Using Apologia’s Marine Biology in a relaxed homeschool

My teen is 100% in love with the ocean. We are relaxed, interest-led homeschoolers, but I like to have at least one key resource to build our curriculum around. This year, for her, it’s been Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Marine Biology.

We’ve used other Exploring Creation books in Kathryn’s elementary years, and I’ll use them again with the younger kids. They are kid-friendly and work well in a relaxed and/or Charlotte Mason style homeschool. However, I knew Apologia’s high school level curriculum is more challenging and structured so I spent some time trying to decide if I could make this work for us — but nothing else I saw came close to the quality of content in this one, so I gave it a try.

I’m so glad I did.

using Apologia's Marine Biology in a relaxed homeschool at

{Note: I’d have gladly paid for this curriculum but in the interest of full disclosure, I received this in exchange for an honest review, and was compensated for my time in doing so. Also note this post contains some affiliate links.}

We used Apologia’s text as a spine.

We are so relaxed in our home education that we lean towards unschooling, but since Kathryn’s favorite subject is science, and because she is strongly considering a science-based career as a marine biologist, she willingly stepped up her studies as she began high school level work.

Apologia Marine Biology studying

Kathryn worked through about one module (chapter) every two weeks. She took copious notes, doubled back to re-read any part she didn’t fully understand, and answered the “On Your Own” questions in her notebook to help cement the information in her brain. I didn’t require her to narrate — that good ol’ Charlotte Mason method we love — but she did so often because it flowed naturally from her desire to share the newly acquired information she found so fascinating.

Though Apologia’s Marine Biology is sufficient for science credit in itself, we used it as a spine, adding in other ocean and marine study resources, including:

Apologia Marine Biology notes

Why Kathryn loved Apologia’s Marine Biology:

We’ve already decided to use another Apologia science next year because Kathryn so enjoyed this one. (Though she did say she wished Sherri Seligson had authored the others as well!) When asked specifically what she enjoyed about it, she said:

  • Each module covers a lot of detailed information without being overly time consuming.
  • “On Your Own” questions require a bit of thinking rather than regurgitated facts, but if you’re really stumped, answers are in the back of the book.
  • The author writes well for a high school level curriculum: not overwhelming like some, but not condescending. Many other curricula feel one way or the other, according to Kathryn, but few achieve the goal of being on an appropriate level for high schoolers.
  • The text is written from a creationist standpoint, but also includes what evolutionary scientists think to provide a balanced view of both sides.
  • Kathryn did a few of the accompanying experiments, but even if you don’t do them, you can read the section to understand the point of the experiments or labs. (No, we didn’t do dissections; neither she or I was up for it but she did get brave enough to look at the photos in the book!)

Also worth mentioning: prerequisite for this course is completion of a first-year biology course, which Kathryn had not done. If students have basic knowledge or the drive to look up any confusing topics on their own, I don’t see any problem with doing this course out of order.