Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here? - a review

Everyone in the homeschooling world knows that Apologia publishes a wonderful Christ-centered Science curriculum. However, it is not as widely known that Apologia has recently published a set of 3 books with accompanying material to be used as a Bible curriculum. We were recently blessed to be able to review one of the books in this series. "Who Am I? And What am I Doing Here" is the second book in this series.

We were abundantly blessed to review not only the book but also the notebooking journal, the audio cd and the coloring book that make this a complete Bible curriculum for 6-14 year olds.

A little about each of the four items we received.

First is the actual hardback book. The book is only $39

This is a beautiful book with great stories as well as historical information, definitions, and fun facts. The lessons concentrate on self-image in a Biblical way. This is such a needed topic for that "tween" age group that we are rapidly entering in to with Paul. I can see that this curriculum is going to really benefit him as well as the two little ones when they get a bit older. Though the curriculum is written for ages 6-14 my Zach, at 6 is not ready for the concepts taught in the book. I would think he will be ready around age 8.

The book is broken in to 8 "lessons". I would call them "units" instead of lessons, since each "lesson" is designed to last about 3 weeks. The 8 lessons are:

What Are We Doing Here?
What Will You Make Today?
What's on Your Mind?
Can You Trust Your Feelings?
Will You Choose Wisely?
How Will You Run the Race?
What Kind of Fruit Are You Growing?
Who Do You Think You Are?

The lessons go so much further then just Bible stories that so many of the various Bible curricula give you. This curricula gets in to the meat of the Bible and makes your child think about their beliefs. With you, their parent, as their guide you can really get in to some great discussions about why you believe what you believe as a Christian. We have not gotten very far in to the curriculum ourselves but I can't wait to continue with Paul and share the wonderful stories with him. One of my favorite parts of the book is the "WorldView Focus". At the end of each lesson a different "religion" is looked at and compared to "Christianity". The book looks at Islam, Humanism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Hinduism, New Age, and Communism. These sections are designed to help children understand why other people believe what they do. I feel this really helps a child better understand what they believe.

The second item we received that I believe is very important in making this a meatier curriculum and not just another book. That is the notebooking journal. You can purchase the journal for $24.

We have used, with some success, Apologia's notebooking journals for Science in the past. But they, in my opinion, are no where near as well-written and as important to the curriculum as they are for this particular curriculum. The journal is what brings out all the important and thought provoking ideas. There are mini-books, crosswords, comprehension questions, and so much more! It is the perfect companion to this curriculum. I would like to add that I don't think most kids would be ready for this portion of the curriculum until around age 9-10 (4th grade or so).

The notebooking journal is also where you will find the "lesson plans". Here it tells you which pages in the book and which notebooking pages should be used each day. I do like having this already done for me. However, there is a bit much, on some of the days, to complete in one sitting. Atleast it is too much for Paul. We have easily remedied that by quitting when I feel he is done. And picking back up where we left off. There's not much pre-planning that has to be done so it works well for us to "open and go" for as short or as long as needed on that particular day.

My absolute favorite item we received is the audio CD.

This is a MP3 CD so it can only be played in a computer or MP3 compatible CD player. It works great for us because we have computers throughout the house. I love being able to let Paul listen to this snuggled on the couch together. It is a bit more relaxing for me than reading it to him. And, with the rest of the read-alouds we do daily my voice really didn't need more to read. Every word of the book is on the CD.

To make the curriculum more doable for the younger kids, and to keep multiple siblings of varying ages in the same curriculum Apologia also has a coloring book to use as a companion to the book itself.

This really worked well for us. Each story in the book has atleast one coloring page to go with it. I allowed Zach and Molly to color while we listened to the story. They enjoyed being part of the learning experience. And though they don't fully understand all the deeper concepts being taught they do understand some of the simpler messages the stories bring and the coloring pictures often reinforced those concepts

Our General Thoughts

I am really impressed with this curriculum and find it very beneficial to my kids. Apologia has, once again, done a terrific job of bringing more difficult subject matter down to a level kids can fully understand. Yet, they have not "dumbed it down" like some curriculums tend to do. It is beautifully written, well organized, and very thought-provoking.

I only have two minor problems with the curriculum, and they really aren't problems, more just preferences. We are a KJV only family. Since the NIV translation is primarily used in Apologia's curricula we have to make adjustments. We simply keep a Bible with the curriculum (and since it's a Bible curriculum we would definitely do that anyway) and look up any verses it discusses. This not only gives the kids practice in looking up verses it also gives us an opportunity to discuss the differences between Bible translations and why we are a KJV only family. I just wanted to be sure and mention this for any of my readers who are also KJV only families.

The other issue has already been mentioned above and is also easily dealt with. The lessons do have to be shortened for my kiddos. It just adds a small step in keeping up with exactly where we are in the curriculum. But it is so worth it.

Even with the two minor issues mentioned, I love this curriculum. It has already opened up so many thoughts and ideas for Paul as well as given us the opportunity to discuss some of his questions. It goes so far beyond just teaching Bible stories.

Teaching our children what we believe as Christians is the most important part of my job as a homeschooling Mom. It is so nice to have a curriculum that helps open up those lines of communication. If I want my children to believe like we do then I have to start teaching them very young why we believe what we believe. I also think that it's important to teach them why others believe what they believe so they can see the differences and grow stronger in their own faith! Knowing what they believe and why as well as what others believe and why will hopefully, one day, help them in witnessing to others for Christ!

Be sure and check out what other TOS Crew Members have to say on the Crew Blog.

Disclosure: I recieved the above curriculum for free in exchange for this review. There was no other compensation given for the review. All opinions stated above are my own, honest opinions.

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