Archive for category Curriculum Reviews

Review: Science in the Beginning by Dr. Jay L. Wile

I was so excited to find that Dr. Jay L.Wile had written a brand new science textbook designed for elementary students.  Through the years, we have used his high school level science with our students and have really loved both the content and format of the text AND the experiments.

Science in the Beginning caught my attention on the first page, by using one of my favorite verses.  “Ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you….” from Job.  You may have seen it on other parts of Mindful Ramblings.  I am a firm believer that nature itself proves creation. Look around you! Not chaos, but order and intelligent design is found everywhere in nature.

To start, here is a little about the book, from it’s publisher, Berean Builders:

Science in the Beginning is the first book in a hands-on, multilevel elementary science series that introduces scientific concepts using history as its guide. The beginning of history is given in the Bible’s creation account, and this book uses the days of creation as a way of introducing a wide range of scientific concepts including the nature of light, energy conservation, the properties of air and water, introductory botany, our solar system, basic zoology, and some aspects of human anatomy and physiology. As the students learn about these scientific concepts, they are constantly reminded of the Creator who fashioned the marvels they are studying.”

Science in the Beginning includes 90 lessons, 15 for each day of creation (12 normal lessons, plus 3 more challenging lessons). Each lesson has a hands-on, simple activity or experiment, most of which use things you already have on hand.  There is review assignment at the end of each lesson.  Best of all this review is divided by age; verbal questions for young students, notebooking exercise for older students, and notebooking with additional prompts for the oldest students.  Perfect for working with multiple students of different ages.

Additionally, there is a Helps and Hints booklet available with answers to the review questions, tests, and test answers.  (This is an additional resource and is really only needed if you want to have a basis for grading your student’s work.)

The complete content of this course can be found by checking out the Science in the Beginning Index.  You can also take a look at the Scope & Sequence for Science in the Beginning at the publishers website.

For more information about this book and upcoming books in the series, you can find out directly from the author, Dr. Jay Wile, by reading  My New Elementary Science Series on his blog, Proslogion. 

observations1.  I love that Science in the Beginning starts at the very beginning of creation, with the advent of light and energy and moves through creation to end with the creation of land animals and people.  The very last page of the text is reserved for the 7th Day of Creation and the importance of rest.

To give you an example of how the text flows, on the first day of creation God said, “Let there be light” and what do your students get to study? They will learn about color, absorbing & reflecting, light and energy, energy conservation, light you don’t see, how the human eye sees, refraction and magnification.  Then for day two of creation, your student will study the properties of water and air; solids and liquids, floating and sinking, air pressure and wind….to name a few. (For a complete list, please review the Index from the link above.)

2.  The experiments are simple. Most only require things you would normally have around the house and yet they do a great job demonstrating the concepts your students are learning about. Here’s an example of a simple experiment from Lesson 8: Light You Don’t See. All you need is the remote for your TV and a digital camera (We used the camera on my phone.)

Did you know, that the infrared light that causes your TV channel to change can be seen by using a digital camera?  I didn’t! The text explains why that works.

3.  The multi-level approach in the text really works well when teaching multiple ages/grades in one setting. When we first started our journey in home education, we did science together as a family.  My oldest was 11 and my youngest was 7.  I geared my curriculum selection to the oldest, and let the youngest absorb whatever he was able to.  Science in the Beginning would have been the perfect solution!

4.  Science in the Beginning is a great way to start a study of science and get an overview of a lot of areas of science.  I love the “spiral” approach for beginning science, but if you are looking for something that goes into a lot of detail on one particular subject area, such as botany or astronomy, this may not be the type of text you are looking for.  I would have loved to have this resource when we were just starting to study science and would have proceeded, after this course, to whatever area my child was most interested in learning more about.

Overall, I think this book provides a well rounded approach to beginning science with your elementary students.

This product is available at:

Textbook (hardcover) ISBN: 978-0-9890424-0-6

Helps & Hints (softcover) ISBN: 978-0-9890424-1-3

Age:  Elementary, Multi-grade/age

Price: $39.00 for set

Still not sure? The wonderful people at Berean Builders have a Sample Download, so you can experience a little of this curriculum before you buy it.

Disclaimer:  I was given a copy of Science in the Beginning in exchange for my honest review of this product.  No compensation of any kind has been received.

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See The Light: Art Projects

It’s been awhile since we used any formal art curriculum in our homeschool.  So I was excited for the opportunity to review  Art Projects by See The Light.  

With nine separate titles to choose from, it was difficult selecting one to start with.  Each title is based on the work of different artists…check this out:

Tiffany Windows: In the Style of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Repeated Sweets: In the Style of Wayne Thiebaud, Paper Jungle: In the Style of Henri Rousseau, Pointillism Fruit: In the Style of Georges Seurat, Poppy Collage: In the Style of Georgia O’Keefe, Dreams of Joseph: In the Style of Marc Chagall, Horsing Around: In the Style of Edward Degas, Peaceful Seas: In the Style of Winslow Homer and Sunflowers: In the Style of Vincent Van Gogh

Each title supplies you with about 4 hours of art instruction and project time.  Using this product couldn’t be easier. All you have to do, is collect your supplies, set up and pop in the DVD.  The instructor, Pat Knepley, leads your students along step by step.  Need time to keep up? Just press pause and resume whenever you’re ready.  Toward the end of each lesson, the instructor reads a small excerpt from the Bible while you’re finishing up.  Easy, Peasy!

Wondering about using See the Light’s Art Projects for high school credit?  While the boxed set of 9 Art Projects alone is not quite enough for a half-credit high school Visual Arts course, you could easily add the Cartooning and Bible Stories DVDs to fill it out.  Additionally, if you add an extra project to each lesson, do a research paper or project on a couple of the artists and take a field trip or two to local Art Museums, your high school student could complete a full credit course.

Because we have enjoyed so much time experiencing the beautiful, peaceful waters around the coast of Florida, Peaceful Seas, was the project that caught my eye. Watch as we create a seascape in the style of the great American artist Winslow Homer…

DAY 1 – Set the Scene and Basic Wash

First, we learned to sketch lightly so the lines won’t show through the watercolor paint when we’re done…

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Next we learned to puddle and do a wash for our background…

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Then we made a gradient of dark to light for the background and used paper towels to add some clouds.  (A little difficult to see in this picture.)

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This is our trusted Art Consultant.  She really enjoys our work…thankfully, the paint had dried:

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DAY 2 – Beach Foreground with Salt and Plastic Bag Technique

We worked on the beach in the foreground and learned two new processes.  After doing our wash of the sandy beach, we sprinkled a little salt to change the texture.  I thought the results were amazing!


Next we used a scary dark brown and a little black to create a large rock in the foreground and we smashed a plastic grocery bag on it and let it dry….check this out:004

Cool thing was….each rock turned out totally differently!

DAY 3 – Creating the Water in Watercolor

We learned about the properties of water that we would attempt to duplicate with paint!  (You know, like reflections and motion.) This scared us a little….looking at our pretty blue water and wondering if we’d be able to pull it off!  In the examples by Winslow Homer, he used brown for the reflections of the boat on the water.  I was afraid if I added anything other than blue, I may end up with toxic sludge, perhaps an oil spill, or maybe something that resembled Red Tide.  But so far so good!


We just added our original blue from the wash, a purple and a darker blue!  Then we learned how to add “trees” on the distant shore.  One more lesson to go…can’t wait to see how they all turn out.

DAY 4 – Final Details of the Boat and Shore

On the final day of our project we added the details.  We used white chalk pastel to add a little depth to the clouds and texture to the water, then added in the color on our sailboats.   Lastly, we used the white chalk pastel under the boats to show a reflection of the sail on the water.


Here is a sample of one of our finished paintings:

Not too bad for a first try at watercolor painting, right?

As the kids have gotten older and are now teens, working very independently on their school work, we don’t get to spend as much time working together as we used to.  So the very first benefit we found, was spending focused time together working on our art project.  We all truly had a great time with Art Projects.  I love that the titles are available in individual, 4 lesson units.  No need for a huge outlay of cash to determine if Art Projects will be a good fit for your family.  At just $14.99 per title, it’s definitely worth the try and you get much more than your money’s worth on this one!  (You can get an even better deal if you purchase the boxed set or join the DVD of the Month Club!)

Bottom Line:  We loved it and would highly recommend Art Projects to any family looking to add a quality visual arts program to your homeschool.  It would even be great for non-home schooling families!

Where to find:  You can purchase your own See The Light Art Projects title at:

Ages: 10+

Running Time: 98 Minutes, Project Time: about 4 hours

Price: $14.99

There is a product trailer available on the See the Light website.

Other Products:  Art Projects (Full Year set or 9 Individual Volumes),  Art Class (Full Year set or 9 Individual Volumes), Bible Story art projects,  online art classes, materials, books, gifts, etc. There is also a great resource section on the website with blog, tips, free video lessons, download mini-projects, lesson plans, and line art.

Disclaimer:  Several other members of the Mosaic Reviews team received this project in exchange for their honest reviews.  No other compensation of any kind has been received.

To read more reviews, click the Mosaic Reviews icon.

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