Inside: Find out if the Apologia earth science curriculum has more than just pretty pictures! Is there some substance below the surface?
I have a love/hate relationship with science! I’m just going to admit that upfront.
I love the idea of my kids doing hands-on projects and exploring, but I hate when I get pulled into curricula with beautiful covers and pictures, thinking it’s going to be fantastic, only to find out there’s not much there. The projects are meaningless, and the text is lacking. This has happened more than once. Very frustrating!
*Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking through, The Unexpected Homeschooler may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read full disclosure policy in the menu.
I received an Apologia Earth Science Advantage Set with Regular Notebooking Journal along with financial compensation for this review. My opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.
From the moment I looked at the Apologia earth science program, I was hooked! The beautiful pictures drew me in, and it was the same reaction from my daughter.
But the question was, “Is there more to it than the pretty face on the cover?”
Digging Below the Surface of Apologia Earth Science
How often have those gorgeous pictures and fancy extras in a science program sucked you in, only to find out there’s not much on the inside?
I wanted to find out what this homeschool earth science course was made of. Was it going to be attractive and exciting at first, only to get boring, have no substance, and let me down again? Only time would tell.
So I dug into Exploring Creation with Earth Science, part of the Young Explorers Series, to see what I could find!
Gentle Approach with a Charlotte Mason Style
One of the appealing aspects of the Apologia curriculum is its Charlotte Mason style approach to learning.
The Exploring Creation with Earth Science is written to the student in a conversational style and feels similar to a living book because it brings the topic to life and isn’t dry and boring. It makes the reader curious and wants to learn more. It’s also broken into small chunks, so it’s easy to absorb and understand.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re in a race to the finish line trying to finish a course by the end of the year. The 28-week setup of this curriculum allows you to slow down, enjoy the process, and take it at your own pace.
Each lesson is spread out over two weeks. These shorter lessons leave time for holidays, breaks, and diving deeper into topics throughout the year.
The narrations included in each chapter, which can be done verbally or written, are another classic Charlotte Mason characteristic. There’s a narration area in the notebooking journal for students to write and/or draw what they remember from each lesson.
I’m glad the author realizes the need for both written and verbal methods. Not every child is comfortable writing, and having the option to answer verbally is freeing (but not any less academic).
I love that narration is included because it’s a skill that needs to be developed through practice and can be difficult if you haven’t started at a young age.
These options let parents cater to their child’s individual needs.
Simplicity of the Material
The exterior looks drew me in, but as I looked around, I found the inside layout of both the book and notebooking journal very simple but still engaging.
The bright colors and illustrations don’t overwhelm young readers. The font is large enough to see, and the pages feel clean and organized.
This is always a concern to me with children who have ADHD or are reluctant learners because they become easily distracted and can’t focus. I didn’t find this to be the case.
It’s a straightforward and inviting format that feels just right.
Hands-On Activities with Purpose
The activities in each lesson impressed me. Not only are they fun (ex. making slime and a globe), but they do an excellent job of cementing the ideas being taught. There’s a real purpose to each one and not just busywork.
Here’s what I found:
- There’s a wide variety of activities and experiments throughout the year. Children won’t just read about the Earth; they will experience topics firsthand. This is the part of the program that’s going to bring learning to life! (There’s a list of materials needed for each lesson in the Appendix. Many of them are household items or can be found at the Dollar Tree.)
- The geosphere made in lesson three is unique because it’s an ongoing project throughout the year to create a complete globe of their own. It’s something students will be proud of when they’re done and understand the planet like they never have before.
- Besides the activities in the book, the notebooking journal has cut-and-paste projects. These range from a flipbook, mini book, scrapbook, charts, graphs, poster, and so much more! Students will not get bored doing the same thing over and over. There’s a regular and junior version available, making it easy to use this curriculum with children of different ages.
- Every lesson has a beautiful coloring page in the notebooking journal that’s sure to inspire the creative kids in your home. Some of them made me want to use watercolor paints, especially the one from lesson two, shown below. You could use some of these for an art lesson.
- Another year-long project, which is a nature study, is called My Special Spot. Your child will choose a spot outside to observe the changes throughout the year. The notebooking journal has pages dedicated for this that let the student note observations, changes and draw an aerial view of what is visible each time they go there. A grid is used for the aerial drawing, which makes it easier for kids who struggle with a blank slate. My Special Spot is the perfect way to watch the Earth change!
Promotes Independent Learning
We all want our kids to work independently right? No one wants to end up with a high schooler that’s clingy and still needing you for every subject.
That’s one of the biggest goals I have in my homeschool. I want my kids to work by themselves and only requiring me for the little things. It’s a life skill they’ll need when they leave the nest.
The Apologia earth science notebooking journal makes my heart sing! It contains a simple schedule at the front of the book the student can check off each week, helping with this goal. It tells them exactly what to read, activities to do, and notebooking pages to complete. It’s the perfect tool to get your kids working independently!
Predictable but Not Boring
The author has laid every lesson out the same way, which might seem tedious at first glance. But I think this format plays right into my goal of teaching my kids to work by themselves.
Every lesson has the reading broken up with activities and narration sprinkled in between, and then it finishes with a What Do You Remember set of questions.
I appreciate this predictability because it makes it easier for my child to know what’s expected. The activities vary, and the reading is mixed with charts, maps, photographs of actual places or objects, so it doesn’t become boring.
Keeps Things Interesting
Do your kids like to chase rabbit holes? If they find a topic interesting and want to keep studying it, Apologia includes book extras on their website.
They give links to websites and videos for every lesson to expand your child’s understanding of the topics they’re studying.
I love and appreciate this because if my kids get excited about something, I don’t always have time to research sites for them to dig deeper. This way, the work is already done for me! I just log into their site and enter the password from the book in the book extras section, and Voila!.
Topics Studied in the Apologia Earth Science
Below is a list of contents so you can see what is covered in the course.
Lesson 1: The Observable Universe
Lesson 2: Life in the Habitable Zone
Lesson 3: Spheres of the Earth
Lesson 4: Mapping Your World
Lesson 5: The Geosphere
Lesson 6: Making and Shaping the Land
Lesson 7: The Hydrosphere
Lesson 8: The Atmosphere
Lesson 9: Climate and Weather
Lesson 10: Weather Forecasting
Lesson 11: The Biosphere
Lesson 12; Cycles of Life
Lesson 13: Places on Earth
Lesson 14: God in Creation
Here’s a video I created giving you a look inside both the textbook and the regular notebooking journal.
As you can see from the list, there’s a lot of ground covered in those 28 weeks. Your child will walk away with a greater understanding of how Earth can sustain life, the cycles that help accomplish this, and the layers it’s made up of. All with a focus on God being the creator.
Not bad for an elementary-level science course!
Final Thoughts on the Apologia Earth Science
Apologia earth science is a homeschool science curriculum with a lot of substance under the surface. Your children will create, explore, investigate, journal, study, and discover in an easy-to-use format they can do almost all independently and enjoy themselves in the process.
After delving into this course, I can say without a doubt, Exploring Creation with Earth Science is not just another pretty face!
Click on the button below to learn more about this curriculum.