Monday, July 16, 2012

Apologia: Who Is My Neighbor - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

These past many weeks my son and I have been blessed to be able to try out Apologia's Who Is My Neighbor, And Why Does He Need Me, which is the third book set of Apologia's "What We Believe" Series. The first two books in the series are Who is God, And Can I Really Know Him, and Who Am I, And What Am I Doing Here.   Apologia created these materials in conjunction with Summit Ministries.
I received, to review:
When the box arrived, we opened it immediately to look at the beautiful books inside! I have another of these sets, and I had been looking forward to getting the next installment!
The books are laid out in a very flexible format. The Notebooking Journal has a suggested schedule (labeled "Table of Contents" HERE)  laid out to give you an idea of how to walk through the program.  There are 8 Lessons; but the Lesson Plans lay out 48 suggested assignments. I think they are designed to be done two per week, making the book cover a 24-week period (working two days per week, stretching the book out so that each of the 8 Lessons is completed over a 3-week period).  But the intent is that you figure out what schedule is going to work for you and your family. I was so relieved to see that it was okay to spread a lesson out over three weeks, because each "Lesson" (think "chapter) is huge IMHO.

During our time to do this review, our normal life got derailed quite a bit. We had an unexpected family hospitalization that caused some lost time (that situation is serious and ongoing, but private, so I won't go into it). We also took a week off for a vacation we had already scheduled. The flexibility this program offers allowed us to work the program around the ups and downs, ins and outs of our hectic weeks of summer.

As we began Lesson 1 (which you can see online HERE), I introduced the Notebooking Journal to my son and explained to him that it would be his own personal journal, written by him, for him to use as we work through the curriculum this year.  He gets to increase his vocabulary, writing down definitions for new words. He gets to draw his own pictures, do word searches, crossword puzzles, and all sorts of things.  That first week we worked through Lesson 1, and he had fun with a word search. And as my step-sister sat in the hospital, he wrote out a prayer for her.
Lesson 2 of the Notebooking Journal  (that we are currently in) is actually available online for you to see HERE. I barely mentioned the Coloring Book to my son, because his entire life my he has never, ever wanted to color in a coloring book. And this time, he said, "I like to color!" and opened to book and started coloring!  ("Who are you? And what have you done with my son?")  You can see some sample pages of the coloring book HERE.
What I am loving about  Who Is My Neighbor is that it is like a finely woven tapestry, with story building upon story, idea upon idea, issue upon issue. The immigration story of Chang Wei and his family winds one theme through the tapestry, as we follow their escape from China, their arrival in San Diego, and their gradual assimilation into a new life in their new country. This theme weaves in and out, while various Bible stories and fictionalized Bible stories, and themes of real life situations and settings, are also woven in, asking the student to think about and answer tough questions.
  • I like that these materials are aimed toward the individual student and do not come across as designed for a class room.
  • I like that these materials are designed for 6-14 year olds. I have long thought there was a need for more materials for the early teen-aged group, materials that a self-motivated student can take and run with, that is interesting and engaging. This series meets that need.
  • I like that these materials can be used by the student, or with the student, or can be used with the entire family.
  • I like that Who Is My Neighbor can be used as book 3 of Apologia's "What We Believe" Series, or it can stand alone.
  • I like the interesting stories contained in Who Is My Neighbor. I like the accuracy of the information presented. I like that any time I doubt the correctness of an item, when I research it to check, I find Who Is My Neighbor is correct!
  • I like the goals of the creators of these materials (which can be found on the FAQ pages listed below).
  • I like that  Who Is My Neighbor can be done with no teacher prep time, or can be pre-read by teachers who wish to.
  • I like that I do not need a Teacher's Manual for these materials.
  • So far I have found no content that would offend anyone who holds to Catholic beliefs. (Secular readers would not want to do a curriculum designed to deliver a biblical worldview!)
  • The Who Is My Neighbor textbook is reusable; the Notebooking Journal and Coloring Book are consumables.
  • I will be recommending Who Is My Neighbor to my friends!
For answers to more questions, go to the Frequently Asked Questions page.  

In addition to their Who Is My Neighbor series, Apologia carries a large line of homeschooling curricula and homeschool helps. They have a full K-12 Science line, Geography/History materials, Writing materials, and have an "Academy" you can join for support. They also have books to refresh mom/teacher, as well as hold Apologia Live conferences to refresh mom. They are a great company!

DISCLAIMER: I received a set of Who Is My Neighbor materials to review at no cost. I did not receive any financial compensation. I really DO love these materials! If I didn't, I would have said so. My son doesn't care for these materials... exactly... but he is hard to please and he doesn't like new things. They have to grow on him.  Everything in my review is my own opinion. If you would like to comment below, I would welcome it!

I am a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. To see more reviews of Apologia's materials, follow the link below:
The main blog link to the Schoolhouse Crew Review HERE.
The Introductory Schoolhouse Crew Review entry HERE.

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