Tag Archives: family discipleship

Online Bible Course from Veritas Press (Crew Review)

Veritas Press Bible Review
As much as I love teaching my children, I have found that sometimes I need them to work independently, and Veritas Press has proven to be a great place to turn.  Last year Ian went through one of the online Self-Paced History courses, and Elijah has been eager to have a turn.  He was thrilled to get to try their online Self-Paced Bible course “Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua.”

Veritas Bible 6

About Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible Courses

Veritas Press Bible Image
Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible Courses are interactive online lessons that take students through the Bible chronologically.  There are 32 events covered in “Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua,” corresponding to the Veritas Press Bible cards.  Each card is covered in 4 lessons (including the quiz at the end). It is possible to do the course without having the physical cards, but I decided to go ahead and purchase them, and I was glad I did.  Elijah liked having something tangible to refer back to, and he used them with almost every lesson.

VP Bible Cards
During the lesson two young Israelites, Asher and Abigail, act as teachers or guides, walking the student through the story (with a little help from an animated cat, Teb).

Veritas Bible 3
There are lots of different activities, such as putting events in order, matching up definitions, a catchy memory tune that covers all 32 events, and even fun games.  Students do need to be able to read to complete most of the activities, so these courses are intended for 2nd-5th grade.  (Scriptures used come from the New King James Version.)

Veritas Bible 1
Following the classical style, students memorize names, dates, and places, gaining a solid foundation of biblical understanding that will prepare them for delving deeper in the Bible as they grow older and move into more advanced stages of learning.

Veritas Bible 4
Veritas Press Self-Paced Courses are all online.  The student logs in and is automatically sent to the correct lesson.  (If they stopped in the middle of one, they can choose to pick up right where they left off.)  Quizzes are graded, it’s easy to see how they have done on each lesson by looking at their student dashboard (or signing in as a parent).

There are actually two options for going through these lessons.  The first is the Self-Paced Course Elijah is doing, where the student has one year to work through all the lessons, and they are graded on how they do on the quizzes.  The other choice is a monthly or yearly subscription to VeritasBible.com, including an option for a family subscription that allows multiple students to use the program.  With VeritasBible.com, they can also access the lessons from ALL the available Bible courses (both Old and New Testaments).  While I usually try to find resources that can benefit several of my children, this time I opted for the Self-Paced course because I felt like having a deadline to get through all the lessons would help us stay more disciplined about getting through the entire program, plus I was only going to have Elijah using it this year.

Our Experience

Veritas Bible 5Because Ian went through one of the Veritas Press history courses last year, Elijah went into this course with certain expectations.  Some things were the same, but there were also several differences.  His favorite thing about the history lessons had been the games.  He watched Ian get to play a new one every week and was so excited to start his own course so he could play games like that too.  Unfortunately, for the first several weeks there were no games.  He was really disappointed, and it was hard to get him motivated to sign on and do his Bible lesson.

Thankfully, when he got to the Flood, he found a game very similar to one from Ian’s course.  From that point on, Elijah gladly worked through his lessons.  The games continue to be his favorite part.

Here are the main ways this Bible course compared with the self-paced history courses:

  • Still 32 cards (for 32 weeks) but only 4 lessons for each card rather than 5
  • The Bible lessons are a bit shorter (13-14 slides each)
  • Similar activity pages
  • Not a game for every week
  • Continual review of what’s been learned previously so students master the material

My Opinion

I am really pleased with this Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible course and have already signed Elijah up for the next course, Old Testament 2: Judges – Kings to start once he completes this one.  (If you purchase before July 11 you can save $100 off the price of the course and set the start date for any time up through September 1!) I love the solid Biblical foundation Elijah is getting through this program and want to keep adding onto it.

Other Crew Member took a look at different courses, and some received a subscription to VeritasBible.com, so if you want to learn more, click on the banner below to see what they thought of those options.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young (Book Review)

I’ve discussed a few different children’s devotional books lately, but I couldn’t resist the chance to review one more.  Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young (adapted by Tama Fortner) is due to be released February 2, but the publisher was kind enough to send me a copy a little early so I could share about it as soon as possible.

Sarah Young is best known for her book Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, in which she shares daily devotions written from her personal prayer time.  They are written as though Jesus is speaking directly to the reader, and this intimate style and the encouragement Young’s writing brings has made that book the #1 bestseller in Christian devotionals on Amazon.  I’ve been going through the kids version (Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids) with my children, so I was eager to get a glimpse at Young’s latest offering.

Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids shares many similarities with its predecessor.  It is a children’s adaptation of an adult devotional (Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence, ECPA 2013 Christian Book of the Year).  The bright, sturdy hard cover with a ribbon bookmark makes it practical for daily reading.  It continues Young’s signature style of writing, where each devotion is a personal message from Jesus, along with related Scriptures for each day.  The simplicity is what makes it profound.  My children really respond well to starting each day with a little note of encouragement and time in the Scriptures to give them food for thought.

There have been a few positive changes as well.  Rather than having a devotion for each day of the year, Jesus Today contains 150 numbered devotions.  I like this style better because then I don’t feel torn about what to read next if I miss a day.  Also, the Scriptures for each day are all fully written out in the newer book, which for our family ensured that they get read.  (We don’t usually look up the references at the bottom of the page in Jesus Calling.)  There’s also a Scripture Index at the end of the book to make it easy to see which passages were referred to throughout the book.

If you’re looking for a devotional that can help your kids connect with God in an intimate, personal way, Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids is definitely one you’ll want to check out.

BookLook disclaimer

A Believe Devotional for Kids by Randy Frazee (Book Review)

I’ve recently begun checking out various devotional books to use with my children.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for (or what was out there), so I wanted to explore several options.  My most recent opportunity came with a chance to review A Believe Devotional for Kids: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus: 90 Devotions by Randy Frazee.

Although this devotional is part of a larger program with which I am completely unfamiliar, it also can be used by itself.  Right off the bat I was impressed with the quality of this book.  It is a beautiful hardcover with thick glossy pages and gorgeous illustrations by Steve Adams.  Every page spread has at least a small picture, and most have stunning full page pictures in bold, vibrant colors sure to catch the attention of anyone who picks up the book.

As far as content, each page follows a typical devotional pattern: Scripture verse, food for thought (usually about 3-5 paragraphs), and a prayer.  Because I’m not familiar with the Believe program, I wasn’t quite sure of the deeper meaning behind the organization of ideas, but that didn’t really affect my reading of each devotion.  I could easily use this with my younger elementary age children, and I think older children and even teens would find the devotions thought provoking.  These weren’t just fluffy, feel-good moments to think about Jesus, but deeper prompts toward spiritual growth.

If your church is going through the Believe campaign, you will absolutely want to get this devotional for your kids.  Even if you’re not, I think it’s a fabulous tool for discipleship.  It makes me want to check out Believe Kids’ Edition: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus and the Believe Storybook: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus to get even more out of it.

BookLook disclaimer



3-Year Bible Survey for Students (Review)

BRT collage

When I first started this blog most of my posts were about the Bible lessons I started doing when my oldest turned three as I sought to be intentional about discipling him.  Now he’s just starting 1st grade (and there are two preschoolers and a baby coming up close behind!), and I would still say the most important part of my children’s home education is our time in God’s Word.  I have several goals:

  1. I want them to know about the Bible (historical context, authors, genres, canonization, etc.).
  2. I want them to know what’s in it (where to find what they’re looking for).
  3. I want it to be a part of their daily lives in such a way that when they are grown they can’t imagine a day passing without being in the Word because they are eager for God to speak to them through it.

So how do I go about pursuing those goals on a day to day basis?  We spend time each morning in Proverbs, and time each evening in family devotions, both times helping meet the last two goals.  But now that Ian is starting 1st grade, I want a thorough, systematic way to help us meet the first one.  That’s why I was SO excited to find Bible Road Trip.

What is it?

Bible Road Trip is a 3-year curriculum design to be used over and over as a child matures from preschool all the way through high school.  (I love repeatable cycles!) It takes students on a journey from Genesis to Revelation, teaching about each book and helping them come to a greater understanding of the overall message of the Bible.

I have many friends who limit their homeschool Bible time to the ties they can make between the Scriptures and whatever else they are studying.  While I think that is an important part of educating and discipling our children, I also think it is essential to have a time devoted specifically to studying the Bible on a systematic basis.  I thought I was going to have to create my own program to take my children through the Bible the way I desired, but Danika Cooley, the author of Bible Road Trip, has put together a curriculum that leads students through God’s Word, helping them understand what they are reading.

The program is broken up into three 32-week years, making it easy to fit into a school year with flexibility for holidays, time to catch up, or extended study:

  1. Year One covers the Old Testament books of Law and History
  2. Year Two covers the Old Testament books of Poetry and Prophecy
  3. Year Three covers the entire New Testament.

There are 5 separate levels of study, following essentially classical delineations:

  • Preschool-Kindergarten
  • Lower Grammar (Grades 1-3)
  • Upper Grammar (Grades 4-6)
  • Dialectic (Grades 7-9)
  • Rhetoric (Grades 9-12)

For each week of study, there are assignments at each of these levels, so the entire family can be focusing on the same portion of Scripture simultaneously in ways developmentally appropriate to each students stage of learning.

Each week is broken up into two main sections.  “Dig Deep” contains the bulk of the lesson:

  • Researching the Word (using the Bible study books listed below)
  • Reading the Word (5 daily assignments including a few comprehension questions)
  • Memorizing the Word (weekly memory verse)
  • Notebooking about the Word
  • Praying about the Word (focusing on different countries around the world)

This is followed by a section for “Explore Further,” which includes:

  • Learning More about the Word (related videos, etc.)
  • Crafting Through the Word (hands-on projects to help reinforce what was learned)

Getting Started

Since Ian is in 1st grade, I’ll just be discussing how to use the program in the “Lower Grammar” stage.  Here’s what we needed to collect in order to begin using Bible Road Trip:

 There are also a few recommended resources for extra learning:

P1030468Our Experience

We spent some time on Week 1 and 2 of Year One, which cover “What is the Bible?” and “Exploring the Old Testament,” but then we jumped ahead because I want to use Bible Road Trip to enrich the boys’ study as we finish going through the Bible in our family devotions.  (We started in August 2012 and are just about finished with the Old Testament period in our chronological study.)  After those introductory weeks, we skipped ahead to Year Two to find the sections on Daniel so we be “on the same page,” and then we went back to Year One to finish the story of the exiles’ return in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Year Three will soon begin being posted week by week, and that’s what we plan to use for this coming school year as we head into the New Testament as a family.

What We Liked About Bible Road Trip

I like that Danika has created the program as an adaptable tool for families.  “The goal is to acquaint our children with the Word of God, not to create busy work.”  If the suggestions she makes for each lesson aren’t helpful, it’s not going to cause problems if you decide to skip them with your family.  On the other hand, she provides some wonderful ways to engage children, especially in the “Explore Further” section of each lesson.

BRT1I think my favorite part of the curriculum, however, is the Notebooking Journal.  The pages Danika has created are just stunning! They contain many full-color works of art from masters such as Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt. Notebooking is such a great learning tool, and these pages are going to create a beautiful record of what we have learned.  Ian loves going through the Bible notebook we created during his preschool years, and I know this will be something he goes back to again and again.

(Incidentally, I first heard about Bible Road Trip when I purchased a lifetime membership to notebookingpages.com and received the Year One lesson plan pdf as a bonus.  If you want to find out more about the benefits of notebooking, their website is a great place to start!)

What We Adjusted for Our Family

When going through the Bible I always have to make a decision about how I’m going to do it: book by book or chronological order?  There are pros and cons to both approaches, and those are passed on when choosing a Bible curriculum.

We have been using a devotional that goes through chronologically, which I think really helps kids grasp the flow of history and see where the different stories they read in the Bible fit into the big picture.  Bible Road Trip goes through book by book, so while you get a good sense of history in Year One, you miss a few things (like the stories of Daniel) that are described in the books of prophecy in Year Two.  As I said above, we solved this issue by using the appropriate lessons from the Year Two curriculum since we already have a chronological framework established.  When I begin the entire 3-year cycle again, I will probably just do Bible Road Trip as written, but I’m wondering if there will be some confusion with abandoning the chronological approach.

I also opted not to use the “Praying About the Word” section.  It’s not that I had any issues with it; on the contrary, I thought it was a valuable addition.  Still, it seemed to be completely separate from rest of the study, which made it feel like a supplementary curriculum in and of itself.  We just are doing so much already that I decided to hold off on it, at least for now.

Just the Facts

Interested in starting Bible Road Trip?  Here’s

  • Recommended ages: preschool-highschool
  • Weekly lessons plans and notebooking pages are available for free if you download each week separately!
  • If you want the convenience of having the whole year in one place (great for printing the year in advance with one click!), you can purchase the Year One and
    Year Two lesson plans ($20 per year) and the corresponding Notebooking Journals ($20 per year for each level: Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, or Dialectic) as pdf files.

My Overall Impression

I’m excited to find such a valuable tool to help disciple my children.  I am so thankful for the research Danika has put into Bible Road Trip and the time she has taken in making it available for other families to use.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing more as we get further into our journey!

DISCLAIMER:  I received the Year One Notebooking Journal for free in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.  This post contains affiliate links.

Long Story Short: David and Goliath

David and Goliath

The two armies (and their champions) face off under Ian’s watchful eye.

It’s been a while since I posted anything about our journey through Long Story Short by Marty Machowski, but we had so much fun with David and Goliath recently that I thought I’d post about it.  There are lots of ideas floating around online for preschool lessons to go along with the story (like my previous post from the last time we covered it), but not so many for elementary age kids.  This time around I tried not to repeat everything we’d done before.  We did pull out some of our favorite activities (like painting a life-sized Goliath) though, while still adding a few new ones Ian wasn’t ready for before.  Our discussion was also a little deeper this time, since Long Story Short shows how every story points to Jesus.  Just as God used David to help Israel achieve a seemingly impossibly victory against an overpowering enemy, He also used Christ to conquer sin and death, something we could never accomplish on our own.  I love how the Lord used David’s experiences as a youth in the field (trusting the Lord to help him kill the lion and the bear) to prepare him for an event he never could have imagined.  We told the boys we never know how God might be preparing us for something in the future, and that even as children their faithfulness and trust in Him can help them be ready to be used in a might way.

The highlight of our week was definitely painting Goliath.  We measured out 9 feet on a role of paper and then I drew a basic outline for the kids to paint.  We took it outside and then I left them to their fun.


We hung the completed painting in our living room and left it up for a couple weeks so anyone who came over could admire it.  I considered making “slings” like David’s, but I was afraid the boys would just get frustrated by how difficult it was to aim, so we stuck with just throwing rolled up socks at Goliath.


Along with measuring Goliath’s height, we did another measurement activity that was suggested in Long Story Short.  The Bible says the head of Goliath’s spear weighed 600 shekels, or about 15 pounds (1 Samuel 17:7).  We piled books on a scale until we had a stack that weighed 15 pounds, and then I placed the stack in Ian’s arms so he could feel how heavy just the head of Goliath’s spear had been.  Ian could hardly hold it long enough to take a picture, and we talked about how strong Goliath must have been to carry such a heavy weapon.

Goliath1   Goliath2

Another new thing we did was print out and color two little books (“David, The Lion, and the Bear” and “David is Brave”) from Lambsongs(Search the page to find the titles.)  They were easy enough for Ian to read, and he really enjoyed coloring them in and having his own books.  (They print two on a page, so Elijah also got a copy, though he didn’t have the attention span to finish his coloring.)    Goliath5

The boys loved our “Listening Lesson” for this story and requested it frequently, even wanting to sing the songs to Daddy at night during Bible time.  Here’s what was on our iPod playlist:

It can be challenging to find ways to keep our Bible lessons “fresh” when covering such familiar stories, but I think overall we had a successful week.  Ian’s already asking me about the next time we do this story and sharing his plans for painting another Goliath.

Long Story Short: The Tabernacle

I was kind of surprised when I realized we were going to spend a whole week on the Tabernacle as we journeyed through the Bible with Long Story Short by Marty Machowski.  However, as we went through the five days of devotions (plus one reading the story in The Gospel Story Bible, also by Machowski) I realized what an important concept it is to understanding the Old Testament.  The Tabernacle was God’s dwelling place among His people, a foreshadowing of Jesus as Immanuel, “God with us.”  Sure, He had interacted with individuals before, and He had shown His power to the people through the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and His provision for them in the desert, but this was more than that.  This was His actual Presence being with them.  What a powerful thing!  Imagine living in the camp of the Israelites and seeing God’s magnificent tent there in the midst of the thousands of other tents that housed the people, knowing that the almighty Creator of the universe was dwelling there with you.

This week’s devotions probably would have been really hard to get through without the use of visual aids.  If the kids were a little older, I would have been tempted to buy a model of the Tabernacle to put together, but instead I decided to get a Tabernacle felt set for our flannel board.  Unfortunately, one piece was too big for our boards!  So we headed off to the fabric store for some black flannel and made our own big board.  It ended up working out well because we could have two boards out, for both the outer courtyard and the inside of the tabernacle.


The other resource we used, which I highly recommend, is the Rose Guide to the Tabernacle.  It is not a children’s book, but it is a wonderful resource for personal study, and there are many pictures that are helpful explaining this passage of Scripture to children (or anyone!). We used the felt pieces and/or the Rose Guide every night.  It was so beneficial for the boys to have something tangible to hold and look at as we read through long descriptive passages of the tabernacle and the high priest’s garments that might otherwise have been hard-pressed to hold their attention.

I didn’t have the energy to come up with anything elaborate for the boys’ Bible notebook pages, so I printed up dot-to-dot on a page with our Bible verse.  (Note I did not say memory verse.  We’re not that together yet!  I really want to get back to memorizing Scripture with the boys, but I’m considering going a new route, not connected to our Bible stories, and we’re not up and running.)  However, the week flew by without us ever doing the page.  Will we ever get to it?  I’d give it a 50/50 chance.  I’m trying to let things go and just move on.

Long Story Short: The 10 Commandments

We just finished up a great week (plus a few extra days!) on the Ten Commandments.  Even Elijah (3 1/2) worked diligently toward memorizing them, and both boys enjoyed the various activities we did throughout the week in addition to our nightly Bible Time with Long Story Short by Marty Machowski.  We broke out our flannel board set for the first time since our move, and all three kids enjoyed playing with it throughout the week.  I’ve put it on a low table in our schoolroom where they can all reach it, and pretty much every day I caught a glimpse of at least one of them acting out the story with the little felt figures.  (Okay, so Arianna just liked collecting the people and carrying them around, but she’ll get there.)

I really considered buying a 10 Commandments Project Pack from CurrClick, but since I only planned on spending a week on the topic I decided to just stick with activities I could find for free online.  BibleStoryPrintables.com has a lot of fun ideas to print (and in our case laminate so I can reuse them with the younger children).  I pretty much stuck with printables from their site so that the wording would be the same on all our activities.  I used the bookmarks as a reading tool.  They print four on a page, so I printed out one set and laminated them.  Every day at lunch time, each of us got one (even Arianna) and we read through them together.  We worked on memorizing two commandments each day.

I also printed out the sequencing cards and number cards for a matching activity.  (There’s a typo on “adultery,” but I just used a black marker to fix it.) The boys really liked using our pocket chart to have the cards all out in front of them.  We just worked on putting them in order and matching the pictures with the written commandments, but they’d also be great for playing a memory matching game.

P1010481   P1010492

The last thing I printed out was the file folder game.  The game board has typos on “misuse” and “adultery”, but it was pretty simple to fix them by opening the image in Paint, cutting and pasting the letters into the correct places, then copying the corrected image into Word.  (I also found a second game  from The Catholic Toolbox, but I’m saving that one for when my kids are a bit older.)  Next time maybe I’ll plan ahead more and use some of the activities from Oriental Trading Company related to the ten commandments.

After several months’ hiatus, we finally added a page to the boys’ Bible notebooks.  I looked for a new idea, but I just couldn’t find anything I liked as much as the one I did with Ian two years ago (see my post “Train Up a Child (10 Commandments pt.2)) so we just did it again.  I forgot Elijah’s not a big fan of finger painting, however, so we barely got this one out of him.  He does really like numbers and putting things in order, so after the first day he enjoyed pasting on the commandments.

P1010486   Ten Commandments 2

Each day we watched one of the episodes from the Kids’ Ten Commandments DVDs.  (There are five episodes, each covering two commandments, so it worked perfectly with our schedule.)  The boys REALLY liked these videos.  They do a wonderful job illustrating each of the commandments through a story about a young Israelite boy living in the desert.  Highly recommended!

Our “Listening Lesson”

Long Story Short: Moses

I hesitated to even write this post, since we did very little during our study of Moses from birth through the Exodus outside of reading each night from Long Story Short or The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski.  This season reinforced how much I appreciate the depth of these resources.  Machowski points out both the obvious and more subtle connections of the Old Testament stories to Jesus, and he presents them in such a way that even my boys, only 3 and 5, are able to understand and articulate.

The reason I did decided to go ahead and do a short post about the several weeks we spent on this section of Exodus is that I want to keep a record of the resources I’ve come across.  Because we were caught up in the chaos of packing, moving, and settling in, we pretty much just stuck with picture books and videos to supplement our Bible Time reading every night.  So here are my lists, plain and simple:

Picture Books


We finally got back to our “Listening Lesson” during Week 33 “God Provides Food and Water for Israel.”  Here’s what was on our playlist:

Long Story Short: summary of our weeks on Joseph

Contrary to what my recent blogging record implies, we’ve been plugging away at our Bible lessons as usual.  I continue to be so thankful for Marty Machowski’s Long Story Short.  During a season of minimal schooling, I am confident our children are still getting a steady diet of Bible knowledge thanks to the thoughtful devotions in this book.  I haven’t been doing a lot of extras, just our nightly devotions and a “listening lesson” for during the day, which we primarily use as we drive around town.  Even so, as we’ve gone through the last few weeks on the story of Joseph’s life, both boys have learned a lot, and Ian especially has it firmly engraved upon his heart.

The more we read about Joseph, the more in awe I am of how God works in our lives.  It really is an incredible story.  God took something horrible (broken family relationships, near murder, selling a brother into slavery and deceiving their father) and used it to save countless lives during the famine that came years later.  And one of the pivotal events of the Bible, the Exodus, wouldn’t have happened Joseph (and later his family) hadn’t gone down to Egypt.

The story lends itself to so many discussions, and we often used our extra night (the book includes 5 devotions each week, plus we do one night in The Gospel Story Bible, also by Machowski) to read through what the Bible said about pride, trust, forgiveness, etc.  I used Parenting With Scripture to easily look up verses on each topic, but a Child Training Bible would also be a good tool.  (I just didn’t want to take the time to flip through all the verses to pick out which ones to read with the boys, so Parenting With Scripture was handy because the verses were all laid out on one page.)

Go-Along Books The story of Joseph is found in most children’s Bible storybooks.  We read it in several over the weeks we spent on the story, but I also really liked this book: Joseph by Brian Wildsmith.  It is a thorough retelling of the story, accompanied by beautiful illustrations.  Ian especially liked the hieroglyphics (thank you, Little Einsteins, for introducing them!)

Bible Notebook I have to admit, we haven’t been working on a memory verse, but we did talk about Romans 8:28 so I put it on our Bible notebook page so the boys could review it whenever they look through their books.  For the craft, I considered repeating what we did the last time Ian and I talked about Joseph, but I didn’t want both his notebook pages to be the same.  Instead I just had them color on coffee filters and then use an eyedropper of water to help the colors spread out.  We cut out two wedges for the arms and then bunched the rest up for the coat and glued them on top of people we drew.  Ian thinks they look like dresses.  I have to agree.   At least they’re colorful!



We watched several related videos over the course of our study:

  • Joseph: King of Dreams DreamWorks took a few liberties with the story (mostly about the timing of Rachel’s death, how long Joseph was in prison, etc.), but overall our whole family enjoyed watching this together and comparing it to the biblical account.
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat While the cover of the DVD touts it as the “classic family musical,” THIS IS ONE TO KEEP THE REMOTE HANDY ON!  We completely skipped the scene with Potiphar’s wife because the costumes were so inappropriate.  There were a few other scenes that had some questionable costuming as well but I let them pass because it wasn’t as obvious and Ian didn’t seem to notice.  It’s really too bad, because the music itself is very family friendly (with the exception of Potiphar’s wife saying, “Come and lie with me, love,” but since that’s pretty much what the Bible records, I’m not going to complain).
  • Veggie Tales: The Ballad of Little Joe Ian has seen this one before, but I don’t think he’d ever realized it’s (loosely!) based on the story of Joseph.  This time he definitely caught the similarities.

I had so many things to use in our “Listening Lessons” to go with Joseph.  I broke it down and tried to only use the ones that specifically applied to the part of the story we were focused on each week.  Here’s a summary of all the things we listened to:

Ian and I closed out our time on Joseph by going to a live theater performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (one we had been assured was appropriate for kids).  It’s a fast-paced show, so it kept his attention the whole time.  We really enjoyed our special “date” together! Oh well.


Long Story Short: Jacob and Esau/Jacob’s Lie

Over the last couple weeks, our devotions in Long Story Short by Marty Machowski have been about Jacob and Esau.  These are some of those stories where the Bible just tells us what happened without passing judgment on the main characters, which leaves us with a bit of explaining to do when it comes to teaching our children.  The stories are found in Genesis 25 and 27, and in them you’ll find multiple instances of lying, parents playing favorites with their children, and a mother encouraging her child to deceive his father at the expense of another child.  What do we make of all this? I think the answer comes in the chapters still ahead of us.  Jacob was the one through whom God would keep His promise of a Savior, but he wasn’t chosen because of his own righteousness..  Jacob may have been deceitful in this story, but as he gets older, God works in his life and changes him (though he too plays favorites with his children, and that brings plenty of drama of its own).

Since there are only five devotions for each week in Long Story Short, we spent one of our extra nights reading the story in The Gospel Story Bible (also by Machowski) and the other going through Bible verses about honesty (which Eric looked up easily in Parenting With Scripture by Kara Durbin–see my review from last year).

Go-Along Books

We spent a lot of time focusing on how not to follow Jacob and Esau’s example.  Two books I love are We’re Very Good Friends, My Brother and I  and Brothers Forever by P.K. Hallinan.  They’re very similar, so I wouldn’t recommend getting both, but I think every family with two or more boys should read at least one of these.  (I think the first one is my favorite.  I actually bought a second copy after our first got a bit of damage because it’s one I really want to keep around.)  Reading these led to some good discussions on how brothers should treat each other, which then led to a discussion of our memory verse (the “Golden Rule”): “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12.

Bible Notebook

For our notebook page on this story, I adapted this idea for making a painting/print of the twins.  Then instead of coloring the men, we just glued hair onto Esau (which we had saved from the boys’ haircuts the night before).  It was messy(!) but the boys really got a kick out of using their own hair.



I was surprised by how many activities flowed naturally out of these stories.

The first week (Genesis 25:19-34) we compared the descriptions of Jacob and Esau (physical appearance, occupations, personalities, etc.), looked at the difference between Daddy’s “hairy” arm and Mommy’s “smooth” one, and fixed lentils to go with dinner like the stew Jacob traded for Esau’s birthright.

The second week (Genesis 27) we talked about the “5 Senses” and looked for the part each played in the story.

  • Sight (Isaac’s eyes are “dim” and he can’t see well enough to know who’s who.)
  • Hearing (Isaac remarks that “the voice is Jacob’s,” which confuses him because of what his other senses tell him.)
  • Taste (Rebekah prepares goat meat with special spices so it will taste like Esau’s hunting catch.)
  • Smell (Jacob wears Esau’s robe, which leads Isaac to comment, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.”
  • Touch (Rebekah covers the smooth skin of Jacob’s hands and neck with the goatskin so he will feel hairy like Esau.)

In addition to discussion, here are some of the 5 senses activities I found: trace and color pages at Making Learning Fun, a mini-book at Kidzone, page at Homeschool Share.

There are some activity pages at DLTK-Bible related to the story as well.

We also used spent time in prayer during Bible time blessing each child.


Both boys enjoyed reading/listening to The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule Kindle edition (also available in paperback).

Our “Listening Lesson” was a big hit this week (though I’m not sure why).  Ian requested it at least once a day:

« Older Entries