One of the biggest benefits of homeschool is that we can focus on Bible studies as much as we want. I'm always looking for age appropriate, interesting Bible studies for the kids, so I was thrilled to get the chance to review a Real Life Press resource by Heidi St. John. Heidi (The Busy Mom) and her husband Jay have written several family Bible studies, and they've made student workbooks to correspond with each. These books are available bundled or separately and can be purchased as downloadable PDF files.
I was actually blessed to receive the Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1 bundle as a PDF file AND Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 2 Family Study Guide and Student Book were sent to me in hard copy form. Since we received Part 2 printed, we began with it. There are 10 lessons in each study. The last lesson in The Gospels, Part 2 is the Resurrection. Because we received this study right before Easter, we started with the last lesson. We were already discussing the Resurrection and the family study and corresponding student activities were perfect.
Each of the 10 lessons is designed to last one week. In the Family Study Guide, the lesson is presented from the Bible. Then there is "The Seed" or main idea of the passage. "Planting the Seed" includes a short memory verse and a longer one for older kids and adults. A section with more information to help everyone understand the passage is called "Watering the Seedling". Following this section is 4 daily studies to use throughout the week to reinforce the Biblical principles of the passage. "Digging Deeper" continues to help the reader/ listener understand the passage and "Taste the Fruit" makes the lessons relevant to daily life.
This study was very easy to use for homeschool. You could do the family study together at breakfast or in the evening. My husband works crazy random shifts so it isn't always feasible to include him in our studies like this. Instead, we used the family study guide in the mornings for our Bible portion of our school time. On Monday, I would read the kids the lesson passage for the week and the Day 1 material. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we would read Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4. This was perfect for us because we only do seat work those 4 days per week.
The Student Workbook is actually designed for the whole family to use as well. There are so many activities for each lesson! The book uses easy icons to guide you through the pages. They are neatly arranged so that each lesson has pages like:
*Words to Remember
*Copywork for the memory verse
*Mazes (Upper & Lower ages)
*Crosswords (Upper & Lower ages)
*Word Search (Upper & Lower ages)
*and more! In all, each week has about 20 available pages in the workbook.
The book states that you can make copies for your own children or buy copies for each child if it is being used in a co-op or other group setting. If you are teaching your own children who are at different levels, you may find you don't need extra copies. I let Apple do the older activities and Speedy did the younger ones. For pages that were appropriate for both kids, I had them take turns filling them in. Apple & Speedy really enjoyed the crosswords, word searches, and mazes because they each had their own version. Apple loves to color, and she would take her time coloring the page while I read through the lesson on Mondays. Speedy liked to have the page with the vocabulary so he could read us the definition when I said the word in the lesson.
When we received this Bible study, I thought the kids would use this in place of their devotional reading. Instead they just wanted to add this in! I also worried that they would quickly lose interest because they are fairly familiar with some of these stories. Instead they felt like they gained more understanding of each story because we went into depth with each one. Their favorite that we studied so far was the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus for week 3. As you can see above, Apple had a great time coloring in the fun picture, and Speedy drew a picture of Zacchaeus up in the tree.
This study is so flexible. You can really adjust it to meet your family's needs. This would be an great Bible study for any family, homeschool or not. Each week I wrote our memory verse on the board, and we would go over it each day. I organized our family book and workbook in one 3 ring binder. As the children did the activities, I would pull them out of the notebook, and then put them back in when they were completed. We did not do every activity for every lesson. With 2 kids, it would have been a struggle to do all the reading and complete 20 activities each week. We did most of the activity pages though as each only took a few minutes.
There are other volumes of Firmly Planted studies available. Each contains 10 lessons. As I have raved above, these are great for families. These short lessons would be also work well for adults who aren't as familiar with the stories in the Bible!
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