I am an anatomy nerd going all the way back to middle school, and as we are a Christian family, I have been eyeballing the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology set from Apologia for at least a year. I was super excited about getting these materials to review! And after using them for the past few weeks, the excitement hasn’t fizzled out! It’s been on my “to teach” list and I was exuberant to find out that they have a Junior Notebooking Journal for kids who are not even reading yet! 😍
We were blessed with the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology textbook, the Notebooking Journal, the Junior Notebooking Journal, and the Audio CD (mp3 format) of the text for when mama’s voice gets tired. These “anatomy for kids” resources are intended for elementary age students.
This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂
My original plan was to have my oldest, who is 6.5, use the junior notebook and we would make use of the CD quite a bit. Well…as it turned out, my disc drive in my computer pooped out on me! I was able to order a CD player with mp3 capability so thankfully we were able to use it later in the review period.
I also decided to let my 4.5-year old use the junior notebook and my oldest use the regular one. After I received them, I compared them closely and while the regular one is definitely more appropriate for older children, I know we are not going to cover all this material this year or even next (the text goes into a lot of depth!) so I wanted them each to have something to use for the long term as we work through the book year after year. We will use the spiral method of covering basic info first then coming back to build upon that knowledge the following year, and on and on. There is A TON of value in the textbook and the notebooking journals so this has been and will continue to be a huge blessing to our family, and we can add journals as our younger children get older as well.
So – the review. First off, you should know that Apologia has a Christian foundation for all of their products. I just loved what I saw when piecing through the textbook when we first got it. Here’s an example:
The text is written in sort of a conversational tone and has plenty of stopping points for discussions. It also suggests different spots to ask your child to narrate what they have heard from the passage to ensure they are grasping everything but without needing to stop and do a full-on activity for reinforcement. Due to the age of my kids, I stopped quite a bit to explain things, so it’s helpful that I already have a background in this area. I do not think my 4yo would be ready for this if I was not able to do that. Your mileage may vary.
That said, it is intended for elementary students (K – 6th grade) and it does a wonderful job of balancing the medical terminology with an explanation that kids can understand. It isn’t watered down; they don’t shy away from the big words. But they give examples that kids can relate to so they understand better. I love that God and references to His design for us are woven throughout. It helped me understand some things in that respect also!
There are experiments and “Try This!” blurbs scattered through the book to reinforce the material. They do offer a lab kit which has everything you need, but we didn’t opt for that at this point. We did do as many of the activities as possible, though. These are not always hands-on experiments, but might also be a guided discussion or something to that effect. These are separate from the projects and experiments found at the end of each chapter.
The textbook and journals are divided into 14 lessons and there is a chart of suggested pages to use in each to split each lesson into 2 weeks, with activities 2 days per week (so 28 weeks at 2 days per week). The junior and regular journals cover the same pages from the text, which was great for large families so they are all learning the same things each lesson. There is some variation in the pages covered between the two notebooking journals, but it’s easy enough to find your way around and not get confused as to who is doing what. If your kids are older, it’ll be even simpler because they will just find the pages themselves. These are great for independent work.
The journals are over 300 pages with all the supplementary materials included! These are more than just basic notebooking pages to write or draw on. For example, there are lift a flap books to make, mini lap books to cut out, and diagrams to put together. And, these can be pasted right into the notebook so you don’t need to find another place to store them. That’s a huge plus for me!
One of the activities they had the most fun with was the “personal person” activity. You cut out each body system as you go and add it to your person in the front of the notebook. Since for this review we were mostly doing a basic overview of the body’s systems as an introduction to A&P, we did finish these. The pieces are printed on clear plastic (think overhead pages) and you tape them on so they can lift each one and see how each organ system fits with one another.
The major difference between the regular notebooking journal and the junior were that the junior has coloring pages, cut and paste activities, and shorter copywork passages, while the regular one skips a lot of that and adds a really nice crossword puzzle to each lesson as well as some review questions. The regular one is better for kids who are more comfortable with writing and reading, in my opinion. The junior anatomy journal does have space for writing (aside from the copywork pages) so that’s why I chose to do a spiral with this. We can come back to them both as the girls learn to write.
When I was finally able to play the mp3 audio CD, we started at the beginning to get a feel for if we would like it or not. I was very impressed with it! The textbook is engaging and interesting and pointed back to God at every turn. I sort of expected the audio to be a bit dry and boring as many “books on tape” can be. I was happily proven wrong – it has music and sounds and the (female) narrator, who is the author of the book, is upbeat and lively. More like a story being read, not a dry textbook. She reads at a nice pace to where you (or rather, the kids) can easily follow along in the book. As far as I can tell, pretty much everything in the text is read aloud, including the stopping points for narration with suggestions on what the kids should cover. There are songs being sung also, such as “Dem Bones.”
PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….
I would definitely recommend the disc and I can see all ages benefiting from it, especially if you’re unfamiliar with anatomy terms and need help with pronunciation. There are a lot of ways you could use the CD, so long as the player has mp3 capabilities. We listened during lunch or snack at the dining table (which is in our eat-in kitchen), and they could work on their notebooks or the other activities right there in the kitchen after eating. I could pause it to explain something, ask questions or have someone narrate back to me, or to stop for an activity. You could also use it in the car if your vehicle is newer and can play mp3 tracks! It could also be good for a morning basket.
One critique would be that the typography in the notebooks is a bit difficult to read at times. That is literally the only “con” on my list! I can’t say enough about how much we love this set. I guess if I had a request, it would be to include a brief list of where each lesson begins on the disc as there are over 400 tracks. Just a simple “Lesson 1 begins at track 2” and so on. It would make skipping to the later lessons much easier.
Some of the science experiments call for funny ingredients or random items you wouldn’t have laying around so the lab kit is probably a good idea if you want to do all of those. You could do some with modifications and they would still drive the point home, like the edible cell or the taste test. It would just be simpler and less stressful to order the kit, and we’ll likely do that another year.
Pictured above is one of the hands-on “Try This!” experiments. It’s from the second lesson, the skeletal system, and the text directs you to use a jar and a couple of eggs to demonstrate why cerebrospinal fluid is necessary. You use no water in the jar first and go for a jog around the house. The egg, of course, breaks. Then you add water in with a new egg and go for the jog – no breakage this time. This is such a clever way to help kids understand the purpose of CSF and how it protects our brain from our skull. I felt that most of the activities were not something you could just find anywhere; the author put a lot of thought into showing how awesome our Creator is while keeping it fun and engaging for the kids.
A note about the reproductive system: I wanted to touch on this since for us (and I know others think the same way), I do not want my kids exposed to sex talk until we determine it’s the right time. I glanced through the chapter on reproduction (the last lesson in the textbook) and there is no mention of sex. It does go into great detail on how a baby develops in the womb (great for the pro-life argument), followed by a short discussion of development as a child, ending with puberty. I like this line:
“In short, you are becoming a man or a woman so that eventually you can marry and have children of your own.”
That is really the extent of it, which could potentially lead to some questions and conversations if your child is curious, so it would be up to you if you want to cover this and start answering those questions or not. The book then goes on to talk about genetics, meiosis, twins, recessive traits, and how we are truly different from just animals. God made us special so the author included a small section on evolution and how it’s not biblically-based. I am very happy to see this for discussions down the road! The reproductive system is not included in the “personal person” project.
All in all, we love this curriculum from Apologia, although I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now. Please check out what the other Homeschool Review Crew members are saying about this anatomy curriculum for kids!