Thursday, April 9, 2009

Apologia: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, a TOS Homeschool Crew Review

I brought her home. Now what? How will I teach a precious child with unique learning challenges?

I don't have room for all of the questions I have when I think about homeschooling.

I really want a homeschool curriculum-product-materials-and-resource FAIRY to drop all of the right things in my lap.

Being on this year's Crew has given me, in a sense, that fairy. I'm an alternate on this year's Crew, and overwhelmingly, I've been given products that I am able to use with my learner at home.

Recently, the "fairy" dropped this one on my front porch: "Exploring Creatures with Zoology 1, Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day," ($35.00) by Jeannie Fulbright, from Apologia's Young Explorer Series.

"Apologia provides fun and challenging K-12 creation-based science curriculum specifically designed for the home school."

This textbook, like the others in the series, are written in a Charlotte Mason style and are meant to be used for a school year, and is an in-depth study of one subject. It covers, birds, bats, flying reptiles, insects, beetles, flies, and true bugs, butterflies and moths. There are 14 lessons in this book, with each lesson taking approximately two weeks to complete. The other books in this series cover astronomy, botany and more zoology. Click on "elementary science" from the Apologia home page to take a look. (An aside: my daughter is sitting with me as I type this review, and as I look at the page containing the elementary series, she asked me to order "Land Animals of the Sixth Day". She did not know that there are other books in the series!)

As soon as the textbook arrived and I opened it, my daughter snatched it from my hand and looked at it for a long time. I like to follow her interests, and she enjoys looking at books about animals. I suspected this would be a wonderful fit for us at home.

This textbook is *beautiful*. OMGoodness, the color photographs are gorgeous!!! You see this book, you immediately want to pick it up and look through it. I want to order the other books in the series just to *have* them, even though we won't get to the next one in the series for another year!

The author suggests that students work through the first lesson in the book first, and after that, families may skip around. I love that we are given "permission" up front to skip around, go out of order! We know we're going to skip around! :)

There's a "Need Help?" page at the front of the book, so parents know where to go for support if it's needed. An introduction explains how to use the book, including use of narration, notebooks, projects and experiments, and how to pace your family study. And then, there's a materials section that tells parents up front what items are needed to complete each lesson. Most of the items are common household or homeschool items.

I always scan lists for items that are off-limits at our house. Most of the items on this list are non-food items, and families with children with allergies to consider will find plenty non-food projects and experiments to complete. (Note for those w/ peanut allergies: Lesson two lists crunchy peanut butter in a recipe for suet. I am wondering what, if anything, we could use that is not a nut or seed butter for that particular project.)

There is an egg candling experiment in "Lesson 6, Matching and Hatching," that we will do as we dye Easter eggs later this week.

We're still addressing auditory processing issues and challenges in reading comprehension, so read-alouds with narration and reading alone are not activities we use (--YET. We're getting there, and we will get there!) And still, there is an incredible amount of "meat" in this book that I am able to use.

I've said many times in my reviews that relationship development is my priority with my daughter who is on the autism spectrum. I look for resources that scaffold the teaching process for me so that I can scaffold learning for my daughter. Academic activities can be a background piece, but relationship development must be primary.

THIS TEXTBOOK DELIVERS. Don't let my review lead you to think you must do everything with your child(ren). The experiments and projects can be completed by older children without much assistance, and, the same experiments and projects can be used as background activities for relationship development. In many of the experiments, perspective taking and comparison is built in as families monitor preferences of winged creatures in their own back yards. I love the two-fers that deliver guided participation / relationship development with thinking skills.

My daughter likes to look at this book. I find that for us, looking at the book together and my following the lead of my daughter works nicely. She and I need more experience with shared reading, and this book works for us. I read aloud parts that pertain to the photographs she views, condensing the material. Sometimes, she tries to read parts of it aloud to herself, and I stay close by, assisting gently. I try to use the terms from the book later, in context, when we're outdoors.

We have a science museum nearby with an incredible bat exhibit, and we will visit it when we get to the lesson about bats. I'd like to erect a bat house in our back yard.

Last fall, I bought a butterfly house kit at a charity book sale for a few cents, and as temps warm here, we'll paint it and put it up in the back yard, find some flowers that attract butterflies to plant nearby, and we'll focus on the lesson about the order Leridoptera.

We're probably not using the text in the way that most families are, but we are learning differently than most families. We've really enjoyed this item, and plan to continue to work from it. Apologia offers a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. I am satisfied!

To read reviews about this and other Apologia products by my Crewmates, click HERE.

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