Friday, May 30, 2014

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

I was privileged to receive the 4th book in Apologia Educational Ministries' "What We Believe" series, What on Earth Can I Do?, for review along with some additional resources; a Notebooking Journal Junior Notebooking Journal, and Coloring Book.

The "What We Believe" series is a course in Apologetics for the younger elementary crowd. I have previously reviewed the first book in the series Who is God?, and the second book Who Am I?. These books answer basic but important questions about the character of God, and individual identity. The third book in the series (Who is my Neighbor?) was also reviewed by the TOS Review Crew, with an emphasis on being a servant, spreading salt and light..

This fourth book in the series, "What on Earth Can I Do?" emphasizes stewardship principles with the following chapters:

  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? 
Each Chapter in this book continues in the same format as the previous books, with a couple of changes: 

  • The Big Idea~ introduction and overview of the lesson
  • What You Will Do~ quickly explains objectives
  • Short Story~ incorporates in continuing story-form concepts that are taught through the rest of the lesson. This first half of this particular book's story is set in England during World War II. The second half is set in the African Serengeti. 
  • Think About It~ thought-provoking questions
  • Words You Need to Know~ vocabulary
  • Hide It in Your Heart~ memory verses
  • Integrated Learning~ articles that integrate the Biblical concepts presented with the fields of art, science, history, and more... (Because of the backdrop of World War II, you may wish to edit your reading of some of these articles if your children are on the younger side. Personally, I didn't feel my six year old was ready to deal with some of the specifics of Hitler and the holocaust. These topics can be tricky when writing for a wide age span.)
  • What Should I Do? ~ life application of Godly character traits
  • Prayer~ for those who appreciate a "Written prayer"
  • Parables of Jesus~ "Reimagined" writings based on the Parables of Jesus. These are retellings faithful to the original intent, fleshed out with names, places, historical facts and cultural details to help better understand what is going on in the parable. 
  • Going Deeper~ Discussion questions about the parables~ 
Notebooking Journals~ 
The Junior Notebooking Journal includes:

  • Blank Note-Taking Pages~ We didn't use these, as my son is only 6, and not really at the stage of taking notes, but if you have a prolific writer, this space is just begging to be used. 
  • Coloring pages from each chapter~ one that illustrates a part of the short story. Others relate to the Bible passage, "Steward focus,"  the parable, or a concept taught in the story. I had my son choose one of the pictures to color while he was listening to me read. He's not always extremely in to coloring, so the pictures often end up being half-done~ as in he's done when I'm done reading, whether the picture is fully colored or not. ;) 
  • Words to Know~ nice for kids who aren't writing much, they only have to fill in blanks with 3 words that are right there on the page, and the lines are large for those whose handwriting is still in the primary stage. 
  • Hide it In My Heart~ Bible verse Copy-work.
  • Make a Note of It ~ Space to draw answers to some of the questions about the lesson and life application.
  • Word Puzzles (Word Searches, and Crosswords) the sizes are great for young writers, and the word searches are strictly up and down/side to side, which makes for more successful searching at a younger age. 
  • Mini Books to be cut out, assembled, and pasted into the journal.
  • My Prayer page for the child to write or draw their own prayer to God.
  • Praise Report page to record how God is answering their prayers.
  • I Spy page to write about or draw something that has shown your child God's hand working, whether in nature or a circumstance.
  • Living Out Loud page to display photos of things that your child is doing to help others.
  • Find Out More is a list of activities, books, videos and songs that can help you find out more  about people and places learned about in the lessons.

The Notebooking Journal for the older children has the same pages, but on a higher level, with a couple of changes~ instead of the coloring pages there are 

  • Think About It questions about the story read during the lesson.
  • The Make a Note of it pages have spaces for the answers to the corresponding "Make a Note of it" Life application questions in the book.
  • Do You Remember is a review page for the entire lesson.
The coloring book includes the same coloring pages that are in the Junior Notebooking Journal, but there are additional pages to color for each chapter. Definitely enough for the younger child to have a page to color for most of the days that you use the lesson, even if it takes you 2 weeks to complete each one (which is a recommended pace). 


  • I really appreciate the Christian Worldview, and the stories that relate the Bible to everyday life, and young children's lives. 
  • The Parables of Jesus are interesting retellings that are also very relatable. 
  • The Notebooking Journals engage the child, kinesthetically and visually. 
  • The Coloring Book engages kinesthetically as well as auditorally, if the child is coloring while listening to you read. 
  • The Notebooking Journals include a "lesson plan" in the front so that you don't have to worry about how to pace the pages with the lesson. 
  • The Apologia website once again contains "Teacher Helps" for each lesson with additional discussion questions, and a separate document that guides the use of the coloring book~ showing which pictures correspond with which stories. 


  • Keeping in mind that these books are written for grades 1-6, there are definitely sections (as I mentioned above) that families may wish to pre-read and edit if using with younger and/or more sensitive children. 
  • If you tend to soften, or avoid some portions of the Bible, or Bible stories for your younger children, this book definitely requires a pre-read. For instance, I will edit the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife for my 6 year old~ maybe not as much for an 11 or 12 year old, but then again... 

  • The "Short Stories" are a little longer than I would regularly use for a family devotional, but they held my son's interest, and are well written.
  • I had to remind myself that some of the details in the parables weren't fact, but rather a possibility. ;)
  • There are definitely portions of the book where there are no punches pulled, and the stories are very plain-spoken. That can be a Pro for some families and a Con for others, so if you are concerned, definitely look this particular book over. 

I think that these Apologia materials are very worthwhile, even if I feel the need to edit them for sensitivities upon occasion. They help build a solid foundation of understanding what our role is in this world, even from a very young age. If you would like to see examples and samples, be sure to visit the Apologia pages linked below.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
You can find Apologia on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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