Apologia Educational Ministries is a popular publisher of home school curriculum. We’ve used several of their science texts and Supergirl and I reviewed Volume 3 of the What We Believe Series, Who Is my Neighbor? Apologia even has a Junior Notebooking Journal to accompany this new volume and having enjoyed the 3rd book, we were delighted to review volume 4 What on Earth Can I Do? In addition to the hard cover textbook we received a copy of the What on Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal, Junior Notebooking Journal and Coloring Book.
What We Believe Series ~
Designed to help children learn to discern the truth, this curriculum uses God’s word as the lens to view the world. Children learn to see the world the way God sees it. There are 4 books in the series. Each book is can be used as a stand alone program, but the FAQ states that they are more effective if completed in order. I found that there is an increase in difficulty from Volume 3 to Volume 4.
About Volume 4 What on Earth Can I Do?
Although there are only 8 lessons in this book, do not be fooled in to thinking it is a small or short study. This student-paced book has a suggested schedule of two to three weeks per lesson. These lessons or chapters are lengthy and packed full of information. All 8 lessons have the same basic structure:
- The Big Idea ~ this is the introduction to the main topic of the lesson
- What You Will Do ~ An boxed outline of the lesson objectives
- Short Story ~ These stories put into action what a worldview looks like in action.
- Think About It ~ These are thought provoking questions designed to probe deeper into the short story. These are included with room to write out answers in the Regular Notebooking Journal.
- Words You Need To Know and Hide It In Your Heart ~ These two sections discuss the vocabulary for the lesson and the Bible verses. There are sections for both of these in both journals.
- Integrated Learning ~ I think these are my favorites. These are short articles with topics related to the main text. There are several of these in each chapter/lesson. Some are very short and are about people such as Winston Churchill or Teddy Roosevelt where as others cover topics such as Beethoven’s 5th, the Victory Gardens, or Recycling. Some articles are little longer but the topics are “designed to help students to pursue the book’s ideas and concepts across the fields of art, math, science, history, and more.” (pg xi)
- What Should I Do? ~ This is the practical application section that highlights a specific character traits. Some traits include “Surrender (as in surrender to God), “trustworthy,” and “initiative”. The character trait is also included as part of the vocabulary in the “words you need to know” section.
- Prayer ~ This is the last section of the main body of the lesson. It is a written prayer for the child to pray but “you can choose to adapt these prayers for use as a family.” (pg xi) I’ve been skipping these particular prayers and substituting from our prayer book.
- Parables of Jesus ~ This is the final story of the lesson and is adapted from a teaching story of Jesus from the Bible. The stories are fleshed out with culturally appropriate names and details. The stories are engaging but stay true to the parable.
- Going Deeper ~ These are discussion questions about the parable stories.
- House of Truth ~ This is a feature that begins with book 1 and continues through the series. House of Truth comes at the end of 4 lessons. I have skipped these but for those who want a concrete and visual way model as a hands-on memory aid, this would be perfect.
How We Used The Program ~
In the “How to Use This Book” section of the textbook is a sample lesson plan which breaks each lesson into 6 sessions. Completing two sessions per week, you should get through a lesson in about three weeks.
Both of the notebooking journals include detail lesson plans that give specific textbook reading assignments and the pages from the journal to complete. These are also divided into 6 sessions per lesson. I found though that the assignments for each session/day were too much for Supergirl and I. It is working much better for us to break each day into two or three days worth of work. Smaller amounts of information spread out over more time means we better grasp the concepts. Typically we would spend one day reading from the textbook and the next day working in the junior notebooking journal. She would color either from the coloring book or one of the coloring pages in her journal while I read aloud.
I love that the junior notebooking journal has some of the same elements as the regular one. For example both journals have the Making Connections crossword puzzles but the junior one has larger boxes and fewer words.
I wasn’t sure if Supergirl would really be up to using the junior notebooking journal and I thought I would be playing scribe. Though I had to assist her with reading text she wrote the letters for the words in the crossword puzzle, copied bible verses, and did the word searches without needing me to do the writing! We enjoy this program and I think it’s because of the coloring pages and junior notebooking journal. Those help her process the material in the textbook readings.
One of my favorite aspects of the notebooking journal is the last page of the lesson: “Find Out More.” This is a list of resources and/or activities to do. Some lessons only have books and songs. Some also include videos and I found an activity suggestion in Lesson 4! Supergirl really loves this aspect as she got to watch Prince of Egypt for lesson 1. Lesson 2 suggested a book about Beethoven but as I already had a video, I substituted the DVD for the book. Peeking ahead I know she’s going to love watching King George and the Ducky! Both the Regular Journal and the Junior Journal have the resource suggestions but the lists are different and are more age appropriate for each level.
But I’m not Protestant ~ Using this as an Orthodox Christian
If you are a regular reader of my blog you may recall that my family is Eastern Orthodox. So why was I excited about using a worldview curriculum from a mainly protestant point of view? First, and most importantly, because as EO Christians, we also share the calling to be good stewards. This is a Christian concept, not a denominational one. Second, this program is written to be non-denominational. Though definitely slanted with a protestant bent, it does not promote a specific denominational interpretation.
What does that mean? It means that I could use the Orthodox Study Bible to bring an an EO perspective to any of the verses used in the lessons. It means that I slightly re-worded phrases to a more Orthodox understanding. I rarely had to re-word sentences and I think I only did that in one section of lesson one. It’s important to remember this is a worldview curriculum and not a bible study. I want Supergirl to have a Christian Worldview and to understand her role as a Christian and this series, with a little modification on my part, teaches her what I want her to know.
- The Vender: Apologia Educational Ministries
- The Product: What on Earth Can I Do? Textbook ($39), Junior Notebooking Journal ($24), Coloring Book ($8) and Regular Notebooking Journal ($24).
- Format: Hardcover Textbook, softcover spiral bound journals, and softcover coloring book
- Age Range: Written directly to the student at a 5th –6th grade level, intended for students in 1st through 6th grade.
- NOTE: You’ll want to check out the FAQ for the What We Believe Series.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.