“Stick Figuring” Through the Bible (Crew Review)

Nothing is more important in our homeschool than learning about the Bible, though I don’t often mention it on this blog anymore because we do Bible time in the evenings with Daddy and I don’t think of it as part of our school day.  I often wrestle with wanting to spend more time in the Word with my kids during the day, however, so I was excited when GrapeVine Studies gave us a chance to review their materials for Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob, including a Teacher Book, and two student books: the Level 1 book for ages 6-8 and the Traceable Level 1 book for ages 3-5.

About GrapeVine Studies

Grapevine Studies Review

GrapeVine Studies lead children on a chronological journey through the Bible, guiding them through stick figure drawings for each story to help them learn.  Old Testament 1: Creation to Jacob consists of 12 lessons designed for the whole family (preschool- 8th grade) to go through together, with age-appropriate student books for multiple levels.  The lessons are intended to be done over the course of about 4 days, so this entire book can be used for 12 weeks of school (about 45 separate sessions).

Grapevine Studies Review
As this chart shows, there is an Old Testament Overview designed specifically for preschool and Kindergarten students (the “Beginner” level), but the lessons don’t correspond with the other levels (it only covers Creation to Babel in the first book).  To include younger children in the older ones’ lessons, there is a Traceable Level 1 book that has the drawings already marked with gray lines, which is a really helpful option for families like ours with both preschoolers and older children.

Grapevine Studies ReviewThe Old Testament Overview for Levels 1-4 is presented in four books, with Part 1 covering the major stories of Genesis from Creation to Jacob.  Our family all worked at Level 1, with the boys (2nd grade and Kindergarten) using the regular student book and Arianna (age 3) using the traceable version (which was identical except for the addition of the gray line drawings).  The 82-page student book has blank timeline pages with the names of each story for the students to fill in as the teacher guides them through the lessons.  Level 1 is really just about introducing the major stories and characters, helping the children see how they are all related by creating them a physical timeline so they have a mental frame of reference to place each story in context.  (Older students go deeper with memory verses and additional material for each lesson.)

Teacher involvement is essential.  The main part of each lesson comes from the material in the 100-page teacher book.  That’s where you’ll find the Bible verses to go along with each picture, as well as details about what should be drawn.  The color illustrations are intended to be drawn on a whiteboard for the students to copy as you progress through the lesson.

Our Experience

My kids really looked forward to our Bible lessons with GrapeVine studies.  The boys appreciated the simplicity of the stick figure drawings, and Arianna loved being able to join us for this part of “school.”  (She reminded me every day that we needed to do our Bible lessons!)  She did really well tracing the pictures and then coloring them in, and the boys like sneaking glimpses of her pages to make sure they knew what their figures should look like.  Once or twice they asked me to give them her pages (I received the books in pdf form so we just printed them out, though they are available to purchase as softbound student books as well), but eventually they realized their drawings didn’t need to look exactly like hers, and they had fun being creative.

Once we had done a few lessons and gotten into a groove I enjoyed the lessons as well, but I felt like we got off to a bit of a rocky start.  There was a lot of introductory material in the Teacher Book about the studies themselves and the philosophy behind them, but not a lot of guidance for a newbie wanting jump into teaching.  Although I rarely follow lesson plans exactly, I found myself really wishing the first lesson in particular (which was a little different from all the others because it was solely about the timeline) had a suggested script.  The kids were so excited about doing their pages that they wanted to race through each event, and I wasn’t sure whether to try to explain in picture or just save that for when we did the later lessons on each story.

The kids didn’t seem to notice my floundering, however, and the later lessons did get easier for me to teach as I learned when to make them set their drawing pages aside so we could actually read in our Bibles and talk about each story.  Most of these stories were familiar to Ian and Elijah, so it was a fun way to review them.

I was really glad my kids enjoyed our time with GrapeVine Studies, but it required a bit more preparation and teacher involvement than I’m ready to give at this point in our family’s journey.  I do love the idea of everyone being able to participate at their own level, however, so I will definitely keep these studies in mind once the babies are old enough to join us.

Grapevine Studies Review
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