God’s Design Science

Last year we decided to take a break from our traditional Apologia Young Explorers science curriculum.  I have used that program for years and absolutely love it!  But after completing all but one of the books in the series I was ready for a change.  I’m sure we’ll go back to them in the future with the younger boys, but for now my grade school aged boys are using the new curriculum from Answers in Genesis, God’s Design.

God’s Design is set up with shorter books, and you are encouraged to try and complete 3 books per year.  Each overarching topic (God’s Design for the Physical World, for example) includes 3 books, but I chose to purchase the curriculum “piece meal” so I could customize our study with 3 topics we had not done yet. My boys were longing to study the weather and I felt they needed to study the human body, so this was a great option for us.

Making a simulation of homemade “”blood” with white blood cells, red blood cells and plasma

The three books we chose were The Human Body (from God’s Design for Life series), Weather and Water and Our Planet Earth (both part of the God’s Design for Heaven and Earth set).  All three of my younger boys loved the chance to study some different topics, and I found it refreshing to try a new format for a change.

The lessons in God’s Design are much shorter than in Apologia, allowing us to quickly and easily fit science in even on busy days.  I did not find it to be as thorough as Apologia, but for my little boys I felt it was a fine introduction, and they were grateful for the shorter lessons.  The books are designed for use by a wide variety of age groups; there is a very brief “beginners” lesson, followed by a more in depth reading.  Some days we did just the beginner lesson, and other times I added to it with additional facts from the lesson for older children.  This was a good fit for my preschooler, 2nd grader and 4th grader.

Some lessons had true “experiments” and hands on activities, while others had a worksheet for the kids to fill out.  We liked this variety, though sometimes the worksheets were geared toward older children and then we didn’t do anything to supplement the lesson at all.

It is very important to me that experiments be easy to carry out and that they teach scientific concepts.  There are few things I hate more than “busy work” experiments which require a lot of time to plan and pull off and make more mess than they are worth.  To me, this is one of the real strengths of both Apologia Young Explorers and God’s Design Science:  they both have fairly simple, useful experiments which reinforce major concepts.  As usual, I gathered all science supplies in advance into our Science Box so that there would be no excuse for not doing experiments.

We had fun with the experiments, and the kids learned from the short, interesting lessons.  The colorful pictures in the newer editions of God’s Design were a must for us; you can get the older version a few dollars cheaper, but we loved the bright pictures and it was worth paying a little extra for the newest edition.  We liked this series so much that we decided to spend another year using God’s Design, this time doing the God’s Design for Chemistry and Ecology series.

*UPDATE* APRIL 5, 2011* We have not enjoyed the God’s Design Chemistry nearly as much as the other God’s Design books. The content was too dry and technical for my young boys, and there weren’t as many experiments as we were hoping to find. I prefer the chemistry book Adventures with Atoms and Molecules for this age group.

As I mentioned before, this series doesn’t seem to me to be as thorough as the Apologia books are.  My science lovers really enjoy Apologia and it has served us well for years.  I definitely want to return to it as my little boys get bigger!

But we were having a hard time getting through an Apologia book in one year.  We are still spending a lot of time on the 3 R’s and history and literature also take their fair share of time, so this has been a great compromise for us.  On days when we have more time we can do the longer lesson for older kids (which is still much shorter than a typical Apologia lesson).  On days when time is short we can do a simple one page overview geared toward early elementary aged children.  I felt the kids learned plenty, and that it held their interest well this year.  If this sounds like it could be a good fit for you, I encourage you to click on the links above to view samples of the curriculum on the Answers in Genesis website.

Finding the Best Price

One drawback to this series (as opposed to Apologia) is that it is more expensive, costing almost 3 times as much as the elementary Apologia books.  For example, Apologia’s new Human Body book (not available last year when we started with God’s Design) costs $28 at Rainbow Resource, and is meant to take an entire year to complete.  The AiG Human Body book costs $19.75 but is only meant to last 1/3 of the school year.  Each of the other two books needed to complete the year cost $19.75, as well.  And you’ll need the teacher manual with the supplemental CD of worksheets and quizzes, which costs $23.50 (one teacher manual is good for all three student books if you stick to books within one series).  So the total cost for one year of the God’s Design Science is over $80. Since I did it piece meal and needed two different teachers manuals, it cost me about $100 for the year.

So if price is a big factor, Apologia is the better choice.

With that said, the best price I’ve found online is at Rainbow Resource, coming in at about $5 cheaper per book than the publisher, Answers in Genesis, for the individual student books.  Rainbow doesn’t appear to sell the student/teacher/CD Rom combo pack, though.  So to truly maximize savings, you would need to purchase one student/teacher combo pack at Answers in Genesis (selling right now for $32.99) and the other two student books from Rainbow Resource ($19.75 apiece), bringing the total cost for a year of this curriculum to $73 plus shipping (the entire curriculum costs $89 at the Answers in Genesis site when purchased as a complete set, or $85 for everything when purchased from Rainbow Resource).

Keep in mind, too, that if you purchase the teacher set with the CD Rom you don’t need the additional student or teacher test/quiz packets; the complete set comes with a disc of reproducibles which you can print off for multiple students, so you’ll have all you need without purchasing those additional supplements.

One more note about price:  Rainbow Resource does give free shipping if you spend $150 or more, and their price is typically the best on just about EVERYTHING.  So you might just go ahead and buy the whole set there, along with whatever else you need, and get the shipping free.

Comments

  1. We used some of the God’s Design series before AIG was publishing it. So, I’m not sure how much the text has changed. It seemed to me at the time that the text was more advanced than the activities and experiments. I actually prefer the writing style of God’s Design over the Apologia texts, but my children preferred the Apologia, so we’ve been using those for a while. It is nice to be able to mix and match topics!

  2. We are using God’s Design for Heaven & Earth this year, and so far we love it! It’s so easy. As you said, we gathered up all the materials needed for experiments and put it all together in a big storage tote. We also supplement with additional reading/experiments/games with some of the topics. We are still in the first book (Our Universe) but I already plan on doing the Life series next year! BTW, I ordered the set of H&E from Rainbow, and the teachers edition does come with the CD from there. 🙂

Speak Your Mind

*