Because I view homeschooling primarily through the lens of discipleship, I place a high value on incorporating our faith and God’s word into our homeschool days. I am always keeping my eyes and ears open for great resources to use with my kids, and with Bible study this is no exception! And because I had been hearing so many great things about Grapevine Studies, I was so pleased to be given the opportunity to review one of their studies!
If you have never heard of Grapevine, their tag line is “Stick Figure Through the Bible”, and that is essentially the basis of their program. The teacher draws stick figure representations of characters and events while teaching, and the children copy the drawings or create their own while they listen. They offer studies by topic as well as as New & Old Testament overview studies suitable for children ages 3 & up. We were provided with the New Testament Overview Part 1study, and for our family I chose Level 1 & Level 1 Traceable (for my 5 year old) and Level 2 (for my 8 year old) as well as the Level 1-2 Teacher Book for me. They have a very handy chart on their website to help you select which levels are suitable for your children, and they also responded in a very timely manner to my questions when I was unsure about my selections.
Required to teach each lesson are:
- A Bible
- Dry erase markers and white board or chalk and chalkboard for the teacher. A large paper flip pad would also work well.
- Coloured pencils for the students.
- Printed lesson pages or physical student book for each student.
- Bible Dictionary. We didn’t use this – I just explained the words to my children if they were unsure of their meanings.
- Teacher book (physical or e-book)
We chose the e-book format, which I think is great for a few reasons. Most obviously, the cost is lower for their e-books than the printed. It especially makes sense to purchase their downloadable books when you are using them with multiple children as you are free to print out as many copies as you need to use with your family. You can also print out an extra page if your toddler destroys their sibling’s work. But I wouldn’t know anything about that! The cost is also lower because you get to skip shipping charges, which is a big one for me as a Canadian — I’m always taking into account shipping costs as most of my resources come from the States. E-books are also great when you have limited storage space!
I’m not terribly proficient with e-sources, so I opted to print out the teachers book for myself, and then I went ahead and printed out the whole Level 2 book for my 8 year old. I wasn’t sure how my 5 year old would do with the program as she gets frustrated quite easily, so I opted to print out only the first week of lessons for her in the traceable Level 1 book. The traceable books are exactly the same as the regular books, only there are light outlines of the stick figures already in the drawing boxes to make it easier for younger students.
I’m really glad I didn’t go ahead and print out the whole book of lessons in the traceable format for my kindergartener — she was quite outraged at the suggestion that she shouldn’t draw her own people! From the second week on she used the regular Level 1 book.
We completed our Grapevine lessons during our daily morning time. It’s an enjoyable start to our day, giving us all the chance to work together. Even the toddler joined us for a little scribbling in her books! My 8 year old was eager to look up the Bible passages and read them to us, and I had some fun myself while drawing the stick figures. My girls opted to not draw stick figures at all beyond the first week, and were eager to draw more detailed pictures of the Bible scenes.
As I seldom review lessons before teaching, I really appreciated how “open & go” this resource is, but I definitely could have done better with more teacher preparation! I did find the layout of the Teacher Book a bit confusing at times, but that was quite likely due to my own lack of preparation. I also noticed in some places where the Teacher Book instructs you to have the students find or label places on a map, but no maps are provided with the curriculum, nor are they listed under the required supplies.
Both Levels 1 & 2 are taught from the same Teacher’s Book, so my girls were able to learn together.
I also really appreciated how the introduction to the lessons included a timeline overview of the Old Testament, providing the necessary context for the birth of Christ, and the need for a Saviour. This would be especially necessary if your students weren’t already grounded in the full narrative and context of the Bible.
What’s so great about Grapevine?
Without much modification, you can vary the frequency of your lessons from weekly to daily (or anything in between). We opted to do a short lesson daily rather than a longer session, but we have some short attentions spans and a toddler to contend with! I also think this would work great in a Sunday School setting!
Just about the whole family can participate – preschool aged children can trace the figures if they prefer without getting frustrated by their lack of drawing skills. Young children with undeveloped fine motor skills have larger boxes for drawing in, and older children have additional memory work to challenge them.
Grapevine is very engaging for the children, and allows them to utilize their senses much more fully than a strictly teacher led, verbal lesson would. I love how the children have something to keep their hands busy that also helps them to focus on the lesson! The children are also able to participate by reading scripture passages aloud, reciting memory verses and work, and by asking questions.
This program is not terribly expensive at around $12 per book, but it is made much more affordable for larger families when you purchase the eBooks.
Teacher directed doctrine
Grapevine teaches the narrative of the Bible and facts only. There are no denominational biases, so this curriculum can be used by any Christian – the application is left up to the teacher. Teachers are also free to use whichever version of the Bible they wish.
Overall, I think Grapevine Studies are an excellent option for homeschoolers looking to add Bible learning to their curriculum. If Grapevine looks like something you may enjoy with your children, Sunday School class or co-op, you may be interested to know that their Resurrection Study is 20% off throughout March. Perfect for Easter! Why not try out a free lesson to see if you like it? They are offering The Last Supper Lesson for free!
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