Make Biology Fun and Easy for Your Teen with Apologia
When it was time for my teens to take biology, they both chose Apologia as their homeschool biology curriculum. We had used their books in the past, so I knew it was a good resource for homeschool science.
It would give them what they would need for their credit in life science, while still having enough hands-on science activities to keep them engaged.
If you’re looking for a faith-based biology program that is challenging, fun, and interesting, I would encourage you to keep reading to see what makes this curriculum so special and a bit about our experience using it over two years.
I received this product for free in exchange for writing about my experience and was also compensated for my time. I was not required to post a positive review. These are all the honest opinions of myself and my teens, who used this curriculum and loved it. This post contains affiliate links.
Homeschool Biology Curriculum for Teens
My girls chose to use Apologia’s biology curriculum for their 9th-grade science credit, mainly due to the labs that were included in the lessons. Experiments have always been their favorite part of science, so they wanted a program that had as many as possible.
For our science class, we used:
- Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology student textbook
- Solutions and Tests Manual
- Student Notebook
- Biology Dissection Set with Specimens
- Prepared Slides and a microscope
In my opinion, one of the best parts of the curriculum is the fact that it’s easy for teens to complete on their own. There’s a schedule inside the student notebook that will help them work independently.
Although we completed the labs together, my kids did the majority of the lessons on their own, including all of the assigned reading, the lab notebook, and the included tests. I checked their assignments, but they were responsible for doing the work and keeping on track.
What Teens Learn in Exploring Creation with Biology
The course takes students through the complex subject of biology in a detailed and methodical way. As they read through the textbook, they’ll move from atoms all the way to animals.
They’ll study things like:
- atoms, elements, and molecules
- genetics – DNA, RNA, reproduction, and the cell cycle
- bacteria and viruses
- anatomy and taxonomy
- animals – invertebrates and chordates
Vocabulary is a key component in this curriculum and they’ve made it easy for students to master the necessary terms by highlighting them within the assigned reading. They’ll also use them within the student notebook.
Every module includes a couple of labs. Throughout the course, there’s a good mix of microscope work, more traditional hands-on science experiments, and classic biology dissections.
In the beginning, students will learn how to properly use a microscope, which they’ll need to know in order to see microscopic objects up close in future lessons.
Some of our favorite labs included:
- comparing the structure of onion and banana cells
- extracting strands of DNA from split peas
- viewing and comparing pond organisms over a couple of weeks
- dissecting flowers to observe their anatomy
- an earthworm dissection
Overall, this curriculum gives students an excellent foundation in the field of biology.
I would highly encourage you to purchase the student notebook along with the textbook. I can tell you from experience that the prepared notebook makes the course much easier for students and parents. One semester, when I was teaching this course to other students, some families tried saving money by using a plain spiral notebook and the teens had to do so much extra writing that it became a nightmare.
After my first year, the student notebook became mandatory for any kids taking my class, including my own.
The first half of Apologia’s student notebook is where teens will answer the “on your own” questions from the textbook, respond to “study guide” questions, and work on vocabulary. The second part is their lab notebook. It’s where they’ll find the experiments, write down their data and observations, and complete the lab report/give their conclusions.
The notebook keeps everything in one place, making it incredibly convenient when you’re checking and grading assignments. Instead of trying to make sense of a jumbled notebook or flip through loose pages, kids can just hand you their student notebook and you’ll easily be able to turn right to the module you need to review.
Keep reading to see how you can win a curriculum set of your own.
Suggestions to Make Biology More Engaging
When using this homeschool biology curriculum, I have two big suggestions for you that will help to engage your kids and make it more interesting.
- Do not skip the labs, especially the dissections.
I know experiments can be messy and take time to complete. And yes, dissections may be a struggle for squeamish kids. But students learn far more about science when they perform hands-on activities than just reading about it.
Labs give kids the chance to interact with the material and help to solidify concepts.
2. Complete the labs with other families.
While it’s certainly not a requirement, there are many benefits to joining together with other families to study biology. You’ll save money by sharing lab equipment, you can split the responsibility of teaching, and labs are more fun when multiple people express their ideas and findings.
If you have the opportunity to enroll your students in a homeschool co-op for biology (especially if they’re using Apologia’s curriculum), I would encourage you to sign them up. If one isn’t available in your area, see if a couple of friends want to do science with you.
Tips for Using Apologia Biology in a Homeschool Co-op
I taught Apologia Biology in a formal co-op for two years and I can honestly say that it was an excellent fit for this scenario. If you would like to use this curriculum with other families here are some tips.
- Use your “classroom time” for the experiments. That’s often the part parents struggle with, so make it easy for everyone and just focus on the labs when you’re together.
- Pair teens up, especially for the dissections. I had two rules when it came to dissections. Every student must participate and everyone had to make at least one cut. Not everyone is gung-ho about dissecting an animal, but kids learn a ton when they’re able to look inside a creature. So I always tried to pair up a student who was more squeamish with someone who was excited about cutting something open. Both students had to be engaged and work together.
- Assign the reading for each class and make sure it includes the lab you’ll be working on for that week. That way students already have a basic knowledge of the subject matter and a general idea of what the experiment will entail.
- Don’t stress if the lab doesn’t go as planned. There were times that things just didn’t work out as I thought they would – experiments had different results than the book, we struggled to identify parts of a specimen, or just couldn’t find something on a slide no matter how hard we looked. But they were all learning experiences. Science isn’t about perfection, it’s about hypotheses and testing.
- Make it fun. Teens have already done a ton of scientific reading at home, so do what you can to keep your time together as enjoyable as possible.
Overall, both of my kids learned a lot while working through this curriculum and enjoyed the lessons. I would highly encourage you to check out this homeschool science curriculum – biology for your teens.
Are you not quite ready for biology in your homeschool? We used Apologia’s General Science curriculum for 8th-grade science and my teen loved the fun, hands-on experiments included.
What excites you most about teaching biology? What has you worried?
Win Science Curriculum for your Teen
Apologia is giving away copies of its award-winning science curriculum. Two winners will be chosen and each will win a set of either Apologia Biology or Chemistry. I would love for you to win, so make sure you enter.
Visit their website to see more details about these homeschool science programs. See for yourself why so many homeschooling families, including my own, use this curriculum.