Science. The very word used to bring to mind long algebraic formulas, brain-numbing laws, and useless facts. Oh… and repetition. Lots and lots of repititious experiments. Mind you, it’s not that I don’t have a solid background in science. I was, after all, pre-med for almost two years before I up and decided to become an artist (and now I write – life is weird – or maybe it’s just me). It’s just that from the very beginning, science was a spiral of facts and disciplines, never spending enough time in any one area to truly interest me. Until college – and by that time, it was no longer interesting – it was brain-numbing. Sure, there were the occasional bright spots, like the day I caused an explosion in the lab, and we had to use that awesome shower. But for the most part, science put me to sleep.
When we decided to teach our kids at home (gasp), science had me sweating. The boys wanted to be scientists, and one of the great disappointments of their little lives was that the Christian school they attended didn’t allow them more time in the incredible science lab. How could I meet their needs? I didn’t even have a science lab!
That’s when a friend suggested Apologia Science. Oh, how I love Apologia’s elementary science series, written by Jeannie Fulbright. So far, we’ve completed Exploring Creation with Botany, Exploring Creation with Astronomy, and we’re right in the middle of Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. We plan to do Zoology 2 and 3 before moving on to Apologia’s older courses.
What do I love about Apologia’s elementary courses? Let me give you a list:
- They focus on God and His design of creation.
- They are in-depth, and kids come away with quite a bit of knowledge in the area they’ve studied.
- They’re fun, and interesting.
- We can do them together as a family, rather than individually studying science at different levels.
- The experiments use regular household items, and almost always work. When they don’t (only twice), I am quite certain the failure is mine, as it was the day I caused that nifty lab explosion.
- There are about 14 lessons, so at two days a week, we can cover a book in 28 weeks. We’ve also done a lesson a week (rather than every two weeks), but my kids tend to get really involved in whatever we’re studying, so it’s nice to have extra time. Last week, we spent an entire morning “birding” in our backyard. It’s hard to imagine them being any more excited! They’re using technical language and classifying birds according to the rules of taxonomy. Actually, it’s hard to imagine me being any more excited, either!
- The accompanying notebooking journals are fantastic. (There are also junior notebooks, but we haven’t used them). They’re fun, they’re colorful, and they reinforce everything we’re learning. Last year, my boys spent an entire day gathering different leaves, classifying them, and taping them in their notebooks. A couple of weeks ago, they journaled three pages worth of information about different types of nests. They had so much fun. The journals also have vocabulary crosswords, places to take notes, projects, experiment pages, copywork, minibooks, and a unit test.
- The kids can also make their own notebooks if they wish.
- When there is something we just don’t know about science, Ms. Fulbright is quick to point it out. When there is evidence against evolution and for creation, she is quick to point that out as well.
The boys draw pictures in their journals while I read aloud. At the end of each little section, I pause, we discuss, and they take notes. That usually takes two of the four days we spend on each lesson. We spend another day working on written review (minibooks, a vocab crossword, etc), and the fourth day covers an experiment, and sometimes an additional activity.
We enjoy Apologia! I’m so excited that the boys get to study something they love. I have a structured, exciting program to teach an important subject. And, so far, no one’s blown anything up.
What do you do for science?
~ Danika Cooley