For young kids, if you are looking for a science program that is colorful and will really keep them engaged, try the Young Explorers series from Apologia Educational Media is the way to go. Astronomy is the first book, intended for the youngest kids, however, they are all written at approximately a 4th-6th grade reading level and can actually be studied in any order.
The grand thing about the way Apologia science handles Astronomy is a really comprehensive year long study that gets the kids involved in depth in the learning about the stars and space. This isn’t just the “space chapter” that you whiz through in a two weeks, with perhaps one project, like your typical homeschool curriculum.
With Apologia science, students perform regular hands on activities in every lesson, with additional narration and note-booking activities, as well as regular stargazing. One slight drawback is that the book and activities really are so interesting that kids generally want to take it at a faster clip than the recommended pace. A lot of families end up doing it as a semester long study, instead of a full year homeschool curriculum, especially for late elementary students.
In our family, the sixth grader used Apologia science Astronomy as a supplement for his other homeschool curriculum, and simply loved it. (The sections on space travel seem to really fascinate any kid. Kids love to learn about zero gravity, floating or walking on walls or ceiling – they think it’s the coolest thing ever!) If he’d been using it as his primary text at that grade level, I’d have assigned him extra research from library books or the course website to add age-appropriate depth to his note-booking and narration assignments, which is what the author recommends for older students.
One thing I just love about the Apologia science homeschool curriculum is that it is unabashedly Christ-centered. The purpose of the creation of the universe is discussed, and appropriate scripture passages praise God for his awesome work. I just love the way Jeannie Fulbright weaves it right in naturally.
Until you compare her approach to secular astronomy books, you might not think it is so important to have a Christ centered homeschool curriculum for astronomy. After all, doesn’t the controversy center around biology and the creation/evolution debate? But secular presentations of astronomy can also be problematic for a Christian when they speculate about God-less causes for how the universe came to be (such as a spontaneous Big Bang), or impute longer ages to the universe than seem to be compatible with Scripture.
And you know, to me, secular sources just plain make the subject dry and boring by leaving God out of the picture. Outer space somehow seems cold and sad and empty to me in the secular approach. But when you understand the stars and planets as God’s mighty work, as Jeannie Fulbright and Apologia science do, as thing of beauty created as a gift for man to use and enjoy, vast but not empty of God’s creative purpose, it becomes so much more exciting to study.
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