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For the first time since we started homeschooling, I have three students doing three different science courses. We usually enjoy doing science together, but with a 10th grader doing high school level science, an 8th grader who needed a good general science, and a 2nd grader, we needed to do different courses.
We have always loved Apologia for elementary science. My son chose to do Apologia’s Swimming Creatures of the fifth day because he loves the beach. I knew that I had to keep it simple and make it somewhat independent to be realistic with my available time (we also have a three-year-old who sometimes limits my teaching time).
Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day Audiobook
My son is a beginning reader but has excellent auditory comprehension. So I looked for resources that would allow him not to be hindered by his reading skills.
First, we purchased the audio version of the text to go along with the hardback version. Audio has been a HUGE benefit for us this year. My son can listen to the chapter while I cook lunch or work with the three-year-old. He follows along in the book and stops to ask me questions as needed.
It has also made it possible for him to do science in the car while we travel or listen to the information again if he doesn’t remember something.
We usually use the notebooking journals when we do these courses, but we decided it would be too much with my son’s reading difficulties. So, I found some other resources that we could use to complement the text.
Other Swimming Creatures Resources
Chalk Pastel Art Lessons
We always love Nana’s chalk pastel art lessons, and she has some excellent, easy-to-follow lessons that fit perfectly with Swimming Creatures. These are fun for my son and help tie together what he is learning. We are particularly enjoying the seashore and sharks courses, but there are several other courses that have sea life. You can purchase individual courses or the You Are An Artist Clubhouse, which is our favorite because we have access to everything and he can pick and choose different projects each week.
While my son isn’t doing a lot of writing yet, I want to help track what he is learning. I print out one or two notebooking pages per chapter, and he tells me what he knows about that topic. Then I scribe what he tells me onto the pages. We are keeping those in a three-ring binder so that he can look back and see all that he has learned. (There are a huge variety of different pages to choose from for each topic, depending on the child’s level.)
We have to eat, and we love good food. Seafood is a family favorite and a fun way to incorporate a bit of hands-on learning into this study. It doesn’t work with every chapter, but we are trying to source some for any of the lessons that have seafood that we eat. Then we let him look at it and then cook it together. Fish, shrimp, clams, squid are just a few that we will be enjoying during the year. (If you don’t want to cook the seafood, you could go to a local restaurant and try different options.)
We are blessed to live on the east coast with many excellent field trip opportunities. Before we began our school year, we visited the ocean and a little place nicknamed ‘Sand Dollar Island.’ There we were able to find dozens of sand dollars, hermit crabs, and other treasures.
Then a few weeks ago, we went to one of the three semi-local aquariums. In addition to the typical aquarium features, this aquarium has a turtle rehabilitation center. That was the perfect timing to go along with the lesson on aquatic herps. After seeing the real turtles, my son was able to go through a simulation where he pretended to render vet care to a plastic turtle. If you do not have a beach or aquarium near you, you could go to a local pet store or even a seafood market to get a close-up view of some of the many creatures discussed in this curriculum. In addition, many aquariums and wildlife centers have online resources, virtual field trips, and even live feeds that you can use to get a good view.
Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series
Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series books are a great addition to our studies. We have collected almost all of them over the years (and check for any we don’t have each time we go to a gift shop or store that carries them). They are fun picture books featuring different animals found in the water and around the seashore. You can find out more in my post on Danny and Daisy.
Finally, do not underestimate a trip to the library for some picture books to go along with each chapter. I have been going online about a week before we get to a lesson and searching our library system for books about the topic. Then, I simply put them on hold and pick them up the next time we go to the library.
This year’s science may look slightly different for our family, but we thoroughly enjoy working through Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. It has been a perfect fit for my son, and with the modifications, we made he can work through most of it independently. Then we can enjoy the experiments and read alouds together. This has also allowed my three-year-old to enjoy learning along with him.
We love Apologia for the biblical worldview, thorough coverage of the content, and the flexibility to use this program in a way that works best for our family! Swimming Creatures is a big hit because of how interested we all are in marine life and the ocean. I would love to hear what other resources you enjoy for this program. Share ideas in the comments!
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