What is the Bible Study Guide?
The Bible Study Guide is simply what it says it is. It is a curriculum that helps children and adults learn and understand the Bible, and apply it to their own lives. The company was begun in the late 1970s after a mom couldn't find a product that would fit her family to help them learn and study the Bible. (Isn't that the way many great ideas come about?)
This curriculum takes all ages through the Bible together, and teaches some Old Testament and some New Testament in the same year. The entire program covers 416 lessons, and the whole family can study the same lessons at the same time, but at different levels. To get a good picture of how that is done, you can look at this overview.
Bible Study Guide offers programs for churches and Sunday Schools, as well as for homeschoolers and family Bible study, and their products are for ages 3-adult.
What Did We Receive?
For this review, our family received materials to work in the Primary Level. This level is aimed at first and second graders, and it included:
Primary Teacher Guide
Primary Student Pages
Bible Book Summary Cards, and
Children's Songs CD set
The Primary Level also includes a Wall Map and Timeline, but we did not receive or use this for the purpose of this review.
The Teacher Guide and Student Pages for this level can be purchased 26 lessons at a time, with the Teacher Guide for each priced at $9.95, and the Student Pages priced at $5.95 each. Currently, the lessons are available through Lesson 208. We received Lessons 1-26.
The Bible Book Summary Cards are essentially large "flash cards" for each book of the Bible. They come in two sizes and styles, but we received the colorful card stock flashcards that are 8.5" x 11" cards. ($24.95) The front of each card has several pictures that depict important events or messages from that Bible book, while the back gives a summary of what the book is about, and an explanation of the pictures. There are also review questions for each book, listed on the bottom of the card.
The Children's Songs CD set is a two-disc set of (90) simple children's songs about some of the books of the Bible, main characters, or main Christian themes. Some of the songs work well as memory drills. This CD is priced at $19.95.
Many of these products can be bought packaged together in the Primary Starter Pack, which contains Lessons 1-104, the CDs, and the Bible Book Summary Cards for $99.82, or the Premium Edition, which also contains the Timeline and Wall Maps, for $145.68.
How Did We Use This?
I used this product with my Bug, who is going into First Grade. It was a beautiful way to add in a Bible curriculum, as we were less formal in all of our schooling over the summer. We sat down together and did a lesson about three times / week. Each full lesson would take us between 30 minutes to an hour.
Receiving all of this material was a bit overwhelming at first glance. The Teacher Guide, however, comes with some quick instructions that do a great job explaining how to use it all. And once I dug into the Teacher Guide and started the first lesson, it all became very clear.
Each lesson is broken down into sections, by letter, and the Student Pages are split into the same sections. Typically, section A covers a review of material that has already been learned. It is usually presented in a fun way, such as "draw a red box around the book that has God's word in it", or "draw a line from Jacob to everything God said to him when he was on his way to Egypt." The student is following along in his Student Pages, while the teacher / parent is giving instruction from the Teacher Guide.
Other sections of the guide cover:
--Memory Work (done through repetition or song, or using the Bible Book Summary Cards)
--Things To Know (important concepts from the story they are going to cover)
--Get Active (games or other activities meant to get students moving and thinking about feelings, ideas, or biblical concepts)
--Today's Bible Text (the main story or passage of the Bible covered in the lesson, with one specific verse highlighted)
--Timeline (some lessons have a small timeline included in the Student Pages that the child can complete)
--Apply it (where the student hears a story that could be applicable to their lives today and then there is a discussion about applying the Bible story to that situation) This section always ends with a suggested prayer.
What Did I Think?
For this age, the review information and memory work sections were wonderful! I felt that Bug solidly understood and remembered the stories that we did, and each chunk of the story was given in bite-sized pieces perfect for these little guys. Even I will never forget the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, thanks to the song and repetition!
The Teacher Guide and Student Pages were very simple to use. Everything is all laid out for the teacher in a nice, neat package. All you have to do is read what is scripted for you, and there is even a "Materials Needed" section at the top of each lesson, where you can find out what you need to make sure you have before teaching the next lesson. (Or, in our case, you could find out which activities you might be skipping that day because you forgot to get what you were supposed to get. Oops.)
All of the Student Pages are done in a comic-book style, and I know that helped to keep my boy's attention. The activities / sections were split up well, and he never seemed to get bored of any one activity before we were moving on to another one.
Some of the activities did seem to be targeted at larger groups of children, like a Sunday School class, but when we came to these, they were easy to adapt, or we just passed over them.
The curriculum also gave us an added bonus, since there were many instructions that went, (for example) "If Jacob's family would always live in Egypt, circle the Egypt sign. If not, draw an X on the Egypt sign." My Bug likes to get ahead of me, but he couldn't do that here. He had to really practice his patience and listening. Thank you, Bible Study Guide!
The CDs were not the highlight of the program for us. We did always listen to the assigned song for each lesson, but we didn't really use it other than that. The songs are very short, and most are sung by children, a capella. They are cute, but didn't grab our attention well.
The Bible Book Summary Cards, on the other hand, were wonderful! I was amazed at how quickly Bug learned the information about the books that we covered, and I was thrilled at how much I learned, too! The cards are beautiful and colorful, but very simple, too. We will use these over and over in our homeschool, and with my older kiddos as well.
**One caveat with this particular level of Bible Study Guide. Make sure you skim over the lesson before you teach it. This might be common sense to many of you, but I don't ever seem to think of these things all that well. So, as a result, here we were cruising through Lesson 3, when Joseph is sent to jail, and included in the lesson was Genesis 39:12, "She caught him by his cloak and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house."
Yeah...I kinda just quickly skimmed over that part, there. I understood what the point of the lesson was, but didn't feel quite ready to go there with my six year-old. In hindsight, I would have skipped that one. Shame on me, I guess.**
The Primary Level is designed to be used with readers and non-readers. My son reads well, but doesn't write much at all, and had no trouble with the curriculum, even the fill in the blank parts. If your child is not reading, you can easily read it to him, and he can fully participate in the activity sheets (and you have the added advantage of skipping over the 'come to bed' part!)
What Did Bug Think?
"It was very good. I like the way it taught and how it taught what the word Genesis was. And taught about Noah's Ark in the beginning. And about how Potipher's wife tried to make him sin and lied."(Bug, age 6)
All in all, we really enjoyed the curriculum. My Bug was always eager to do the lesson, and I was thrilled about how much he was learning and remembering. I enjoyed learning new things as well.
For More Information...
Bible Study Guide offers curriculum for all ages, and many of my Crewmates received other levels for review. Take a look at what they thought of what they received.