Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Bible Study Guide For All Ages - Primary Level

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I had the fortunate blessing to review the Primary Level of the Bible Study Guide For All Ages (BSGFAA) curriculum as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I was sent the Primary Teacher GuidePrimary Student Pages, Bible Book Summary Cards, and the Children's Songs CD Set. I have been searching for a complete self-explanatory Bible curriculum that I could use with Alyssa for years. I wasn't raised in a Christian home so I knew I needed a well-organized, user-friendly curriculum. The crew introduced me to the Bible Study Guide For All Ages. As soon as I viewed the samples, I knew the curriculum would be a perfect fit for my daughter's needs and abilities.

What I Received
Would you like to hear more about each product that arrived in our package? Check out our goodies below!

The package that I was sent included both the REQUIRED Primary Teacher Guide and the consumable Primary Student Pages for Unit 1 Quarter 1 which consists of the first 26 lessons. The primary level contains four units with a combined total of 416 lessons each covering the Old and New Testament of the Bible. The material covered in the lessons is geared toward children in first and second grade (approximately 6-8 years old give or take a year). The Primary Level was created in a way that allows struggling, on level, and advanced readers to participate actively in the lessons. The website contains samples with thorough explanations for each section of the daily lesson. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the level when considering the appropriateness for your child.
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I also received the smaller set of the brightly colored Bible Book Summary Cards printed on heavy cardstock. The card dimensions were 8.5" x 11." You can view a sample summary card here. The awesome Bible Book Summary cards discuss all 66 Bible books. This fantastic tool contains teaching tips and comprehension questions on the back of the card. It won't take long for your child to memorize the facts using the colorful eye-catching illustrations or pictorial clues on the front. We use the Bible Book Summary Cards when indicated in the manual. I also make the cards available to use during Alyssa's free time. I hope to eventually learn one card each week. The informative cards are definitely helping us both learn the Bible books and their contents. These can be used with the BSGFAA curriculum, as a supplement to any Bible-based curriculum, or as a stand-alone product for personal Bible studies.
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The Children's Songs CD Set consist of 90 acapella Bible songs that contain catchy tunes that grab the child's attention. Alyssa immediately tried to learn the words so that she could sing along. She also assigned hand motions and choreographed dances to the lyrics. You can listen to sample songs and see a complete list of songs here. My daughter enjoyed listening to the "Twelve Sons of Jacob," "The B-I-B-L-E" song, and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Bible stories, key characters in the Bible, the Gospel, praise, heaven, attitude, peace, and love are just a few of the topics drilled through music and song. The CD's are an optional add-on, but I see it more as an integral piece of the program. It's a great way for children to memorize and retain the information taught. You can also take it in the car when you travel or play it as children complete chores.
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How We Used It
I used the Primary Level of Bible Study Guide For All Ages with my five-year-old daughter 2-4 times per week usually in the morning or early afternoon. We completed one lesson each session in approximately 30-75 minutes. Lessons took longer in the beginning, because I was familiarizing myself with the lesson format. In a short amount of time lessons were completed at a much faster pace. I decided to use our couple's Bible in NIV format for the Bible read aloud portions of the lessons so that the scripture readings would match the student pages. The student pages are based on the NIV version of the Bible. However, please know that you can easily use ANY Bible version with this curriculum. Lapbooking extensions and notebooking enrichments were used in conjunction with and as supplements to this curriculum even though they were not necessary.

A Glimpse of a Daily Lesson
Objectives and Materials
This section is found in the teacher guide. I almost always restate the objective as a brief child-friendly announcement of what we plan to cover for the day.

Review (A)
First, we complete the review section using both the teacher guide and student pages simultaneously. This component consists of short and long-term review. Alyssa was given instructions on how to complete her student pages. Activities consisted of narrations (retelling) based on the Bible story events seen in the illustrations, fill-in the blanks exercises, complete the drawings, matching, tracing, coloring, true or false, or marking answers as indicated. I love that children are taught to follow directions while reviewing pertinent information. I appreciate that the scripture references were noted within the answer key. If Alyssa misunderstood any part of the lesson, I reread the reference and we discussed the correct answer.
Completed Student Review Page
Parent Teacher Guide:
Answer Key With Scripture References
Memory Work (B)
In this section, we cover memory drill work. Alyssa learned the two parts of the Bible, the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, the four divisions of the New Testament, and she is familiar with the basic themes or content of the Bible. She is trying to learn which Bible books are in each of the four divisions. We also discussed the first Bible Book Summary Card which covers the book of Genesis. The next Bible Book Summary Card introduced was Daniel. We both look forward to gaining more knowledge about the Bible books using these cards during memory work time. I couldn't believe how much I was actually learning with Alyssa.
Student Page: Memory Work Labeled B
Illustrated Front
Back of the Genesis Summary Card
Utilizing the Four Divisions of the New Testament Drill Pages
Add to Bible Lapbook or Memory Work Binder
Things to Know (C)
This section contains a short mini-lesson that may focus on explaining vocabulary terminology or historical facts that Alyssa must know in order to comprehend or understand the Bible reading.
Teacher Guide Notes
Student Page Showed Illustration Only
Today's Bible Text (D)
I believe this is the most important part of the Bible curriculum. Alyssa locates the book and verses to be read aloud in our NIV Bible. I read a section of the Bible indicated in bold print at the top of the student pages. We complete the Bible readings in numerical order for the day's lesson. Then, I ask Alyssa to read and summarize the corresponding Bible or scripture reading in her student book. She'll complete a quick activity after each reading section. I state the directions aloud such as "Color Jacob's face green or with orange, circle the promises God made to Jacob." She marks the pages while I begin reading the next section of the Bible. Basically, we take turns reading the verses until we get to the review questions. Each Bible reading consists of review questions that wrap up and summarize the important aspects of the lesson. The lessons proved to be purposeful and meaningful!
Teacher Guide
Bold Text Read Aloud by Teacher
Italicized Text Read By Child (Optional)
Locating and Reading the Scripture
Teacher Guide Review Questions
Completed Student Page
Another Interactive "Bible Text" Page
Pointing to each of Jacob's sons as she sings the song.
Timeline or Map Work (E)
Alyssa now flips the student page over to complete either the timeline activities or map skills. Map and timeline work alternates for each lesson. You will not complete both on the same day. However, I did make use of the wall timeline and wall map information in the teacher guide. We did not have either of those optional items, but I usually reworded the information so that Alyssa could practice even more skills. We flipped pages back or forward to find relevant maps and timelines for some questions I created. I love the fact that geography is integrated into the lesson and that she is familiarizing herself with maps and timelines!
Lesson 12 Timeline
Lesson 13 Map Work
Apply It and Prayer Time (F)
A modern day comic representing real life scenarios is presented. Alyssa learned how to apply the concepts learned to her own life. The pictures can be colored if desired. The book suggests that the parent leads the prayer. I always let my daughter lead the prayer and then I pray afterwards. I wanted to know what she learned. Her insightful prayers were unbelievable . . . I was simply amazed at her level of understanding!
Objective: Children are God's gifts.
Get Active!
This component contained hands-on, active exercises that required the child's attentive participation. I found it helpful to have the scripted lessons with the teacher instructions noted in regular print and the words to be stated aloud were indicated in bold print. One "Get Active" lesson instructed me to read aloud several scenarios. Alyssa's job was to decide whether or not the child was telling the truth or lying. If the child was being truthful, then she flashed the smiley face at me. If the child in the story was lying, then she revealed the frowning face. The lesson ended with a reference to an objective they will be learning for the day which sparked the child's curiosity such as "Today we are going to learn about some people who lied to try and cover up something they did wrong." Alyssa also had a grand time when I blindfolded her eyes and gave her verbal directions to the workout room. She had to have trust in me and God. The last photo was from Lesson 13.
Telling the Truth or Lying
Memory Game
Drill Pages at Back of Teacher Guide

You Are A Gift from God!
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  1. The organized step-by-step lessons are quick and simple. The teacher guide contained a "Quick Teacher Reference" at the beginning of the manual with instructions explaining how to use the curriculum properly.
  2. The curriculum is ready to go. There's very little teacher or parent prep besides gathering a few materials or basic supplies for object lessons most of which we already had on hand.
  3. The New and Old Testament of the Bible are covered in one year providing variety to the lessons. The study guide does NOT go in chronological order from creation to resurrection. The order and topics to be studied can be seen here. At first this aspect of the curriculum worried me, but I can see the benefits of balancing and covering both parts of the Bible. 
  4. Any version or format of the Bible can be utilized easily with the lessons. Parents can extend the applications with their own beliefs or opinions. 
  5. The curriculum is flexible allowing you to decide how many lessons each week you will complete. The lessons are not dated which means you can decide the pace and when you'll begin. 
  6. The integrated map and timeline activities are outstanding features of the curriculum. It's a great way to incorporate geography and timeline work as you teach Biblical history. The child begins to solidify learning and understand the chronology of Bible events. 
  7. I liked many of the "Get Active" activities. The activities change the routine and pace. Children are moving around the room and not sitting at the table for the entire lesson. This helps keep their attention and motivates them. A variety of learning modalities were addressed through the exercises. Alyssa loved making cards for others, building with Lego pieces, and she truly enjoyed the marshmallow pretzel activity where she built something special.   
  8. I was surprised how the "Apply It" lessons truly came to life. The activities were meaningful and relevant showing Alyssa how to apply the lessons learned to her own life.
  9. The concepts and Bible truths follow the beliefs of our family. We believe that the Bible should be our guide and is the Word of God. The study teaches us how to apply the material to our lives. Furthermore, the lessons aren't geared toward any one specific religion or church denomination. The lessons focus on God and the Word in the Bible. You can read more about this in the FAQ.
Possible Cons
  1. The only thing that really bothered me was the binding for the student activity pages. The thin paper cover is flimsy and the student pages fall out easily. I believe they were meant to be torn off as completed (similar to a tear pad format), but I wanted everything to be available in one convenient place for review purposes. I find it difficult to track down loose papers. I would suggest offering the student pages in spiral-bound format. I would also add a sturdy laminated cover to the student pages and teacher guide. This is simply a preference and would not keep me from using the curriculum.
  2. Several activities assume that the parent is working with a large class or family with multiple children. I recommend adding different activities or differentiating the lessons for families teaching only one child at this particular level. I had to adapt several of the "Get Active" components of the lesson so that they could work for us such as the Candy Compliment, Telephone Game, and the Chain Prayer activities. There was also an "act out the blessing scene" exercise from the "Things to Know" section that needed to be modified. I often enlisted the help of my hubby, but unfortunately he's not always home during Bible time. 
Possible Suggestions
  • I suggest adding lyrics for the song titles included on the CD. This is not necessary but helps individuals that prefer to see the words while singing. 
Overall Thoughts
I can honestly say that I do not have to look any further for a Bible curriculum. This is THE BEST curriculum for or family! Bible Study Guide For All Ages received two thumbs up with cheers and big smiles from my daughter. She hugged and thanked me for actually making the review list for this product. I will most definitely purchase the rest of this magnificent curriculum even if I have to do it in small increments (unit by unit) over several years. I really want to purchase the wall maps and timeline so that Alyssa can see the bigger picture and have more interaction with the tools. I already placed the rest of Unit 1 and Unit 2 on my curriculum wish list for this year. I am very grateful that the crew introduced to me to The Bible Study Guide For All Ages. I just hope we can continue using it this year, because we absolutely LOVE the simplicity, organization, and comprehensiveness of the curriculum. I am flabbergasted by how easy it is to implement this program. I wish I had found it sooner, because using it is much easier than choosing and creating a program using FREE online resources. Bible Study Guide For All Ages has become ONE of our favorite programs this year! My daughter begs me to do lessons. In fact, we hope to increase the number of lessons each week aiming to complete a full lesson at least four times a week. I would use the fifth day for review, notebooking, and lapbooking supplements.

I definitely recommend this top-notch Bible curriculum to EVERYONE! This curriculum can be used by homeschool families, Sunday Schools, at private christian schools, as the curriculum for Vacation Bible School, and in other church, coop, or group settings. Even if you don't homeschool, you could easily incorporate several family devotional lessons a week into your day.

If you were to purchase all four of the units for this particular level all at once, then it could get pretty expensive depending on which optional materials you buy. Each parent manual costs $9.95 and the student pages retail for $5.95 each. The Bible Book Summary Cards are available in two sizes. You can purchase either size for $24.95. The larger poster size can be colored. The Children's Songs CD set is sold separately for $19.95. Visit the website store to figure out which package meets your needs.

Other Product Suggestions
Wall Maps, Labels, and Wall Timeline (one time purchase)
Beginner Student Pages (Ages 3 to Kindergarten)
Intermediate Student Pages (3rd-4th Grade)
Advanced Student Pages (5th-6th Grade)

Social Media
If you have any questions about this product, please feel free to contact the company. You may want to read through the FAQ first. You can follow the Bible Study Guide For All Ages on Facebook and Twitter

Read more reviews for the Bible Study Guide For All Ages at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
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  1. Thank you for your thoughtful review! I purchased the first book of Unit 1 & my son enjoyed using it. And I kind of let it fall by the wayside. My question is how do you feel about the lessons/units not being in chronological order? Am I worrying too much about this?

  2. I don't worry so much about the lessons not being in chronological order, but that is a personal preference. We really enjoy using this curriculum. I like that it covers both the Old and the New Testament each year providing us with a "balanced" view and it gives us more variety with lessons. My daughter isn't confused like I thought she would be either. I did a quick Google search and came across the following document on the blog, Planted Trees, which may help with teaching the lessons in chronological order if this aspect is of great importance. BSGFAA is adaptable and flexible for homeschooling families. Here is the link http://www.theplantedtrees.com/2012/09/final-analysis-friday-bible-study-guide.html if you would like to check it out. Hope this helps!

  3. Thank you so much! I don't suppose it really matters if I teach it chonologically; maybe that's just a hang up from teaching Classical method chronological history! :-). I will definitely check out the link. Thnks again!

  4. We've been using this curriculum for two years now and all three of my kids still enjoy it. What I did about the binding is have the binding cut off of all four quarters from a year's unit and then spiral bound together. Now we have a much sturdier workbook for each student. However, I can totally see the benefit of having a more tear page format for a Bible class setting. Secondly, only the primary pages require the teacher's edition, so if someone's child is above or below that level they can cut that cost out. We use the teacher's manual for my boys who are doing the primary level, but my daughter uses the intermediate level and everything she needs is already on her page. Their website even states this. It's a lot less expensive when you don't have to buy the teacher's books and the other additional resources are reused from year to year. I just didn't want the cost to deter someone from what I think is the best Bible curriculum I've found (though, I think it's worth every penny).