Thursday, March 10, 2016

Grapevine Studies Review

Homeschooling 5 kiddies makes for some busy days. We like to school together as much as we can, because it simplifies the lessons, encourages family time, and helps us learn from each other. When we had the chance to review a Bible curriculum from Grapevine Studies that could be used with all the kids, I knew it would be a blessing.  The past many weeks we've been studying using the following books:

New Testament 1: Beginner John to the Apostles
New Testament 1: Level 1 Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry
New Testament 1: Level 3 Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry

Grapevine Studies is a Bible study curriculum that helps teachers simplify planning, engage students, and grow disciples. Their mission is "to provide believers with the tools they need to know God's Word and to disciple others." Its method teaches students to "stick figure through the Bible," meaning draw a simple stick figure scene to remember the facts of the story. The lessons are introduced with a timeline and then expound on the characters and biblical events on that timeline. The process for the preschool/kindergarten level is Hear-Draw-Review, while the older students will learn through Read-Draw-Review.  

Our kids' ages are 10, 7, 6, and 3, so even though we were studying the same topic, I chose books according to their levels. I picked both the Beginner and Beginner Traceable books for my two little ones, the Level 1 and Level 1 Traceable books for my middle child, and the Level 3 book for my oldest. Of course, the baby is too young to be completing lessons, but that didn't stop him trying to be included by grabbing things off the table and jabbering over our voices, ha.

Every morning, we sit at the table together to complete the lesson. Since we are using the ebooks, I printed the pages and created a notebook for each child. (Having your own notebook is so much cooler than having your own textbook, by the way.) There are corresponding teacher books for each level that walk you step-by-step through the curriculum. I couldn't teach from all the teacher notes, because that would take a long time and defeat the purpose of learning the class together. I chose the level 3 book to use as my guide. The problem with using 3 different levels is that they don't match up entirely. I know, that should seem pretty obviously, right? The Beginners level has quite a bit less information than levels 1 and 3. It is missing the timelines and has fewer details and drawing spots for the stories, in order to keep things simple for the little ones.  

We received both the traceable books and student (blank, draw-your-own) books for the younger levels. I gave my kids a choice as to which one they wanted to use. They all chose the traceables. There are differences in those, as well. Simpler pictures for the little ones and gaining a bit more detail as the levels get higher.

The problem that we ran into was that the oldest was able to be more creative since he had blank boxes to draw. In one of the pictures, John the Baptist was drawn with a large tummy, so from then on, the kids referred to John as a Sumo Baby. The younger kids stopped following the pre-drawn figures and added extra details (the curriculum encourages this, as well).

Also, since the Beginner level doesn't cover all the details, their are portions when they didn't have any pages to complete. My two little guys drew on the margins of other papers or added blank pages in the notebook to create.  

I encourage this creativity and am thankful that I had printed through only lesson 3 when I assembled their notebooks. At that point, I asked the kids if they wanted to continue with their current books or switch to level 3. They wanted to swap, which made the lessons go even smoother since all the pages matched. And the kids were able to be as creative as they wanted. It was a win-win situation.

Along with the stick-figuring sections, there are other forms of learning through the books.  There are memory verses and review questions at the end of each lesson, such as

Who was the king when Zacharias was a priest?
What happened as a result of Zacharias' unbelief? (This one always brings giggles.)
What did Gabriel tell Mary?
How did Joseph respond to what the angel told him?
What do we know about Jesus as He grew to be a man?
How did Jesus respond to temptation?
How are we to treat our enemies?
When did Jesus pray? 

Character even cards are included for the higher levels. The students draw their favorite part of the lesson, write the memory verse, and add key facts to remember. My kids loved this review time.

The level 3 book pushes the student even more in his Bible study. Looking up words in a Bible dictionary, finding verses in a concordance, comparing and contrasting characters, identifying biblical locations on a map are some of the things covered.

Even my younger ones enjoy these further studies. They may not understand the deeper themes, but I love that they're learning and picking up bits up information as they listen to their older siblings. 

My kids are enjoying using Grapevine Studies for our Bible class. Every morning when I say it's time to start school, they rush to grab their notebooks. Our lessons are filled with laughter as the kids draw their pictures and show them off to each other. Stick figuring through the Bible is such a simple, yet fantastic idea. The curriculum is easy to use, even if you're working with different age groups, which makes it great for a family study. Even though we found it best for us to use the same book for all the kids, it's written in a way that you could use the appropriate level for each student. More important than having fun though is that my little ones are retaining what they've learned. You can ask them about the temptations of Jesus or what happened when He was baptized or what happened because of Zacharias' unbelief. They can tell you. That means the curriculum is working. That is the most important of all.  

You can connect with Grapevine Studies on the following social media sites:

Some of my Crew Mates have been using other studies offered by Grapevine Studies. To read these reviews, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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1 comment:

  1. I think it's great you let the children decide what book they wanted to use.