I love the goals for this course--to teach my children to observe and understand the heavens, and to recognize God's glory displayed in what He made. However, trying to use this as a structured course to meet high school science requirements is difficult. It is hard to assign grades to the work (not a lot of measurable skills), if weather doesn't cooperate we can't always move forward, it feels too "loose" for our structured routine. We will continue using it to glean the beautiful concepts from it. But, I'll be demoting it to a supplemental place alongside a more complete curriculum.
This book can stand alone as an excellent introduction to astronomy. It goes far beyond the simple study of the planets orbiting our sun.
You could use this book as the structure and guide for an astronomy course and use Exploring Creation with Astronomy to add detail to the planetary discussion. We also included D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths to enhance our study of the story lines behind the naming of the constellations.
No science education should be considered complete without the basic understandings of celestial movements and their daily applications found in this text.
By the end of the text, you will be familiar with celestial movements and enough constellations and stars to study the night sky successfully.
I wasn't sure when I purchased this curriculum, but I thought I would take a chance. When it arrived, I could not put it down! I have read the book, recommended it to my friends, and added it to our homeschool curriculum. I look forward to sharing this with my family and learning a lost art. Wonderfully written with excerpts from long ago about the wealth of information in the heavens, it is truly a book that shares science in its proper perspective by giving credit where it belongs - with God.
While this book is geared more for middle and high schoolers, my elementary son is gaining a LOT from it.
I am a Montessori-trained teacher and prefer to avoid most textbooks for many reasons - low quality; lack of correct information; textbooks are usually beyond tertiary sources while primary sources are most appropriate for children's learning; and more.
But this is one textbook we will use again and again. At 8, my son is reading through it with me to gain an overview of astronomy; we combine it with our own personal studies according to his interests and my requirements as his homeschooling mother. We will likely go through it again at age 10-11; then again in middle school - as review and to cull its depth further, as much of the information is quite deep (a typical elementary children would not have the interest my son has in this textbook - but this is an interest of his).
The "average" elementary child will not be ready for this book - but a homeschooled child who is very interested, or a Montessori student, will be quite ready for it - probably around age 9 or so. Even then, it should be re-visited at an older age, because much of it will not be absorbed the first time through. It is THAT rich!
Montessori elementary children with a deep love of all things astronomy will appreciate having this book as a read-together text, coupled with many hands-on experiences (such as looking for the things described in the book, as well as some of the field activities in the back of the book, and following their own interests).
Montessori elementary children with a limited interest in astronomy will prefer to utilize this book in the upper elementary years (ages 9-12).
Definitely useful for middle schoolers of all ages.
I only WISH the public schools I attended would have provided an astronomy class of ANY sort, let alone THIS book. We had blips of astronomy here and there - nothing like this. I took an astronomy course in college and this text would have been the best foundation for that course. I loved it, but was easily overwhelmed.
There is an optional field guide, separate from the text, to flesh it out for high school credit. Do not let the negative review stating this is not a high school textbook throw you off - this book is indeed excellent for high schoolers, but yes if you want a full credit for it you will NEED to flesh it out for the simple fact it is a textbook. NO textbook should be the be-all-end-all in gaining a credit for school - and this textbook is no exception in that regard.
Those who might say this book is not deep enough for high schoolers should consider the importance of spending TIME with the material, doing the field guide suggestions, working with the field journal - and experiencing the annual cycles of astronomy (and sometimes multi-year), while also exploring it within its historical context and development, in such a way that true DEPTH is reached. Not just racing through, taking a test and being done.
Signs and Seasons IS the exception in that it provides a well-balanced, well-laid-out approach to classical astronomy - astronomy without the use of fancy tools (although telescope and binoculars are pointed out as useful in their proper places) --- something all of us should have experienced in our lifetimes.
Black and white (but wonderfully done!) illustrations keep the price of printing to an affordable range so that this book is accessible to many more people.
My high school students and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the sky with Signs & Seasons, and the Field Journal that goes with the text. Many of the projects were quite challenging. The tests were useful in revealing weaknesses in our understanding of concepts, which we then reviewed.
We still enjoy coming across things in books or daily life and having the background knowledge to understand them, such as when we read about the shipwrecked mariner who said he saw the North Star and calculated the latitude of his location. Many of these things are simple to understand IF YOU HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE.
Because we have a lot of cloudy weather, in order to keep up with our observation schedule, we also used a planetarium software (free download) that shows exactly what you see when you look at the stars. BE SURE TO DO THE OBSERVATIONS, A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS and repeated observation is worth much more!
One of my students comments "Signs & Seasons is well written, and in a way that isn't confusing."
We use these materials again as each of our younger children goes through high school.