Last year Dawson and I used an Apologia Educational Ministries product for Biology. And it did not work for us. It was too textbook ... too wordy ... too clinical ... to, well, school! I even posted about how ashamed I was that we didn't like the curriculum. I received encouragement from many other homeschoolers that I should try the products for my elementary school kiddos. I was sure I wouldn't like it. Then, when we were given the opportunity to review some of the texts from the Young Explorer Series from Apologia Educational Ministries, I decided to heed the wise counsel of those before me and requested Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie Fulbright.
We received the hardback text and the Junior Zoology 1 Notebooking Journal that accompanies and enhances the text. We decided to follow the suggested schedule set forth in the beginning of the notebooking journal, and did two days of assignments per week. This schedule allowed us to complete two lessons (chapters) in four weeks. We learned about "What is Zoology" and "What Makes a Bird a Bird?"
How We Used the Curriculum
I'll be honest. When we sat down to read the first reading assignment, it was LONG and I felt lost in all the language and a little bored. The kids seemed a little overwhelmed, as well. I pulled out the notebooking journal and saw some pictures they could color while I was reading. That helped them to focus, definitely.
They then completed the first notebooking page, and weren't too into that, either. And, I thought, "oh boy." The first day we just struggled through. And then something clicked on the second day when we got to the first "Try This!" assignment. I saw some interest. They were intrigued.
And then we did the Mid-Lesson Experiment of making gliders to demonstrate the effects of lift and drag. Boom! They were in!
We additionally did copy work, a vocabulary crossword (those are always a hit), and a mini-book to help us learn the animal classifications. By the end of this lesson both kids (age 7 and 9) knew the classifications of: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. And, guess what, SO DID I!
Once we started the second lesson, the kids seemed better equipped to handle the long verbage, and I stopped often to ask questions and show pictures to make sure they were paying attention. They colored another picture, and really put effort into them this time. We learned about the parts of the bird, field marks, and identification. We were definitely starting to get in a groove, and my dread of the program subsided.
There are things I like and do not like about the curriculum. I still think it's too much like a textbook. I don't like textbooks, and my kids don't like learning from them. We have more of a literature-based style of learning.
We do like the Try This! assignments and experiments included in the text. They broke up the monotony of the long text, they were very relevant to the text and helped us to visualize what we were reading, and, well, they were just fun!
If we would have just received the textbook, I do not think I would even consider continuing to use it beyond the review period. It just doesn't fit with our style of learning. And, although the text is recommended for grades K-6, there is not a specific text for each grade so a kindergarten student will be using the same text (with the same language) as a 6th grader. I wish there were different texts for different ages at the elementary level. That being said, there are two different notebooking journals to go along with the text. There is the regular notebooking journal and a junior notebooking journal for the younger kids.
But, the notebooking journal made all the difference! The coloring pages, crossword puzzles, mini-books, copywork, and other hands-on worksheets supplemented the text beautifully and helped it to all flow nicely.
I do like how there is a recommended schedule with daily reading assignments and the corresponding activities and notebooking pages to complete. It make planning a cinch!
I do think we will continue to use the textbook and notebooking journal for the rest of this school year. Although we will continue with a two-day-a-week schedule, I think I will cut the daily lessons in half to have full lesson (chapter) last four weeks instead of two. That way we won't be reading quite as much in one day.
We LOVE the Flying Creatures topic, especially in relation to birds. We are birdies in our home and are learning some good stuff about them.
This is also a curriculum that we will hold onto for future use, as well. I actually think my kids would enjoy this more if they were a little bit older. We might stop after learning about birds, and then pick back up with it sometime in the future.
The Young Explorer Series (including this text) are designed for Grades K-6. The textbook is a hardback book and the notebooking journal is a soft back, spiral bound book. Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day ($39.00), and the corresponding Junior Zoology 1 Notebooking Journal ($24.00) can be purchased from Apologia Educational Ministries.
The Schoolhouse Review team reviewed many of these science texts and notebooking journals from Apologia. I encourage you to head over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read all of the other reviews.
I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.