Thursday, May 29, 2014

A TOS Review: What on Earth Can I Do? (Apologia)

This isn’t my first rodeo with Apologia Educational Ministries. This is, however, my first go around with their “What We Believe” Series. I recently had a chance to review the fourth book in the series, What on Earth Can I Do?. Happy Dance! Happy Dance! 

What I Received

Apologia Educational Ministries offers a variety of homeschooling resources with a Christian Worldview. We have enjoyed their elementary science curriculum for a few years now. I have found their products to be excellent. They are not only splendidly produced, but are thoughtfully written and researched. 

As a parent it is important to me to fill my son’s life with messages that emphasize and encourage our Christian faith. I have to compete with a lot. While we monitor what he sees on television, what he plays on his video game systems and more, it is also our desire to equip him with those things that are true, that are lovely and that are pure. I want him to be able to go into any situation viewing it through the lens of Scripture and Biblical truth. 

The “What We Believe” Series has been designed to help me do just that. In What on Earth Can I Do? not only do we learn that the world and everything in it is God’s, but that we were created to be faithful stewards.

What on Earth Can I Do? is intended for grades 1-6. The book is just beautiful. Its 294 pages are filled with fantastic stories, parables and more. The book covers 8 lessons.

1.     Your Story or God’s Story?
2.     Who Put You in Charge?
3.     Will You Be Found Faithful?
4.     Where Is Your Treasure?
5.     Where Does Your Time Go?
6.     Whose Life Is It Anyway?
7.     Why Isn’t It Easy Being Green?
8.     What Will Happen When the Master Returns?

The chapters are meaty and broken down into sections for easy and interesting consumption. Obviously, this just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more included in each lesson.

What On Earth Can I Do? Notebooking Journal is an activity guide that goes right along with the reading in the book. You can make do without it, but it really has a lot of neat activities included. It is written for grades 3-6.

What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal is for those kiddos who are just a bit younger. There isn’t as much writing involved and has a number of coloring activities. It is still very well done. It is recommended for ages 6-9.

What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book contains coloring pages that correspond with the lessons.  We didn’t utilize this product as much (Josiah is anti-coloring at this point). Though I am a fan. I personally love to color! 

How We Used It

There isn’t a Teacher’s Manual with this course. Which is fine by me. The book and notebook contain everything you need to know. There is an recommended schedule, but it is very flexible. We took the course at our own speed and enjoyed every minute of it. The picture below is the sample schedule from the textbook. The Notebooking Journal contains a schedule that is a bit more detailed.

The lessons have a lot of material. Because Josiah is dyslexic, I read much of his lessons (other than his reading lessons) to him. We are used to reading large amounts of material (well…at least I am!) I found What on Earth Can I Do?  to be easy and fascinating reading. Josiah could have read much of the text himself, but the amount would have been overwhelming for him. He is 12 and has improved so much in the last several years, but still has to have his reading in smaller doses. 

 This was not just a study for Josiah, but my husband even sat in during our reading time. We read about an actor, Claude Rains, who played in one of Troy’s favorite movies, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Mr. Rains was one of the most prolific supporting actors of his time. He never demanded the spotlight, but worked hard at his craft and gave it his all. 

We read about Charlie Chaplin. We even looked up one of his movies containing a very controversial speech on Youtube. It was incredible. After it was over we just looked at each other. Wow! It could have been given today. 

Josiah got to enjoy the story of Colin and Jenny in WWII London and how everyone can make a difference. We read a retelling of the prodigal son. This was particularly poignant. Josiah’s lesson in Children’s Church just the week before had been about the parable.

The author's of the book did a beautiful job of interweaving all of these events found in history History, fictional characters and real life personalities together into one engaging message. 

You can use What on Earth Can I Do? alone with simply a blank notebook and pen, but the Notebooking Journal is a wonderful resource to have. 

I am always in a bit of two minds about such premade resources.

Because of Josiah's dylexia and dysgraphia, he gets frustrated if there is too much writing involved. I have used the Junior notebooks before with Apologia. While there is much less writing involved with the Junior Notebook Josiah feels it is too babyish for him. He is a dude, after all.

I decided to simply adapt the Notebooking Journal and Let It Go (everybody sing now!)
I have let go of some of my own perfectionist attitude; such as it must look a certain way and every page must be filled. This time around I let Josiah just do it. I didn't fret about perfection.

The variety of activities in the notebook gave me plenty of options to assign. 

Within the course of the reading are words that we needed to be aware of as well as plenty of Scripture that works well for memorization and Copywork.

You can see the corresponding notebook page below for Ephesians 3:20. The notebook also gives space to the vocabulary words listed under "Words You Need To Know." 

Josiah also enjoyed the Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles that were spread throughout the Notebooking Journal. 

Another fun aspect of the Notebooking Journal were all the little mini books. As a lapbooking fan, I was excited to use them.

One of my favorite sections in the Notebooking Journal were the "Find Out More" pages. 

These pages give you ideas for supplemental materials. Things to do, books, music and movies are all included. During Lesson 1 we  read about Maria Von Trapp. One of the suggested movies was The Sound of Music. Last year, we got to see a professional live presentation of The Sound of Music. It made a big impression on Josiah and we had to watch the movie. I, of course, have seen it 1,000 times. Literally. 

My Thoughts

I can say, without a doubt, that this is one of my favorite products we have ever reviewed. The tone and the language of the writing is beautiful. It is captivating and inspiring. It encouraged me.

Though I loved the Notebook, you can certainly use the book as a stand-alone product. In fact, I think this would be perfect anytime reading. There is a great mixture of short stories, Bible lessons, Biographical information, History and more. 

I haven’t had a chance to read any of the other books in the series, but I can only imagine their quality is as praiseworthy as well.

You can connect with Apologia in the links below. Please click on the banner to read more reviews. 

Click to read Crew Reviews


  1. Rebekah, you will love the others as well. Such beautiful book snad great information! We love them all, but this one was Salem's favorite!

  2. I can't wait to try the others out. :<)


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