Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Bible Study Guide For All Ages

Even though we spend a lot of time in church, hearing sermons, and listening to great men of God, I still wish to teach my children the importance of personal Bible study. It is difficult to find children's study materials. Much of what we have tried is either too childish, or has concepts too mature and abstract for the elementary age children to grasp. I found an excellent fit for children's Bible study when we reviewed the Advanced Study Pages and Bible Book Study Cards from Bible Study Guide For All Ages through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Bible Study Guide is a parent created curriculum used to teach children how to study the Bible and apply it to their life. The lessons come in packets of 26 lessons - one per student. They are affordable at $5.95 per packet, or can also be purchased in kits along with supporting materials.

Bible Book Summary Cards are beautiful, sturdy 8 1/2"x11" flash cards. A set of 66 cards (one per book of the Bible) sells for $24.95. You can view a sample card here.  These cards helps students to remember the main theme and character of each book. The front of the card has illustrations of the main events or theme of the book, and the back has the name of the book, along with teaching tips and questions to ask students about that particular book.

The Bible study guide pages come in various levels, from age 3 to adult. (We reviewed the advanced series, which is geared towards grades 5-6.) You can view and download a sample pdf of a page here.

Each lesson sheet is broken down into sections, including:
  • Remember it? (questions to be used after reading the Scripture reference)
  • Memory Workout (ongoing memory project)
  • Guess What (interesting facts)
  • Timeline (teaching 'the big picture' and how the current story fits into the whole Bible and historical setting.)
  • Map (teaches the geographical location of the lesson)
  • Apply It (thought provoking questions and ideas to make the story relevant to the student)
  • Get Active (practical activity for the student to put into practice what they have just learned)
  • Discover the Bible (activities on the worksheet)

Bible study guide lessons are not affiliated with any one church or denomination, and they do not promote or use any specific version. This is a very important point to me. We have rejected many good curriculums because they have endorsed versions or doctrines that we did not wish to use in our home. The authors have carefully tried to create a lesson that teaches the student how to use their own Bible for study, and how to learn the facts and the big picture of the Bible.  There is a lot of flexibility for the parent or teacher to instruct the students with their own applications of the Scriptures. Each lesson sheet has the Scripture reference for that lesson in the upper left corner of the page, and the family reads those verses together, and then completes the lesson. Multiple ages can use the corresponding lessons and work at their own levels, and the Scripture and stories will be the same, while the actual student work will vary.

The Bible Study Guide lessons are designed to complete 2 lessons per week, completing a study of the entire Bible in 4 years. You can view the order of study here. The Bible study guide lessons do 'skip around' a bit - they are not completely chronological. They teach some of the main characters that a child might be familiar with, and place them in a timeline of the entire Bible so they are able to start learning the big picture of when those people lived in relation to Jesus, the cross, and our current era. 


How we used these materials: We have gone over the Bible study cards as review. My children enjoy these cards so much, and like to just look at them and ask each other the questions on the back. Thinking that I would have Melissa and Kelly complete the Bible Study Guide lessons together, I selected the "Advanced" lessons for both. It is between their ages (3rd and 7th grade). If I truly understood when I was selecting these, that they would cover the same material but on a different level, and we could have still worked on them together, I would have selected "Intermediate" for Kelly. While she had no trouble reading the lessons, some of the concepts were a little too abstract for her. On the other hand, even though Melissa is above the grade level for the Advanced, they seemed perfect for her, and she was able to work steadily through the lessons, enjoying every minute of it. Kelly needed more help, but I think that if she had the intermediate she also could have used these lessons more independently. It's not a problem with the curriculum at all, just a mistake that mom made! Kelly actually still did enjoy the lessons a lot though.

What I really liked: There was a lot to like about these lessons. I love that the children have to look up the Scriptures in their Bible and read from their Bible. I enjoy that versions and doctrines are left out of these lessons, making them a great way to just learn the characters and facts about the Bible itself in a child-friendly way, leaving doctrine for the parent to teach. I enjoy all the practical application ideas, and child friendly drawings that look like cartoon characters, but also look very 'Biblical'.

A step back in time: The Bible Summary Cards reminded me of my days as a student, learning Old and New Testament Survey. I remember taking tests where I had to list the theme, author, setting, and main characters of each book in the Bible. These cards reminded me SO MUCH of those courses! These cards are an excellent way to equip young students with a good working knowledge of their Bibles! They sure are an easier way to learn it than I ever remember!

Other materials available: While I did not review these materials, I wanted to mention that they are available, and referred to in the lessons. I definitely think you could use the lessons without them, but also think that it would surely enhance the studies, especially if used with an entire family of children, or in a school or Sunday School setting.
  • Wall-size timeline and map
  • Advanced teacher key gives answers to all the fill-in-the-blanks, as well as teaching tips for giving a background to the Bible stories, and using the maps and timelines.
  • Children's Song CD has 90 a capella songs that not only reinforce the lessons, but also are fun Bible songs for kids to learn.
What I would improve: The lessons come attached together on a pad, with a glued edge. The children liked to fold the page behind to work on their current lesson, and the pages easily came undone from the pack. I like the fact that they are all in a pack, and would happily keep them together if I could. If I could, I would redesign these to be a little smaller (the pages are long) to fit in a looseleaf notebook with 3 holes punched on the sides, or something similar. I would like the children to keep them in order and be able to refer back to previous lessons, and the size of the pages makes them very bulky and difficult to work on and store. Also the children wanted to take them in the car and work on them on a long car ride, but the lesson sheets did not fit nicely on their laps and it was too difficult.

In the future: I love this curriculum so much that I am planning on having Melissa work through the entire set of these lessons. I will be purchasing the next sets of packets, and using it as her daily Bible curriculum. She enjoys them, the content is excellent, and I would like her to complete the entire series. There is no better recommendation than that!

If you would like to see what the rest of the Crew thought of this curriculum, and the other levels, please click here. (or the banner below)

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