I have to start out by saying that this review did not go precisely how I thought it might. I was super excited when I saw Apologia Educational Ministries in the list for review. You see, I had purchased several other science-like curriculum and I didn’t like any of them. Either they were too easy or they just ignored God altogether. I was really excited to see a quality science book that didn’t talk down to the student and included God. And I got that!
Exploring Creation with Zoology 1
I was sent a copy of Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day and the additional Junior Notebooking Journal. It is intended to be used for Grades K-6 and comes with two different notebooking journals. The junior version (like we received), is aimed at K-2 and those who are not fluent in writing and reading. The regular one is for older students (Grades 3-6) who can do more reading and writing.
Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 covers the basics of animal classification, the physics of flight and then goes in depth to cover all of God’s flying creatures beginning with birds and moving on to bats and insects. The textbook itself is a hardcover textbook set up in various sections and has prompts set up much like Charlotte Mason would suggest for narration. It includes various experiments and things to try throughout the text. The junior notebooking journal includes pages to color, color notebooking elements, copywork (from the bible), and other pages to aid in cementing the learning and recording experiments.
The hardcover textbook is $39.00 and the junior notebooking journal was $24.00 which is a BARGAIN if you consider the cost to purchase various notebooking pages and print out supplemental activities. And that’s not even including your time!
Likes and Dislikes
What I wasn’t quite prepared for was that the Apologia textbooks are a very fundamental Creationism (with a capital C!) book. I have to be honest — I didn’t even know such a literal translation of Genesis existed. There were bits and pieces of the books that I had to edit out on the fly. One passage I read-aloud and did a double-take before I laughed out loud (sorry to any strict creationists out there).
The ensuing discussion with my husband was amusing to say the least and led us to research (again) the official Catholic church position on creationism/science/evolution and the like. If anyone wonders, the official position is that we don’t take Genesis literally and TRUE science never contradicts God (my paraphrase, not an exact quote). See this article at Catholic Answers; I also found a great article with the thoughts of centuries of theologians such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on creation and science but cannot find it anywhere now. Of course.
The one suggestion that I DO have is to start it in the summer or fall if you live in a perpetually cold climate like Michigan. There were several experiments that were pretty difficult to start in January when the ground is frozen and the birds are few. You might be able to start with lesson 1 and then move to bats or one of the other sections and come back to birds. I think we may actually do that next week since we have to go back to half of the experiments and projects anyway. Those are her favorite part!
I like the schedule in the Junior Notebooking Journal and found it to be really useful! My daughter JUST (like 2 weeks ago) turned 5 but we have been doing Kindergarten/1st Grade level work since fall. I did find that the first three days of the lesson are really reading intensive and the last day is very intensive in the notebooking journal & experiments. We spaced out the reading a smidge more since I think she forgets it if I read too much at once. We are still working on attentiveness & narration :). The coloring pages are great for keeping her attention during the reading!
All that being said, I really did like the books and am really glad that we are using them. We did two chapters (or lessons) according to the table in front of the Junior Notebooking Journal and worked on it daily in order to review enough to get an accurate picture of the program. Since then we have moved to twice a week (as suggested) which is a much better pace for our Kindergartener.
The parts that I edited on the fly were VERY few in number (3 or less) and were all in the first lesson. I plan on continuing using Apologia’s Elementary Science curriculum for at least the next few years. I feel the books are superior in quality and the content is such that it doesn’t make me feel like I’m wasting my time or my money.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this curriculum in exchange for an honest review as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.