Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: What on Earth Can I DO?

By now you have to know that I am a huge fan of Apologia Educational Ministries.  I have reviewed several of their products and this time I get to tell you about the the final book in the What We Believe series: What on Earth Can I Do?

This worldview training series helps parents to teach their children how to use Scripture as the lens with which to view the world and the problems all around them. We all have a worldview that we use to make decisions and as Christians it is important that we go through life with a biblical perspective.

I have been quite pleased with the rest of the series so I was anxious to use this last one with my daughter who happens to have special needs.  In spite of having Down syndrome, these books have impacted her spiritual growth and she always looks forward to doing them. You can see how we did with Who Am I? and Who Is My Neighbor? by reading these past reviews.  I purchased Who Is God? separately because I wanted to complete the entire series.

For the purpose of my review I received the following items:

What on Earth Can I Do? Texbook $39.00
What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal $24.00
What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal $24.00
What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book $8.00

What on Earth Can I Do? is an elementary school curriculum for grades 1-6 that tackles the Biblical worldview of stewardship. While these studies do not need to be done in order this unit does build upon some of the previous concepts. It's main emphasis is how we all have a role in God's story. As we recognize His role as creator and owner of both heaven and earth we realize we simply act as managers of what He has given to us. We do not personally own anything. Whether it is our money, our talents, our environment, or our very lives the goal is to use it to bring glory and honor to God who is the One who truly owns it all.

The What on Earth Can I Do? Texbook is visually stunning inside and out which benefits my daughter who has special needs. It was colorful without being too distracting and the size of the book allowed the font to be read easily.

Each chapter is divided into various sections that all tie together to the theme. It begins by explaining the Big Idea which is the main topic of the chapter.  They try to use examples that are familiar to the student to help explain what it is like to be a part of God's story. For instance they may compare it to being an actor in a movie or use a sports analogy. They then share a fictional story that sometimes carries over to other lessons. In between sections you will find pages or areas with other relevant information as they further explain an item, historical event, or person who was mentioned in the lesson.

After the story they take you step by step through a lesson, using Scripture along with real life examples to teach you how to be a good steward.  There are vocabulary words to define, verses to memorize, questions to answer, and activities to complete in your journal. Each chapter ends with a parable of Jesus.  I think those were my favorite part.

The parables are told in a story format with additions made to the text to help the child better understand and relate to what is happening. The characters are given fictional names and more background is given to help explain what and why the characters would do the things explained the parable. For example in the parable of the talents you get to know the characters in the story. The master is given the name Judah and the servants are Shimon, Eliab and Avner. You see them interact with each other and follow them through the story.  You even get to see how they might have invested the money while the master is away. This money is in huge chests and as they begin to invest it you get a feel for just how much the money is worth.  At the end of the story when they hear that Avner hasn't invested his at all but rather buried it in the ground, the other servants are stunned. Shimon can't believe that Avener could be so blind to the master's true nature and how he didn't recognize the master's generosity and reputation for wisdom and integrity. That was something I had never thought of before. I thought the servant was lazy, foolish, and disobedient, but I never really thought of how that implies that he didn't really know his master. He was blind to the master's true character because he didn't know him. That was powerful to me.

I believe that by adding into the story facts and information to better understand the time and events behind the parable improves the lesson. In our adult world we would just explain how much gold that was and how investment of money worked in that time. Our imaginations and thoughts could take over from there. All those facts are likely to bore a young child, but when you wrap them up in a story they enjoy learning it. I do have to say that they did an excellent job of adding that in without taking away from the intent of the passage. It was done with great reverence, respect, and care. You are then directed to read the parable directly from Scripture and then answer questions related to it. I know that Gess learned much more by hearing the lesson in the book before reading it in Scripture because she could now relate to it better.

While I was blessed with both Notebooking Journals since I only had one student I only used one. For Gess we used the What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal.

Like the book these are very beautiful and visually appealing. I love how the Junior Notebooking Journal allows for the child to express themselves without having to write too much. This is especially important to me because of my daughter's special needs. They have coloring pages as well as blank pages that they can draw or write on where the regular journal might have questions. The vocabulary words are fill in the blank while the other journal requires you to write the definition. The puzzles are also easier to do. Here is Gess doing one of the crossword puzzles.  Below that you can see the difference between what these are like for both the What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal and the What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal.

At the end of each chapter they have you make a mini book to help remember the theme of the lesson. These appear to be the same in each book. Here is Gess making the one for chapter three. It was a fan that folds out revealing lessons learned from the life of Joseph. They have you glue these books in your journal for safe keeping. In this instance you glue a holder for the fan so you can keep it there but remove it when you want to use it.

These activities were not just for fun. They really did tie into the lesson. I particularly loved how they encouraged you to give control of your life and all your "stuff" over to God. They even had you sign a document committing to do that. It was not just some activity to accomplish, it was a serious commitment. For us, this beautiful title transfer was not signed lightly. We discussed how important it was to keep this promise and assured Gess that both her father and I are endeavoring to do the same.

The What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book is also a nice a nice edition especially if you have younger children or a child who just likes to color.

We used the while I read the stories or information that went with them. Sometimes Gess read along in the book while other times she would color while I read. There is quite a bit of reading to do for younger students so the teacher will really need to read much of the lesson to them. A few of these coloring pages are also found in the Junior Notebooking Journal, but many of them are not. Some of the stories from the lesson were about World War II which we found exciting because we were studying that for history as well. Gess really enjoyed the true story about the Christmas Truce where Allied and German troops left the war for an evening and celebrated the holiday together.

While you can do the What We Believe series in any order What on Earth Can I Do? seemed to be on a higher reading level to me. Gess often asked for further explanation about things.  I had to constantly stop and define terms or explain events. I do realize it is difficult to tackle some issues in terms kids can comprehend, such as evolution verses creation. It might be that Gess is older and therefore more curious or it could be that since they did not have audio for this one and I did all the reading I just noticed it more. I did miss the audio and wished it had been available as we always used them. In either case it is an excellent book and the discussion it creates is extremely important. While Gess asked lots of questions she thoroughly enjoyed doing the study and is learning a lot.

As with any of the Apologia Educational Ministries products I have used, these come highly recommended by me.  They are well worth the price, doctrinally sound, beautifully presented, and enjoyable to use. To learn more about What on Earth Can I Do? visit the Apologia Educational Ministries website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

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1 comment:

Adriana Zoder said...

I really liked how thoroughly you explained the difference between the NB Journal and the Jr. NB Journal. The pictures especially showed the difference beautifully.


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