It has been another fantastic experience with Apologia Educational Ministries as we have been working through their Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition. As always, Apologia does not disappoint, this product has exceeded our already high expectations.
To start with, the quality of the materials we received from Apologia Educational Ministries has become a benchmark in our homeschool to judge other materials from – they are just that good. We received the Astronomy 2nd Edition Student Text ($39), Astronomy 2nd Edition Notebooking Journal ($27), Astronomy 2nd Edition Junior Notebooking Journal ($27), and the Astronomy 2nd Edition Audio CD ($29). We purchased an additional Astronomy 2nd Edition Junior Notebooking Journal to be able to complete this program with all three of our students.
Apologia Educational Ministries has spared no expense in the production of these products. The Astronomy 2nd Edition Student Text is a full-sized, full-color hardbound book with 216 pages. Virtually every page following the 4 Table of Contents pages are beautifully laid out, inviting the students to learn the story of creation through the study of astronomy. Included alongside the text in each lesson are wisdom from above boxes that contain scripture verses or thoughtful quotes; think about this boxes containing meaningful tid-bits that inspire further thought; fun activities that are easy to complete at home; and end with a What Do You Remember? section, engaging the students in a recap of the lesson. The lesson pages are also filled with charts and colorful images that draw the students in.
The Astronomy 2nd Edition Audio CD is an audio book of the Student Text. The audio book is read by the author Jeannie Fulbright. To me, this is noteworthy because the author knows best what to stress and what was intended for the reader to grasp. Her voice is pleasant and her enunciation is clear, both of which are important when listening to an audio book. The Audio CD makes learning on the road a breeze, when homeschooling takes you away from home. For us, it made the text come to life as we followed along within our Student Text and let the author draw us into her story-telling of astronomy.
Both the Astronomy 2nd Edition Notebooking Journal and Astronomy 2nd Edition Junior Notebooking Journal are treasures. Like the text, they are full-sized, full-color and engaging. My students literally treasure these. All of their work can be done in the Spiral-Bound journals. There are notebooking pages to document Fascinating Facts and Personal Reflections; pages to complete many of the activities; copywork pages in both script and manuscript; coloring pages; crosswords; mini book cut & paste templates; and more. The differences between the two are minimal as they are designed to support the same text. The only significant difference is that Junior Journal offers primary dashed-line style writing pages to support younger writers and has meaninful coloring pages instead of the What Do You Remember? answer sheets found in the Notebooking Journal. There are many things to like about these Notebooking Journals. The kids seem to really like the activities and the colorful graphics. I personally appreciate the ability to have everything in one concise book to peruse through later and review or share what has been learned. Every time the kids share their Notebooking Journal with others and explain the mini-books or other activities, they are reinforcing their knowledge learned. That is what matters most… they have learned.
I am always delighted to have the opportunity to review anything from Apologia. I am never disappointed. The content in their materials is second to none and they have several titles as part of their Exploring Creation series including Human Anatomy and Physiology, Botony, three levels of Zoology, Physical Science, General Science, Chemistry and Physics, Marine Biology, Physics, as well as advanced level programs. Every aspect of K-12 Science can be covered with their programs, giving a child a rich and well-rounded science education. Although we appreciate having the opportunity to review their programs, we appreciate these programs so much so that we have ordered the entire educational sets of both Human Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry and Physics. We expect to work through Human Anatomy and Physiology the second half of this year, upon completion of Astronomy. With Chemistry and Physics, however, we are working through it alongside our other science programs at a snails pace simply because my students are fascinated with both chemistry and physics. I imagine that it will take us up to two years to complete that particular program and we are allowing it to segway into other areas of our homeschool education.
We have done things a bit differently in our homeschool with Astronomy. As some of my readers know, we have an art group that is meeting on Wednesdays with two additional homeschooling families. I was so excited as I began preparing for receiving the materials for this review that I could not help but share my enthusiasm for this product. That enthusiasm led to changing our Wednesday art class to art and science. To make this happen, the other two families also acquired the curriculum and notebooking journals. I have to admit, it was difficult to wait a week for their materials to arrive to start our Astronomy studies.
Together we have five students working in the standard Notebooking Journal and three students working in the Junior Journal. We also have a preschooler that sits with the group and participates by listening in and helping the younger students color their coloring pages. It would be nice if there was a coloring pages workbook available for a preschooler to color but the older kids actually fight over who gets to have her help them which makes her feel important. We have tried as a group both taking turns reading the Student Text aloud as well as utilizing the Audio CD to complete the lessons as a group. We enjoy listening to the Audio CD the most. Working through Astronomy together has been a wonderful blessing. We have rich group discussions and the activities really come to life when we do them as a larger group. The only thing we typically do not do as a group are several of the activities in the notebooking journals. We take time during the week to complete those. Overall, this has been an incredible experience for us all (adults included).
To take our astronomy studies further, we took a day and scheduled a field trip to NCAR – National Center of Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. If you are ever in Colorado, this FREE self-guided, hands-on science center is one to be added to your itinerary. Students have the ability to touch and feel displays that generate tornado models, hurricane models, clouds and so much more. We were fortunate to schedule an actual field trip and spent 3 hours studying the Earth’s weather system. This was fascinating. Equally interesting were the many features in the center that allowed the students to further expand upon their recent astronomy studies. We had the ability to watch a video display of Solar flares from the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory in Hawaii. Studying the sun in this way was absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend visiting their website when covering the Sun in lesson 2 of Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition.
Also available from Apologia Educational Ministries is a fantastic Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal ($22). I regretfully neglected to add this to my recent purchase. We really could have used those yesterday and will be ordering those soon to capture all of our science field trips into one location. We will be sure to have them in time for our next field trip planned, when we visit one (or more) of the local planetariums.
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway… we fully intend to complete Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition in its entirety. This is not a review product destined to our homeschool library, at least not until it is completed!