May 152012
 

I am extremely particular when it comes to choosing a Bible curriculum. In fact, I’m so particular, that we’ve never actually used any Bible curriculum for very long.

There are several things that are absolute musts for me:

I will not use an over-simplified fill-in-the-blank type Bible program. These might be useful for teaching Bible facts, but I’ve found them to be unnecessary busywork in our home. And the very last subject I want my children to associate with boring busywork is the Bible!

It must be doctrinally sound. Obviously there are differences of opinion among Christians about what sound doctrine is. But that’s one of the benefits of homeschooling. We have the freedom to train our children in the Reformed doctrine that we hold to. Other families are free to train their children in their own doctrinal beliefs.

Finally, I want a Bible curriculum that is serious. By serious, I don’t mean it has to somber and boring, but I do not like Bible studies for children that are silly to the point of irreverence. I also don’t want to have much pop culture in our Bible study. My children aren’t very familiar with it anyway so it doesn’t serve the purpose of helping relate the Bible to things that my teens understand.

You can see why our Bible study method has been pretty straightforward. We read, or more often lately, listen to, a passage from the Bible. I often, though not always, ask a question or two, and point out something I noticed from the passage. We are also memorizing (very slowly) the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

When the opportunity to review the Judah Bible Curriculum came up, I knew it was something I wanted to review, even though I am so particular. One of the reasons I wanted to try it is that it uses the Principle Approach. I enjoy learning about the various homeschooling methods and have written articles about Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Study, and other methods. But I didn’t know anything about the Principle Approach and wanted to explore it.

Then I read this description on the Judah Bible Curriculum website:

What is the Judah Bible Curriculum?

A Principle Approach curriculum for Bible class.
Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the Bible.
Build strong, Godly character in your children.
Study the Bible together.
Study the hand of God in the lives of individuals and nations.
For homeschool, Christian school, Sunday school.
Teach your children living Biblical principles to guide their lives.
Apply God’s word personally in every area of life.
The Bible is the textbook.

Wow, that even sounds like it might meet even my criteria for a Bible curriculum!

What does the Judah Bible Curriculum include?

  • K-12 Bible Curriculum Manual
  • Elementary Notebook Ideas Booklet
  • Eight lecture teacher-training seminar

So I started where I always start when I get new curriculum – with the manual. But I have to confess, I was confused. Even being the visual learner that I am, I needed the teacher-training seminar to figure this program out. I completely understand why this curriculum comes with the audio training sessions. They are a vital part of the program, not just a nice bonus.

So after listening to the first training videos, the fog began to lift. The basic premise behind the program is that the Bible is divided into 5 chronological themes for study. These themes are:

  1. Creation
  2. The Plan of Redemption Begins
  3. Kingdom of Israel
  4. Kingdom of God
  5. Early Church

Every year, these same 5 themes are covered. In each of those themes the student will study Bible Keys. Those keys include key individuals, key events, key institutions, and key documents. Older students will perform research on each of these Bible keys while younger students will be more directly taught by the teacher. You can read a much better explanation of the process here on their website.

What I like -

The Bible is the textbook for this curriculum.

There is a strong emphasis on character development.

It encourages independent Bible study habits that will last a lifetime.

 

What I have problems with -

Note: I didn’t title this What I don’t like. Truthfully, these are issues for implementation in my own family and are therefore very subjective.

There is a lot of teacher preparation. But shouldn’t there be a lot of teacher preparation for a Bible curriculum? I don’t want to put this down as a negative, because it really isn’t. But yet it is for me. Just figuring out how this program works was a challenge. I fear that implementing this long term just would not happen.

But the real problem is that something just doesn’t seem right to me about the underlying assumptions of the program. At first I really didn’t get it at all. The emphasis on the Philosophy of Government is very confusing to me. However, as I listened to the teacher training, I did gain some understanding of what they meant by self-government, and I can sort of understand it now. But something doesn’t seem quite right with the choice of themes and how they relate to government. It seems that they focus more on that than on Christ and his redemptive work.

I’m still undecided about this curriculum. I want to like it, because I want the things that it promises to develop in my children. I want those things in myself! I’m going to listen to the training again and see if I gain more understanding. One thing I want to emphasize is that Judah Bible Curriculum is really more of a Bible method than a Bible curriculum. What it looks like in one home will look very different from another.

The Judah Bible Curriculum is available for purchase from their website. It includes the manual, audio training, and note booking ideas. It is available in both a hard copy version ($74.00 including shipping) and a downloadable version ($44.00).

Disclosure: I received a downloadable version to review as a member of the Homeschool Crew. All opinions expressed are my own.

Be sure to visit HomeschoolCrew.com to read more reviews of the Judah Bible Curriculum.


By Kristen H.
Feb 242012
 

Beeyoutiful is a unique company offering a wide-range of health and beauty products made with all-natural ingredients. Their product line includes many supplements, and their website is very helpful in detailing the various benefits of the supplements. As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I was given the opportunity to review 2 of their products.

BerryWell is an immune system boosting liquid supplement. Its main ingredient is elder berries, which have long been recognized for their immunity boosting properties. I tested this product, along with my husband, and oldest son (13 years old).

I found the taste, though not exactly pleasant, to be ok. It is fruity with a slight vinegar-like taste. My son also liked it ok. My husband found it barely tolerable. I took the product once a day for several days when I was not sick. My son took multiple doses per day of the product after her started feeling cold-like symptoms. My husband took one dose before he started feeling cold symptoms.

To truly evaluate the effectiveness of a product like BerryWell would require large scale epidemiological studies. We obviously could not do this. So I will simply report the what we saw in our use of BerryWell during an outbreak of a cold in our house.

My son who started taking BerryWell after he was feeling sick still had very bad cold symptoms for over 10 days. It is impossible to say if his cold would have been worse if he had not taken BerryWell, but it seems unlikely.

My husband and I both took BerryWell when we were not feeling sick. We were the last 2 in our household of 7 to succumb to this particular cold. We also had the least severe and shortest lasting colds in the family. However, we are the only 2 adults in the family and in general are better about hand-washing, etc. So the best I can say is that BerryWell might have helped reduce our cold symptoms. It did not entirely prevent us from catching a cold in a houseful of sick people.

I also received Beeyoutiful’s new lip B.A.L.M. in peppermint. I tested the lip balm and I really like it. It’s not overly sticky or overly hard. It provided great moisture and protection for my lips. And the best thing about it is that is does not burn. There is another popular brand of lip balms that burns my lips horribly, especially when used on chapped lips.

I confess that when I received lip balm to review, my first thought was “What’s the difference?” But the more I think about it, the more I think it’s important to think about the ingredients that you smear on your lips! Many lip balms are petroleum based. That’s kind of gross to think about putting on your lips!

Both of these products and many more can be purchased from Beeyoutiful’s website. BerryWell sells for $19.00 a bottle and the B.A.L.M. is $3.00 per tube.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Crew blog to find more reviews of Beeyoutiful’s products. Thank you Beeyoutiful for giving me the opportunity to test your products!

PhotobucketDisclosure: I received these products to review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this review.


By Kristen H.
Oct 102010
 

My younger children both get completely absorbed in what they watch on television. That is a good thing when I need time to work uninterrupted with my older children. I know they’re paying attention, because they will repeat things that they’ve heard on videos that they watch. So I try to be especially careful in what I allow them to watch, and how much they’re allowed to watch. (And that really should be the case whether they repeated what they heard or not, but it does serve as a good reminder of what little sponges children are.)

That’s why I was happy to receive Trusting in the Shepherd by DaySpring to review. This 40 minute DVD contains 2 different stories about facing fear and trusting in Jesus. In addition to the stories, there are a sing-along song and extra features included. Both stories and the song teach Psalm 23:4.

What did the kids think?

My almost 4 year old daughter really enjoyed the video. She liked the stories, the cute sheep characters, and the songs.

My 8-1/2 year old son watched it as well. He also liked it, but it was a little too young for him, and he tends to be on the immature side.

What did I think?

The animation was average to above average. It wasn’t Pixar movie animation quality, but it was typical for a kids’ cartoon show. The characters were cute. I liked how the story included the children talking with their parents about their fears. I thought the stories were ones that children could relate to. I wouldn’t consider this to be a kid’s video that an adult would enjoy watching, but I didn’t find it to be annoying either.

The songs were catchy tunes. One song was played with guitar accompaniment, while the sing-along song had a jazzy feel to it. I don’t consider either of them to be rock music, but they are both contemporary sounding songs. The scripture quoted was not in the King James. We are not KJV Only, but we do mainly use the King James Bible and do all our memory work in King James, so the video won’t be particularly helpful to us in memorizing Psalm 23:4. I mention both of these issues because I know that different Christian families have different opinions on music and Bible translations.

Overall, I would recommend the video for children between the ages of 2 and 6. I would consider purchasing other videos in the series. You can find more information about Trusting in the Shepherd, including where to purchase it, at www.ReallyWoollyKids.com or on the Really-Woolly-Kids Facebook Page.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


By Kristen H.
May 182010
 

My husband loves to do the Jumble in the daily paper. He is amazingly fast too. Me….not so much. I have noticed that over the years I have gotten better, and I can usually figure out most of the words. I’m just not very fast. Apparently my brain doesn’t work in the same way. Honestly, I’ve not been able to figure out how this skill would be valuable in real life, unless you count being really good at Scrabble as a life skill.

Bible JumbleMy kids, especially my 10 year old daughter, like to do word puzzles. So I jumped at the chance to review the new Bible Jumble for kids published by Tyndale. The book contains classic jumbles, plus a couple of variations on the traditional format. But these jumbles have an extra twist: they’re Biblically themed. For example, Jumble #46 is Soliders Make Fun of Jesus (Matthew 27:27-31) The 5 scrambled words are

  1. YAAW
  2. LENTK
  3. WROCN
  4. MINTGERE
  5. NREBAHSC

There are additional clues in case you get stumped. The clues are given in random order to avoid accidentally seeing them. The clues for this puzzle are

  • Military unit
  • Royal accessory
  • Bent one’s knees
  • Somewhere else
  • Tree limbs

There is a final word to be unscrambled using select letters from the 5 jumbled words. Did you figure them all out?

In addition to the classic puzzles, there are Jumble Crosswords and Jumble Word Searches with a total of 200 puzzles in the book. I am very impressed with this book. The Jumbles are challenging, but not impossible. I love the way the Bible is integrated into this fun puzzle book. It definitely adds a higher purpose to the puzzles than improving your Scrabble game.

This book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishers for free to review. I was not compensated for this review.


By Kristen H.