Sunday, November 10, 2013

REVIEW: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Textbook and Junior Notebooking Journal by Apologia

We were so very blessed to get to use the brand new Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Textbook and Junior Notebooking Journal by Apologia Educational Ministries.



Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is the latest elementary homeschool science curriculum from Apologia, hot off the presses, and is part of the Young Explorer Series. 

Targeted for grades K-6, this product gives students an introduction to chemistry and physics using a Charlotte Mason methodology.  It covers such topics as atoms, molecules, simple chemicals, laws of motion, electricity, magnetism, and simple machines.

You can take a look at a sample, peruse the table of contents, and skim through the lab supply list to see what kinds of simple materials you’ll need for the suggested activities and experiments.

In all the materials, you can be sure that God will be glorified as the Creator of all.  Help your children see the awesomeness of His Creation by examining the building blocks of our world!

The textbook is available for $39.00.

To accompany the textbook, Apologia offers both a regular and a junior version of the Notebooking Journal.  The regular Notebooking Journal is recommended for students who have mastered handwriting, can take notes, and enjoy upper-elementary-level activities.  You can view a sample of the activities in this journal to see if it’s a good fit for your child.

The Junior Notebooking Journal is recommended for younger elementary students or those students with limited writing skills.  Although my daughter is in 4th grade, she does not enjoy longer writing assignments and likes more hands-on interactive elements, so the junior version of the journal was a perfect choice for her.  You can view a sample of the activities in this journal to see if it’s a good fit for your child.

The activities in the two versions of the journal are very similar, but the regular version does require more writing, so you’ll want to make your selection based mainly on that factor.

Either journal is available for $24.00

I would view the journal as an integral part of the program, and it certainly makes the learning more enjoyable and memorable.  The journals also include a daily schedule of all of the reading, activities, and experiments from the textbook, as well as the assignments in the journal itself.  The schedule is printed right in the front of the journal and is easy to check off as you go.  The suggested schedule is 2 days per week, with 2 weeks spent on each lesson, for a total of 28 weeks of material.



Haylee and I had our first exposure to Apologia’s Young Explorer Series at the beginning of this year, and we loved it.  So when we heard this new Chemistry and Physics was coming out, we jumped at the chance to review it!  We were both so excited to have this opportunity, and we were not disappointed.  Her little 5-year old brother, Holden, tagged along for some of the activities like coloring and watching the experiments.  He listened in on occasion, but most of the reading material was over his head at this point.  He enjoyed joining in whenever he saw us doing something interesting, though!

Because we’d had such enjoyment from the junior version of the journal with Zoology 3, we decided to use the Junior Notebooking Journal this time, as well.  Just as before, it was a perfect fit for my 9-year old daughter!  She loves to color, and she loves working with interactive elements and things that resemble lapbooking, plus she prefers shorter writing projects more akin to taking notes and documenting experiments rather than true writing assignments.  That made this a great match for her!

Using the suggested schedule in the front of the Junior Notebooking Journal, we worked on each lesson over the course of 2 weeks, covering the first 3 lessons during the review period.  The schedule suggests 2 days per week, but since we have school 4 days per week, we just spread it out over the course of 4 days/week, checking off each assignment as we went through.  That worked beautifully for us!

Lesson 1 was called Chemistry and Physics Matter.  After a brief introduction to what physics and chemistry are, this chapter explained how atoms are the building blocks of all things in God’s creation.  Haylee was amazed when it told us the printed period on the page contained 7.5 trillion atoms!  Now that was shocking!  But it was also a good way to demonstrate just how tiny atomsDSCF0874 are.  Then over the course of the first two weeks, we learned about various properties of matter such as volume, mass, density, buoyancy, and luster.  In the Junior Notebooking Journal, Haylee colored a couple of pictures with accompanying bible verses, did a crossword puzzle to check her understanding of her vocabulary words, did some scripture copywork, and made a flap book of her vocabulary words.  She really liked that activity!  The materials were pre-printed in the back of her journal, so all she had to do was cut it out, glue it down, and write the definitions under each flap.  This makes a fun and interactive way to review the material down the road, as well!  We discussed the “What Do You Remember” section at the end of the chapter, and Haylee recorded some of the facts she learned by completing the “Fascinating Facts about Matter” pages in the journal and illustrating them.  In the textbook, there are suggested activities in the “Try This” boxes highlighted throughout the material.  These help demonstrate various principles to the student as they read.  You can pick and choose the ones you want to do, and there’s no pressure to do them all.  In addition to those, the journal also has a page of suggested additional activities to try.  I never seem to find the time for science demonstrations in other programs, but these short activities are simple and usually require common household materials, so they are easier for me to squeeze into our school day.  I tried to do one or two of the suggested activities and the end-of-chapter experiment, and that worked well for us. 

The activity we chose for this chapter was called “Overflow Beans.”  For this, we put a cup of DSCF0875water in a measuring cup and then measured off three tablespoons of the water and put it down the sink.  Then we took turns estimating how many dried kidney beans we though it would take to displace the water enough to reach the top of the measuring cup again.  We took our guesses, and we had so much fun counting the beans as we added them.  I’m ashamed to say we were both way off with our estimates!  We had a good laugh over that.  She had guessed 39, but it actually took 130 beans to make up that three tablespoons’ worth of water! 

For the project in this chapter, we got to make lava lamps!  She was seriously excited about this project!  We already had three empty 20-oz. plastic bottles and food coloring at the house, so we just had to run to the store to get vegetable oil, white vinegar, and Alka-Seltzer tablets.  We mixedDSCF0876 the ingredients in the bottles and watched how the oil and vinegar separated.  Then we quickly dropped the tablets into the bottles and closed them tightly.  We watched the action as the bubbles rose, pulling the colored vinegar through the oil and circulating it through the bottle in cycles so that it resembled a lava lamp!  That was pretty cool to see.  We had to demonstrate the lava lamps to each member of the family as they came home that day, so it was a good thing I’d bought plenty of the tablets!  It was worth watching again and again!  This was a great demonstration of how the liquids separated based on their density, and how once the sodium bicarbonate was used up, the droplets fell and separated once again.  The book told us to hang onto our lava lamps for another activity in lesson 5, so we set them aside.  Then Haylee documented both the activity and the experiment she had done in the journal so we could demonstrate what we did and what we learned from it.  Great idea!  Then we were on to lesson 2.

In lesson 2, we learned about the movement of matter and the states of matter:  solid, liquid, and gDSCF0913as.  We also learned about surface tension, viscosity, and how the freezing point, boiling point, melting point, and condensation point allows the state of matter to change.  In her journal, Haylee defined and illustrated the three states of matter and the cycle in which the states of matter change from one to the other in the “Fascinating Facts about Moving Matter” section.  Then she used cut-outs from the back of the journal to glue on pockets for each state of matter, and we filled them with pictures that showed those states (we printed them from Google Images).  SDSCF0926he also made another type of lift-the-flap page for her vocabulary words, matching words cut from the back of the journal and gluing them over the top of the appropriate pre-printed definitions on the page.  She also did bible verse copywork in the journal and made a “States of Matter Wheel” using some colorful cut-outs in the back of the journal and writing in the definitions again to further reinforce the material.  This was a great review of the chapter! 

For our activity, we chose one where we balled up a sheet of paper and stuffed it into the bottom of a clear plastic cup so that when we turned it upside down, it stayed suspended there.  Then we filled a deep bowl full of water, and Haylee submerged the cup straight down into the water and held it there for a few seconds.  Then she DSCF0912liftDSCF0911ed it straight out and observed the condition of the paper.  She was totally surprised that the paper was still dry!  This taught her that air (and all gas), even though you can’t see it, is indeed matter and takes up space.  I loved the look on her face!  That made my day.  I love it when my kids have that look of awe that tells me they are enjoying learning something new!

Another activity we chose was to put pop rocks in a flat balloon and carefully position it over a bottle of soda.  Then we let the pop rocks drop into the bottle of soda and watched what happened.  The gas produced by the pop rocks in the soda took up space and filled the balloon!  Haylee thought that was super cool! 

We wanted to do the experiment that would demonstrate the earth’s water cycle by creating a mini bio-dome, but the weather was not cooperating.  We had a rainy spell with no sunshine, so we bought the stuff and plan to go back and create the self-contained little world within a lidded jar.  It uses rocks, sand, soil, a tub of water, and a plant, and it will allow us to watch the water be warmed by the sun and evaporate into gas, and then witness it reach the condensation point and return to “earth” as water again.  That will be neat!

In lesson 3, we learned all about atoms and their protons, neutrons, and electrons.  We learned DSCF0925about how they combine to form molecules and how their combinations can create new substances.  We also learned about energy levels in atoms and how that causes them to want to bond with others atoms to create molecules.  We looked at the periodic table, learned about what makes an atom stable or reactive and learned about ionic bonding.  Haylee colored the pictures with the scripture verses, recorded her “Fascinating Facts about Building Blocks of Creation” in her journal, made bonding comic strips to demonstrate her understanding, did a matching activity with her vocabulary words and definitions, worked on scripture copywork, and made a “Building Blocks Layered Book” where she recorded her understanding of atoms, elements, electrons, protons & neutrons, valence electrons, periodic table, and atomic bonds using cut-out templates from the back of her journal to create a layered book. 

For our activity, we chose to build the candy atomic model.  We used 1 large and 2 DSCF0927small paper plates, a marker, glue, some small Gobstoppers, and some Nerds.  We drew one ring around the rim of the two hydrogen molecule with a gobstopper glued to the center (labeled with a plus sign) and one nerd glued to the outer ring (labeled with a minus) and marked the model with an H.  For the oxygen molecule, we drew an inner and outer ring, glued 8 Gobstoppers in the center (4 protons and 4 neutrons), two Nerds to the inner ring, and 6 Nerds to the outer ring.  We marked it with an O.  This completed our candy atomic model!

For the project for chapter 3, it suggested that we bake 110 sugar cookies and label them with the abbreviations for the elements to create a periodic table.  There was no way I was baking 110 sugar cookies for three kids who were making four return trips to the dentist in the coming weeks to get a total of thirteen fillings between them!  But we got the gist of it looking at the pictures in the book.  That will have to do!  Winking smile

We have had so much fun with this science curriculum so far!  Just to see how much she was learning, I periodically reviewed what we had discussed in previous chapters, and I was duly impressed with how much she readily recalled!  This tells me that the material was engaging enough to stick in her memory in a meaningful way.  And what’s more, she had fun while she was doing it and looked forward to working on the journal each time we sat down for the lesson.  That makes this curriculum a winner in my book!  We dropped our regular science curriculum this year during the process of slimming down Haylee’s workload to make it more manageable for her in an attempt to make learning fun again.  This chemistry and physics set fills in the gaps that created, as it covers the electricity and magnetism topics we had planned to study anyway.  But this program is no drudgery, and the work is planned out in small, manageable chunks that make it totally doable for a busy homeschooling family.  I would definitely recommend you check it out!  There is a huge amount of material covered.  It’s meaty, but it’s entertaining, hands-on, and easy to do…something both us can enjoy.  That’s the bottom line!

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