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Botany Notebooking Journal Review by Kathy Gelzer

By Jeannie Fulbright
Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.
1106 Meridian Plaza Suite 220
Anderson, IN 46106

We use Apologia curriculum in our homeschool primarily because of the creationist perspective, and notebooking is a great way to incorporate hands-on learning as well as document the subject being taught. Here is a product that will help you get the most out of the Apologia's Exploring Creation series.

Jeannie Fulbright has several notebooking journals available. I received the Botany Notebooking Journal, which is to be used with Exploring Creation with Botany, a botany course for elementary-age children. There are 186 spiral-bound pages plus mini-book pages for all 13 chapters of the above-mentioned text. At the beginning of the journal is a 26-week schedule for completing Exploring Creation with Botany and using the Botany Notebooking Journal. Colder climate alternative schedules are included.

Each chapter has several activities: pages divided into sections (with writing guidelines and boxes to jot down fascinating facts), review questions (some of which may frustrate young writers due to the lack of enough space to write answers), templates for recording information learned during the textbook activities, and applicable Scripture copywork (with verses in both printing and cursive). Vocabulary crosswords provide an excellent review of the words introduced in each chapter. Dig in Deeper pages suggest many additional activities you can do with your child. For example, the chapter on pollination suggests visiting a bee farm, raising butterflies, and shaking pollen from a flower onto black paper and studying it under a microscope.

The back of the book has a list of 50 questions (to be used as a final review), vocabulary crossword puzzle solutions, answers to the final review, and two field trip forms. I wish one form had been included for each chapter.

One of the nicest features of the notebooking journal is a set of full-color mini-book pages at the very back. These come with clear directions for the child to cut out, fill in information learned, and glue onto the appropriate page. Author Jeanie Fulbright emphasizes that you and your child can pick and choose among the various activities and pages. Just tear out the ones you don't do. By the end of the course, you will have a wonderful keepsake and record of your child's work.

Although the book is beautiful, some of the lettering is decidedly feminine. I kept wondering, "Would a boy enjoy using this book?" Also, some of the fonts are difficult to read because they are so ornate. This is especially true for pages 20-21, 68, and 77-80.

The Botany Notebooking Journal is $24.00 and is a consumable product, so you would need to purchase a separate book for each child. When you consider that many homeschool families have several children and that many homeschool families group their children together for history and science, this may not be a practical option for those who are teaching botany to several children.

I love the idea of this notebooking journal. The pages are beautiful, and it is an appealing book that children will want to use. By providing a schedule and a place to record learning in a fun and memorable way, this notebooking journal complements Exploring Creation with Botany very well.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009