Thursday, October 19, 2017

Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

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Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

After so many years of homeschooling, I've had plenty of opportunities to try curriculum and explore all kinds of resources, so during this Blogging Through the Alphabet tour, I'm highlighting some of the many homeschooling resources that have been stand-outs. Sometimes it will be a walk down memory lane as I share something we enjoyed many years ago, and sometimes it will be something we're using currently. Sometimes I'll focus on a specific curriculum, and sometimes on a subject area. And I imagine I'll have to be a bit creative with a couple letters of the alphabet! This week I'm reviewing how we covered what we needed to in Biology, even though it wasn't a favorite subject.

In most states, at least two or three high school credits in Science are required for graduation, and it's almost always expected that one of those credits will be in Biology. Unfortunately for us, this has been a subject area we struggled with at the high school level. None of my kids have had a particular interest in Biology, which adds to the challenge of finding a curriculum that's a good fit. My goal has been to have my students gain a general working knowledge of high school level Biology from a Biblical creation standpoint, but not necessarily study in-depth or have a lot of lab work. Since none of the kids considered a science-oriented college or career path, a general biology course is "good enough" for what we needed. I figured if they were to change their mind, they would be required to take Biology again in college anyway, so as long as they've got a decent foundation with it, the details will fall into place.

With the oldest two boys, we went with standard high school biology courses from big name homeschool publishers. Harrison did the Exploring Creation with Biology course from Apologia, which is very popular and a solid and thorough course. His lack of interest in the subject itself was the biggest challenge he faced - that and an eye surgery partway through the year that made reading difficult for awhile! Initially he did complain and didn't like the course, but once he got to the chapters about insects and reptiles and so on, he found it much more engaging. He just wasn't enamored with amoebas, I suppose, and I can't say I blame him.

Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

When Spencer needed a high school biology course, I had happened upon a second-hand set of textbooks from Bob Jones Press. They were an older edition, but still a good general biology course, and certainly got the job done for another student that wasn't super excited about the subject but needed that credit. One thing we liked was that the first unit was on botany rather than single-celled organisms, so there was some relatable hands-on work that could be done at the beginning of the course.

Landon also wasn't very excited about studying Biology, and we wound up cobbling together a course using a couple of resources. Supercharged Science provided the main text and activities/experiments, but I felt that some extra reading or assignments were needed to make it completely worthy of a high school credit. Supercharged Science is simple to use, and does make science accessible and interesting. It's a good course for students that need only the basics and is willing to do a little extra to round it out.

We were able to round it out when we reviewed High School Biology in Your Home. In contrast, this is a very in-depth program with a lot of research and lab work. Because of this, it wasn't a good fit for us as a full course, but using some of it was helpful to supplement the more basic course Landon had already started. So I would definitely recommend it for families that need or want a more rigorous science course. Because of the reliance on labwork, this course requires the student to have access to a microscope and other equipment, and be willing to acquire specimens and do a lot of dissection. (Read our review HERE.)

Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Kennady was somewhat interested in zoology, but also did not need or want a very detailed or in-depth biology course. In her freshman year, she and Landon both did Survey of Science History & Concepts, an overview course that covers mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. Kennady focused on the biology portion of the course, which gave her a good foundation for a full biology course in her sophomore year. The biology text in the series, Exploring the World of Biology, is an introduction to biology and explores the history of the discipline. In each book of the series, the pattern of the contributions of Christian scientists and thinkers throughout history is highlighted, as well as the ways in which scientific discovery lines up with what the Bible says about the world and how God designed it.

Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

So last year, Kennady completed her full credit biology course, using Biology 101 from Answers in Genesis, along with some written work from  Biology 101 is a general course that covers the basics, but doesn't depend on dissections and lab work. It's one that can be just a broad general look at the subject, or can be quite in-depth, depending on the additional reading and writing assignments and any labwork you choose to add. The high school biology course at was exactly what we needed to supplement, providing a 'textbook' and lots of comprehension questions. I chose the specific chapters that we needed from the course and used those for the required additional reading and writing to go along with Biology 101. 

Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @  Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Biology Basics (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ memberships are available at the Harvest Special pricing until October 31st, along with a bonus of two free print back issues of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and some digital goodies. Use the code CORNCOB to get PreK-8 for $9.95/month (reg. $14.95) or the code SCARECROW to get PreK-12 for $10.95/month (reg. $19.95).

Another review we did near the end of the year also helped us out with a supplement. We did some of the reading and comprehension in Nature's Beautiful Order from Memoria Press. This curriculum is intended for students in 6th through 9th grades, or as a supplement to a high school biology study. There are eighteen lessons guiding the students through the animal kingdom from invertebrates through vertebrates using the natural order observed by classical naturalists. I assigned the chapters for her to read that matched up with the focus in the Biology 101. (Read our review: Nature's Beautiful Order from Memoria Press)

Nature's Beautiful Order from Memoria Press (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) @

Blogging Through the Alphabet again? Yes, I'm taking the challenge, along with several other Crew members, including our three co-hosts for this round - Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool, DaLynn at Biblical Womanhood, and Kirsten at DoodleMom's Homeschooling Life. The link is open from Thursday to Wednesday each week, so join in if you'd like!

This post is linked at Blogging Through the Alphabet for Week 2, Letter B.

This post is also linked at the Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop hosted by Apron Strings & Other Thingsat Homeschool Blog & Tell at The Homeschool Post; and at the Homeschool Linky Party on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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Joanne said...

Pinning this for when my boys get to high school!

Linda at Apron Strings & other things said...

Great resources! The Apologia texts is what we've used for our high schoolers and have been very pleased. Thank you for the recommendations! said...

This is a great list! There are a couple of resources here I hadn't heard of and will have to check out for my incoming high schooler. Thanks for posting and joining us!

Lori said...

I will certainly be holding onto this series of yours as we approach these classes. A question - did you ever try Science Shepherd for high school classes? - Lori

Kym said...

Lori - we did not use Science Shepherd, but I really wish we could have!

Amanda H said...

I love this list of sources, and have tried a few myself. I am glad I have a few years before I need to do this again! Thank you for linking up with us!

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