Monday, November 22, 2010

God's Great Covenant Review

My family has been using Classical Academic Press materials since David started Latin for Children in fifth grade; so when I got the opportunity to review their new Bible study program I jumped at the chance.  God's Great Covenant - Old Testament 1 (GGC) is the first in a four part Bible survey for Grammar Stage (Elementary aged) children.  The two volumes covering the Old Testament are currently available.

In addition to the Student text and Teacher's Materials text, I was sent the GGC 1 maps and timeline materials.  These caught Abigail's eye immediately.  They are full color with the kind of 3-D graphics familiar to anyone who has used Song School Latin or Song School Greek.

The timeline offers a completed version, or a blank version that you can build as you go along.  They are back to back and if you tape the timeline to the wall, leaving the base unsecured, you can flip it up and see the reverse as needed.  All of the same graphics and text blocks on the completed side of the timeline, are on a poster sized sheet, ready to be cut out and put on the blank timeline.

The format of GGC is similar to that of LfC with a memory page, story/ student instruction page, worksheet and a quiz in each weekly chapter.

The memory page lists the Bible passages covered that week, scripture that should be read to the child, main points, the definitions for new concepts or vocabulary and a "who is God" note that sums up a truth about God covered in the lesson.

The bible story is told in a casual, narrative style appropriate for a grammar stage child.  The narrative continues to relate things back to the covenants and to the child himself.  Break out boxes titled "Jesus in the Old Testament" point out where Jesus shows up or is referenced in the OT.

The activities on the review worksheets vary week to week and worksheet loving kids will have a lot of fun with this.  Most of the worksheet activities can be done orally to accommodate children still learning to write, or those who are just allergic to their pencils.

In general we are really enjoying this program.  My biggest complaint is about the quiz page.  It is fine to use as another workbook page, which may be the most appropriate use considering the youth of the target audience, but it isn't practical as a test.  The quiz pages are bound into the student text right next to the worksheet page, sometimes facing it.  I would love it is CAP would clarify the intent of the Quiz page in their teacher's materials, or put the quizzes in the back, perforated so that they can be removed and used separately from the student text.

My favorite part of this program is the teacher's materials text.  Small versions of the student text are surrounded by notes to the parent/teacher.  I love having these notes!  In depth notes keyed to the different sections in the student text offer a higher level of understanding and background for the teacher.  These gave me a lot of confidence in discussing the scripture passages and historical context of the stories with my daughter.  Nearly every page also has space for the parent/teacher to write in their own notes.  I can jot down my thoughts or ideas and they will be there waiting when I use this again for my younger child.  No more lost post-it notes!

Applicable questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism are listed in the Teacher's notes for each chapter.  While I think that this is nice, I would have liked to have known that it was there and gotten each of my children their own copy of the WSC for reference.  It is not mentioned in the student text and could be skipped if desired.

I would really like to see a little information at the beginning of the Teacher's Material's text describing how to use each section.  What should we do with the Catechism questions? Which sections of the memory page are most important to really memorize?  Are the quizzes just a more advanced worksheet, or a test?  This kind of teacher "how-to" would be invaluable.

God's Great Covenant is an excellent bible survey for Grammar staged students and I think it could be comfortably used by most Christians.  It is not an in-depth study of a particular book, but if a general overview is what you are looking for this may be just the thing.  The beautiful timeline materials and maps really draw in the kids' attention and interesting narrative keeps it.  This is almost exactly what I was looking for in a classical, grammar stage Bible program.  I think homeschoolers and classroom teachers, classical or not, will enjoy having this program to use with their students.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekly Report November 8th - 12th

David - 

David is full swing into Nanowrimo and his story is great!  I can't wait to read the rest of it.  Keeping up with his required word count has been tough but we are taking a week off of school for Thanksgiving and I think that time will be used heavily for Nano.

He is discovering that eighth grade is challenging and he really has to think more deeply about his reading and writing.  He will be ready for High School by next Fall but it won't always be an easy ride.  We are studying Modern history this year and there are a lot of difficult subjects to deal with.  We are chugging away at our study of Daniel and it is getting interesting.  Really he wants to study Revelations, but Daniel needs to come first.

David has gotten caught up on some other work here this week and is looking forward to the Jr. High all nighter at church.  It sounds like it will be a blast.  I expect he will sleep most of Saturday.  I wonder if I should remind him that he has to be up for school that day?

Abigail -

Abby had a three day school week due to Veteran's day so we are taking advantage of these two days to get in some spelling, math, Latin and Bible.  We recently started using God's Great Covenant and she is really liking it.  She also picked up Latin for Children off the shelf and plugged in the dvd one day.  I will need to get her her own workbook soon since for now she is just erasing David's old one and using it.  Maybe for Christmas. Much of the vocabulary is familiar from our previous Latin studies so she gets to mostly concentrate on the grammar which is a good thing, since there is little grammar practice in the public school.

It sure make things busy but I love having all of my kids home and learning!

Miriam - 

Mim did some reading earlier this week but the past couple of days she has just wanted to do some math.  I can tell she is going to want color and variety in her math program though, so I think we will be shifting over to Singapore for her after Primer is done.  I will still use techniques from MUS as well as Singapore but she is my colorful girly-girl and the black on white of MUS just isn't her thing right now.

Last night she decided she wanted to do her "write-handing book" otherwise known as "handwriting".  This is a preschool Handwriting Without Tears book and is meant to be done in crayon.  It is perfect for Miriam because she loves to color right now.  She was tracing all of the letters and then coloring the pictures while I got to hand her the right crayons and be her color consultant.  I am glad I was right there because she started using a hook motion when making the letter C and I was able to correct it.  I have never seen a right-handed child do that but I sure want to avoid the habit.  She was on a roll and did several pages until I realized that it was past her bedtime!

Yesterday we made play dough and that is always fun.  She wanted red but it turned out a kind of pinkish orange.  Good thing she's not picky!