It seems like every homeschool family has at least one subject that they struggle to find the perfect material to fit their family. For several years (and probably still today), I've struggled to make a Language Arts decision. I've likened it to the search for the Holy Grail.
In past years, I've considered the work that Addison and Brennan did as part of the Awana program to be their Bible curriculum for the year. Unfortunately, we can't continue to commute to our old Awana program in Virginia and we weren't able to find a program in Arkansas that would work with our schedule.
I've been looking at various Bible curriculums for the past few months and have once again decided that I might as well be searching for the Holy Grail (no pun intended!). Perhaps my latest review product is just what I've been looking for.
Positive Action for Christ has a complete Bible study curriculum suitable for use in Christian schools and wonderful to use with a homeschool family. Although I sampled one of their elementary offerings, they also have materials for middle school and high school students.
Brennan and I have been working through their 4th Grade book -- Building Life Castles. It focuses on the New Testament and covers the Life of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the life/writings of Paul.
Perhaps just outlining what this Bible study curriculum covers is selling it short. In my opinion, it teaches far more than just those topics. According to the introductory materials in the teacher's manual, this Bible study aims to go beyond factual knowledge. I agree that it does all that it claims. These materials teach both thinking skills and character development in addition to basic Bible facts. Rarely have I found any teaching materials that encourage the student to discern, analyze, and evaluate Biblical truths the way Building Life Castles does.
Perhaps I should cut to the chase and give a few examples from a recent lesson. When we were studying prophecies concerning Christ's life, we didn't just talk about them. Brennan looked up verses in the Old Testament and compared them to verses in the New Testament stories about Jesus' early life. This activity then prompted a discussion about why we thought God took so much care to explain so much about Jesus before he was born. The last question in the student manual asked us to figure out why the Old Testament prophesies were important for our own lives.
When using other Bible study materials, I would discuss lots of Bible facts with my children and perhaps even ask them a few basic application questions. The materials from Positive Action for Christ have challenged both me and Brennan to take our study of Scriptures to a deeper level.
Brennan doesn't always like that he's being asked to actually think when we do the lessons. It's significantly more challenging than most all of the materials we've ever used -- for both Bible study and other subjects.
Overall, though, he enjoys using these materials. Unlike many other Bible study materials, there is a wide variety of activities to teach the material. This morning he looked up verses to fill in the blanks. The previous lesson had a crossword puzzle. There are lots and lots of charts for the student to record and organize information drawn from scripture. All of this is quite appealing for a student that learns visually. Even for a student that isn't naturally a visual learner, it helps cement the ideas to experience them using different learning styles -- listening to the discussions, recording information on a diagram, and at times doing simple activities to teach corresponding character traits.
I give this a product two thumbs up. Brennan and I will continue to use these materials for the rest of this school year, and I will definitely be putting the next book on my wish list for next school year.
The Fourth Grade student's manual ($12.95) has 35 lessons and is 160 pages long. Each lesson is intended to be used over the course of a week (either 3, 4, or 5 instructional periods). The teacher's manual ($33.95) is chock full of useful teaching suggestions, discussion points, activity suggestions, quizzes, answers to the student activities, and memorization recommendations.
If you'd like to see what other homeschool families thought about the Bible study materials from Positive Action for Christ, you can find their reviews on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog. In about two weeks, more homeschoolers will share their experience using the Positive Action for Christ materials with older students (grades 7-12). Perhaps I've found materials suitable for Addison, too.