Science is Never for the Birds ~ Apologia’s Elementary Series

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Science is Never for the Birds ~ Apologia's Elementary Series  Danika Cooley at

Science.  The very word used to bring to mind long algebraic formulas, brain-numbing laws, and useless facts.  Oh… and repetition.  Lots and lots of repititious experiments.  Mind you, it’s not that I don’t have a solid background in science.  I was, after all, pre-med for almost two years before I up and decided to become an artist (and now I write – life is weird – or maybe it’s just me).  It’s just that from the very beginning, science was a spiral of facts and disciplines, never spending enough time in any one area to truly interest me.  Until college – and by that time, it was no longer interesting – it was brain-numbing.  Sure, there were the occasional bright spots, like the day I caused an explosion in the lab, and we had to use that awesome shower.  But for the most part, science put me to sleep.

When we decided to teach our kids at home (gasp), science had me sweating.  The boys wanted to be scientists, and one of the great disappointments of their little lives was that the Christian school they attended didn’t allow them more time in the incredible science lab.  How could I meet their needs?  I didn’t even have a science lab!

That’s when a friend suggested Apologia Science.  Oh, how I love Apologia’s elementary science series, written by Jeannie Fulbright.  So far, we’ve completed Exploring Creation with Botany, Exploring Creation with Astronomy, and we’re right in the middle of Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  We plan to do Zoology 2 and 3 before moving on to Apologia’s older courses.

{2/17/2014 Update: We’ve done Zoology 2 and Zoology 3 now, and we still love Apologia’s elementary courses!}

What do I love about Apologia’s elementary courses?  Let me give you a list:

  • They focus on God and His design of creation.
  • They are in-depth, and kids come away with quite a bit of knowledge in the area they’ve studied.
  • They’re fun, and interesting.
  • We can do them together as a family, rather than individually studying science at different levels.
  • The experiments use regular household items, and almost always work. When they don’t (only twice), I am quite certain the failure is mine, as it was the day I caused that nifty lab explosion.
  • There are about 14 lessons, so at two days a week, we can cover a book in 28 weeks.  We’ve also done a lesson a week (rather than every two weeks), but my kids tend to get really involved in whatever we’re studying, so it’s nice to have extra time.  Last week, we spent an entire morning “birding” in our backyard.  It’s hard to imagine them being any more excited!  They’re using technical language and classifying birds according to the rules of taxonomy.  Actually, it’s hard to imagine me being any more excited, either!
  • The accompanying notebooking journals are fantastic.  (There are also junior notebooks, but we haven’t used them).  They’re fun, they’re colorful, and they reinforce everything we’re learning.  Last year, my  boys spent an entire day gathering different leaves, classifying them, and taping them in their notebooks.  A couple of weeks ago, they journaled three pages worth of information about different types of nests.  They had so much fun.  The journals also have vocabulary crosswords, places to take notes, projects, experiment pages, copywork, minibooks, and a unit test.
  • The kids can also make their own notebooks if they wish.
  • When there is something we just don’t know about science, Ms. Fulbright is quick to point it out.  When there is evidence against evolution and for creation, she is quick to point that out as well.

The boys draw pictures in their journals while I read aloud.  At the end of each little section, I pause, we discuss, and they take notes.  That usually takes two of the four days we spend on each lesson.  We spend another day working on written review (minibooks, a vocab crossword, etc), and the fourth day covers an experiment, and sometimes an additional activity.

We enjoy Apologia!  I’m so excited that the boys get to study something they love.  I have a structured, exciting program to teach an important subject.  And, so far, no one’s blown anything up.  :)

What do you do for science?

Are you ready to shop for the Apologia Exploring Creation Elementary series?  I’d love it if you’d consider buying through my affiliate links!  I love both and Exodus Books (for totally different reasons!), so I’ll give you links to both places.  It won’t cost you any more to purchase through these links, but I earn a small commission which helps me support Bible Road Trip.  Thanks!

Exodus Books:
Exploring Creation With Botany - Exodus Books

Exploring Creation With Botany
Amazon: Exploring Creation with Botany Exploring Creation with Botany, Textbook

Exodus Books:
Exploring Creation With Astronomy - Exodus Books

Exploring Creation With Astronomy
Amazon: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Textbook

Exodus Books:
Exploring Creation With Zoology 1 - Exodus Books

Exploring Creation With Zoology 1
Amazon: Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day: Exploring Creation with Zoology 1

Exodus Books:
Exploring Creation With Zoology 2 - Exodus Books

Exploring Creation With Zoology 2
Amazon: Exploring Creation with Zoology 2 Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day: Exploring Creation with Zoology 2

Exodus Books:
Exploring Creation With Zoology 3 - Exodus Books

Exploring Creation With Zoology 3
Amazon: Exploring Creation with Zoology 3 Animals of the Sixth Day: Exploring Creation with Zoology 3

Exodus Books:
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology - Exodus Books

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
Amazon: Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology

Exodus Books:
Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics - Exodus Books

Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics
Amazon: Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics

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~ Danika Cooley

Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.


  1. whateverphilipians48 says

    We have always used Sonlight Science. Starting a few weeks ago I scrapped their plans for the rest of the year and we are spending time on things that we want to do. Next year I plan on doing some of the books that Sonlight recommends in addition to using books recommended in The Well Trained Mind and then add in library books. We are excited that by doing this we can spend as long as we want to on the things that really interest us.

  2. says

    We use Apologia although this year have started Exploring Creation with General Science which has proved a bit less successful-maybe 11 was a bit young?
    We also enjoyed the Apologia Elementary about the human body-there are constant requests to repeat the cell demonstration.

    • says


      I’ve seen that cell demonstration! It looks really neat.

      I’m curious: what about General Science is less successful for you? Is it drier material, or more confusing, or more work? We’re thinking of skipping the elementary-level Anatomy and Physiology so that we can get started with the secondary-level courses, and I’m wondering if delaying a year would be a better choice…


  3. says

    I love the enthusiasm for Science that you have been able to share with your boys. You really make it sound both fun and educational. We use the Bob Jones University program for grades 4,5 and 6. They are very comprehensive and while they may be less “fun” they are definitely informative. The 6th grade program is particularly good, covering all major areas of science, one chapter at a time. By the end of the school year our daughter, Athena, was well prepared for higher level science. Thanks for the great post on Apologia.

      • says

        We are currently using an online program through Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. We have used their middle school trimester programs. These are very comprehensive and require high level reading, note-taking skills and testing skills. My daughter is now taking a high school level Honors Biology program. This is a very difficult class. I would recommend it for the very focused high school student. Allia

  4. says

    I’m using the same thing you are this year with two girls and we are having a great time! We are no longer afraid of bats (although I didn’t enjoy encountering them in my house several years ago!), and our favorite experiment was “finding our bat baby” from a tray full of cotton balls marked with various fragrances. We made everyone in the household select a “baby scent” and find his or her baby.

    • says


      That sounds like fun! :) We have a bat display at the zoo here that we love! We haven’t quite gotten to bats, but I know we’re almost there. The kids are SO excited about the bug displays we’ll be building later. They spent all summer collecting dead, winged bugs. We actually found some spectacular samples (or corpses… your choice). I admit to feeling squeamish over the project – and we haven’t even put an pins into little bodies yet!


  5. says

    Have you visited the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge near Sherwood? Over 200 varieties of birds visit annually. Sunday afternoon a nice gentleman with a scope let us view an Osprey on a snag. He also pointed out a Bufflehead and a Northern Shoveler – two ducks I’d never heard of before. Be sure to take binoculars! And watch out for the silly lizard that thought Chris’s shoe would provide great shelter!

  6. says

    I like Apologia also. We’re using General Science this year. What I love is that the books are written in a conversational, easy-to-understand way. I think the Astronomy was one of the boys’ favorites. They still talk about things they learned that year, which was 4 years ago!

  7. says

    It was our first visit. Robb discovered it online when looking for new places to hike. Some of the trails are not open now. The Interpretive Center was also not open when we went, which was late Sunday afternoon. However, it was a good time to interact with other bird watchers, esp the guy who generously shared his scope and answered our questions. Be sure to pick up the “Watchable Wildlife” guide and the trail guides, available any time near the trail entrance.

  8. says

    I’m so loving this post. I’ve had friends say they love Apologia science but I’ve never seen such an in-depth review of it before. We started the old Sonlight science and history published by Usborne briefly this year before scrapping it because it was just atrocious and counter-biblical. Since then, we’ve been doing a lot of books from the library which has been more interesting and free!
    I have great plans to do an Apologia unit next year but now I have the bug to start this year. Thanks for a fun, great article, Danika.

    • says

      Wonderful, Lalia! We really do enjoy it. I’ve had some degree of difficulty finding good supplemental books that aren’t counter-biblical. It’s a challenge. We love doing Apologia, and we listen to Jonathan Park (I think I’ll review that next week). I find then that the boys have a decent understanding of the basis of our scientific disagreement with evolution, and we can selectively read some things that may make unproven assumptions – because they’ve been trained to look for the difference between truth and lies. I hope you love Apologia as much as we do!

      ~ Danika

    • says

      Hi, Roxie! The age range is from 6-12. We started in 1st grade with a 6 year old – I read and they listened, then we worked on the notebooks. I think they would have done fine in Kindergarten. However, if I were to use Apologia in Kindergarten, I would definitely choose to go with the Junior Notebook and take enough time to do all the activities. In 1st grade, the primary frustration was the writing – I think the Junior Notebook would have been helpful. I probably would have started with Astronomy as well, as it seemed to me to be significantly easier than, say, Botany or Zoology. However, you have one precocious little girl, and I’m guessing she could handle it.

      You are welcome to come over some time and take a look at the courses we have!

      ~ Danika

      • Roxie says

        Thanks, Danika. I was actually looking at the Astronomy one, because she loves anything to do with space. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!) I might just get that one for her, for her upcoming birthday. If that works out, I might order more.

        I’m really enjoying your blog. It was highly recommended by Barbie at our MOMs Bible study! :)

  9. says

    I love these Apologia science books too! First it was for their content. But as I stepped away from this year, I’ve discovered how I love that they’re all inclusive. In one book you have all the content; Curriculum and experiments. And the experiments are simple enough I probably just need to pull things out, not go shopping. I’m tired of chasing websites with broken links and hunting down the right book at the library to correspond to the latest free online lapbook. I have figured out that the adventure of DIY is best kept to my hobbies, not part of my homeschool. PS with that, I’m really excited that you’ve bundled your road trip into books!

    • Danika says

      Lalia, I agree that one of the *wonderful* aspects of designed full-year curriculum is that it’s complete! In my opinion, it’s totally worth the money. :)

      ~ Danika


  1. […] We love, love, love the Apologia Elementary series.  Next year we’ll be using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day and the accompanying Notebooking Journal.  Then we’ll move onto Apologia’s Jr. & Sr. High series the next year.  I can’t wait!  You can also read a detailed review I wrote. […]

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