I wouldn’t dare try to tackle the subject of astronomy without a good textbook, so I was very excited when I found Signs & Seasons. As far as curriculums go, nothing I’ve seen comes close to this. Two enthusiastic thumbs up to Jay Ryan for writing such an excellent resource.
This year I’ve been teaching a Classical Astronomy class in our local homeschool co-op. I’ve been using both the Signs & Seasons textbook and the accompanying Field Journal. The curriculum is meant for high-school-age students, and after trying it out in a classroom setting, I’m eager to use it with my own kids when they get older.
Benefits of Signs & Seasons
- Biblical worldview. Every chapter continues to spell out the implications of Genesis 1:14, showing how God made the lights in the heavens for signs and season, days and years. Scripture can be found throughout the textbook.
- Focus on naked-eye astronomy. If you’re looking for a book about “deep space” astronomy or information about distant galaxies and quasars, this is not the textbook for you. If, however, you want to understand the “clockwork of the heavens” as seen from earth, then this book is perfect. The curriculum requires no special equipment like telescopes or binoculars.
- Well-illustrated pages. Astronomy is a very visual discipline. Students must think “spacially” to really grasp the concepts. Having well-made pictures is essential to learning it. Nearly every page of the textbook contains quality diagrams and pictures.
- Well-organized chapters. Jay’s book walks readers from the most basic concepts to more complex ideas in a way that is easy to digest.
- Integrated with classical sources. The textbook is filled with quotes from pre-modern astronomers, philosophers, theologians, artists, church fathers, poets, statesmen, mathematicians, and historians, integrating them into each lesson, making it ideal for a classical education model.
- Hands-on activities. The Field Guide is filled with activities for students to do…and I mean filled. Most of the activities require students to get out under the heavens and observe what they see. Yes, some of it requires students getting up at odd hours of the morning or staying up late, but that’s to be expected when it comes to astronomy.
- Ready-made tests. The Field Guide contains 8 tests that cover the 8 major chapters of the textbook. The tests, like the text book itself, are all well-written and well-illustrated.
- Supplemental archives. Since 2002, the author of Signs & Seasons, Jay Ryan, has been publishing the Classical Astronomy Update. This archive is a treasure trove of information.
Online Homeschool Video Astronomy Course
If you want to go deeper into the subject of astronomy, let me do the teaching for you! I’ve designed full-year online astronomy video courses for students elementary through high school. It is called Experience Astronomy. In the course, students learn how to find major constellations, how the sun, moon, and stars move, and how astronomy is applicable to daily life.
- Experience Astronomy: Elementary (Level A)
- Experience Astronomy: Middle School (Level B)
- Experience Astronomy High School (Level C)