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Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day Review by Cindy West

By Jeannie Fulbright
Apologia Educational Ministries
1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220
Anderson, IN 46016

Wonderful, thorough and informative are just a few words I can think of to describe this creation-based science curriculum written for elementary age students. Following the basic structure of the previous Exploring Creation books by Mrs. Fulbright, this book provides an abundance of in-depth, yet easy-to-understand teaching on the subject of various animals, both living and extinct.

Although I would categorize this product as a textbook, it's far more than just reading and answering questions. Sprinkled throughout each reading section are opportunities for your child to narrate (tell) what they've learned so far, do experiments, work on projects, and complete notebooking pages.

A list of the supplies you'll need for each chapter is found in the beginning of the book, so you're sure to be prepared as materials are needed. Most of the supplies are very easy to find around the house or at your local store, with only a few being out of the ordinary (like cement mix, owl pellets, and earthworms). You are encouraged to provide a lizard and turtle for your child to care for as those topics are introduced, but the lessons can easily be completed without the addition of pets in your home.

If you or your child is super excited about any of the topics covered in the book, a Web address and password are provided in the textbook for digging deeper. For each chapter's topic, you'll find a variety of safe Internet links leading you to things like videos, pictures, interviews, and articles to enhance the learning.

So, what land animals are covered? A ton! I'll just give you a quick look at the chapter titles: Carnivorous Mammals, Caniforms, Feliform Carnivores, Marsupials, Primates, Rodentia, Ungulates, Order Artiodactyla, Orders Squamata and Rhynchocephalia, Reptiles and Amphibians, Dinosaurs, Arthropods, Gastropods and Worms. Whew! It seems like not only a lot of material but also vocabulary that's way too big for elementary children. Don't be fooled by the tricky titles, though. The information is written in very understandable language for elementary children--upper elementary especially. And the curriculum is meant to last an entire school year, so there's no rushing to fit in all the topics.

As I've hinted, the curriculum is appropriate for various age levels. Most students fourth grade and higher could read the text and do most of the exercises on their own, but younger children will need mom or dad's help. In my experience, my younger student "came along for the ride," doing what he was able, while my older student was expected to complete all the activities. In fact, with just a little extra effort on the part of the student, I believe this book would be suitable for middle school students too.

Each chapter is nicely laid out with full-color pictures, diagrams, and/or charts that help students understand the text. Bold font is used for headings and important new vocabulary words. Unusual words also include a pronunciation guide.

Within each chapter, the student will typically read two to four pages and then be asked to narrate and/or complete a simple experiment or notebooking activity. At the end of the chapters are typically the "meatier" activities--mapping of the animals studied, review questions, more in-depth notebooking activities, and an experiment. An example of an in-depth notebooking activity is creating a travel brochure of the primates one might see on an African safari.

As you can tell, this science curriculum covers far more than just science. Your child will learn geography, have plenty of speaking and writing opportunities, and use their creative and artistic talents as well. And just in case you need it, there's an answer guide for the teacher telling what a child might say or write in response to the narrative/review questions.

Although this is the third in a series of Zoology books by Mrs. Fulbright, you do not have to complete the first and second volumes before this one. Each is a stand-alone curriculum. Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 covers flying creatures, and Exploring Creation with Zoology 2 covers swimming creatures.

As a parent, I think you'll be extremely thankful for such an academically rigorous curriculum that allows your children to have fun at the same time. I think you'll also be pleased at the lack of extra preparation you'll need to complete before diving into the assignments. Since all the information and directions are clearly written for your child, there's no need for a separate teacher's guide either.

Whether your family tends toward textbooks or not, I think you will find this curriculum to be suitable. Diving into this book will give your child an exciting glimpse into the wondrous and amazing animals God so perfectly created.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2008