Monthly Archives: May 2012

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Apologia Biology

Exploring Creation with Biology {Review}

Recently, I realized that our proposed science plans for this year simply were not working and we decided to put the book down and look for something new.

Luckily, right about that same time, I received the awesome opportunity to review one of the Apologia highschool science programs, and since we LOVED all of Jeannie Fulbright’s Elementary Science books, I jumped at the chance!

I talked to Monkey to see which program appealed to her the most, and she surprised me by choosing Exploring Creation with Biology. Since she is a recent teenager, I decided that for the first part of the program, I would work with her to make sure that she was understanding the material. Secretly (well, maybe not so secret), I’m excited that she chose Biology because it means that maybe we will make it to Exploring Creation with Marine Biology – another good reason to start the higher sciences early.

When I got the materials, I immediately read the student notes, and I was very pleased with how well the layout (or pedagogy as the book says – I learned something new right away!) of the book was described. I was confident that we could do this.

There are 16 modules which breaks down nicely into 2 weeks per module to complete in a standard 36 week year. Each module has been broken up by “On Your Own” questions that are designed to be answered as you read through the text (We use these natural breaks to determine our reading for each day) as well as experiments (2-3 in most modules).

There are three different types of experiments: microscope labs, dissection labs, and household labs. They stress that all 3 are not required if you don’t have the funds (or the desire), but they recommend that you at least do the household labs. We have a microscope, but it was cost prohibitive to purchase the slides, so we decided to get the companion multimedia CD – at $19, it was a much better option for us to be able to see some of the organisms. Although, I was thrilled that the second experiment taught us how to use our National Geographic microscope she received as a gift many years ago which came with NO directions (which we may be able to use for some of the experiments even without the slide set so might as well give it a try).

At the end of the book, there are fill-in-the blank summaries for each module that we are using as we go through each module in order to cement the information. Then, at the end of each module, there is a study guide that is an overview of the module and prepares them for the test – which is conveniently included in the Solutions and Test book that is included in the 2 book set.

The writing is clear and interesting even given the tough subject matter, and although challenging for Monkey, she is understanding the material. We are both enjoying the conversational style of the writing that is written directly to the student. There is also plenty of built-in review to check comprehension along the way. I’m so thankful that we received this opportunity to return to our original plans (at least for Science) because we have been really happy with Exploring Science with Biology – and, now for some exciting news!

I have the pleasure to be able to give away a copy of Exploring Biology with Creation 2 book Set to one of my readers. How cool is that?!? So here are the rules: You must 18 years or older, have a US mailing address (including APO), and use the Rafflecopter below. (Full details in the Terms & Conditions of the widget.)

Ends: midnight, Thursday, May 24th. Winner will be announced on Friday, May 25th.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of Exploring Creation with Biology from Apologia for my unbiased and honest review. All opinions here are mine as a result of using the books. Apologia will also be providing a copy for the winner.


Giveaway Day

Monkey and Rex Sleeping

Teens and Sleep

I recently purchased Tell Your Time by Amy Andrews {a steal at $2.99 with code Spring12, btw}, and I have been going through and figuring out where I need to schedule my time in order to accomplish my goals.

One of the last steps is to grid in a rough idea of your schedule. Well, one of the first things to put on the grid is sleep – so that you don’t accidentally forget to schedule it! This is definitely an area where we need help.

Monkey and Rex Sleeping {Pre- the teen sleep crisis} Aren’t they sweet?

Lately, my monkey seems to be sleeping the day away. Now, granted – we are also going to bed later at night because of other commitments. So, my mommy guilt kicked in overtime, and I started researching exactly how much sleep teenagers are supposed to need. I seemed to remember reading that they needed more sleep, so I figured we were going to need to start going to bed earlier to get that extra shut-eye.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that according to several sites out there, teens’ circadian rhythm actually changes through puberty, and they turn into night owls – where they naturally go to bed later and sleep in later. {Well, they would sleep in later if they didn’t have to make it to school so early.} In fact, I only found one site that disagreed, but truthfully, I found their argument more along the lines of “since they’re able to function on less sleep, that must mean it’s ok.”

In fact, it’s becoming so widely recognized, that some public schools are actually changing the time that high schools begin in the morning to accommodate their new sleep patterns, but even with the change, they still may not be getting enough sleep. What a great opportunity we have in homeschooling! I can let their natural sleep patterns emerge.

But, first things first – I need to figure out how long their sleep needs are {the average ranges from 8.5 – 11 hrs!} in order to plan the rest of the day – not to mention, paying off the sleep debt that we’ve all built up. {Bet you didn’t know that you could catch up on sleep – not all at once, mind you, but you can catch up.}

So, for the next several weeks, we will all go to bed at the same time {not as each other, but the same actual time on the clock} each night. It will probably be around 11pm – midnight for the kids because that’s when they are naturally getting tired – and, then we’ll sleep until we have gotten enough sleep that night.

Apparently, if you do this for a couple of weeks, you can actually get caught up on your sleep as well as figure out how much sleep you actually need. Once we have that number, I’ll be better able to draft out a schedule to help keep us on track toward our goals instead of letting life just happen to us. {Seriously, get the book Tell Your Time – you won’t be disappointed!}

How long do your teens need to sleep to feel completely rested? Tell me about it in the comments!


Disclaimer: if you do decide to purchase Tell Your Time, I am an affiliate and will make a small commission. Thank you for your support!

Learn Math Fast!

Learn Math Fast! {Review}

Math has been a struggle for us lately. Not so much because the kids didn’t know what they were doing, but because I haven’t trusted how much they have actually learned.

We tried Speed Math and Real World Math Problems. Both went over very well, but there was still the problem of not enough structure to make me comfortable that we were covering everything that needed to be covered.

Luckily, right about the time I was about to throw my hands up in frustration again, I was introduced to the Learn Math Fast! program. I was immediately intrigued. When given the opportunity to review the program, I jumped on it.

For us, one of the wonderful parts of this program is that everyone starts at the beginning. Well, that let me make sure that they understood the beginning concepts without making them go though something labeled First Grade – which would have been destined to create grumbles from the 7th grader.

And, the program truly lives up to it’s name. Each lesson lasts about 5-10 minutes, and then they have a worksheet to complete on their own. And, the awesome thing is that the book is a non-consumable and you can print the worksheets directly from online. Which means that if you need to go back and do a section again, you can easily print the worksheet again – no muss, no fuss.

The author has also been wonderful answering questions when we ran into a bit of a quandary with the timed tests portion. (Monkey does *not* do well when timed on anything – it makes her quite stressed.) It was fabulous being able to ask JK about how to handle the situation.

I really can’t say enough good things about this program. The kids learn very quickly, without getting bogged down by pages and pages of the same problems. It also allows them to feel confidence in their abilities which makes them eager to do more.

We’ve been using the program for a little while now, and it is definitely a winner for us! They are just zipping right along, and I can easily envision a day where they will be doing the work all on their own – yippee!

I’m thrilled that I get to offer one of my lucky readers a copy of Volume I to get you started. Just follow the directions in the rafflecopter to enter. The giveaway will end on Thursday, May 17th at midnight, and a winner will be chosen on Friday, May 18th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I was provided a free copy of Learn Math Fast! in order to review the system for my fair and unbiased review. Prize fulfillment will also be provided by Learn Math Fast!


Giveaway Day

Returning from Hiatus

Well, I’m back! Miss me? I feel so badly that I was absent for so long, but family life called and I answered. I know you’ve all been there and understand.

I’ve got some really great giveaways coming up this month. The first one will be live on Thursday, so be sure to check back to see the goodies for the month of May.