Friday, May 30, 2014

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

As we've neared the end of the school year, and it is beginning to warm up outside, the kids have been itching to get out and about. The problem is that we weren't done with our work yet and the odd, on-again, off-again winter weather had them going stir crazy in the house! There was a lot of bickering, arguing, and "me first" attitudes cropping up. Around the same time that all this began, the opportunity popped up to review the Apologia Education Ministries Program called What on Earth Can I Do? 

Apologia Review

What we received in the mail

This program is part of the What We Believe series and helps kids gain a Christian worldview in a way that covers all the different learning types, and many different age groups. The ability to adapt this program across multiple levels is huge for a family spanning several ages, abilities and learning styles and makes it an excellent homeschooling resource to keep on hand. In all, we received the book linked above, plus What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking JournalJunior Notebooking Journal, and Coloring Book.

Bruiser and Chef had to help me keep
Buttercup safe in the water since I could
not go out as far with the baby. 
There are many good things for me to say about this program but I must start with the caveat that I did have to adjust some. This book is written from the Protestant world view, and there are certain ways of interpreting Bible stories and verses that Orthodox don't always view the same way. I have said before that I tend not to look at Protestant-based curricula because of that problem. To that end, this program was not too difficult to navigate and adjust for.

A teamwork exercise among the teens at a homeschool event.
So on to a few of the things I really liked about these books:

  • Their versatility across multiple ages, abilities and learning styles. I was able to keep everyone from 12 years down to five years engaged in some way while using this course. The three-year-old was not always into it, but there is no way he could understand most of what we were discussing. So he got a little coloring sheet to do while everyone else worked. We have two dyslexics, one great reader, a storyteller, a beginning writer, and a self-studyer in our group. Each found a way to remain engaged in the activities and assignments.
  • Where do I fit in the world?
  • The use of real-life people to tell the stories and impart lessons. Characters like Charlie Chaplain, Hitler and an imagined family are all used to teach a lesson about war, what God wants for us, and what people are like as individuals - above what they do as a requirement of war and battle. This was one of the earlier lessons in the book, and really struck me, mostly because WWII is a time period of intense interest for my kids, and the military aspect hits especially close to home because of our own family being military. 
  • The use of scripture to teach. Yes, I had to adjust the understanding of the message behind the scriptures used, but it never hurts to know what the Bible says and where, and the inclusion of these verses, and assignments helped open a lot of good discussions at dinner about how we should act and what we're here for. The lessons included emphasis on the parables Christ used to teach. In Christ's day parables were often used to impart wisdom and teach lessons - and it is a much better way to teach than using lecture. This allowed us also to bring out various icons that we use in our church and worship and discuss the symbolism in the icons and how they match in with the stories from the Bible.
Outline to one of our church icons

This is a very good study course and one I really recommend looking into. The main text, What on Earth Can I do? is $39, and workbooks are $24 for each of the notebooking journals, and $8 for the coloring book.
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