Homeschooling Science and Apologia: 4 Moms Q & A

Teaching your children science can be daunting and over the past few weeks I’ve gotten a lot of reader questions about science and how we implement the specific science program (Apologia) that we’ve chosen for our family. moms of many manage So for today’s 4 moms question and answer post, I’ll be focusing on science questions.

Here is a brief history of our science choices. When our children were young we primarily used nature journals for science. Eventually did a couple years of Sonlight science in addition to the nature journals and then last year we found Apologia, we haven’t looked back.

Our children have completed or are currently working through Apologia’s  Physical Science , Biology,  Astronomy and  Botany.

We choose Apologia for a number of reasons. Some of the primary ones are:

  • Apologia is firmly grounded in the Genesis account of creation.
  • We’ve had several friends who’ve had children go through Apologia’s high school science program and move into high level college science programs and say that they were more than prepared by the rigorousness of Apologia.
  • It’s a terrific fit for our family.

In response to a FB post where I mentioned that Nick (3) said that some seeds weren’t “dormant anymore”,  Jamie N Josh asked, “Would you mind suggesting what would be best from Apologia Science for a 4 and 5 year old?

With a 4 and a 5 year old, I would suggest lots of outdoor play with perhaps (if they are interested) an introduction to the idea of nature journals  (without the writing). Reading aloud living books about science can provide more structure if you feel the need for that. We like Among the Pond People (link goes to a free Kindle version) and others by Pierson. They are also available free online at the Gutenberg Project.

If you just really want to tackle Apologia at this time I would think that any of the Elementary level books would be appropriate as they are all written for grades K-6. When we started I let the children pick the one that most interested them.

Amanda asked, “ I keep hearing about Apologia science and would love to try it. Could you give me some ideas on which one to start with and any tips on getting the most out of it?

As I mentioned above, I let our children pick which of the Elementary Apologia books they wanted to start. I appreciate that, since they are all written for grades K-6 there is no need (or even a bit of pressure) for me to teach 8 different levels of science to our 8 different school aged kids. Since we began with Astronomy (the first day of creation), we are now just going through in creation order.

I know a lot of people just have their children read the Apologia book for the elementary levels, but our kids (and probably yours too) love doing the experiments.  For our family it has worked to order the supply kit from Home Science Tools. These kits come with everything you need to complete all the experiments in the Apologia book.

Implementing Apologia Science in the home

Junior and senior high

Our junior and senior high science students complete their Apologia Science independently. They set their own schedule, read the book, do the experiments, keep a lab book and a notebook of definitions and concepts learned.

Elementary – the yearly plan

Since we homeschool year round, our schedule looks a little different than most.

When we are doing Apologia science, we really focus on science and do it every day.   During our science focus we tend to back off on our history studies so that we really have the time to dig into the science material. Most of the children’s writing assignments are science related, our outings and field trips are science related (watching meteor showers,  visiting a green house etc.), dinner table discussions are science related and even some family purchases and family fun nights are science related.

Since we’re spending more time working on science, we will finish a level of Apologia in less than the state mandated 180 day school year.   This allows us to then move our focus to another subject. We’ve found that this more focused approach allows our children to retain and apply more of what we are learning, I suspect because they are thinking more clearly about science during their free time without the distraction of so much other new information.

Adults understand the value of focusing learning on one new thing at a time. We think that this can also be true for children and as we’ve moved away from the more traditional model of every subject every day (we still do several subjects everyday, but we now have focused times that we study science, art, music, geography and to some extent history) we’ve been pleased to see our children applying science (or whatever the current focus is) into their everyday more often. (Hence, why Colby (5) exclaimed that the plum he was eating was an angiosperm. Perhaps if he’d learned that science fact in addition to several history facts and a couple new grammar facts, his brain would have been too full to pull out one of those things to apply to his lunch.)

Elementary – the day to day plan

We don’t do all of this in one day, we just work until I think their minds are full and then we pick up the next day wherever we left off.

We begin by reading a portion of the Apologia text book. After we’ve read we discuss what was introduced and have the children take turns narrating. If something puzzled or interested us, we take the time to do some further research or have more discussion. The children who are old enough keep a science journal where they write a synopsis of the material covered and also keep lists of vocabulary and terms (angiosperm, bryophyta, etc.).

After we’ve read, discussed, researched and written the children do the experiments in the book. (We purchase the supply kits from Home Science Tools.) They do these as a group, but independent of mom. This gives them the opportunity to work together, follow the written directions and ensures that their perfectionist mommy doesn’t tell them they are doing it all wrong when, honestly, they are usually doing it just right. Occasionally they’ll have a flop and need to go back to determine what went wrong, but that’s a good part of the process.

Tracy wondered, “Do you use the notebooking journals as well?

We haven’t purchased the notebooking journals, with 6-7 children working through the elementary level this year it’s simply not economical. We do have our children create their own science journal.

Amy said, “My 6 yr old would LOVE to study zoology & botany, maybe we can do it too?

Yes, I think a 6 year old would enjoy the zoology and/or botany. Probably just doing the reading and experiments would be great for that age. Also, don’t be afraid to wait a bit on this more formal science instruction.

What have you used to teach science? What tips and tricks do you have to offer?

Visit the other moms of many for more answers to your questions:

  • Smockity Frocks – Connie talks about keeping rack of drinking glasses, making money blogging and testing for homeschoolers.
  • Life in a Shoe – KimC answers your big family questions
  • The Common Room – Headmistress talks about spanking, blog names and adult children and independence.

For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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8 Responses to Homeschooling Science and Apologia: 4 Moms Q & A
  1. Emily
    October 27, 2011 | 9:42 am

    We LOVE Apologia as well. This is our first year using it and I’m only doing it with my oldest (2nd grade) although my 5 year old joins us quite a bit and is learning a lot. My oldest picked Astronomy. We both love it and we are both learning so much. Whenever someone asks him what he’s learning about in school he will talk their ear off about Astronomy. 🙂 We have five kids, so I love that it is written in such a way that when my littles start “doing school” they can join right in. As you know all too well, it is a BIG perk to be able to combine subjects. Thanks for your great insights on how you approach homeschooling year round.


  2. Noel S
    October 27, 2011 | 12:12 pm

    We also found Apologia Science last year and aren’t looking back! It is WONDERFUL!!


  3. Sarah
    October 27, 2011 | 2:52 pm

    We use Apologia too. Interestingly, we started with the flying creatures which wasn’t a great success. It probably didn’t help that we are in the UK and our flying creatures are a bit different.
    Astronomy has been a big hit and we have also used the human physiology and anatomy book and are now onto general science.
    I’m interested in what you have written about using it for younger children-will think about about using it for them next year. They will probably enjoy this.


  4. Dawn@OneFaithfulMom
    October 27, 2011 | 5:14 pm

    We’ve been Apologia lovers for years, and this year, along with some of my kids who are doing one of the studies independently, I am doing Flying Creatures with my 11, 10, 8, 6 and 4 yr olds. Several weeks after the lesson on extinction, my 4 yr old son was looking at a library book and saw a pic of a Dodo bird. He ran to his 10 yr old brother, and said, “Hey Sam, look! It’s that bird that was so nice that all the sailors ate them up. Remember, from the Science book Mommy read us?”
    The text is written to get the children absolutely enchanted with the material. They can’t help but be interested!! And I am learning so much right along with them!!
    I purchased the notebooking journals for the 11, 10, and 8 yr olds, and I have made a couple copies for the 6 yr old when she wants to do a certain page. They love their journals and it was a worthy investment for us. Also, if you haven’t taken advantage of the website they offer, you are really missing out!! So many extras…the site on Biomes was incredible!!!
    All in all, Apologia has been a wonderful fit for our family for several years now, and I see us continuing for many more years as the littler ones grow into the studies for them -selves.


  5. Anna
    October 27, 2011 | 7:14 pm

    We use Noeo Science. It’s just what we needed with a set schedule. It comes with all that’s needed for the experiments. I can use it with a range of ages and the readings are from living books! We absolutely love it for elementary age kids. I haven’t used any of them geared towards the older kids but will probably transition to something different when my kids become junior high age.


  6. Kathi
    October 27, 2011 | 10:20 pm

    We do, indeed, LOVE the Apologia Elementary Science books…BUT…we have tried both General Science and Biology I, and did NOT love them.

    At this point, we are pretty much allowing Kylie to ‘stay with the family’ and the Elementary Science books, beefed up with Living Science Books and some Research-type assignments.

    I think we are going to look into the 101 Series (Biology and Chemistry) by the Olson family for her Junior and Senior years.

    …funny how different things work or do NOT work for similar families.

    It was nice to get a moment to stop by. I miss reading your thoughtful posts, Kimberly.

    Love, kathi


  7. Cindy Watson
    October 28, 2011 | 6:47 am

    I use Apologia too, have for years and years. What’s even funnier is I also rave about HomeTrainingTools. Anytime I am asked what I use for science, these are my two pat answers!


  8. Jasmine
    May 5, 2015 | 11:07 am

    Thank you for this insight. I just heard about Apologia yesterday and needed some guidance as far as where to start. You have helped me a lot. I look forward to a science filled summer with my 6 year old. 🙂


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