I was blessed to have grown up in a family that attended church--Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday night AWANA, and Vacation Bible School. My favorite and some of my strongest memories were storytimes. Why? Because of the flannelboard and felt figures! I loved those things. Maybe it was the vivid colors of the characters or the way the teacher would slowly add one piece at a time building to the story's conclusion. Or maybe I'm just a visual learner. Anyway, when my son was born I looked into flannel Bible figures to share with him, but they were out of our price range. This month, however, I got to review a product that may be the next best thing. Grapevine Studies produces a Bible curriculum that incorporates drawing pictures to reinforce stories of the Bible. And before you get too intimidated by the word "drawing" let me tell you how Grapevine's author signs all her emails--"Serving Him with stick figures."
I received the Student ebook of the New Testament Overview Level 1 ($25.95) and the Teacher ebook which actually covers levels 1 and 2 ($22.95). For all my friends in dial-up land, the downloads weren't bad: under 15 seconds for the Student manual and just over two minutes for the teacher's manual. These books are also available as hardcopies if you don't want to do the printing yourself ($25.95 Student manual/$45.95 Teacher manual).
In addition to the books there are several other recommended supplies: a Bible, a dry erase board, dry erase markers of various colors, wall maps, a topical Bible, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, and colored pencils.
The first lesson is a timeline of New testament events. It is the only lesson to include a script of what to say. The remaining lessons, which delve into the events, give you a list of important points to cover, but you get to decide how to deliver the lesson: reading it out of the Bible, giving a synopsis, etc. The teacher also has a list of Biblical words or phrases to study while preparing the lesson. The teacher's manual also gives you 6-8 sample stick figure drawings to illustrate each lesson.
The student manual starts with a blank timeline and each subsequent lesson has four pages to be completed by the student: two pages for drawings with the current lesson, a character/event review page, and a page to review the timeline and Bible verses from the three previous lessons. The Bible verses and captions for each drawing our printed so it's not a problem for beginning writers.
I only have one student, but this appears to be an easy curriculum to teach to multiple age levels at the same time. Younger students have the same lessons, but with fewer pictures to draw and no timeline or memory verses. Older students have additional Biblical facts to memorize. Grapevine Studies can also teach students no matter what their learning modality: Auditory learners hear the stories, visual learners look at your drawn examples, kinesthetic learners copy your stick figures or draw their own pictures to remember key persons or events of the Bible.
I am using a unit study approach to teaching, so rather than following the chronological lesson plan I am plucking out individual lessons as they apply to our character trait theme. We can include the drawings in our lapbook. (I just love the drawing for the Armor of God). There are some lessons that we probably won't do as well. I didn't find drawing 12 faces with different hair and hats very helpful in memorizing the names of the disciples--it seemed more like an art lesson or the busy work classroom teachers need to keep a room full of students occupied. But we will draw Jesus with 12 small circles around him and use a Sunday School song to learn the names.
This is really a product you need to see and experience for yourself and Grapevine has provided a way to do just that. Visit their website and sign up for their eNewsletter on the far right side. During the summer they are offering free sample lessons every week (starting in the fall the free lessons are done on a monthly basis). There are products for different age levels and multi-level lessons that cover topics like Biblical Feasts and Holy Days.
If you like what you see, Grapevine has graciously offered a discount to Homeschool Crew leaders. Through Sept 15th you may use the code "crews" to receive a 30 percent discount on all their products.
Before I close, I also need to mention the remarkable customer service demonstrated by this company. Dianna, the creator of Grapevine Studies, took the time to visit the blogs of everyone on the crew and make individual curriculum reccomendations based on the info she could gather about our kids. This was the one of the first products we received to review and we peppered her with questions by phone and email. Responses were quick and friendly and I think we all felt she was going out of her way to meet our needs.
You can see what my crewmates thought about Grapevine Studies here.