I recently received some of David C. Cook’s Bible in Life Curriculum to look over as a possible resource for our church. My first review of the curriculum was of the Early Elementary books. Be sure to check that post out as well for a more complete picture of the curriculum.
Bible Discoveries Book (Student Handbook)
I think I’m more impressed with the Early Elementary Bible Beginnings book. Perhaps the illustrations in this book are designed to appeal to older kids, but to me, they just look old and outdated. The cartoonish pictures are good, but the “realistic” ones just make me feel like I’m in Sunday School ten years ago. Additionally, the content isn’t that impressive. There are word scrambles, poems, matching pictures, etc, but I’m thinking about our elementary kids… and I can see these activities sheets being fun once in awhile, but not every week. I think after week three, I would hear a few groans when I asked the kids to pull out their handbooks. I’m not sure what it is, but they don’t seem that engaging. There’s a lot of reading involved on some sheets, and it just gives a general air of “school work”. Most of the activity pages don’t actually have a lot of “activity” for the kids to participate in. Draw a few lines, fill in a missing word, read a letter — I’d like to see something that is more fun — maybe some comic book themes (draw the Bible story in comics) or a little more in-depth (help them to feel like they accomplished something meaningful). I like the “instant games” idea where kids could play with coins as markers and move along a game board. Maybe add more “group” activities like this — building community and engaging with the lesson. Bonus!
I’ve always like the 4 Steps Method this curriculum features:
- Step One: Bible Readiness (draw the kids in and get them focused)
- Step Two: Bible Story
- Step Three: Bible Activity Choices
- Step Four: Bible Response (life application)
Bible Readiness (step one)
Sometimes the use of the Bible Discoveries pages seemed like a stretch in this section. Other times, the Bible Discoveries pages are very applicable and funny to boot! Either way, the opening questions in Bible Readiness were very good. I like the more active suggestions (relay races, moving to different signs in the room, etc). However, these might be a problem for Sunday School teachers who have small classes and not much running/moving room.
In some of the lessons, kids are supposed to read from the Bible Discoveries pages — sometimes several paragraphs. Why not just go straight to the Bible? If we’re going to have kids reading aloud, let’s just skip straight to the important stuff. It seems like the Scripture is used as a tool to complete the activity pages when it should be the opposite. I’d like to see students START with scripture and then move onto activity pages to solidify or further explain the story.
Just like in Early Elementary, the review questions, review activity, and memory verse practice were all good.
Bible Activity Choices
I like the idea of having different stations/choices in this section — allowing each student to make their own choice, but I can’t help but wonder if this might be too much for one teacher to keep track of. Especially at this age, kids aren’t the best independent workers, and I can see the teacher being bombarded with questions on every side. Hopefully though, she’ll learn this after the first week, and then she’ll pick a choice for the whole group (or maybe they can vote as a group).
It would be nice to see a few more game oriented/active activities. I saw a few “games” listed, but they were really more paper crafts. At this point in class, I think it would benefit students to move a little so they can settle in again for Bible Response. Otherwise, they might be very tired of sitting and doing quieter activities by the time for life application begins.
There are some creative ways to get kids engaged in this section from posing in a serving position to illustrate how they will help others this week to …. Again, I like the idea of a weekly assignment, but I am stumped about how to get teachers to follow up on these. Often they make the assignment but forget to ask the next week how the kids did. Any suggestions on this?
I appreciate the corporate prayer in this section. Even more would be great! I am quite convinced our church kids are not getting enough praying out loud practice. I don’t think the praying in pairs idea is good, kids get even more nervous about this, plus it’s hard to manage in a large group. I like the praying to the left, praying for leaders, etc.
I like the Supply list at the front of the book as well as at the start of each lesson. This helps the administrator (if there is one) get supplies gathered for the semester. Then the teacher can just pick out what they need for the week.