Tag Archives: homeschool science

Review: The 101 Series — Biology

Biology for homeschoolDuring our homeschooling years, we stumbled upon a few really wonderful resources put together by homeschooling families. Biology 101, by Westfield Studios (Wes Olson) was one of them. This is a 4-DVD set, with printable PDF guidebook for the student. A “Course Accreditation Program” booklet is also included for families who want to use the program as a year-long course.

We loved these beautifully done videos! They were easy to understand, visually appealing, and entertaining in how the information was presented. God is not relegated to a mere mention here and there; the materials center on Him and His Word, which we so appreciated.

The Olsons recommend the materials for 15 years and older. However, if you like to teach several age levels all at the same time, the videos are appropriate for even small children. In my opinion, 6th grade and above should have no trouble handling both the videos and the guidebook materials.

Biology 101 is accurately advertised as a biology overview. It does not go into as much technical detail as many other biology courses do. While some families may find the materials adequate to cover a full year of biology, we felt we needed to go deeper, so we finished with a more comprehensive Christian biology textbook from Bob Jones University. But we really enjoyed the time spent with Biology 101.

The Olson family has since produced Chemistry 101 and Physics 101. Unfortunately, these were not yet available while we were homeschooling. If they had been, we would have undoubtedly purchased them. You can sample all three in the series by watching generously sized introductory videos at The 101 Series website.

Pricing for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics 101 is currently $69.95 each, with significant savings if you purchase all three as a bundle. Purchase directly from their website.

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Considering God’s Creation (Curriculum Review)

Considering_Gods_Creation_SetI’d like to share with you a favorite science program out of our homeschooling past — Considering God’s Creation. Authored by sisters Susan Mortimer and Betty Smith, who homeschooled their own children and were themselves homeschooled on the mission field, Considering God’s Creation is a multi-grade level (teach all the kids at once from the same curriculum), semi-hands-on approach to earth and life science.

Like many “written for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers” programs, it is easy to work with, because the authors understand the homeschool lifestyle from personal experience.

Considering God’s Creation is advertised as being suitable for 2nd-7th grade. In my estimation, the ideal age for use is 3rd – 4th grade, but using the “Digging Deeper” suggestions in each lesson for further research projects could extend its usefulness to the older grades as well.

The materials consist of a teacher’s manual with instructions and lecture material in print form, a music CD with songs which correlate with the lessons, and a 270-page PDF student workbook. Because the workbook is delivered as a PDF, you can print as many workbooks as you need for your family. That’s a lot of time, ink, and wear on the printer, but at least you avoid shipping charges. (Tip: Get ink for a fraction of the cost on eBay.)

Rock_thumbThe workbook can be collected into a three-ring binder, and makes a very nice science keepsake notebook when complete. My daughter loved to look through her completed pages again and again, frequently crawling up into her daddy’s lap to share her science book — all without any prompting from Mom!

Twenty-two topics are presented, which will take you one to three years to  cover, if you work through them thoroughly. We needed about two years to complete the curriculum. We enjoyed spending extra time on some of our favorite topics, supplementing with additional materials from the library. (Why hurry, when you’re having fun learning?)

Topics include creation, the universe, earth, light, sound, wind, weather, clouds, rocks, the plant and animal kingdoms, food chains, reproduction and genetics, and human and animal anatomy/physiology.

The materials are decidedly Christian in emphasis, come from a young earth creationist viewpoint, and are full of very well researched information. I was impressed with how comprehensive the lessons were.

I really liked the nice balance between instructional information (lecture material) and hands-on activities. There were no failed experiments  and no turning the kitchen into a science laboratory, where the  countertop is overrun with aquariums and terrariums full of who-knows-what kinds of disgusting creatures and their by-products! The hands-on projects are simple enough for Mom and interesting enough for the kids, so everyone keeps smiling.

Many of the worksheet pages are simple color, cut, and paste activities, or pages to record observations, rather than actual experiments.

I thoroughly liked this program. So did my daughter. We were both a little sad when it was all done.

To sum up, this is an exceptionally well-done science curriculum, easy to use, presenting a worldview which will be acceptable to most Christians, with minimal lesson preparation time for Mom. Parents and their children are both going to like working with Considering God’s Creation.