New Edition of Apologia’s Astronomy for Elementary Grades (Crew Review)
About Exploring Creation With Astronomy, 2nd Ed.
We received the following:
- hardcover textbook (216 pages)
- spiral bound Notebooking Journal (336 pages, intended for 3rd/4th grade and up)
- spiral bound Junior Notebooking Journal (336 pages, intended for K-2nd /3rd grade)
- Disk with mp3 files for the audiobook read by the author
Each chapter contains text, pictures, activities, “Think About This” sections which expound upon the text, and questions to prompt the students in narrating back what they have learned. The activites are usually fairly simple and utililize items that are easy to obtain (or you might already have lying around the house). For example, to demonstrate how the moon reflects the suns light rather than being a source of light itself, the book had us use a CD to create a reflection. The boys loved moving the CD around and watching the reflection dance around the room!
Comparing the 1st and 2nd Editions
Right off the bat, I could see some differences between the old edition and the new. The 2nd edition textbook has more pictures and less text on each page. Activities are more set apart from the text visually.
There is also now a complementary Apologia Astronomy Science Kit, which has the materials needed to complete most of the 42 activities in the text, as well as 21 additional bonus activities. We did not receive this kit, so I can’t speak to its contents, but it sounds like an easy way to do the activities without having to gather materials, as well as being a great resource for students who want to go even deeper in their study.
Because we had already covered the first few lessons the first time we used this curriculum, I decided to cruise rather quickly through the first part of the book without doing most of the activities. We listened to the audiobook in the car (best to do with the book in hand, since the author refers to many of the pictures as she reads). The audiobook is a fantastic addition, and I found it was helpful to use on a regular basis. Ian is a strong auditory learner, and he did really well listening as he jotted down notes and drew illustrations in his notebook. This alone made we want to come back to Apologia. Ian could go through this course almost independently thanks to the audiobook. (I don’t know if they had one with the first edition or not, but from now on I will make sure I get one when it’s available!)
As we listened to the audio book I followed along in the old edition to see what changes had been made, and there are several things I absolutely LOVE about the new edition. The main reason we had abandoned the first edition back when Ian was six was because it was just too wordy for him. In the new edition, almost every paragraph has seen cuts and is much more concise. Before, I felt a little overwhelmed at how much I needed to read with Ian each day to keep on pace to finish the book in a year. This time I was actually surprised at how quickly we got through each day’s lesson. Yes, he’s older now, but I would feel much more comfortable using this with a Kindergartener now. (Though there’s so much “meat” in the book, it really is a quality curriculum for all the way through the elementary grades.)
I like the new breakdown of lessons into daily schedules (provided in the notebooking journals, not the textbook). Although the old notebook did this to some extent, the new format is much easier to follow and check off each activity as it is completed.
We didn’t do all the activities in the notebook (we skipped the copywork because my boys are already doing other copywork and they find it tedious), but we did enjoy the other pages. I especially liked the “mini-books,” which are like lapbook components that the students cut out, write in, assemble, and then attach to pages within their notebook so when the student has finished the course they will have an extensive collection of work all in one spiral bound book. Having the pages in order in the new edition got my boys excited as they saw what was coming up, and these were a wonderful way to keep them learning while giving them something active to do.
Apologia has taken a good curriculum and made it even better! The newly designed pages draw the students in without overwhelming them, and the colorful, eye-catching notebooks help them get the most out of each lesson in a fun, creative way. We’re looking forward to spending more time in Exploring Creation With Astronomy, and there’s a good chance we’ll be coming back to this series to learn about other science topics as well.