Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Grapevine Studies

Grapevine Studies is a Bible study curriculum for ages 5 to Adult. It uses Biblical timelines from the stories combined with drawing stick figures to teach the Bible. As a TOS Crew reviewer I was able to choose from Old and New Testament Overviews, Esther, and the Birth of Jesus. I chose one New Testament overview and the Birth of Jesus.

I used the Birth of Jesus with my kids just to get a feel for what a study like this might be like during Advent.
Birth of Jesus

Grapevine Products and Age Categories:
  • Beginner Level: Birth of Jesus, Esther and Old and New Testament Overviews
  • Level 1 (5-7 yrs old): Old and New Testament Overviews
  • Level 2 (8-10 yrs old): Old and New Testament Overviews
  • Level 3 (10-13 yrs old): Old and New Testament Overviews
  • Level 4 (young teen): Old and New Testament Overviews and Bible resources
  • Level 5 (teen to adult): Biblical Feast and Holy Days, Esther, Birth of Jesus, Old and New Testament Overviews at level 5
  • Multi-age: Biblical Feasts and Holy Days, Birth of Jesus, Esther (multi age versions)
You can order a bound book or ebooks whichever suits your needs and there are student books available for purchase. Prices range from $7.95 for the Birth of Jesus ebook to $48 for multiple bound studies for the upper levels. Check the Grapevine site for pricing details.

When you start a study you begin by going over the timeline of the whole section ahead of you. For the birth of Jesus the first lesson is an overview of everything from the announcement to Mary through Herod and the Wiseman visiting the baby Jesus.

After that the lessons go in sections so that you'll cover part of each of the larger timelines over a series of days. The lesson consists of reading a section of the Bible and drawing stick figures to represent that portion of the story. When the lesson is over the students copy the figures and then answer review questions.

Along the way there are symbols for the teacher. One tells you that the students might want to look up a word and one tells you to look on the map for a location. This helps to draw out key points as you go along.

Memory verses are included as well as plenty of vocabulary and definitions of terms.

  • thorough study of the Bible stories
  • drawing helps to solidify the information
  • timeline is helpful to those unfamiliar with the story
  • available in both e-book and bound book
  • student booklets available for some studies
  • teacher can target the specific ages of her children or have a multi-age approach depending on the study
  • good approach for visual learners
  • fun approach for students who know little about the stories
  • reasonably priced
  • I didn't like the idea of the overview of the entire story/section during the first lesson. For kids who know the stories, this is really redundant (as I found out doing the birth of Jesus)
  • not terribly interesting for kids who are well versed in Biblical knowledge
Overall I thought this was a good program. Next time I would go for the bound book just because it can be frustrating to work from a computer when you are doing the stick figures for the kids during a lesson (when a Bible verse is done you draw the figures on a white board which they copy). I would also have liked to have seen a student booklet. I think it would have been easier to keep the lessons all together and formatted rather than having a notebook that we make.

I do think it's a strange mix of ideologies. On the one hand, my kids knew many of the details so it seems this would be much better for kids not so familiar with the Bible. But then having to stick figure the 62 generations between Adam and Jesus is not for the faint of heart! So, it leaves me wondering. My E10 didn't respond well to it because when we did the overview it was clear that they knew most of the information down to the last detail. We are storytellers here and he is on a mission to read the whole Bible. He's also inherited the amazing skill of reading voraciously and remembering everything he reads!

I think the cues to look things up and map things along the way adds dimension to the study. I think this would be fantastic for more obscure Bible stories which illustrate a concept we want to emphasize with our kids. Esther is a great start. I hope there will be more individual character stories in the future.

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