Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Apologia: Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him?

We have been using Apologia Science materials for several years (elementary through high school). I have been very impressed with how comprehensive their courses are. In my mind, Apologia has become synonymous with "Excellence."

Before participating in this review, I had not been aware that Apologia had created a worldview series. The book Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is the first in the "What We Believe" series regarding "Biblical Worldview of God and Truth." Written by John Hay and David Webb, it was obvious at my first glance through the book that this would be yet another example of Apologia excellence. The more we have read in the book, the more convinced I have become on that point.

Excellent Product
The quality of their texts is wonderful. Slightly oversized, the pages are filled with full color photographs and illustrations. Just right for holding in your lap and allowing children on either side to see the pictures (without needing a magnifying glass).

The cover is gorgeous with a portion of a painting that so beautifully illustrates the title (the subseqent books in the series have equally appropriate pieces of art that tie in with the title). This is a book made to last. Sturdy spine and sturdy pages.

From the Apologia product page, you can view a sample lesson (the entire first lesson in the book) as well as the Table of Contents. The sample is full color so you can get a representative sample of the quality of the layout, graphics, articles, photography and discussion questions.

Excellent Layout
The content is broken down into bite-sized pieces. Short articles and points are set off by different layouts or shaded boxes of text. There are a total of 10 lessons in the book with the suggestion that each lesson extend over two weeks (reading three days per week). This is of course adaptable to each family. You may choose instead to use the material weekly as an activity for Sundays. Or you may choose to shorten each segment to use daily for family devotions.

Each lesson is designed in a similar fashion which includes a Bible memory verse, a "Big Idea" for the chapter as well as discussion and notebooking activities following subsections. The ten lessons cover the following topics:
  • Where Am I Building My Life? (on rock or the sand)
  • How Can I Know What's True?
  • What is God Like (Part I and Part II)
  • Who are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
  • If God Created the World, Why Isn't it Perfect?
  • Why Did God Create Me?
  • Will God Meet All My Needs?
  • Why Does Sin Keep Me From Knowing God?
  • Is Jesus the Only Way to God?
All subtopics are also listed within the table of contents for the reader's convenience. There is also a helpful index in the back of the book should you need to refer back to a particular concept within the text.

Excellent Message
Our culture has sadly moved away from the practice of Scripture memory and theological training for youngsters. Learning how to defend one's faith is often left to those in high school or above and yet children are struggling in their faith long before they learn how to build and strengthen it. This series fits an incredible need by providing life-giving training for the defense of one's faith in a manner even the youngest students can understand. The material is geared for children 6-14 but can certainly be adapted to younger and older students.

This series is unique in that it introduces even small children to the field of apologetics--equipping them at a young age to view the world biblically and encouraging them to carefully live their life in a manner pleasing to God. Why wait until high school to tackle this important topic when they will undoubtedly pass through numerous temptations and assaults on their faith before then?

Over and over, I was struck with how perfectly the authors used illustrations to bring big ideas down to a child's level of comprehension.

Excellent Support Materials
When you purchase the book, you will be given the password to access supplemental materials online. For Who is God? there were student worksheets for each lesson as well as teacher help pages and another activity relating to a "House of Truth" model that visually depicts how our lives should be constructed: on the foundation of God's word with pillars extending up from the foundation. The House of Truth is explained throughout the book.

Excellent Extras
Coming later this spring, Apologia will have available an audio mp3 CD for $15, a Notebooking Journal for $24 and a Coloring Book for $8. We have used one of Apologia's notebooks for science and they are nothing short of incredible. Just another example of a very fine product providing students with an attractive, well-organized keepsake of their study. I have not seen the notebook specific to this book but have every confidence it will be just as exceptional as their other products.

These tools are not in any way required; Apologia provides a very complete resource online for teacher and student helps but the notebook gives a parent flexibility in choosing materials that will reinforce and extend what is being studied. I think the coloring book is an especially inspired product to offer so that the youngest in the household can be gently introduced to what the family is studying together.

Our Excellent Experience
We began the book as a family read aloud with 4 of my kids age 13, 11, 8 and 6 (the 4 year old would sometimes listen in but not consistently). My 11 year and 13 year olds did work ahead some on their own and were able to complete the student worksheets independently.

Ideally, we would complete the whole book as a family but found that with varying activities, we could not consistently find time to do so. Checking in weekly would be a good way for us to all connect and discuss what the older kids have read on their own and also to review their worksheets.

We plan to purchase the additional volumes as they become available and will plan to continually cycle through them every 4 years. That means that my youngest will hear the information several times over the course of her childhood. I'm definitely going to buy the younger ones the coloring book so they have something to occupy their hands while they listen. I look forward to purchasing the notebooking journals for my older students.

I can't recommend this book (or this company) highly enough. Both are off the charts of any rating scale.

Excellent Applications
This material is wonderful for home study but could also be used for:
  • Sunday School curriculum
  • Private school Bible curriculum
  • Church Library resource
  • Supplement for Confirmation program
  • Youth Group curriculum for middle and high school students
  • Basic Discipleship series for any new believer
Product Details
Hardcover Textbook $39 each
Book 1, Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? Available now
Book 2, Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here? Available now
Book 3, Who is my Brother? And Why Do We Need Each Other? Fall 2011
Book 4, What on Earth Can I Do? Available 2012

Extras Coming Soon
64-page Coloring Book $8
Audio mp3 CD $15
Notebooking Journal $24

The notebooking journals will be hardcover and spiral bound and filled with lesson plans, writing prompts, puzzles, activities, and full-color mini books. (I know these are going to be AWESOME...I might have to buy one for myself!).

Contact Information
Apologia Website: www.apologia.com
Email: mailbag@apologia.com
Address: 1106 Meridian Plaza Suite 220/340, Anderson, IN 46016
Phone: 888-524-4724
Fax: 765-608-3290

You can request a catalog or view the catalog in its entirety online. You can also download free webinars from the website. While you are at their website, check out their other excellent products and online resources.

To read what other home educators thought of this product, please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclaimer: We received a free copy of Who is God? for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received and the views expressed are my own.


Jennifer said...

We really enjoyed this book as well, and are looking forward to continuing on with the series.

Denise said...

Your review is fantastic! You really shared a great deal of good information about the book & company. I enjoyed reading your post.

Dana Leeds said...

Thank you for the review. I was considering the online video online part of this production, but it was helpful to read your thorough review of the reading material!

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