Monday, August 5, 2013

{Crew Review} Bible Study Guide for All Ages

When you’ve been homeschooling long enough, you are bound to come across some curriculum that sound great but intimating at the same time.  That has always been my feeling whenever I’ve heard about Bible Study Guide For All Ages (BSGFAA) – I love the name of it, love the idea of it, but when people have described it, it just sounded like too much.

This is one of the reasons I LOVE reviewing materials for The Old Schoolhouse magazine – I have had the opportunity to try materials I never would have risked time and money to attempt.
Let me say from the outset that Bible Study Guide For All Ages has far exceeded my expectation.  We love it.

What We Are using: When asked to review the material, I really had to carefully consider how I could make this work for my rising 2nd grader and 5th grader.  It is important for me to keep them together (i.e. studying the same material at the same time) because it totally saves my sanity. 
Bible Study Guide For All Ages divides their curriculum into grade levels:
Beginner (non-reader)
Primary (1 – 2 grade)
Intermediate ( 3 – 4 grade)
Advanced (5 – 6 grade)
Because the Primary level bridges between non-readers and readers, it has a different pacing than the other three levels.  So, you can see that my need to keep my sanity intact led me to bump Levi up to the Intermediate Student Pages ($5.95 per student for 26 lessons) which are geared for grades 3-4.  Thankfully, Levi is an advance reader and this level has not proven to be difficult for him.  Actually, even if he were a grade-level reader, I think Levi could do just as well with the Intermediate level materials, because he really isn’t required to read or write anything complex or long. We tend to read the directions for each lesson together, so I can definitely see that the Intermediate pages would work for a wide age range. Luke used the 5th-6th grade Advanced Student Pages ($5.95 per student for 26 lessons) and these have been great for his relatively grade-level abilities.    

The entire Bible is divided into four units of slightly more than 100 lessons in each unit.  Each $5.95 packet contains 26 lessons.  In two to four years (depending on how often you complete a lesson), you will have read through the Bible with your children using BSGFAA.  The first set of lessons (26 lessons) starts in Genesis, but (thankfully) you also study Daniel and Jesus’ early life through the Gospel of Luke.  So, you can see that BSGFAA jumps around the Bible – as a matter of fact you can view the sequence at their page Order of Study.

Check out BSGFAA’s Choosing Materials questions for more help and learning about how to use the materials with your teens.

We were also sent Bible Book Summary Cards ($24.95). This are 66 heavy cardstock/ poster board  signs that use pictures to describe each book of the Bible.  The backside of the card includes a short summary as well as open-ended questions you can ask your students. These questions help your students remember distinctive elements of each book of the Bible. You can view samples directly from BSGFAA’s website.

How We Used This:  My goal in trying this Bible curriculum was to see if Luke and Levi could work simultaneously to complete a Bible lesson that can impact our character and world.  What I mean is that I wanted Bible lessons that are not just retellings of Bible stories – I wanted the Bible lessons to have a explicit life application that is relevant to 8-11 year olds.  I was not disappointed.

A daily Bible lesson is include on one, two-sided legal sized sheet of paper.  

sample 1

There is always some review/ memory work at the beginning of each lesson (1 & 2, above). These sections help review the previous lesson as well as practice learning basic Bible knowledge – books of the Bible, for example, or the twelve sons of Jacob.  The Guess What section (3) provides some background information that is important to the context or setting of the story.  Next, you turn the page over to the backside for the lesson:
sample 2

The backside (‘Discover the Bible’) had two sections.  The right side has the story broken down into segments, with cartoonish (but not disrespectful) drawings to retell major parts of the story.  Additionally, each frame has a way for the child to interact with the text – crossing off wrong answers, writing in a small picture to finish the story, writing in a few key words, or circling responses.  The questions on the left side will provide the instructions to the child.  

After interacting with the daily Bible reading, we usually turned the paper back to the front side and  finished up with either a timeline or map/ geography lesson to complete. Finally, there is the application section.  I’ve really liked the way these questions are set up.  First, a scenario is presented to the student for them to tell the ending.  This requires the student to think about how God would want us to respond.  A few other questions are asked which helps to draw parallels from the actions (good and bad) of the men and women in the Bible with my guys. Finally, an opportunity to pray and even to interact with the material is provided.  The section “Get Active” allows students to get up from their chair and work out some wiggles while applying Bible truth in a fun way.

Advanced vs. Intermediate.  Luke and Levi were easily able to work side-by-side to complete these lessons. Usually, the main difference between the two was in the amount of writing the boys were required to do to answer questions, although sometimes Luke was asked for slightly more information. But the required Biblical reading itself was exactly the same for each of the ‘Discover the Bible’ questions.

Pacing. At first, I was pretty doubtful that we could work through one lesson in one sitting.  But, as we got more familiar with the structure of the lessons, we increased our pacing and were able to finish it in about 30-40 minutes.  That is a good amount of time for us to have a Bible lesson, but I would be totally comfortable splitting each lesson across two days.  I think for the beginning of the year, since we have a lot of new things going on this fall, we will do BSGFAA four days a week with one day off because of our Classical Conversations day.  Perhaps as we get a groove into our year, we can work up to completing four lessons per week.

My recommendations & thoughts:  My elementary aged boys really liked this Bible curriculum, and I’m pleased with it as well.  I should add that we didn’t have the song CD to help us with the memory work, but I’m confident that we can still work through the facts without the songs.  A timeline is also recommended, but I think the smaller timelines on nearly every other lesson page will be fine for us.
To read how other reviewers like the other two levels – Beginner and Primary – as well as the Intermediate and Advanced, click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.
All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

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