Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc., is a company that produces popular homeschool science curricula in the form of textbooks, laboratory equipment – such as microscopes and slides – CD-ROMs, and online courses. I’ve seen their materials advertised since my earliest days of exploring homeschool curricula.
As part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew, Apologia kindly sent me a copy of Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, part of their Young Explorer Series. Apologia is a decidedly Christian company, and all of their materials have a creationist viewpoint. As a Christian family, we believe in God’s sovereign creation of “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” so I was happy to see the book’s title Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. It isn’t often that a textbook bears such an explicit reference to the Lord.
Flying Creatures is written for elementary aged children – anywhere from age six to 13. It covers a wide variety of material – all flying creatures! – birds in general, migration, nesting, flight, bird communications (calls and songs), feathers and colors, bats, flying reptiles (pterosaurs), and insects. The first lesson covers general zoology, animal classification, nomenclature (how animals are named), and flight before going into more specific topics in the remaining lessons.
Experiments that the children can do at home are included in nearly every lesson. Kids love experiments – sometimes it seems as if every elementary-aged child is a scientist at heart – and they usually remember what they have done much better than what they have read or been told. The experiments are varied and enjoyable. Here are a couple examples:
- Children place two different types of bird seed into two identical bird feeders and then observe birds over a period of time to see which food the birds prefer.
- Children place various natural and manmade materials (such as dried grass, pine needles, and dental floss) somewhere outdoors. They then observe which types of items the birds prefer for nest-building.
- Children make a “can trap” to try and trap insects. They try different baits and different locations to discover the best way to attract insects.
Many projects are also included in the text – building a birdhouse and bird feeders, for example.
Our family’s schooling style has two major facets: hands-on and read-aloud. I’ll be honest that at first I wasn’t excited about using Flying Creatures because it seemed like a run-of-the-mill textbook. And we all know how to spell textbook – B.O.R.I.N.G.
Even after reading about half of the first lesson/chapter to Nicholas and James, I still wasn’t enamored with the book. After delving into it more, though, I’ve discovered that Apologia’s Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day is much more than a textbook. The pages of information are interspersed with hands-on activities, projects, and experiments (which I mentioned above). I can read three or four pages to the boys and then do the accompanying activity or experiment to cement their understanding of the information.
Basically, it’s the kind of learning our family loves. Almost every day, I read library books to the boys and we do something related to the information from the books. Flying Creatures is like almost two dozen library books with related activities in one volume.
Even if you normally avoid textbooks – like me! – I encourage you to take a look at Apologia’s Young Explorer Series. A homeschool convention or book fair would be a great opportunity to look through one of the books and see what you think. Other titles in the series are:
- Exploring Creation With Botany
- Exploring Creationg With Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day
- Exploring Creation With Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day
- Exploring Creation With Astronomy
Each hardcover book is priced at $35 and can be ordered from the Apologia website.
© 2009, Cindy. All rights reserved.