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Looking For A Bible Curriculum


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Here is a review I wrote:


When I evaluate a Bible curriculum, I look for what percentage of questions require the student to answer from the Bible text itself (I shoot for 2/3--most studies unfortunately only hit 50% or less), how factual versus opinion-based any notes are and to what degree there is denominational bias.


I also look for how much a good inductive process is reflected in the study--there should be factual observations, an opportunity to summarize the main point of the passage in one concise statement, and finally, application to real life.


I also think that younger children do well with circling the right answer, puzzles, and drawing in response to the text. However, as your child reaches fourth and fifth grades, their Bible study should include more short answer and independent work. (SWB's SOTW reflects this same progression--SOTW 1 has a lot of coloring and multiple choice on tests, whereas SOTW 4 has more short answer and not so many coloring pages.)


I have not found one single Bible curriculum or study anywhere, ever, that asks for a one-sentence summary of the main point of the passage. I highly advocate adding this feature in to whatever Bible study you use or teach, in any setting. A good way to do this with kids is to ask a question like, "What did you learn about God in this passage?" or "What do you think is the very most important lesson in this passage?" Keep it to one short sentence--there may be many subpoints that are good to know, but it is very valuable to be able to distinguish the main, most important point.


My number one pick would have to be the Explorer's Bible study, which is available at http://www.explorerbiblestudy.org. Many thanks to Jessica at Trivium Academy for recommending it. I was impressed. It has a good amount of factual observation questions, is very Bible-text focused but still includes some cultural/geographical/historical notes here and there, and has a small proportion of application questions in each unit. Information is presented from an evangelical perspective but seems more factual than opinionated. For those who may be familiar with Bible Study Fellowship or Community Bible Study, this curriculum follows the same pattern. Each unit is also laid out into five days of homework--a decently challenging but not overwhelming amount. Another key feature of this curriculum is the fact that there are corresponding adult studies as well. For a logic stage student either their older elementary OR high school study would be appropriate depending upon reading fluency and maturity.


I also, by the way, recommend both BSF and CBS children's programs. I evaluated both. I think the CBS program has slightly more challenging homework, but also really like the way older children and teens are led to do homiletics at the BSF meetings. (Homiletics is a process of generating an outline of the passage with a final, summary statement.) I recommend either program without reservation in addition to the Explorer's curriculum.


I also have used and liked Kay Arthur's Bible study series for children. My own dd has used several books in this series successfully this year. However, I would steer away from *How to Study the Bible* as it is unnecessarily wordy and proved to be quite challenging for the 4th-5th grade girls I taught. The material is not hard--the presentation of it in this book was terribly convoluted, though. If you choose to do that book, take two weeks per unit and plan on really holding your child's hand through it. The other books in the series are much easier and quite doable, though--we have been satisfied with several others in the series. These books have five or seven days of homework per unit, include both factual questions and marking things directly in biblical text, and some application.


After that, I consider Rod and Staff to be a decent alternative. There is a solid amount of factual questions and some good information on history/geography/culture. However, there is virtually no application, and no summary statement opportunity (none of those I reviewed include this). And, even at the older grades there is virtually no short answer--format is still multiple choice and simpler responses. There is more denominational bias in the notes but can be overcome by careful Bible study. This curriculum would be acceptable even if it's not my favorite.


Christian Light was a lot like Rod and Staff but not quite as challenging. I also thought Christian Liberty was middle-range--not the greatest, but not terrible either.


I was really NOT impressed in the least with either Abeka or AlphaOmega and would not recommend those at all. They were simplistic, passive, lacked depth and do not require much from the student at any age.


One final thought--for high school I would gravitate towards the Explorer's adult series or towards NavPress study guides. I also think teens should be generating their own inductive notes (observation-interpretation statement--application) rather than passively responding to a Bible study guide.


There may well be other wonderful resources out there. This is just what I have reviewed. I'd be happy to answer any further questions.

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For those who use Positive Action for Christ, do you buy the TM?


I did when I bought the grade 6 Running the Race, but I didn't need it. I thought it would be nice to have the answers in case I didn't have time to do the work myself, but it is pretty simple for an adult to know the answers.

This year, my dd13 and I did Wise Up and I didn't have the tm. The student book was plenty for us and we both did the student book and went over once/week together. We both enjoyed that time together.

Next year, I will be teaching Behold Your God to 9th graders in our co-op, so I will get the tm for that, but just for at home use, I think you can get by without it.

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Our favorite is always the Bible itself, line by line. I have a strong personal bias against anything that pulls verses from here & there, unless it is very strongly grounded in knowledge of exactly where and when and why we are in a particular place in the Bible. Just one point of view.


This year we read through Luke (in addition to Bible in MFW). We usually add a little "something" to cement our reading in our brain. With Luke, ds writes a sentence about the most interesting person in each day's reading, since Luke is pretty "people-y." I allow him to respond to whatever speaks to him.


Next year, I was thinking of having ds read Proverbs. I'm looking at something called Dig Deep: Unearthing the Treasures of Solomon's Proverbs. Anyone out there used it?


That would only cover the first part (chapters 1-9). For the rest of the book, I've even thought of using MFW's 1st grade (don't tell my 7th grader).

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I recently bought BJU A Servant's Heart for my dd-2nd grade. It's for the coming year, but I looked through it quite a bit before buying it. My dd is very visual so the colorful pictures is a major plus!

We'll do a follow up to whether we liked it or not.;)

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