Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Bible Study Guide for All Ages

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Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  It's a program I used for a chunk of time with my older children, but I hadn't pulled out again for my younger ones.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew has just had the opportunity to review the newer (well, newer than what I used with the big guys) worksheet types of pages, and I chose to work with Richard and Trina (4th and 2nd grades) on the Intermediate Student Pages, which also came with the Bible Book Summary Cards.   I also used the Children's Songs CD.

When I used the program before, I really liked it.  One thing I loved was that it had you jumping around the Bible quite a bit, but not excessively.  We did Unit 1, where you learn about Joseph, spend a chunk of time on his story, then you learn about Daniel, then you learn about Jesus up through his first year of ministry, then it is back to Adam, Noah, and Job, then jumping forward to Joshua, and ending with learning about Jesus' last week.  That would be basically a schoolyear.

I loved that we weren't focused only on the Old Testament, or only on the Gospels.  We moved around, and constantly had timeline activities to keep a bit of perspective going as far as how this all fit together.  But we never went beyond that first unit, and I'm not entirely sure why.  Probably had something to do with all the new materials and how I couldn't decide what was best for us.

So, now I had the chance to try something out with Richard and Trina.  There are multiple levels with the worksheets, and you can have kids learning the same basic stuff, but doing it at their own level.  The choices:
  • Beginner -- for ages 3-grade K.  Or, you can use this with 1st-2nd graders who aren't reading well (if you are doing it with multiple kids)
  • Primary -- for 1st-2nd graders.  This doesn't coordinate with the other levels, so if you are teaching only kids in the 1st-2nd grade age range, this is good.  Since I wanted to have my 2nd grader *and* my 4th grader work together, I really couldn't go for this level
  • Intermediate -- for 3rd-4th graders.  This is what I opted for, with both kids.
  • Advanced -- for 5th-6th graders.
What I didn't like about Bible Study Guide for All Ages back when I was using it with my older kids was that I was constantly flipping through pages and I always felt fairly unsure about just what I was supposed to be doing.  But the information was good, and I loved the concept.

With these student pages?  I am completely loving it.

How does it work?

Basically, the kids pull out the next worksheet.  I pull out a Bible.  And we have the CD available (the CD is considered "helpful" for this age) if we need it.  Everything I need to know is laid out on the front and back of a legal-sized piece of paper.  Let's walk through Lesson 5:

Remember It:  The kids have four statements, and they need to match up who is being talked about.  For instance:  "I forgot to tell Pharaoh about Joseph."  The kids got each of these answers quickly.

Memory Workout: we review the Bible Book Summary Card for the book of Genesis.  I adore these cards.  More on that later.  They sing the song, "Twelve Sons of Jacob."  We listened to this song in lesson 1, and by the time we got the Lesson 5, Richard pretty much had the names down.  Trina tripped over them a bit.  I love the CD.  We'd never get it down otherwise. They also are given four names (Abraham, Jesus, Jacob, and Joseph) and are to put them in chronological order.  That led to an interesting discussion, as Richard insisted that Jesus was before Abraham, *and* after Joseph too.  But the question actually said "in the order they lived on earth" so he finally accepted that Jesus was not first.

Guess What: The next little section isn't in all the lessons, but it gives some trivia-types of information, or background stuff.  In this case, it is about dreams and visions.

Then the little graphic shows me that we are to flip the page over to do the "Discover the Bible" part.  This is the entire back side of the sheet.  There are instructions in one column, and kind of comic-book looking sections for the majority of the page.  Each section has the specific Bible verses.  I read the verses to the kids, then we follow the instructions.  So, after reading Genesis 41:15-16, for instance, the kid are to cross out the incorrect word (in the bubble, where Joseph is saying "I _can_cannot_ do it" in response to Pharaoh asking him to interpret his dreams.  The kids are also to circle who Joseph said could interpret the dreams (the choices are you, I, God, Daniel, wise men).

This section is the bulk of the lesson.

We flip back to the front, and on this lesson, we complete some timeline activities.  Mostly putting in this year, and talking again about BC vs AD and what they mean.  We also have Adam, Eve, and Noah on the timeline, followed by Abraham, Isaac and Joseph.  The kids draw a cow on the timeline to show when Pharaoh was having these dreams.  I love the timeline activities.  I love that now is always there.

Some lessons have mapping activities instead of timeline ones. Like in Lesson 6, where they kids drew grain inside the only nation that was ready for the famine, and they also worked on identifying various water bodies (Mediterranean Sea, Nile River, Dead Sea, Red Sea).  I've already learned a bit from the mapping activities.

The next section is "Get Active" and it is one that we don't always do.  The suggestion for this lesson had to do with shortcomings and sharing those.  We didn't do the writing, but we did talk about it.

The final section is "Apply It" and it usually involves re-reading one of the verses from the lesson (Genesis 41:9 in this case) and then there is some sort of beginning of a story... and the kids are to finish the story.  There are other questions ("what did the cupbearer do when he realized what he had done wrong?") and then some 'how does this apply to you' ones.  Prayer is always the very last thing in this section.

What do we think?

This is so easy to implement, the kids are learning a lot, and they think it is fun.  It doesn't take long either, which is always a big plus.

This would take even less time if both of the kids were actually reading well, as some of this they could do on their own.  But even with me working with them fairly actively, it is only taking around 20 minutes to do a lesson.  We are doing two lessons a week, which would mean getting through all of Unit 1 (104 lessons) in a full year.  We are thinking about picking that pace up a bit here and going for something more like three lessons per week. 

This is the card for Exodus
The Bible Book Summary Cards are a fantastic resource. Wow.  You can view samples at the website.  But basically, there is a nice, colorful set of illustration on the front of the card, and on the back, there is text to read to tell the student what the book is about.  There are also a series of questions that you can ask your student, and those cover some of the pertinent information about the book.  For instance, the Genesis card (which is all we've used so far) has the kids talking about beginnings, and that the book is mostly about Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  It has them list off the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It has them talking about how Joseph ended up in Egypt, and how the rest of his family got there too.

Love these cards.

Another thing I really like is that we can move up to the Advanced pages at whatever point we decide to do that, and not lose our place in their scope & sequence.  We'll just be doing the same stuff, only at a higher level.  And I can have Richard move on to the 5th-6th grade pages while Trina sticks with the 3rd-4th grade ones, as both kids would be doing roughly the same thing.  However, I suspect for us that we will have them move together.

Another big plus is the cost. Each set of student pages contains 26 lessons and is available for $5.95.  That means that an entire year (4 sets) is just under $24.  The Bible Book Summary Cards are $24.95, but those would last you through all 416 lessons (which is 4 years of lessons!).  The Children's Song CD Set is a 2-CD set for $19.95.  But it really isn't necessary for this age.  Of course, you can purchase all of this as a starter set for $63.20, which saves you $5.50.  Future years would just cost the roughly $24 per student for the student pages.

Definitely go check out other reviews of this and other levels of Bible Study Guide for All Ages!  Good stuff.


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