Monday, January 3, 2011

Homeschool Review: Positive Action for Christ (Bible Curriculum)

 Positive Action for Christ sent their Bible Curriculum to us to review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. Since, when I signed up for the TOS Crew I listed the girls as being in 1st grade, they sent us the First Grade Curriculum, Enjoying God's Gifts.  As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I sometimes get frustrated with people assuming that we are at a specific "grade level" since homeschooling allows us to move at each child's speed in each subject. So in some areas they're ahead of grade level, in others, they're at or below grade level. However, I do understand that for simplicity's sake, the TOS Crew needed to easily classify each reviewer and grade level was the easiest way to do that. However, in this case, I think a 2nd or 3rd grade level might have been a better fit.

We received both the Teacher's manual ($33.95), and one student manual ($12.95). After looking through the student manual (workbook) I decided against using it for L and A at this time. There was only one, and two of them, so we would have had to order a second one (or take turns with it, or something . . .), we're not big on workbooks anyway, and it seemed below their grade level. We've been able to use the curriculum quite nicely without it, often adapting the concept of the workbook pages to use without the workbook. For example, when the workbook page was a picture of a field and stream and the assignment was to add fish, birds & animals to the picture, I just had them each draw a picture of a scene with fish, birds and animals in it. That said, if you LIKE workbooks, this one seems really nice, brightly colored, and well done.

There is also a music option with this curriculum. The lessons include a recommended "hymn" (for example, "Jesus Loves Me")  and "chorus" (for example "This Little Light of Mine"). The words (but not music) are included in the teacher's manual. There are also music CDs or Tapes available.

This curriculum consists of  35 lessons. Each lesson is designed to last one week. The teacher's manual includes suggestions for using it 3, 4, or 5 days per week. Each lesson includes a memory verse, vocabulary, Bible story, discussion questions, teaching strategies (including how to use the workbook pages for that lesson and other ideas), an application story (story about kids that "teaches the lesson" of that week's lesson, my kids LOVE this part, they would be happy to just go through the book and read all of those stories, hee hee), and some character trait assignment ideas.

This curriculum is definitely designed to be used on a typical "school year" calendar. The song lyrics, are listed by "month" (September's hymn . . .etc). And it looks like it includes Christmas stuff for Christmas time, but since we just started using this curriculum in November, things didn't line up that way for us.  Something to be aware of if you school year-round.

It's also designed for the teacher to do some prep-work in advance. The recommendation is to pre-read the Bible stories and other stories and then tell them to the children rather than read them. And, of course, decide in advance which teaching strategies to use and have supplies ready for any assignments. I'm just not that organized. I just read the stories and it works fine. My kids are used to us having to go hunt down supplies in the midst of assignments, and usually it's just a matter of drawing a picture or something, so that works too. But it IS designed for the teacher to spend at least a few minutes in prep-work. It's also designed for a school-setting. So some of the discussion questions and such assume separate "school" and "home" time. So far it's been pretty easy to adapt those for us.

As I mentioned, we were sent the first grade curriculum "Enjoying God's Gifts" to review. This year focuses on God's Gifts, including Creation, friends, children, etc. While the workbook is pretty grade-level specific, I think the curriculum overall would work well for preschool through 2nd grade (roughly).

Since this was designed for classroom use, it probably fits best with a more "school-at-home" teaching style, but we haven't had any problem adapting it to use in our more relaxed style. That said, I don't know that I would choose to purchase this curriculum for our personal learning/teaching style. I think we could just as easily us e a book of Bible stories and come up with memory verses and "assignments" to go with them. But I'm cheap that way.

I think for it's intended audience, this is a great product. It's not an ideal fit for us, but we have enjoyed it, and may continue using it for the next couple months (we were at a transition point for Bible when we received this, so I may be lazy and just continue with it for a little while).  If you're new to homeschooling, or new to adding Bible to your curriculum, this would be a great way to have it all laid out for you. If you've included a heavy emphasis on Bible and character development (using Biblical examples) in your home or homeschooling for several years, you might want to go another direction, or look into using a higher grade level. I find the Bible stories and discussion questions to be below my girls' Biblical knowledge, but we've had weekly Bible lessons for church since birth, and a  heavy emphasis on Bible and Character Traits throughout our homeschooling, so understandably they're at a different place in their Bible knowledge than a child just coming into a Christian school environment without much home training in this area would be.

As I mentioned, the girls have enjoyed the stories. They also like that we sing as part of Bible class now (I don't have the CD but this week's chorus is the first song we've come to that I haven't known, I looked it up on YouTube to get the tune).

In addition to the product we reviewed, Positive Action for Christ has Bible curriculum available for K-6, Middle School, and High School. As well as Bible study products for churches.

Disclaimer: Positive Action for Christ provided us with a free Student manual and Teachers manual in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

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