Well-known publisher of excellent Christian-based science curriculum, Apologia Educational Ministries, has developed a Biblical Worldview curriculum series for homeschoolers in grades 1-6 entitled “What We Believe“. The latest installment of this 4-volume series, called “What on Earth Can I Do?” presents students with a Biblical view of stewardship. My family and I have had the opportunity to review the What on Earth Can I Do? textbook and accompanying supplemental materials, the What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal, What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal, and What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book for the past few weeks, and I am happy to share our experience and review.
Components of the Curriculum
What on Earth Can I Do? hardback textbook ($39.00)
This beautiful full-color textbook is meant to be read aloud by the parent, allowing multiple ages to learn together. It may also be read independently by older students. The text is broken down into the 8 following lessons:
- Your Story or God’s Story
- Who Put You in Charge?
- Will You be Found Faithful?
- Where is Your Treasure?
- Where Does Your Time Go?
- Whose Life is it Anyway?
- Why Isn’t It Easy being Green?
- What Will Happen When The Master Returns?
The textbook offers a sample lesson plan for completing the study, based on 3 weeks per lesson, at 2 class times per week. However, the structure of the lessons allow for a lot of flexibility in regards to scheduling, so that families can work through the study at a pace that works best for them. This flexibility is due in part to the lessons being broken down into several smaller individual components, which include:
- The Big Idea: lesson introduction and overview
- What You Will Do: lesson learning objectives
- Short Story: a story illustrating the lesson’s concept, with characters children can easily relate to
- Think About It: review questions pertaining to the story
- Words You Need To Know: vocabulary
- Hide It In Your Heart: Bible memory verses
- Integrated Learning: articles integrating other subjects, such as art, math, science, and history
- What Should I Do?: applying godly character traits to everyday life
- Parables of Jesus
- Going Deeper: discussion questions relating to the parables
- House of Truth: a “hands-on memory aid”
The full color notebooking journal corresponds directly with the textbook. It includes pages for students to record their answers to the “Think About It” questions, write definitions for vocabulary words, take notes, copy Bible verses, journal their personal prayers, and more. It also has fun word searches and puzzles to complete, as well as mini books to create that reinforce lesson concepts. Included at the end of each lesson is also a “Find Out More” page, which offers additional activities, resource books, and music and movie suggestions, for those interested in continuing their studies. This journal would be best suited for the older children of the family, who are able to write well without assistance. It also includes lesson plans, which would be especially helpful for children who like to work independently.
This is a lighter version of the regular notebooking journal, intended for those students who can write, but perhaps aren’t ready for such extensive writing exercises. It includes most of the same activities as the other journal, but in a shorter form. In place of the more involved writing assignments (such as essay-type questions) the junior notebooking journal includes coloring pages that correspond to the lesson story, parable, or Bible verse. This journal allows younger students to work on the same thing as their older siblings, but on a level more appropriate for them.
This coloring book is perfect for the littlest learners who are not quite ready for written work, but need something to keep those little hands busy while listening to the lesson. It might also be used for older students who simply enjoy coloring, as these pictures are not contained within the standard notebooking journal, and only a limited number are found in the junior notebooking journal.
How We Used The Curriculum
We had never used any of Apologia’s “What We Believe” series, so we decided to use the recommended schedule we found in the book, of 2 class periods per week, covering a lesson in 3 weeks. My older son (age 12) used the standard notebooking journal, and my younger son (age 10) used the junior level. However, we soon realized that both of them are definitely writing at the regular notebooking journal level, so in the end, they ended up sharing it. Because my sons are on the older end of the appropriate age for this curriculum, I also allowed them to read sections of the lesson out loud, while the other (and I) listened. This encouraged them to be more involved in the lesson, and made completing the notebooking journal assignments much easier. My youngest also enjoyed coloring some of the pictures when it was his turn to listen to the lessons. Although neither of them are primarily auditory learners, the lessons held their interest very well, and both have commented on how much they have learned from this study.
Our Final Opinion
My sons and I enjoyed this curriculum. I think that the notebooking journals definitely add to the study, and I personally would not complete this curriculum without them. I like the fact that the lessons are broken down into smaller elements, as it allowed for the boys to really soak up the lesson, and gave them ample time to complete the notebooking exercises, without feeling overwhelmed or tired out by overly long lessons. For continuing the study, we definitely plan to break it down even further, as we prefer to work on a study daily, rather than only a couple of times a week. I do wish there was a suggested daily schedule as well, just to make my job easier, but tweaking the schedule is not really difficult. I definitely recommend this study to any parent in search of a Biblical worldview curriculum for younger students. We enjoy it so much that we plan on checking out the other volumes in the series!