Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: GrapeVine Studies

I'm always on the lookout for good Bible study materials for kids because of the many different ways we use them. Not only do we enjoy doing them as a family, but we also work with a lot of kids outside our family, from young ones all the way up to teens, and fresh materials are always a help.

This year, we really needed a good Bible study program, as we are between two different ones that I like to use with the kids, so the opportunity to review The Birth of Jesus - Multi-level Studies from GrapeVine Studies came at the perfect time for us. 

What is GrapeVine Studies? This is a Bible study curriculum designed specifically for children to use with their own Bibles and study materials. It does not promote any one certain faith or practice, but allows the student to learn Bible stories through a multi-sensory approach that includes hearing, seeing, and drawing the lessons. GrapeVine has materials for all ages, including beginner lessons for preschoolers all the way through studies for teens.

How does this curriculum work? We received a teacher book, student book, and traceable lessons that can be used for all ages, but are especially helpful for really young students. The Birth of Jesus contains five lessons, that should span about 24 days worth of activity. The program is self paced and very flexible. Older students can complete more, but parents/teachers can break the lessons down into daily or even weekly pages to complete as they see fit. 

I love seeing my kids using their Bibles and studying verses!

The lesson contains a complete timeline for the entire story. We started out by reading the verses and filling out that timeline to see the big picture. Though the teacher book has plenty of suggestions for how to teach the lessons, in the end, the teacher can tailor the program to best meet the needs of their students. 

Each lesson has several drawing pages that correlate with the verses listed. Students hear the story, then draw (or write) it back on these pages, as they understand it. There is a memory verse for each lesson that the student copies onto their worksheet. Also each lesson gives a space for the student to draw what their favorite part of that piece of the story is. At the end of the lesson are review questions which can be answered orally or written down. Each lesson also reviews the timeline regularly, and builds on it as the student progresses through the curriculum.

What is included in the books? The teacher book has diagrams that the teacher can use to draw the lesson on the board as they teach it. Some teachers would prefer that the student interprets the story on their own and draws their own perspective, rather than just copying the teacher's drawings, so the teacher can also just use the teacher book as a guideline for what points to emphasize for each drawing block of the story, guiding the students into completing their pages. The teacher book is 64 pages long.

The 48 page student book contains all the worksheets for the student to read the verses and complete their drawings. GrapeVine is built on the premise that students will retain more information by utilizing this method of hearing the lesson and then drawing it.

The traceable worksheets that we received are the same as the student book, with the exception of the faded gray 'shadow' stick figures drawn on the blocks, for younger children to trace over. 

How did we use this? I used this program with Kelly, my 5th grader. I think she's at a good age for this, because she is starting to develop a little more abstract thinking and interpretive skills, and was able to draw some very interesting illustrations for the program. The stick figures really made her laugh, and she definitely remembered fine details of the stories. The first day I showed her how to draw the stick figure people and she copied my sketches. After that, she took off on her own and came up with some pretty neat illustrations - some resembled the teacher's guide, while others were very different, but all were interesting!

We were able to get out the Bible Atlas as well, and complete a map of Judea at the time of Christ's birth. This was a great exercise in finding information and using the Atlas. 

Using the atlas to complete the map of Judea

The lessons are set up to work them over a 4-5 day period, with built in review days at the end of the week. Because the stories were familiar, Kelly wanted to work at a faster pace. The simplicity of the drawings is conducive to moving along at a faster pace if desired. 

Day 1 of Lesson 1, copying the stick figures.
Some of Kelly's illustrations, showing the generations of the genealogy of Christ, and Mary and Joseph's responses to the news. 

What do we think? This is a simple and enjoyable Bible study curriculum for kids. Kelly laughed quite a bit at the silly drawings (mine included) and really surprised me with some of the interesting ways she illustrated the stories. It was great insight into the way her mind is thinking about the Bible at this stage of her life. As a mom, I was pleased to find a way to have an enjoyable time studying the Bible together with my daughter using GrapeVine Studies.

Need some more information? GrapeVine has a web page that explains all the levels to choose which one would be best for your child. The multi-level curriculum has suggestions in the teacher book for breaking the lesson down into meaningful parts to use with a range of ages, which makes it perfect for a home school family. GrapeVine also has sample lessons on their website to give you a better idea of what a day of GrapeVine lessons might look like in your home school. 

A side note: On the worksheets, only the references are printed out, not the entire verse.  I see two distinct advantages to this: 1) We are able to use our own King James Bibles, and 2) the children get practice in finding verses and reading them out of the Bible, rather than just off a worksheet. I feel like reading the verses right out of the Bible makes them feel like they are really doing a Bible study, not just a fun worksheet.

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Grapevine Studies Review

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