Monday, June 8, 2015

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Many homeschooling families are familiar with Apologia Educational Ministries. If you're like me, you probably have many of their books on your bookshelves at this very moment, most likely a book from the very popular "Exploring Creation" science series.  I was given the opportunity to review one of the newest additions to the "Exploring Creation" series - the BRAND NEW Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal.

Bright colors make it very appealing to children

The Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal is a 64 page, spiral bound softcover book to use to document field trips or other various outdoor exploration excursions. The book is about the same size and weight as a typical one subject spiral notebook and is not so bulky that it would not fit neatly in a backpack or carry bag when camping or hiking.   The pages are much thicker then typical notebook paper and are very durable and sturdy.  Each of the pages are printed in full color with vivid color accents to liven it up.  There are also full colored photographs of plants and animals that kids will really enjoy looking at.

 The book is divided up into 9 sections.  Each section has a suggestion page as to how best utilize the pages, however, these are mere suggestions. The beauty of this book is that depending on your child's level, it can be used as a logbook, a scrapbook, a doodle book, ect.  There's really no limitations, it can become what each particular child wants it to be.

 The first few pages give suggestions for preparing for a field trip up to a week prior for both teacher and students.  A whole slew of suggestions for field trip adventures are offered along with themes in which the suggestions would fall under. For example, if you were currently studying botany and plants, suggestions such as national parks, Arboretums, Lumber Mills and Botanical Gardens are mentions. History and Government?  Suggestions include city hall, a history museum or if you have the cash to spend, a trip to Rome.   Each topic has multiple suggestions that would fall into any price range.

Following the field trip suggestions is where the real uniqueness of this book comes in and where the fun begins.  Pages are included where children can keep a logbook of where they have visited, starting with their home state.  The date and destination can be recorded and if you write small enough, maybe a few short notes as a reminder of the visit. Two pages are dedicated to exploration of the their home state, followed by two pages to log travel through the United States, and finally there are two pages to document world travels.

An aerial map of one of our hiking trips
Each field trip is given two pages in which to document the trip. First, there's an area to write down books or other information used to plan for the trip. This is great for if you plan to make a return visit and might need those particular resources again.  There is a place for the time and date of your visit, an area to sketch an aerial view of where you are located as well as placed to write down emergency information like phone numbers or meeting places.  There is plenty of space for writing down information such as what we done on that particular trip, memories you wish to remember and any other notes you wish to keep for posterity.  The lines are all well spaced apart (and designed to look like wide ruled loose leaf paper) so that one does not have to write so small that it is not legible. I have rather large writing and I was easily able to write all of what I felt we needed to include.   There are enough pages to document 10 specific field trips in this section.

Journal pages filled out for one of our trips - Just needs our family photograph

 The next sections, "My Special Spot" and the "As I See It" pages are great for really connecting with the theme of "Exploring Creation". These are pages designed for kids to observe and document as they see fit.

The "My Special Spot" helps kids to pay attention to a specific area over the course of a year and observe seasonal changes to that area. There are pages for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. A 4 x 10 square grid is provided for each season for kids to have a reference to work from from season to season, providing a visual reminder of where things were located and to see if they are still there, if they have moved, ect.  There is also a place to attach a photograph for each season as well as document temperature, rainfall, and notes they would like to include.

Finally, the "As I See It" pages provide an area for kids to observe and draw/document nature as they feel best interprets what they are seeing.  Some of these pages are themed, such as a page dedicated to "Predators and Prey", while other pages allow them to draw whatever they would like.. 

This review came to use the same time we stumbled upon Letterboxing and so it only made sense that we would use this book during our adventures.  Our very first letterboxing attempt took us out to Placerita Canyon State Park and the home of the "Oak of the Golden Dreams", which is #168 on the list of California Historical sites.

Before we arrived, we were able to make a very quick sketch in the "aerial map" area to show where we
wanted to go, as well as to jot down the key site seeing items we were hoping to find. After we got home that night, Mom was elected to fill out the pages for the trip, since everyone agreed that I had the most legible handwriting out of our family of 5.   Everyone had a great time that night reliving our hike as everyone told me what they wanted to have written down and remembered. The kids also had to point out a few things that I had not included on our aerial map, like a small man made pond in the butterfly garden.

We really liked how many of the pages are geared to allow the kids to personalize it.  From the very first page where they can put their name into it, to the various pages to allow them to sketch things as they see it, the kids had the opportunity to really feel this was more than a school book and they viewed it more as a fun extension of our trip that they could make their own. 

I think the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal was a hit with the family and gives us a souvenir of our adventures as we explore nature together.  We have a huge cross country trip coming up at the end of this month and I have no doubt this book will be packed and going with us as we make our way from California to Florida and back. We have spent the last few months planning what wonders we want to see on our drive and this will be perfect in documenting the Grand Canyon, the Alamo and the Gulf of Mexico. Without a doubt, it will be in the car with us on our travels as Ash and Garrett are really looking forward to filling the entire book up with lots of memories.

You can purchase the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal from the Apologia website. 

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Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

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