Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Apologia - What On Earth Can I Do?

A couple of years ago, Apologia Educational Ministries gave us the opportunity to review their Book #3 of their Worldview Training, Who Is My Neighbor? We LOVED it! So were more than happy to help them out by reviewing the newest book in the Curriculum, Book #4, What On Earth Can I Do?

Apologia ReviewWe received the following:
What On Earth Can I Do? (textbook) $39
What on Earth Can I Do? Notebooking Journal $24
What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal $24
What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book $8

What On Earth Can I Do? is a Bible curriculum that teaches the Biblical Worldview of Stewardship to children in grades 1-6. As you will note below, my 5 year old is enjoying it as well. The best way to get a feel for this curriculum is to check out the excellent, .pdf samples available for download on the website.

It is suggested that the Junior Notebooking Journal can be used with newer writes, generally ages 6-9. With the Notebooking Journal for more fluent writers and the coloring book can be a way to include younger, pre-writing children in the lesson.

Since I have two 11 year olds and a 5 year old, I decided to have each use one of the workbooks. I let Lexie and Ashlyn choose who would use the Notebooking Journal and who would use the Junior Notebooking Journal. Ashlyn, the artist, chose the Junior Notebooking Journal because it includes coloring pages, whereas the Notebooking Journal replaces the coloring pages with comprehension questions.  Otherwise, the 2 journals seem similar, with the Junior Journal using the "handwriting paper" and expecting shorter answers and less writing. There are .pdf samples of all but the Junior Notebooking Journal on the Apologia site.

Apologia Review
As soon as I told Little Bit, age 5, that she had her OWN book to do Bible with her big sisters, she was sooo excited! She happily colored pictures while I read and discussed the first lesson with the big girls, even asking a few of her own questions, so she didn't feel left out!  The next day, as soon as she got up, while I was still drinking my coffee, she said "Mommy, is it time for Bible?!?!" and proceeded to wake up her sister and beg for us to Bible before breakfast! I wondered if she just wanted to color (because, while she has plenty of other coloring stuff, I won't let her color THAT book except during Bible time), but when she needed to go upstairs to get some other colored pencils, she wanted me to stop reading until she came back.

When we first got this review, while the big girls remembered enjoying Who is My Neighbor? they were abit torn because they have been thoroughly enjoying the straight Bible study that we've been doing for Bible this year and didn't like having to "pause" it. However, after the first couple days, they re-remembered how much they love this series, and declared emphatically that we have to finish the whole book!

Apologia ReviewFor the first part of the review period, we used this each morning for Bible. I would read while Little Bit and Ashlyn colored (and Lexie did whatever, while listening, since her Notebooking Journal didn't have coloring pages). After I finished reading, Lexie and Ashlyn would do the rest of their Notebooking Journal assignments on their own. Since we tend to not be "workbook" people, I also gave them the freedom to choose, if some of the assignments didn't appeal to them, they didn't have to do everything.

In the past, it has been a minor annoyance to me that Apologia puts the assignment schedules in the Notebooking Journals instead of in the textbook. However, this time (I guess because the girls are older?), I found it works great because I have just made placed all the responsibility onto the kids. We sit down for Bible, I ask one of them to tell me what pages I'm supposed to read, they read those pages, and then tell them to do the rest of their assignment as independent work.

Partway through the review period, my husband was scheduled for heart surgery. The PLAN, as described by the surgeon, made it sound like I'd only need to be away from the girls for a few days so I figured we'd be fine to just skip Bible, along with other school, for those days. However, Lexie suggested that, since Little Bit was enjoying it too, they could continue without me, with Lexie reading the assignments aloud for Ashlyn and Little Bit to listen to, while coloring. As things turned out, I didn't see the kids at all (they were at their grandparents' house, in good hands) for 10 days, and even after that, only saw them occasionally. So I was thankful that we had arranged things such that at least some parts of school, including Bible, could continue without me. They didn't do Bible every day I was gone, since the schedule is different when they're not at home, but at least they could continue moving forward.  Now I'll have to go back and read the story to see what I missed LOL.
As I expected, I like this book! It is easy to use, with essentially no parent prep required. Especially with children at the upper edge of the grade range, they can see what their assignments are and work quite independently at this. One thing to be aware of, the amount of reading varies quite dramatically from day to day. Some days it's only a couple pages, other days it's 10 or more. Not a big deal, except it can be a time management issue. I would guess with some, younger students, the days with large amounts of reading would need to be split into 2 days. If it were important to me that Little Bit really understand all of this, I'd want to do that for her, but since this is more of an easing her into joining her sisters for Bible, I'm not stressing about it.
Apologia Review
We have found a few typos. At least once the lesson plans in one of the books skipped pages, since we had both Notebooking journals, it was easy to figure out that the one was a typo, but might be more confusing if you only had that one. And, a bigger issue to me, one of the early copywork assignments spelled Ephesians wrong. Ashlyn actually caught it, and asked me about it, but especially since this was the in the junior journal, many children wouldn't catch it, and it would be teaching them to spell it wrong.

Overall it's a great curriculum!

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