Five Goals For Early Fall



At the beginning of this year, I was really trying to make monthly (or at least semi-monthly) goals.  I did pretty well until about March, and then...well, you know.  It's time to try to get back into goal-keeping mode, and I am looking forward to having something to work toward for the last few months this year!  These are my goals for August and September (I find I do better if I give myself goals every two months, instead of every month).

Finish Our Summer To-Do List

I wrote here about all the fun stuff I hoped to do with the kids this summer - we've done about half of the things on the list, and I think we could probably cross off at least ten more items before the end of August!  I'll post a final list update of everything we did in a couple weeks, but I'd like to squeeze as much as possible before we start school.

Finish All My Half-Read Books

These are the books I am currently halfway through:

-Lord Edgeware Dies by Agatha Christie
-The Underground History Of American Education by John Taylor Gatto
-The Last Of The Doughboys by Richard Rubin (Kindle only $3!)
-The Bright Side Of Going Dark by Kelly Harms
-Lovely War by Julie Berry
-This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
-Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
-Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
-The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
-The Book Of Signs by David Jeremiah

It looks like alot, but since I'm halfway through all of those, it's really equal to about five books.  I'm tired of having so many books going at once, and I'd really like to close these books up before diving into some fall-ish mood reading.

Workout At Least Four Times A Week

As I mentioned in my post the other day, this is my first year in eight years to draw a deer tag.  I know if I don't try to get in better shape I'm going to be wheezing my way up the mountains during hunting season.  I want to put my best effort in since I haven't been hunting in so long - I want it to be as pleasant of an experience as possible, and I want to get something!  My goal is to workout at least four times a week, and especially my legs, so hopefully I won't slow Derek down too much.

Sort And Print This Year's Photos + Print One Year's Worth Of Past Photos

Something I've had on my goal list for the past several years is to finally print all the pictures from the kids' baby years, and put them in albums.  This is something I've been terrible about ever since Gwen was born.  I'd like to go through the next year in my backlog (I think it's 2014), narrow it down to the 200 (or so) best photos, and get them printed up before the end of September.  (We'll worry about getting them into albums later.)

I'd also like to get this current year's photos sorted and printed up until this point.  Last year for Christmas I printed up the best pictures of each kid, put them in a little brag book album from Walmart, and put them in their stockings for Christmas.  They loved it.  They loved having a book full of memories and photos of themselves and our family from the previous year.  I want to do it again this year, and I don't want to leave it to the last minute because it is quite alot of work.  So I'm going to start on that early.

Finish Christmas Shopping

Derek brought up a really good point  - we may want to accomplish our Christmas shopping early this year.  Who knows how things will go in the months leading up to election day, if there will be more shutdowns, or if the mail service will suffer more delays than it already has.  I don't want to order things in November (as I usually do), and run the risk of anything interfering with packages arriving on time.  So I'm attempting to finish ALL our Christmas shopping by October 1st.  This year has been stressful enough that I'm also liking the idea of having a very non-stressful Christmas because I got everything organized early!



Did your goals for the year get de-railed like mine did?




Galveston Island - Part One



I'm finally getting around to writing about the trip to Galveston that we took in May!

Needless to say, vacation this year was really weird.  Because of Derek's work, we can't take vacations in June or July, so we usually end up going on our summer vacation in May or August.  August vacations can be a little tough on me - it's really hard to get back into school mode when we just got home from summer vacation.  So our preference has been to try to vacation in May.

This year that was obviously a little tricky.  Flights were cheap but highly discouraged, and we wanted to be conscientious about going to a state with a similar case-load as our state, and about trying to keep social distance while still having some fun.  We settled on a road trip to Galveston!

The drive was fun, and we really enjoyed the terrain in Texas.  It's so much greener than I imagined it to be.  We also drove through a couple towns that I had been reading about in The Worst Hard Time, and that was really fascinating to me - we went right through the land that was once a part of the XIT Ranch.  We also stopped for candied pecans on the way as a treat.

We reached Galveston late at night, and the first couple days down there were a little rough, with a dirty AirBnB debacle (full story here).  We made a quick trip to the beach the day we left the AirBnB, but we had to drive back to the Houston area to stay the night since there wouldn't be a hotel room available until Monday.

That ended up being a good thing, because I ended up getting a full-blown ear infection, and I had to go to Urgent Care to get antibiotics!  Within 12 hours of taking them, I felt 95% better, which is crazy to me.  I haven't had to take antibiotics in years, and I was impressed - those things really work!

All that to say, our vacation didn't feel like it truly started until four days into it.  I was bummed that we missed a couple days that we could have been spending at the beach, but hey, it is what it is.  Has any vacation truly gone perfectly?  We haven't ever had a vacation that was without bumps.

We did get to see a movie while we were in Houston, something we still haven't been able to do at home, so it was a treat.  We had the theater nearly to ourselves, and we saw "Playing With Fire".  The kids thought it was completely hilarious and begged me to buy it - aside from a little "potty humor", it was cute.  I think the excitement of going to see a movie after so long is what made it memorable though!

Once we were back on Galveston we toured an old mansion to kick things off right, a place called Bishop's Palace.  It was a beautiful old place.  It was a self-guided tour, and we were literally the only people in the whole building except for two clerks in the basement.  It was really interesting to be in there all alone!  I do wish we had been able to take a guided tour, because the pamphlet they gave us was light on the history.  Obviously a Bishop must have once lived there, and I was under the impression that some services must have been held in there too because of all the gorgeous stained glass windows and other paraphernalia.  But that is all speculation, because the pamphlet told us things like "This was Mrs. Gresham's room," which I have to be honest, I found really amusing!  I wish I knew who Mrs. Gresham was.  That's what we get for trying to do a self-guided tour.  The exhibit on the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 was really interesting though!

After checking into our hotel we drove down the seawall and we were able to walk onto Pleasure Pier, which is basically an amusement park on a pier.  All the rides were still closed, but it was fun to walk along it as the sun was going down!  Everything was so pretty.

Then the next day we went right on back to the beach!

(Ready to go!)

(We stopped at a few historical sites along the way.  This was the site of a massacre, so we stopped to look at the memorial.)

(Driving through New Mexico - looks like there was a brush fire behind that hill.)

(The beach!)



(Our first day at the beach before we hung out for a couple days in Houston.)

(The Bishop's Palace.)








(Wyatt was really interested in the exhibit on the 1900 hurricane.)




(Walking on the pier.)



Add caption

(Back to the beach!)






Part Two coming next week!




Currently | August 2020


Reading...Things Jolie Needs To Do Before She Bites It by Kerry Winfrey.  I've been reading some heavy stuff lately, and sometimes you just need a little YA nonsense.  So far it's pretty cute, we'll see where it goes.

Watching...Alone by the History Channel.  We have been fans for a long time, but the newer seasons finally made it to Hulu, so we are catching up!  We are watching the season where the people are stranded in Mongolia, and I am convinced there is no way I would last a week there.  They have wolves in Mongolia.   I think I learned a little too much in our co-op when we were covering the Middle Ages last year (lots of problems with wolves eating little children, for real).  Wolves are worse than mountain lions or bears.  At least with the latter, there is only one, and you have a chance of fighting them off.  Wolves travel in packs.  Basically, you'd be toast.

Feeling...frustrated.  So today was the first time since February when I've been able to go work on the ol' blog at Starbucks.  I was so excited!  Then I got here and our internet filtering system blocked me from joining the wifi.  So the first 40 minutes I've had in a coffee shop alone since February were spent on the phone with Covenant Eyes figuring out what went wrong.  Thankfully their customer service is pretty great, and I am grateful for what they do generally.  Just going to have to find a work-around for this Starbucks issue.

Choosing...to postpone all my homeschool posts that I had plan until we actually start school!  I had a bunch of ideas I wanted to write about, but I decided I needed a few more lazy summer weeks where I just read and take my kids to the park or for summer hikes with friends.






We start school the week of August 16th (trying to get an earlier start this year, in the hopes that next spring we can finish early and things will be normal).  So a couple more weeks and I'll get more of those posts and Instagram videos up!  Hoping I don't burn you guys out on homeschool content, but I really enjoy sharing ideas and hearing what other people are doing!

Consuming...not a lot of a sugar.  I realized my jeans were getting a little tight, so it was time to cut out sugar for a while again.  I'm also trying to get in shape, just because, but also because I drew a deer tag this year. This will be the first time I've been hunting in...probably eight years, and I'm woefully out of shape.  And unsure if I'd be able to hit the broad side of a barn.  And our freezer is also in desperate need of filling, so yeah, the pressure is on.  My plan for not wheezing my way up the trail includes going old-school and breaking out my Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD - and yes, I still feel like I'm going to die after every workout.

Ordering...fall candles.  I am definitely in the mood for fall early, but I'm trying to restrain myself and enjoy what's left of the summer.  I think I'm feeling particularly fall-ish this year because, in my mind, the craziness going on in the world will be magically fixed in the fall.  This somehow despite it being an election year, and despite the logical part of my brain knowing something dramatic will go down in October, because they always try to pull those old election tricks.  But maybe this year will be different!  Who says adults can't believe in fairy tales?  (Sorry, that was kind of sarcastic and cynical.  I'm in a mood this week.)

Remembering...I've been pining after Florida this week, because around this time last year we were getting ready for a beach vacation.  I am treating this nostalgia by looking through our vacation photos from May, to remind myself that we did actually do some fun things this year too.  I'm aiming to get a vacation recap post up tomorrow or Monday!

Enjoying...the way the light shines in our windows in the morning.  I've been trying to keep my habit of getting up before the kids through the summer, and if I make it downstairs before 7:00, the light glows orange and pink through the windows.  It's really pretty, and I know a photograph wouldn't even capture it.  Sometimes when the light is just right, and I know there is no way to convey the experience accurately to anyone else, I just tuck those moments up in my heart and thank the Lord that I get to be alive right then, seeing something that feels like it's only for me.



P.S.  Trying...to figure out what these berries are.  Any ideas?  We spotted them on a hike with friends a couple weeks ago, and I'm terrible with plants.  We are studying Botany for science this year, and I am expecting to learn alot.


The Wednesday Five | Vol. 12


A Quote

"Isn't there something in living dangerously?"
-Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

A Book

I started reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe - I've never read it, and it's referenced so often in American Culture, I figured I should read it to know what everyone is talking about.  It's so much more interesting than I originally thought it would be, kind of like East Of Eden was!  Don't be afraid of those big books, folks.  In my experience thus far, even big books typically have to be somewhat interesting to get published.

A Bit Of Nature



I'm trying to figure out what this bush is...it looks like a chokecherry bush to me.  We used to pick chokecherries growing up and make syrup out of them - I hope that's what it is!  I'm breaking out my plant guides later to confirm.

A Recommendation

If you have never heard of the Serial app, you should definitely check it out!  It breaks up classic books into 15-minute serials that are delivered to you each morning.  I think it makes those doorstops feel more manageable.  It's how I'm reading Uncle Tom's Cabin.  And the books are all free!

A Moment Of Happiness

We were at the Christian bookstore yesterday, and Wyatt spotted some devotional books that he wanted.  After I looked through them to make sure they were good, I offered to buy one of them for him.  He insisted on paying me back when we got home, but I honestly wasn't going to remind him.

Later that night, after bedtime, I was sitting in my chair, and Wyatt snuck out of his room and handed me a bill and a handful of coins to pay for his devotional, and then he asked me what time I usually get up to read the Bible.

I wrote about this last week, but I was about his age when I paid for my own first devotional book and started reading it along with my Bible daily.  I don't know if he heard me telling that story or not, but either way, I love that it was so important to him to buy the book himself and get on track with reading his Bible daily.  I love seeing him take initiative in his own godly habits and spiritual growth.

He gave me his squinty-eyed grin when I told him he could come read with me in the mornings, and it just warmed my heart so much.  I'm so proud of my boy.

My Homeschool Bible Recommendations



I didn't want to finish my curriculum series without including Bible, but to be honest, it's hard to sum up our Bible "curriculum" in one post.  We don't use just one resource to teach our kids the Bible, and we don't do it at one time of the day and then check it off our list.  My goal in teaching my children the Bible is that we will talk about biblical truths often, throughout our day, in formal and informal settings, and that it will be embedded into every part of our homeschool curriculum.  Do I always succeed at this?  No, there are alot of days where I drop the ball and our Bible study doesn't look like that, but it's what I want to strive for.

At the same time, I think it can be really useful for kids to have some sort of resource to guide them in Bible study and help them think about what they are reading, especially as they get older.  My oldest son is getting to that age where he has been working on reading through the Bible on his own, and he could handle a more structured study, so I've been mulling that over and thinking through different resources.  Here are some of the resources that we've used, or that we plan to use.  Some of them are actual "curricula", and some are other types of resources I've used.  This isn't even a comprehensive list, but these are the things that have stood out so far.

The Bible (Like, The Real Bible)

I think sometimes we forget that the most important way we can teach our kids is just to read it with them!  Alot.  Derek is really good at reading them a chapter each night, and I'd like to do better at bookending that with reading a chapter to the kids at breakfast as well.

I firmly believe in reading the actual Bible even to little kids, but I do think for the younger ones it's nice to add in a Bible storybook too, so the next couple are my favorite Bible storybooks.

Egermeier's Bible Story Book

I've collected quite alot of storybooks in my day, and this is one of my favorites.  I like how this storybook is so thorough - no part of a Bible story is skipped, not even the hard parts, but it presents it in a kid-friendly way, with beautiful illustrations to accompany each story.

I Am: 40 Reasons To Trust God 

This is another Bible storybook that I really like - each story is connected to a different name and attribute of God, and a short devotion and prayer is included at the end of each chapter to get the kids thinking further.  I think the illustrations in this are just gorgeous, and it's a great bedtime storybook.  Our copy is actually falling apart, so I'm going to have to purchase another one.

Answers Bible Curriculum

This was our main Bible curriculum last year!  We picked this up at the homeschool conference, and we got about halfway through, so we'll continue it this year.  The book comes with pdf files for slides to show on your computer while you teach, memory verse posters, and coloring pages.

The curriculum was written by the folks over at Answers In Genesis, and uses their method of breaking biblical history up into "the seven C's" - Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consumation (and my kids can recite those now, so that's a plus!).  While a lot of time is spent in the Old Testament, the curriculum is an overview of the whole Bible, and I think it lays a great foundation for understanding why Christ had to come and die on the cross to save us!  That is the most important thing for my kids to know, and I love the focus on the gospel through this curriculum so far.

Since we are stretching the curriculum out over two years, I've looked ahead to see what is coming, and the second half of the curriculum seems to focus on answering different questions about God and the Bible.  It has more of an apologetics focus, and I think it'll fit nicely with another resource we are using.

The Answers Book For Kids

There are eight volumes of these little books, and they are completely full of questions kids may be wondering about the Bible, along with the answers of course!  We use these in our morning time right now - I'll read a question and the answer, and then we'll look up the Bible verses that are listed and read them together.  I think this is a really convenient little resource to start some good conversations, and it's really easy to add into a morning routine or read over lunch.

Big Thoughts For Little Thinkers

These books are really similar to the Answers Books For Kids, but each page has cute illustrations and a different truth about God to talk about with your kids  Once again, I usually read the thought on the page, and then we look up the Bible verses and talk about it more if needed.  I really like this for all the kids - the thoughts are deep enough to bring up some good topics with the older kids, and simple enough for young kids to learn and remember.

God Is Really, Really Real

This resource goes a little more in-depth on some of the main concepts that we learn in Scripture about God, man, sin and death, Jesus, and salvation, etc.  I think it could easily be used as the core for a more formal curriculum as well.

As it says on the front, there are 30 Bible doctrines covered in this book.  The first part of the book has colorful illustrations and a poem-story that relates to the lessons, and the second half guides parents through teaching different biblical doctrines to their kids, along with "tuck-in questions" to remind your kids what they learned during the day.  There are also more in-depth explanations and Bible references for parents in the back of the book.

I think the book is geared toward younger children, but with the more in-depth information in the back, it would be easy to use this to teach older kids who already have something of a grounding in these doctrines too!  I honestly forgot I had this resource until late in our school year, and we used it in morning time, but going forward I am thinking I might add this one to our bedtime routine instead.

Bible Survey For Kids

This is one of the new resources I purchased for the upcoming school year, put out by Mike Fabarez's ministry.  This curriculum is super simple and straightforward, a way to give your kids an overall view of each of the books of the Bible.  Each lesson covers one book, and the main things that are included in that book, and then Bible book cards are tacked onto the wall in chronological order, or in genre groups.  I really like this idea for giving the kids a "big picture" of the Bible as we continue reading it and studying it with our other resources.  I'm thinking we'll do one of these lessons a week for the upcoming school year.

Explorer's Bible Study

This is the other new resource I bought for Wyatt, because I think he is big enough to find this sort of book helpful.  The Explorer's Bible Study books go through different eras of Bible history through a simple fill-in-the-blank format.  Just flipping through this book, it is really similar to the Community Bible Study workbooks we did a couple years ago.  Since we aren't ready to re-start CBS this year, I think having a similar book will be helpful.  Each lesson is broken up into five segments, one for each day of the week.  The text of the Bible passage is included in the book, and then the student can answer questions.

Depending on the day, I might sit down and do each lesson with Wyatt, (and possibly write his answers for him), or I might have him work on it independently once he gets the hang of it.  However, if he works on it independently, it's important to me to still sit down with him and talk about what he wrote.  I think this will be a great guide through different biblical books, and a great chance to get Wyatt used to more in-depth Bible lessons.

Devotional Books

One more quick little note - I am a fan of devotional books for kids.  When I was about Wyatt's age, I found a devotional book I liked at the Christian book store.  I ended up buying it, and it helped me get into the habit of reading a chapter of the Bible and a devotional every day.

I really would love if my kids developed that habit as well, and so I bribe them with devotional books!

Actually, I picked up a couple kids devotion books here and there a few years ago, and just put them on the bookshelf and forgot about them. My kids discovered them this summer, and my big kids have been reading through them on their own, along with their Bibles. These are some of the ones I've found:

My Big Book Of Five-Minute Devotions - This book includes animal facts along with lessons about God, the Bible, good character qualities, etc.  Each devotion has a Bible verse and prayer to go with it.
God's Amazing Creatures And Me - This is another book that includes animal facts tied in with a lesson about the God who created these animals.  Can you tell that I have a kid who loves animals?

One warning about devotional books - often they can be rather superficial, especially when written for kids, so I think it's important to not use them as your child's only Bible-related  resource.  Devotion books aren't a substitute for true Bible study and biblical instruction, and they often do an inadequate job of presenting the gospel, so I try to be aware of that and do some extra explanations where necessary.  But I do think they can be a fun addition to Bible reading.  What I like about devotion books for kids is how they can emphasize the ways that biblical knowledge relates to anything they could encounter in their day or life.  So that's the value I think they can add here, when read in addition to the Bible itself and regular Bible instruction in other areas (and not just reading a devotion alone, because they aren't enough by themselves).



In case you didn't notice, I am all over the board with Bible instruction.  I told you that I wouldn't say we do one Bible "curriculum" - the curriculum is all these things put together and done regularly (or for some of them, sporadically) over the course of many years - my kids' whole childhood really.  I hope we are always in the middle of this or that Bible resource, and in the middle of some book of the Bible itself, throughout my kids' childhoods, until they no longer live in this house.  I want them to be saturated in it, so they can soak it up constantly, and take it all with them when they go.

For a Christian homeschool family, I don't think Bible should be just another homeschool subject.  Bible instruction will never be done.  If I want my kids to learn anything in this homeschooling journey, I hope it's that - to never stop seeking after the Lord through His Word, to love Christ, and never be done learning about the One who created them and died to save them.  If I succeed in that, I will have succeeded in everything.

And maybe that's also why I have way too many Bible-related resources to choose from, ha!

What do you use for Bible instruction in your home? (Aside from THE BIBLE, of course!)



The Wednesday Five | Vol. 11



Gracious, I've lost my blogging rhythm a bit.  When did I last write about something personal on here?  It's been a while, so I'm going to use The Wednesday Five format to get back into it this week.  You can read other Wednesday Five posts here, and feel free to join in if you want!

A Quote

"We're a violent people, Cal.  Does it seem strange to you that I include myself?  Maybe it's true that we are all descended from the restless, the nervous, the criminals, the arguers and brawlers, but also the brave and independent and generous.  If our ancestors had not been that, they would have stayed in their home plots in that other world, and starved over the squeezed-out soil...that's why I include myself.  We all have that heritage, no matter what land our father's left.  All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies.  It's a breed, selected out by accident.  And so we're over-brave and over-fearful - we're kind, and cruel as children.  We're over-friendly and at the same time frightened of strangers.  We boast and are impressed.  We're over-sentimental and realistic.  We are mundane and materialistic - and do you know what other nation acts for ideals?  We eat too much.  We have no taste, no sense of proportion.  We throw our energy about like waste.  In the old lands they say of us that we go from barbarism to decadence without an intervening culture.  Can it be that our critics have not the key or language of our culture?  ...That's what we are, Cal, all of us.  You are not very different."
-East Of Eden, pg 568 (emphasis mine)

For some reason this little monologue in East Of Eden stood out to me when I read it a couple months ago, and I've been mulling it over a bit.  I don't know if I think Steinbeck got Americans exactly right, but in some senses I think he captured some of the spirit of America here.

The part that stands out to me right this minute is where he asks whether critics of our country fail to understand Americans because they don't have the key and language of our culture, and I think he got that right.  Ultimately what has tied us all together as a country, as Americans, for the last 244 years is our ideals - our ideals of freedom, and our efforts to reach toward those ideals even when we may have failed to live up to them.  We are a people tied together by a love of freedom, and a tenacious will to struggle and fight to achieve it, and to defend it whenever it is threatened.  I hope we always keep that.

I saw a random social media comment from a person in a country which shall remain nameless, who criticized Americans for "always thinking someone wants to take your freedom away".  It irked me to no end, just because of the sheer ignorance.  That's an example right there of someone who doesn't understand what America really is, who maybe never will, because she doesn't have "the key or language of our culture".

Okay, sorry for the lengthy aside there - it just happened!  On to the next category...

A Book

I've been reading books on alot of political topics lately, but I don't really want to talk about those, so I'm going to mention that I started Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb.  It's basically a memoir of a therapist who ends up needing therapy after a bad breakup.  I find the little tidbits about psychology interesting, and the author really knows how to tell an interesting story, so I kind of got sucked in.

A Bit Of Nature


This is from our trip to a little mountain stream a couple weeks ago - Clyde pointed out that the light playing on the water looked like a snakeskin - it kind of does, doesn't it?

A Recommendation

I recommend you get yourself over to Target, because they put out the school supplies in the dollar spot this week!  I got a bunch of good stuff that I might show over on Instagram.  I always look forward to raiding the dollar spot for homeschool stuff - all their little knick-knacks spark alot of homeschool ideas for me.

A Moment Of Happiness




Last week was our 12th wedding anniversary, and Derek and I were able to get away to a resort, thanks to my mom!  We had a nice time, and when we came back home the next day, Georgie ran up to me and said in her little baby voice "Mama, you're here!  I wuv you, Mama!  I wuv you so much!"

Oh my goodness, that girl.  I wuv her too.

Homeschool Chat: Science



Science has always been my favorite subject, and my love for the subject started back when I was a homeschool student.  I love learning about the intricacies of God's creation - His fingerprints are all over everything in the natural world, and studying what He has made is one of the best ways to get a full understanding of the vastness of His power.

It is extremely important to me that whatever science curriculum we choose as our core, that it is firmly grounded in a biblical worldview.  Unfortunately, I think most children that stray from the faith in their college years first started to doubt in science class.  It is a sad fact because this trend is so unnecessary.  The study of science is 100% compatible with a faith in God and His Word.  I was fortunate enough to be homeschooled through high school, and rather than shaking my faith, my science studies bolstered my faith.  I want that for my kids too.

So that said, here are my science curricula picks for the upcoming school year!



Apologia Young Explorers Series

I was first introduced to Apologia when I used one of their biology textbooks as a homeschool high school student.  Oh, how I loved that book!  Not only did it let me deep-dive into a subject that always interested me, but it was written from creationist perspective in such an equipping and fascinating way.  I learned so much about the scientific method, the specifics of biology, and how it all fit in with the Christian faith, and it truly made me love science best.

When I saw that Apologia had courses for elementary students now, I knew that's what we would use!  We've been using Apologia for three years, and I still love it.  The textbooks are written in a really engaging way, they include alot of colorful pictures, and the experiments suggested are fairly simple and doable.  The programs also come with accompanying Notebook Journals (and Junior Notebooks for younger kids), and I have more thoughts on those below.

How We've Used It

Kindergarten/1st Grade - We used the Zoology 1 textbook as a basis for a couple unit studies.  We read the textbook and then found a bunch of colorful books from the library to read alongside.

2nd Grade - We went through the Chemistry And Physics book, and the Human Anatomy And Physiology book with our co-op.  If that sounds like alot for 2nd grade, it is!  We mainly just enjoyed the experiments they were running at co-op and read a few sections here and there, and supplemented with books from the library.  I wouldn't recommend doing either of these courses until upper elementary (or even middle school), unless your child has an interest in these subjects at a younger age.  It wouldn't have been my natural choice for 2nd grade.

3rd Grade - We finally hit our stride with the Astronomy book this last year.  We read the chapters together, and all the kids enjoyed it.  It was also even more interesting since we had just visited Kennedy Space Center on vacation!  The kids did the experiments at co-op, and we read the chapters together each week.  The chapters are fairly short, so we were able to read them in one sitting and my kids stayed interested.  I usually had my kids draw or write about something they learned from each chapter as well.  Of course we threw in a bunch of related library books and documentaries too!

This Year

We are not doing co-op this year, so it will be the first year that I will be going through Apologia with the kids and doing the experiments on my own.  My sister and I both decided to go through the Botany book, and we have a plan to meet weekly or bi-weekly and do the experiments!  I think this will be really fun for all of us, and my kids will be so excited to see their cousins regularly.

One thing I love about Apologia is that the experiments they recommend are pretty reasonable in the kinds of materials they use.  Most items you would probably have around the house, or they are items that would be easy to find at the grocery store.  Occasionally they'll have special items that may require a little more searching, but for the most part it's kept pretty simple.

The Notebooks

I have only used the junior notebooks so far, and I truly think they are optional.  There are fun little mini books to cut out and put together, and then facts can be written inside them.  There are also many coloring pages and copywork sheets included.  However, everything in the Apologia notebooks you could also do one your own with a blank ruled notebook, and that is what we have mostly done.  I bought the Astronomy Junior Notebook for Wyatt last year, but he quickly lost it somewhere, and I had him take notes and draw pictures in a blank notebook for the rest of the year instead (I wasn't going to buy another notebook!).

I am still undecided about purchasing a notebook for this year - I would like to see what is included with the regular notebooks (as opposed to the junior notebooks), but I also suspect that once again, everything included could be done with a little creativity in a blank notebook.  One criticism I have of this curriculum is that I would be more likely to purchase the notebooks if I could purchase a digital version and print the pages for each child in my own family - as it is, there is no digital version, and I'd have to buy a $30 notebook for each kid.  That is just too expensive for my larger family.

A Quick Note About The Order

As I mentioned above, there is a little bit of variation in the complexity of these studies.  If I were to recommend an order, I would say that Botany and Astronomy are really great ones for younger elementary.  Chemistry And Physics and Human Anatomy I would save for 5th or 6th grade probably.  And I think the Zoology studies (Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, Land Animals) could be done at any time.



Other Curricula We've Used

I have used some other curricula for science over the year too, and I wanted to include those here!

Northwest Treasures - Geology For Kids

This is a geology curriculum for grade school, and it is fantastic.  It comes from a smaller curricula company, and I've heard the author, Patrick Nurre, speak several times.  He is a geologist himself, and he covers geology from a creationist perspective.  The curriculum really equips kids to understand how the study of geology is compatible with what we read in the Bible.  You can also purchase rock kits that go along with the curriculum, so you can see examples of everything that is learned!

We have two of the books Geology For Kids and Rocks And Minerals For Little Eyes (our co-op purchased the rock kit when we went through it last year).  Apologia does not have a geology curriculum in their Young Explorers series, and I think that is too bad, because geology is one area of the scientific world where creationism is really attacked.  I'm so glad we found this series to fill in that important gap, and we will probably purchase a rock kit ourselves and go through it again in the future.

Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding

This is the one secular resource on this list, but I wanted to include it because we've gone through several of the lessons, and I really like how the book suggests teaching more abstract concepts to kids - like the particulate nature of matter, for example.  I like having this resource on my shelf to fill in my kids' understanding here and there, because the activities and experiments in the book are simple but really aid in understanding some difficult concepts!

Exploring Nature With Children / 100 Creative Nature Walks

These are two digital resources that I've used for nature study with the kids.  I love the idea of nature study, and I want to be better at it but I often don't know where to start.  These guides are really helpful!

Exploring Nature With Children breaks the year down into different weeks, and gives information and resources for studying a different aspect of nature that will most likely be prominent during that week of the year.  My kids still talk about the "Harvest Moon" study we did from this guide a couple years ago.

100 Easy And Fun Creative Nature Walks is really a bunch of print-and-go sheets that help aide in observation skills while you are out there in the wild!  For example, in one idea called "Below My Knees", it gives suggestions for recording everything you see out in nature that is below knee level.  It has a bunch of really simple ideas like that to give more guidance to your nature walks.  This would be a great resource for nature walks with preschoolers too.  I am wanting to use this resource more with my little ones this year.

That is my plan for science right now!  Have you found any science resources you really love?


© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.