Friday, February 17, 2012

Apologia: Who Am I

This is my third year on the Homeschool Crew.  It should cease to amaze me how often God provides just the right review product at just the right time to bless us in some way.  If I had to sum up Apologia's Who Am I set in one word it would be just that---a blessing.

Of course I'm not just going to sum it up.  There's too much I want to share.  Let's start at the beginning:  Schnickelfritz and his Royal Ranger patrol are earning their Leadership merit badge.  As part of their homework assignments they have been asked to make a craft on the theme "How does God see me?"  and pray about what their talents are and how they can use them for God's glory.  Driving home on the night of the craft assignment a little voice from the back of the car said "I think God just sees me as just another kid."  The tone of voice suggested that if we delved into the topic we would find no talent and nothing special.

I've never bought into the current trend in education of boosting self esteem, sometimes at the cost of actually learning.  (Our students rank nowhere near the top of worldwide standards, but they sure feel good about themselves).  Still, I drove home wanting a biblically sound way to help my son see his value...and that same week we received a package from Apologia.  Inside were all the tools I was looking for: 

The Who Am I? (and What am I Doing Here?) textbook ($39.00).  The text is designed for kids age 6-14.  Younger kids will probably need to listen to someone read aloud, but let them looks at the eye-catching pictures and colorful graphics too.   The eight lessons follow the same format.  "The Big Idea" and the "What You Will Do" gives a brief review of what's been covered and captures the child's interest to this lesson's topic.  Next comes a Short Story with characters working on their own answer to the Who Am I question.  The first four chapters deal with a young Russian boy named Sasha, born with a malformed foot.  The last four chapters are about a medieval squire named Brandon.  Kids are invited to reflect and dig deeper into the story by answering the Think About It questions.   The Words You Need to Know and Hide it in Your Heart prepare the child for the Main Lesson.  The What Should I Do section helps the student see how to apply the lesson to his life and the lesson itself ends with Prayer.   The final portion of the chapter, Worldviews in Focus,  gives a detailed "day in the life" of a child being raised in a different culture with a different worldview.   The What's the Difference? questions allow the child to compare and contrast their own worldview with the one to which they've just been introduced.  Some of the lessons end with the House of Truth--a visual aid to help you remember what God says in the Bible about Himself, who you are, and how God expects you to live.   Throughout the chapter are gray boxes with brief articles or exercises that tie into the main topic or give insight into the short story.

The Who Am I? Notebooking Journal ($24.00).  Like those offered in the Apologia science courses, this notebook provides a place for students to write their own thoughts and really take ownership of the lessons (in fact there's a place on the cover for the child to add there name to the"Written By" box.  Some pages tie directly to the text: there are pages to write definitions for the Words You Need to Know, copywork pages for the Hide it in Your Heart verses,  and places to write answers to the Think About It and What's the Difference questions.  There are also full color background pages for the child to write prayers, praise reports, and evidences of God working in and through their life.  For younger students (or those who dislike writing) there are word search puzzles and mini-books to use in lapbook.

The Who Am I? Audio CD ($19.00).  This CD is in MP3 format so it might not work in every one's stereo, but it will work in the computer.  My car's radio also takes MP3 Cd's so we were able to listen in the car.  The entire text is included.  I'll confess the the female narrator doesn't speak with the enthusiasm I use to keep my son's interest so we didn't use the CD often.  Her voice is fine for reading a textbook, but it seemed lacking during the short story. She did not change her voice for the different characters or make the tone of her voice change to reflect the character's feelings.

The Who Am I? Coloring Book ($8.00) give the child the opportunity to color pictures from the short story and others to help them remember concepts from the lesson.  It is 64 pages long.  My son has never been very interested in coloring, but it might be a quiet activity for younger kids while Mom reads the lessons to the older ones.

The lesson plan in the text covers a chapter in three weeks--two days a week.  This made each day's reading a little longer than my Schnickelfritz's attention span.  Because I really wanted him to absorb the material rather than wonder how long the lesson would be, we broke it into smaller chunks.  This worked well for everything but the Short Story, and Fritz found that engaging enough that he didn't mind.  He actually gasped when the school bully asked Sasha to teach him how to carve wood.  We managed to print out several of the Bible verses and find clip art to correspond to make his How God Sees Me craft project.  The book uses "word pictures" that my son could really relate to--the first one was the history of Superman and the lesson was "If You Are Made in God's Image, Why Can't You Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound?"  Another God-incidence (that's when you recognized God allows something in his perfect timing rather than just luck): we had travelled to Tennessee at Christmas and stopped at Metropolis, IL  where the Superman picture in the book had been taken.

I've been especially pleased by the introduction to other worldviews in the text.  Who Am I? is a project between Apologia and an organization called Summit Ministries.  We have SM's worldview text, Understanding the Times, but it is not written for kids.  I've drooled over their school-age worldview curriculum at homeschool fairs, but it was beyond our price-point.  This curriculum is designed for homeschoolers, with a homeschooler's budget in mind.  The Worldviews in Focus cover: Islam, Secular Humanism, Buddhism, Mormonism,  Hinduism, New Age, Atheism, and Christianity.   The format of using a child and following them through a day in their life is done in a very non-judgemental way.  Sometimes we Christians get so focused on the "their way is wrong" or "that religion is full of terrorists" that we forget these people are still made in the image of God and he still desires that they come to know him.

Who Am I? is the second of four texts.  The other three in order are:  Who is God? ;  Who is My Neighbor? ;  and What on Earth Can I Do?  Although each book is listed with no prerequisites, Apologia suggests doing the books in order to gain the most from the program.  After all, how can you know what it means to be made in God's image (book #2) if you don't have an understanding of who God is?  I plan on purchasing all the books for use in our studies but not the Audio CD or Coloring books.  I'm still debating on the Notebook--I see it's value but Fritz hates to write.

You can read what other members of the Homeschool Crew think about Apologia's Who Am I? by clicking here.

Disclaimer: I received free copies of the items described for the purposes of completing this review.  I received no other compensation for my opinions.

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