"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

TOS Review Crew: Apologia's Who Is My Neighbor?

I am a little bit new to homeschooling.  A little, especially in comparison to some other homeschool mommy blogger types out there.  This will be our fourth year, but in many ways I still feel like a newbie.

I am definitely mostly new to Apologia, especially their worldview line, although I have heard wonderful things about their programs.  We enjoyed the brief stint in Astronomy that we toyed with in our first homeschooling year.

So I was very excited to get the opportunity to receive and review Apologia's Who Is My Neighbor? and Why Does He Need Me? curriculum.  This is Volume 3 of 4 of the What We Believe series, which uses Scripture and teaching to shape our children's worldview, in a nondenominational, yet Christian way.

From the Apologia website:  "Our children are bombarded on a daily basis with competing messages. Every song, movie, book, TV show, blog, and game is full of ideas--ideas about truth, morality, beauty, identity, faith, and more.  Not all of these ideas are true.  Some are wrong, some are deceptive, and some are outright destructive.  It is more important than ever that young children be equipped to discern among competing ideas and stand in the truth."

According to Apologia, each volume can stand alone as its own complete course.  However, each volume does build upon information gained from the volume(s) before it.  After this all-to-brief use of Volume 3, I plan to take a break from it and move back to Volume 1:  Who Is God?, mainly because I am an Obsessively Compulsive List Maker and Rule Follower, and it bothers me to no end that I was not able to start. at. the. beginning.

But hey, that's just me.


When we received our package in the mail, it included the hardback textbook ($39 on Apologia's website), a notebooking journal ($24), and a coloring book ($8), which worked out beautifully for our family.  I could read some of the lesson while my little ones were coloring or journaling, helping to keep them somewhat focused during the reading of some of the longer patches.

It is not easy reading.  The material is tough, and the reading level is up there.  Yet all of my children loved the stories included in the lessons.  They were called the Short Story, which I found really interesting, as they were almost always several pages long!  I would often try to break the story into several parts over a few days, but all of my kiddos would continue to ask for the rest of the story.

Each lesson includes a Big Idea, learning objectives, stories, reading comprehension questions, vocabulary words, Scripture Memorization, articles that demonstrate practicing Godly character traits, prayers, discussion questions, and applications of the lessons to Jesus' life.  The Notebooking Journal has many different activities that can be used to reinforce the lessons, such as note-taking pages, word puzzles, praise reports, and mini-books, as well as Lesson Plan suggestions for using the curriculum.

There is also a suggested lesson plan in the hardbound textbook, albeit a different one from the Notebooking Journal.  We didn't technically follow either.  So I guess I should add that this curriculum is extremely flexible, ha!

Speaking of flexible, Apologia suggests a time frame of four to nine months to complete each volume, and their recommended ages are 6-14 years.  My five year-old sat in on every lesson (and, truthfully, was always the first to memorize the Bible verse!)  There is a great deal of helpful information in this book, much of it new to me as well.  I would highly suggest taking your time with this program, using more of it on one day, and smaller pieces of it on others, as your children soak up the information offered to them.

Apologia also offers online teacher support helps, filled with topical discussion questions for each section of the textbook, as well as suggested reading to go along with the lessons.

All in all, this was a wonderful resource for our family.  My 12 year-old really seemed to understand the underlying point of the lessons and looked forward to using the curriculum.  My 9 year-old loved the word puzzles and the challenge of learning the Bible verses and applying them throughout the day to situations (especially when she could apply them to her brother--yikes!).  My 5 year-old truly enjoyed the coloring, the stories, and that he could learn the Bible verses first (because everything around here is a contest, but that's a post for another day...)

I would highly recommend trying it for your family, too.

See what my Crewmates thought of using Who Is My Neighbor in their homes...Click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine (and my kiddos!)

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