One of the things that Brennan and I have been focusing on this year is reading comprehension. I found a few different workbooks that concentrate on reading passages and then answering corresponding questions. The good news is that Brennan's reading skills are improving. The bad news is that the reading passages did not correspond to anything in his other studies, didn't have any real meaning for him, and started to seem like busy-work (especially in his opinion).
When I was given the opportunity to review one of Classical Academic Press's Bible study materials, I was thrilled. Perhaps I should've remembered these materials earlier in the year. Combining reading comprehension with Bible study allows him to use his improved reading skills in a meaningful context.
God's Great Covenant: OT 2 covers the second half of the Old Testament -- from 1 Samuel to Malachi. The curriculum consists of a student book, a teacher's edition, and mp3 audio files of the readings.
These materials cover the time when Israel became a kingdom, when the kingdom divided, when the Israelites were exiles in Babylon, and when they finally returned to Jerusalem. Some of the major characters studied include Samuel, David, Elijah, Ahab, Elisha, Jeremiah, Daniel, Esther.
I was very impressed with the amount of information covered Bible study materials. In chapter four, David is anointed as King. The Key Facts for that lesson focus on Hebrew poetry and the Psalms. The book introduces nine categories of Psalms, including Hallelujah, Wisdom, Historical, Passover, and others. These types of psalms are listed in the Key Facts page, discussed in the lesson materials, and then reviewed in the student work pages.
The materials cover much more than just facts and stories taken from the Old Testament. Each of the lessons has a theme that relates both to the Bible story and to our lives today. For instance, chapter one tells about when God called Samuel to be a prophet. The corresponding theme is, "The Lord God calls His people to be holy."
Classical Academic Press recommends working through these materials at a pace of one chapter per week. They offer a sample schedule that breaks down each lesson into 5 days worth of work, each taking about 20 minutes to complete. Brennan works through the materials on either two or three days each week, depending on how long the reading passage was and how much writing was involved in the activities. I offered to let him listen to the text recorded onto mp3 audio files, but so far he has chosen to do the reading on his own.
In addition to the student workbook, I also received a teacher's edition. It contains the full text of the student pages with the correct answers filled in. It also includes additional historical facts, information about the culture during that time period, in-depth explanations for some points, and ideas for personal application. For instance, in the lesson about David and the psalms, the teacher's manual suggests praying the psalms by using the actual words of the psalm to pray and then applying the words to your own life after each verse or two. There is truly a wealth of information in the teacher's edition.
God's Great Covenant is a solid Bible study curriculum for elementary students, whether they are working together with a parent or working independently. For us, it was a perfect program to put reading comprehension and study skills into a meaningful context.
Classical Academic Press recommends using their God's Great Covenant series for elementary aged students in the third grade or higher. The consumable student book costs $22.95, the corresponding teacher's edition costs $24.95, and the audio files to download costs $9.95. They offer a package containing all three items for $49.95.
In addition to the Old Testament materials that we've been using most recently, Classical Academic Press also offers Old Testament 1 which covers Genesis to Ruth (creation through entering the promised land). The New Testament 1 part of this series covers the Gospels and is intended for a slightly older audience (fifth grade or higher). Brennan and I used the New Testament books last year and shared a review of them here.