Apologia Educational Ministries gave us Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition in exchange for this review. All opinions are mine, my kids’, and the cat’s…because she had to be the sun when we were demonstrating orbits.
They sent us the following pieces:
- Student Text
- Notebooking Journal
- Jr. Notebooking Journal
- Audio CD
Apologia in General
Apologia (pronounced ap-ol-og-ee’-ah and spelled ἀπολογία in Greek) means a speech in defense or a well-reasoned reply. Apologia’s series of science books works to prepare children to defend the Creationist viewpoint both Biblically and scientifically. The goal is for them to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks.” (I Peter 3:15) The astronomy book is one of many which carries the children far toward this goal.
Our children have met much resistance in the world to their Creationist views, but they have either been able to respond intelligently, or thoughtfully questioned, contemplated, discussed, and researched, so they would be more prepared the next time around. It is not solely through Apologia texts that they have come to this point, but they are a strong piece in the puzzle.
This is the second time I’ve taught this course to my children. Of all the science classes I’ve taught, this has been my favorite…with the sole exception of following ants and chasing butterflies. Nothing beats butterflies.
This is an immersion course. Your kids will be studying astronomy for a year. They will know far more about astronomy than I did when I was their age–that’s awesome.
We are Charlotte Mason style schoolers. While Astronomy is a textbook, it is not written in a dry manner. It doesn’t read like a Henty novel or Beatrix Potter, but it’s definitely interesting.
I particularly appreciate that each lesson is broken down into short segments, so I “feel” like I’m “doing it right.” (I know that as a homeschooler I can do whatever works best for my family, but it’s nice to be “normal” once in a while instead of always reinventing the wheel, you know? I mean, we roadschool 8 kids in a travel trailer as we tour the country singing and playing guitar–normal doesn’t describe us too often.)
After each short segment there is a narration cue, basically telling the students to explain what they’ve learned. Sometimes my kids will write the narrations, but most often, they just throw it out there and I just listen.
At the end of each lesson you will find bigger activities and some scientific documentation. These are fun, but you don’t have to do them if they become overwhelming. We usually pick one and sometimes all, but sometimes we skip everything and make cookies…shaped like planets or chewed into the phases of the moon, so it’s educational.
The lessons take about two weeks–no need to rush either. It’s broken up into a comfortable pace.
Your children will gain a thorough knowledge of astronomy through this course–I learned a lot! It is not, however, a “memorize the stars and constellations” course. If that interests your family, it’s easy to add in. This course will teach you, not just give you memory work.
When I taught the older set of four girls, we used Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 1st Edition. That was all we used, apart from some supplies we dug up at home. You can successfully teach this course with only the textbook. That’s something I really like about Apologia Educational Ministries; you don’t need all the additional components. The text is enough, which makes it more budget-friendly.
Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition is updated, so you won’t find nine planets in the solar system. (Are you weeping with me? I know, my whole childhood was a delusion!) It’s a little different than I remember the 1st edition, but my brain is still stuck on that Pluto thing, and my 1st edition book is stuck in a storage unit in Nevada with all my other books (outright sobbing now), so I can’t tell you exactly how. I can tell you that the information has been updated (the 1st edition is from 2004). Also, the photographs seem to be better in this version. Overall, it seems more sleek and user-friendly. But…poor Pluto.
I have taught some Apologia courses using the notebooks and some without. The first time I taught astronomy, the notebooks didn’t exist. Currently, my 10-year-old son Elijah is using the regular notebook. For him it is excellent. He works very independently and does as much as he possibly can for each lesson before we even study the topic.
The notebook contains copywork, writing space, activities, and some crafts, all at or above around a 4th grade level. It is still definitely useful for 6th or 7th graders, or maybe even an 8th grader who’s studying astronomy with you. My 8th grader is tagging along on the class until she’s ready to jump into her independent Apologia studies, but she opted not to do the notebook–at her level, some of it is busy work. Not so for the younger set. It’s ideal for my son, and helps him focus better than if he were staring at a blank notebook.
The assignments, activities, and suggestions are included in the notebook. There is also a schedule so you can open and go.
Unfortunately, there are a few things mentioned in the notebook that the kids can’t do without purchasing another related set from Apologia which contains supplies for the experiments and activities plus bonus activities. The fact that those bonus activities are listed in the notebook is unnecessary, in my judgmental opinion. Basically my son got to that point and said, “I can’t find this section,” and I said, “That’s for the rich kids.” Okay, that’s not really how it went down, but that is how I feel when there are teasers like that and my 5th out of 8 kids really wants to do the extras and I opt to feed him. Other than that it’s all good.
The astronomy notebook is consumable. While I usually try and figure out a way not to consume a consumable (no, we don’t photocopy), Apologia science notebooks are an exception. The work should be done right in the notebook. It will make an excellent review and keepsake, and is really a nice product. My kids have all kept theirs over the years…somewhere in a storage unit in Nevada.
I was pretty excited when Apologia came out with their junior notebooks. They are targeted to kindergarteners through 3rd graders, but I find my kids are ready around 2nd grade. These are very similar to the regular notebooks, but they are less writing intensive, and some of the activities are bumped down to their levels (not dumbed down). There are, for example, coloring pages with Bible verses, as opposed to lined pages asking them to record their thoughts. The activities are either the same or related, so you can teach the course to the entire family, and the kdis can do different pieces of work at their levels.
Again, the activity suggestions in the text are spelled out in the text book and the student is guided along in the notebook, which again is easier than if the child were doing the work in a blank notebook.
We are using this with Rebecca, our 2nd grader. When it’s finished, it will be a nice keepsake of her year in astronomy. She’s keeping up quite well. This, too, is consumable, and I feel it’s even more important at Rebecca’s age to use it as it was intended.
Apologia also sent us the CD of the book. This is excellent if your voice can’t take all the reading that a lifestyle of literature-based homeschooling requires. And it’s read by the author, Jeannie Fulbright. There’s something about a piece when it’s read by it’s author. It has more…life to it, don’t you think?
Here are my thoughts on using the CD. As much as I love it, I don’t use the CD. Why? Because we have about as many discussions as there are stars in the solar system (slight exaggeration) during a single lesson. This is in part due to my pausing to ask or take questions. Often they’ll be discussing something and my reading it would only be redundant. So, since the lessons are nice and short and do not take a toll on my voice, I stick with reading.
Still, I really truly appreciate this option, especially for when I’m not available.
Again, you only need the book to teach this entire course. The rest are just extra perks. Please don’t feel badly if you can’t afford everything. If you can add the notebooks, great! If not, your kids will still benefit tremendously from this program. My first four didn’t have the notebooks or the CD and we loved our year of Apologia astronomy!
Additional thoughts for my fellow roadschoolers:
Space space space. You hear me harping about that all the time! Yes, these books will take up space, and if you do the experiments, that will take up more space. I don’t know if you want planets hanging from your 7-foot ceiling for nine months. If you don’t, pop them after a week. Blame the cat.
The text itself is quite thin–not thin on information, but just, you know, thin. It’s hard cover, so it’s durable. The notebooks are thicker and not as durable. They can take a slight beating, but they’re certainly not made of steel. Also, did I mention they are thick? They are.
As far as CDs go, we toss our cases and keep everything in a joint case, so it’s no biggie here…except we’re out of space. Of course, if you’re roadschooling and your CD player in your vehicle works (unlike ours), this would be perfect!
You know your kids and their put-away talents. You also know your space limitations. Personally, I feel Apologia texts are worth the space and, for this age group at least, the notebooks are worth their weight as well. Before we were offered this review opportunity, we were going to dig up our 1st edition astronomy text when we swung through Nevada this fall–it’s that good.
Social Media Links:
Apologia is very encouraging on social media. I particularly enjoy following Jeannie Fulbright on Instagram.
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/apologiaworld @apologiaworld
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