I am always looking for ways to include more Bible study in our curriculum. However, as my kids get older, this isn’t always easy. So, I was happy to give the Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1 curriculum from Real Life Press a try for this review. The curriculum comes with a PDF Family Study Guide and Student Workbook.
This ten-week study focuses on events from the life of Jesus like his birth and his miracles. I like the fact that it is only a ten-week study because it allows you to move onto other topics. When the guide says “family” they mean it. The study guide breaks the lessons down into activities for younger and older children, so you can truly use it to teach all of your kids at once.
Lessons are divided into daily activities, starting with a main passage that is the basis for the lessons. Scripture memorization for both younger and older kids is included. A short passage explaining the significance of the passage promotes discussion. After that, there are short readings from the Bible for each day, with an extra section for older students that invites them to go deeper into the passage, and a section that talks about ways kids can apply the lesson to their lives that day.
For us, the length of these passages was perfect. Reading them out loud took around 10 minutes. I appreciated the digging deeper section because it gave all of us something to think about. In some cases, we were shown connections between the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus and the fulfillment in the New Testament. Other times, we explored other Biblical characters like David and Moses. The life applications sections invited us to pray, think about Christ’s sacrificial love, and how to model that in our daily lives.
In the workbook portion, you get several activities to go along with the lessons. While no official schedule is given for these activities, they are pretty easy to break down into a few for each day. The same types of activities are included for each lesson, and you can certainly pick and choose the ones you want to do. The activities have a nice balance for older and younger students.
There are some basic questions about the passage, that you can print or discuss orally. Copywork for younger kids and a journaling page for older students encourage kids to explore their thoughts about the passage. At first, these were hard for my boys, because journaling about the Bible was new to them, but eventually, they got the hang of it. Mazes and coloring pages are fun activities, and there are two crosswords, one for older kids and one for younger.
Sometimes when I was reading, my kids would work on the word search, and even though he is older, my middle schooler occasionally asked to do the coloring page. But for me, the best part of the workbook was the exploring the Bible section that taught us more about the structure and connections in the Bible itself. I found these to be very interesting and they led to a lot of “A-ha!” moments for all of us.
In addition, there are mapping activities and other puzzles you can use. For the older kids in particular, the Upper Class worksheets invite students to delve deeper into the subject. These papers include further Bible passages for kids to read and interpret, and questions to really get them thinking. I thought these were VERY appropriate for middle and high school students. For example, in the lesson on John the Baptist, the focus was on repentance and sin, and encouraged kids to look at their own lives and identify the areas they need to work on.
I found that the Upper Class section typically gave us our deepest discussions, and that made me very happy. As my boys become teens I know they face so many challenges, and it is important that I find a way to give them as much support as possible. However, tackling these topics isn’t always easy, so being able to use the study as a starting point, and having a Biblical reference for the discussion, was really helpful.
On the whole, I was very happy with this study from Firmly Planted, and I would be interesting in using their other ones (the series is going to take you all the way through the Bible in 10-lesson sets). The workbook portion of the program costs $24.95 for a PDF download, and you can print copies for your own children. The student book that contains the story and daily readings costs $9.95 for the PDF. The only thing I would change about this is to have a physical copy. While I loved all the colored pages, they took a lot of ink to print, and ink is expensive.
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