, lists other resources such as books, movies, and songs.

Most of the Bible verses for copywork in the journals use the NIV.  Other translations are sometimes referred to in an attempt to make the language more accessible to younger children.  You can certainly use whichever version your family is used to studying.

Prep time is minimal, depending on your child's age and abilities.  My boys were perfectly capable of cutting out their booklets and other things on their own and assembling.  Each book in the What We Believe series will take approximately four to eight months to work through, taking two to three weeks on each lesson.  An sample schedule is included in each of the notebooking journals.

What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book, $8
Paperback, with 64 images to color.  Several pictures can be colored during each lesson.

For grades 1-6, and ages 6-14.

Lessons include
  • The Big Idea - an introduction to the main topic.
  • What You Will Do - the objectives of the lesson.
  • Short Story - to provide students an opportunity to see worldview in action.
  • Think About It - comprehension-type questions for the short story segment.
  • Words You Need To Know - relevant vocabulary to prepare students to express their faith.
  • Hide It in Your Heart -  Bible verses for memory or copywork.  One expresses the Big Idea and one to introduce a particular character trait.
  • Integrated Learning - articles tying the lesson to art, science, history, etc.
  • What Should I Do? - practicing godly character traits.
  • Prayer - acknowledging and thanking God for all He does.
  • Parables of Jesus - based on a parable taught by Jesus which expands into a full story with cultural details and told from one personal perspective.
  • Going Deeper - discussion questions regarding the parable.
  • House of Truth - the final House of Truth lessons from the complete What We Believe series.

How What on Earth Can I Do? looks in our home.
I love that we can complete this series on Christian worldview as a family.  A broad range of ages can be accommodated simply by choosing the appropriate notebooking journal or coloring book for each child.

I had Malachi working in the Notebooking Journal and Xavier in the Junior Notebooking Journal.  Both boys have colored in the coloring book on different days.  We followed the sample schedule in the journals at first and realized there are several days in each lesson that were just too much reading for my boys to sit and listen to at once.  I broke these assignments into two (and even three) days.  This worked much better.

Malachi was able to complete the crossword puzzles and create mini-books, write vocabulary and copywork, and think through some of the assignments with no trouble, but he is not an enthusiastic writer.  I would talk over the Think About It segments with both boys and let them dictate their answers to me.

We found the Junior Notebooking Journal to be a very good fit for Xavier, with slightly simplified lessons and more drawing  and coloring than the Notebooking Journal.  As I  look at it and think about it more, I think it isn't quite challenging enough for Malachi.  At nine years old, he is just at that in-between stage here.  I was very grateful for the chance to compare the two journals side by side to determine the fit for us.

My children are learning to apply God's Word to real life.  Even though, this series is about worldview, I can see how geography, history, and art can all be easily tied into these lessons. 

Even though these books can be used in any order or stand alone, we are setting this aside and starting fresh in the fall with the first book in the series, Who is God?.  I'd like to bring What on Earth Can I Do? back out around the time we start covering World War II in history.  Mal would surely be ready for the regular notebooking journal then.

If you haven't received the Apologia homeschooling catalog yet and are interested in the products they sell, order one right away.  You'll find coupon codes for freebies (with purchase) or discounts for each quarter.

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