I consider Bible study to be the heart of our homeschool. We want everything we do to point our children to the Lord, but, especially as they get older, I want to engage my boys in an active study of God’s word. However, the key part of that equation is truly engaging them. So many Bible studies seem to be based on dry recitation of verses and facts. Don’t get me wrong, scripture memorization is important, and we do that, but I think that for any kind of learning to really stick, kids have to be actively engaged in the learning part of it. For this review, we got to check out the Old Testament 1: Level 4 Creation to Jacob Bible study from GrapeVine Studies. It’s a very different sort of Bible study that still focuses on the important principles, but uses different methods to get student’s attention and get them involved in learning.
To complete the level 4 lessons, students will need access to a Bible concordance or dictionary. We have an older version of a concordance given to us by my mother in law that we used, but there are also plenty of online resources you can use to find this information. The study comes with a pretty extensive teacher’s guide that you do need to become familiar with. Of course all homeschoolers like to tweak the programs they use, but this one does have some pretty specific methods that teachers will need to follow. The nice thing is that everything is all laid out in the guide, including the schedule, so it is pretty easy to follow.
Basically, the teacher’s guide walks you through the lesson, complete with a script and detailed images showing you exactly what to draw! I found this to be very handy. Now, keep in mind that you do NOT have to be an artist to use this curriculum. The whole idea is to use stick figuring to complete the pictures, which makes it perfect for parents and students alike. I have very very limited artistic talent. Stick figures are about all I can handle. So, when I was modeling the pictures on the whiteboard, they were almost laughable. However, my 14 year old has inherited quite a bit of artistic talent from his grandmother, and his pictures were much better than mine.
Each lesson starts with the timeline, where teachers introduce the Bible passage and help students map it out. I feel like drawing it out on the timeline really helped to cement the events in my son’s mind. The guide gives you an idea of what each student page should look like when you are done, so you can kind of eyeball if your child got the right idea or not. From there, you move into the formal lesson, taken from other Bible passages and including memory verses and key points all broken down in the guide. Students also have drawing pages where they take visual notes on this part of the lesson as well. Lessons are spread over several days, and at the end of each section there is a review-type page that involves having students use a concordance or dictionary to answer questions related to the lesson.
Now, while we did follow the instructions for all of the drawing pages exactly as they were given, I found this program worked better if I read the teacher’s notes the night before each lesson, and then summarized them rather than reading them verbatim for my son. He’s older, so he doesn’t need word-by-word instruction. For the lesson days, we often read the passage from the Bible for that day, then I summarized the key points from the teacher’s notes again while he did his drawings. In all, we spend anywhere from 15-30 minutes a day working on Bible four days per week. On the fifth day he did Bible reading on his own.
At first, this study seemed a little complicated. However, once we got into a groove, it got pretty easy because you really repeat the same steps the whole time. My son enjoyed drawing his notes, because like I said, he is a natural artist. I would definitely recommend this study for students who like to draw, or for kids who tend to get fidgety during lessons, because it gives them something to do with their hands.
Grapevine offers several different levels and types of studies, some of which can be combined. For help deciding where to start, check out this flow chart: