Nov 13, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew: GrapeVine Studies

Grapevine Studies Review

We were asked to review a fun product from GrapeVine Studies. We received three different levels of this product.

Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob
Old Testament 1: Level 3 Creation to Jacob
Old Testament 1: Level 4 Creation to Jacob

For each of these, we were given a digital download (PDF) of both the Teacher Book and the Student Book. 

As you probably guessed, this is a Bible study curriculum. Intended for use at home, at church or in a school setting, it's simple to use yet a quite effective method. You start by choosing the part of the Bible you want to study, and matching that with the age of your students.

Grapevine Studies Review

I chose Creation to Jacob because I wanted several different levels and because I like to start at the beginning with things. :) And I just matched my kids up with the ages given for each level. But if you want to be more scientific with your choices, you can read about the levels, and/or there is a handy little chart for that.

Grapevine Studies Review

The student books are the worksheets. These you print and hand over to your student. The teacher book has all the instructions and information in it for the lessons. It starts by explaining the mission of GrapeVine, the teaching method, and their statement of faith. It explains that doctrine is not a part of the lesson... GrapeVine is doctrine free and the beauty of the method is that each teacher can inject their own doctrine as they teach. 

There is a supply list, a suggested schedule and an overview of how to teach the lessons. Don't skip these pages as they are vital to understanding how you are to instruct and guide your students through their worksheets. 

Each lesson is loosely scripted, just enough to give you an idea of what to say, but you can easily add to the script in whatever way you need. The script is really just an outline. Along with the script is the backbone of the method... illustrations. Not just any illustrations, but easy-to-draw, colorful, meaningful stick-figure illustrations. You, the teacher, draws these illustrations as you talk, and then the children draw them on their worksheets. Which, I guess, really aren't worksheets at all, but "sketch pads". 

The drawings engage the kids, involving them in the lesson in a hands on way, and also provide a visual for the child to retain the material and. later, to review it. 

I am no artist, and although some of my kids are quite into drawing, I have one who most decidedly is not. However, we had no problem copying these illustrations and they even looked like they were supposed to when we were finished!

Using the PDFs, this was completely an open-and-go curriculum for us. I spent a few minutes one afternoon printing off the worksheets and then the next day we just jumped right in.

Each lesson starts with a Timeline page. I read the material out of the Teacher book and drew the pictures on the whiteboard. They copied it onto their pages with no problems. For Abbie, I did need to help her find a couple of things the first time we did it, but she got the hang of it quickly. Since I have a copy of a fully drawn sheet in my lesson plan, I knew exactly where everything was supposed to go.

Next, I read a bit of the Bible and tell them the story. Again, the script is just to give you a jumping off place for your teaching. The kids draw pictures in boxes as you teach. This keeps them busy and helps them remember the key points of the lesson. Each lesson has a memory verse and built-in review. 

Each level is basically the same in pacing and style, so that you can teach different levels together. But each level requires a little bit more of the student, incrementally making it harder and stretching your student. So Level 3 has more memory work and more writing than Level 2. But Level 4 takes it up another notch. This level has a "Quest Page" for each lesson, and teaches the students how to use a Bible concordance, a Bible dictionary, and a topical Bible. It also asks an open-ended question. For instance: When God gives a command, what options do we have?

The Teacher books have two levels in each book. So you have one book with Levels 1 and 2. And the next book has Levels 3 and 4. For the most part, the lessons are the same in both books, so you can choose one book to use if you are teaching more than one level at a time. The upper level, however, does have page number answers to the Quest Pages in level 4. 

There are specific books recommended for your concordance, Bible dictionary and topical Bible that go along with Level 4. We, however, already owned different versions of these books so we just used them. It worked well as far as my daughter (who used Level 4) was concerned, but it made my life more difficult since I couldn't just use their page numbers to check her work. 

As I said, this was a simple product to use, and the kids enjoyed it. I can't tell you how effective it was, because my kids already knew these stories well. But I was able to use the device to dig a little deeper into the stories. I also really liked how the theme of the Bible overall was plugged into each and every lesson. 

I heartily recommend GrapeVine Studies and hope they quickly come out with a lot more topics for all levels so we can plunge into some really great Bible studies!
But you don't have to just take my word for it, you can check out some Sample pages.

Grapevine Studies Review
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