Apologia Physical Science and a 5th Grader

Science and history have always been “together” studies.  In the past, we’ve almost always used unit studies for these subjects since they can so easily be manipulated to fit the needs of each particular child.  In other words, we can learn the exact same things together, but each child can complete projects, writings and/or tests that are on their own level.

Most of you know that I decided to go with Apologia’s Physical Science
this year.  Why?  I got scared.  I wasn’t sure my unit study approach could be doing a good enough job at the upper middle/high school level.  So, I jumped into physical science with the 8th grader, wondering what I was going to do at the same time with the 5th grader.  I’ve learned two things.

  1. I was wrong.  I was doing perfectly fine creating my own unit studies!  Besides a tad bit of technical info, my unit studies were very in depth and could rival just about any textbook any day.  However, I have REALLY enjoyed the ready-made lessons this year.
  2. The textbook – even though meant for middle/high school students – can still be used with multiple levels.  It’s taken just a tad bit of manipulation, but my 5th grader is moving right along with us most days.  On days when the subject matter is too tough, he does other things on similar topics – like reading library books, researching a topic on the internet, or completing a NaturExplorers activity.

A little pre-planning was all I needed to turn the textbook into something both my children could use.  It took one short afternoon this summer to skim through the textbook and divide it into lessons.  For each lesson, I determined whether or not it was suitable for Caleb (the 5th grader).  If not, I wrote down a simple alternative lesson idea.  At the end of the day, I had the entire science schedule planned for both the 8th grader and 5th grader!

I’ve posted a sample of how I scheduled the lessons below, but first I’d like to share a few guidelines I used when planning.

  • If the textbook lesson had an experiment, I almost always included Caleb.  Since I have him write definitions or draw diagrams in his science book as I read, I figure he’s picking up on much of what we’re discussing – and the experiment helps to cement that.
  • If the textbook lesson presented something he was already familiar with, I almost always included him.  Having a beginning understanding of the topic goes a long way in being able to go deeper.
  • If the textbook lesson was way too deep/technical/long, I stuck with the same subject and tried to pencil in an activity that he could complete independently.

Here’s a sample of my schedule from the first three modules of the textbook.

Module 1 – The Basics

1.1 – p.1-7 – with us

1.2 – p.8-18 – read library book about molecules and atoms

1.3 – p.18-24 – with us

1.4 – study/test – hands-on measurement worksheet in mm/cm/m, in/ft/yd

Module 2 – Air

2.1 – p.27-30 – with us

2.2 – p.30-33 – with us

2.3 – p.33-38 – with us

2.4 – p.38-40 – read library book about air

2.5 – p.41-45 – create mini-poster about air (You can see that poster in one of the photos above.)

2.6 – p.45-51 – simple experiment book about air, complete at least 3 experiments

2.7 – study/test – perform air experiments for family

Module 3 – The Atmosphere

3.1 – p.57-61 – with us

3.2 – p.61-66 – layers of the atmosphere internet research and draw poster (NaturExplorers activity!  The second photo above is his poster.)

3.3 – p.67-70 – with us

3.4 – p.70-75 – read library book about clouds

3.5 – p.75-76 – use NaturExplorers notebooking page to observe and label clouds

3.6 – study/test – NaturExplorers cloud making experiment with Mom

I am incredibly happy with our science plan this year and plan to (most likely) stick with Apologia sciences as Mahayla continues on into high school.  I will also (most likely) pull Caleb right along with her.  I’ll keep you posted as the years go on!

Follow-up Posts:  Apologia and Nature Study and Rocks and Apologia Science


  1. I am glad I went to vote for blogs today because I refound your blog. I wondered where you were…
    I will have to do some catch up reading, hope your fall is going well.

  2. We joined a co-op this year for science (k & 2nd grade) and are using Apologia Anatomy and Physiology. I am loving it! The notebooking journals for the younger set arrived just in time for us to use this year.


  3. Pingback: Rocks and Apologia Science | Our Journey Westward

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