Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1 (Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Real Life Press Review
Real Life Press, whose mission to is point people to a relationship with God and learning from the Bible, is new to me!  Created by Heidi St. John and her husband, Jay, this Christian company is reaching out to parents and homeschoolers with Bible Studies, books, and audio CDs on the subjects of faith, homeschooling, families, and parenting.  I am impressed with their growing selections!

We were recently blessed to be able to receive and review the digital downloads for one of their Bible Studies, Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1 (Stories from the Life of Jesus) which consists of the Family Study Guide and a Student Book.  Firmly Planted is a 10 week Bible Study explores the life of Jesus and is intended for families with children of all ages.

What is it?
Think of the Family Study Guide as your personal Bible Study for 10 weeks.
 Chapters include-
  • Gabriel Visits Mary
  • The Birth of Jesus
  • John the Baptist
  • Calling of the First Disciples
  • Jesus Clears the Temple
  • The Woman at the Well
  • Jesus Casts Out Demons
  • The Good Samaritan
  • Feeding of the 5000
  • Jesus Walks on Water
 Each week begins with a scripture reading based off that week's theme.  For example, in week 2 when studying the birth of Jesus, the scripture is Luke 2:1-20 and is printed out for you.  Directly following the scripture reading is a memory verse.  Here is what is so neat- it is done for three different levels.  The first (the Seed) is a short paraphrase for younger kids to learn.  The second (planting the Seed) is just a one sentence Bible verse, while the third, (additional planting the seed)  for ages 11 and up, is several verses long.  So while yes, you are all memorizing (if you so choose) the same verse for the week, in essence, it is made to fit the different levels that may be represented in your family.

The next section is called Watering the Seed.  This section is a basic retelling of the scripture just written in more of a conversational tone. Think of it as a summary.

Following that there are 4 days of "study" for that particular lesson.  Each day has you re-read a few specific verses and then goes into further detail of explanation, asking questions and getting you to think along the way.  A Digging Deeper section often brings in a little more history or background, while a Taste the Fruit section is more of an application lesson.

The Student Book is in PDF form with over 200 printable pages that correspond with the 10 chapters in the Family Study Guide.  These pages range from crossword puzzles, word searches, and mazes to vocabulary, science projects you can to, journaling ideas, coloring pages, map work pages, and a deeper study for older children.  Whether you have a preschooler or a teenager, there is a page that you will find to fit their skill level as well as their interest.

How did we use this?
When we first began this review and study I printed out the chapters.  We were on the road and I found it easier to have them in my hand.  Each week after, I just pulled the file up on my laptop and read from there.  Prior to our beginning the week, I printed out all of the corresponding worksheets in the Student Book.  While this might have been a bit overkill, as we only have three kiddos who were doing the pages, it did allow them an opportunity to look through all of the pages and choose which ones they would like to do.  It was fun to see what they chose!

On Monday we would read the Scripture and overview, and each following day we did one day of the lesson during our family time, making this a Monday through Friday study for us. Each day I would encourage the kids to pick at least one worksheet to complete. The youngest, age 7, often choose several to do in one sitting. Each night took about 20-30 minutes.

What did we think?
We have enjoyed doing this study together.  I think it is a great way to start studying the Bible, especially if you are new to studies and new to doing them together as a family.  While it is not overly deep, it does provide a good basic teaching of some high points in the New Testament.  Some of the questions asked, especially in the Taste the Fruit sections at the end of each day's lesson, provided our family with some good starting points of discussion.  Because I have a Bible major in our family, we were able to then dig deeper into a subject of interest.  While my older kids do not necessarily need to do worksheets to solidify ideas learned, it was a fun addition to Bible time for my younger kids.  My youngest especially loved the word searches, coloring sheets, and crossword puzzles.  I think the fact that they have geared the pages for different ages and different skill levels is genius since most families are dealing with age spans which can often make it tricky to engage all members! I think that these would be a good fit for a Sunday School teacher who teaches multiple ages. I also like that the scripture is printed in the study for you.  I do think we should encourage our kids to use their Bibles to look up and read scripture, but there are times, like when traveling or crazy busy-overscheduled nights (just saying), when having it printed in front of you just makes things easier.

Overall we enjoyed the study and the chance to do something that was engaging for everyone, even the 7 year old!

5 Additional Real Life Press resources were review by fellow Crew members- I encourage you to take at a look at those reviews as well!

Real Life Press Review

Crew Disclaimer

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