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We have really enjoyed the Young Explorer Series for Elementary Science from Apologia Educational Ministries. Recently we’ve been working through Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition. We have really been enjoying this elementary Astronomy curriculum.
For our review we received the Student Text, Notebooking Journal, Jr. Notebooking Journal and an Audio CD.
Exploring Creation with Astronomy has been walking us through a variety of topics. We have been learning more about the stars, astronomers, space, the sun, planets, and so much more. What I love (and appreciate) is that it includes God and The Bible all throughout the curriculum. Through learning about the wonders of space, we are learning the wonders of God. He created it!
When using this elementary astronomy curriculum, all the parts of the curriculum work together.
The Student Text is a hardback book noted to be “written directly to the student in a highly readable conversational tone.” The way we, personally, use the Student Text is that I read the recommended text for the daily assignment while stopping to ask them questions. It would definitely be possible for solid readers to read the text on their own. The other option would be to use the Audio CD. I have found it’s also nice to take it on the road for listening in the car!
The Student Text is broken up into elementary astronomy lessons covering a wide variety of topics (sometimes all in one lesson)! It offers an Introduction, additional resources, activities and more. Each lesson has stopping points. In fact, the Notebooking Journals have a “Suggestive Daily Schedule,” which breaks the lesson into multiple, smaller parts. With our kids’ special needs, it is definitely ideal to follow this schedule, and it works out nicely! When there is an activity, though, sometimes we do the activity by itself on another depending on the length and requirements of the activity.
Throughout the Student Text there are also questions periodically so they can sum up what they’ve been learning. Additionally, there is a Wrap-Up called “What Do You Remember?” asking multiple questions to help reinforce what they’ve been learning. Plus, it encourages them to point out what their favorite part was. I think it’s so important because kids will often be able to recall more when they are enjoying it. Our kids that are working on this do sometimes have challenges summing things up or answering open-ended questions, but they can always talk about their favorite part!
In the past, we have only used Junior Notebooking Journals, which is designed for younger learners. As our oldest son is still a delayed reader and writer, the Junior Notebooking Journal was still a great fit for him. Our daughter (age 8), though, needed more of a challenge, so I love that we had the opportunity to review both Notebooking Journals.
In addition to the Suggested Daily Schedule, the Notebooking Journals are spiral bound books that offer a variety of great activities. They offer plenty of writing spaces and opportunities for the kids to share what they are learning. Our daughter often just writes in her journal as we go when she feels it is something she needs to write down. For our son, I ask him if there is anything he’d like to include in his journal, and I then write it on the white board for him to copy down.
Even the lined notebooking pages aren’t limited to just basic pages. Each lesson does start with blank pages with lines as well as areas to draw. I love that the area to draw is included because our daughter, in particular, learns and remembers things through her drawings. The notebooking, though, is broken down into even smaller parts within a lesson. They will be presented in the form as a Matchbook, bookmark, minibook, etc. It really helps to break things down further and offers a neat touch to the Notebooking Journals!
There are a variety of hands-on activities which helps to further reinforce what they’re learning in the text. I have found the activities so far do require some time, but not terribly long. Plus, they are fun, so that always helps! Some activities are basic activities that are included within the Notebooking Journals while others require some material that we already had or could easily run to the store to pick up. There is also an optional Science Kit that can be purchased for more hands-on learning.
In both the Student Text and the Notebooking Journals there is a page for “Instructional Support.” It mentions and provides details about the Textbook, Notebooking Journals, Audio Book, Science Kit and even the Field Trip Journal we reviewed last year.
So What is the Difference?
The Junior Notebooking Journal and Notebooking Journal have a lot of similarities. They are similar enough that we could still do the lessons together. Yet, they do have differences as well. Some of the most prominent differences include:
- The lines. The Junior Notebooking Journal includes wider writing for both journaling as well as the Copywork. Though both manuscript and cursive are offered for Copywork choices.
- Activity differences. Certain activities are made a little easier for the Junior Notebooking Journal. The crossword for example has no letters already filled in for the Notebooking Journal but does have a few in the Junior Notebooking Journal.
- Coloring Pages. The Junior Notebooking Journal also includes coloring pages. Since Aurora loves to color, she just borrowed Brayden’s Junior Notebooking Journal for some of the coloring!
Overall, I think the Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy is a great elementary astronomy curriculum. It covers a variety of topics, includes Biblical references throughout, offers a variety of great hands-on activities, and is presented in a way that is easy to follow. It has been a great fit for our family!
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