Friday, March 26, 2010

Question: Bible Curriculum

Question from Sherry:
I'm aware of the strong young earth tendency of most Bible curriculum. Do you have any recommendations for Early Elementary Homeschool curriculum? (That is not "fluffy.")
Sherry, I like the "not fluffy" qualification. That's a great way of alluding to the overall problem facing a lot of Bible curriculum, especially the ones used in many churches for Sunday School and VBS. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I find that a lot of what passes as Bible curriculum in the homeschool community is (How can I say this nicely?) overbearingly boring.

Is it really too much to ask that a Bible curriculum actually be fun and easy to teach and make a child excited to learn?

Ok, I'm off the soapbox now. Here is what I've found.

Pre-school - Kindergarten
You can probably just use a good story Bible. Use this time to familiarize your kids with the stories of the Bible. Here are a couple story Bibles that I like because they actually try to teach children the entire story of the Bible as a coherent whole and not just a bunch of random stories. (What a concept!)
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition Quick word here: I am a BIG proponent of using audio stories with kids starting about the age of three. It increases their vocabulary and gets them used to hearing what sentences sound like thereby preparing them to read.

Grades 1-3
  • God's Big Picture published by Gospel Light. I found a sample lesson you can download (see pages 7-9 only). This is a very interactive way to teach the Bible. As you tell the story, you draw small pictures on the board that illustrate key scenes and concepts from the story. Then the child copies the drawings on his paper. By the end, students have basically created their own picture Bible. Both of my girls' LOVED this and it takes basically no time to prepare. And you don't have to be a good artist to do it. Believe me, I'm not. Some parts of the story scripts you read are a little weak at times, but I just filled in the gaps with better theology as I went along. In my opinion, you only need the book. The other stuff in the kit is all optional. And we don't do any of the crafts or games. Just the stories. But this is far and away my favorite curriculum. It will work with older kids, too. My fifth grader was more than a little jealous that I was doing this with her younger sister on days when she wasn't around.
  • A distant second is the Picture This! curriculum. It also goes through the whole Bible and is a drawing curriculum. The scripts are also somewhat theologically weak at times, but again I just sort of fix it as I go along. They have a sample lesson on the book of Ruth you can do to try it out. What I don't like about this curriculum is that, in my opinion, it gets repetitious after a while. Personally, I get bored with it. But maybe that's just me because my kids enjoy it. This is something that can be done with siblings in upper grades as well, which is nice.
  • Kids Quest Catechism Club published by Great Commission Publications. What I like about this is that it makes memorizing basic Christian doctrine a lot of fun. Many so-called catechism curriculum basically involve dry, rote memorization. On the downside, it takes a little more preparation and adaptation to the homeschool environment. It's actually written to be used as a children's church or mid-week study. But it's perfectly capable of being used by homeschool families. You just have to be willing to wade through some of the instructions and find the main ideas. You can order a free sample pack from the publisher to get the idea of how it's laid out.
I'm sure there are other good options. I'm just always hesitant to recommend something that I haven't actually used myself.

One final thought, be sure to catch my upcoming podcast series on how to choose a Bible for your child. That's the foundation of everything.

Hope that's helpful.

2 comments:

stephanie j. said...

Oooh, we love the Jesus Storybook Bible.

Another good and non-fluffy Bible Curriculum (definitely reformed/Calvinistic in nature) is "The Big Book of Questions and Answers About God: By Sinclair Ferguson. He also wrote the "BBQA About Jesus". These can definitely be developed into full curriculum. (Link to amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Questions-Answers-Ferguson-Sinclair/dp/1857922956/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1269623746&sr=8-1-fkmr1)

Theology Mom said...

Stephanie:

Thanks for the suggestion. I have heard of this series, but don't have a copy.