Tuesday, November 10, 2015

GrapeVine Studies {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

I'm always open to trying new things in our homeschool, and recently we were given the opportunity to review GrapeVine Studies.  I had heard a lot of good things about this Bible study program, but had never used it.  There are a variety of studies and several levels, but we received digital versions of the Old Testament Part 1:  The Teacher's Manual, Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob, Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob and the corresponding Traceable level.

Teacher's Book
The Teacher's Book for Levels 1-2 helps you combine children efficiently.  It covers the philosophy and beliefs behind the system, before getting into the timeline and lessons.  It actually includes lesson notes, the timelines, examples of the stick figure drawings that you can use during your lessons, memory verses for the children, as well as review questions and answers.  The material for Levels 1 and 2 are together as one, with any additional information/memory work for Level 2 at the end.

There is a suggested schedule for doing one lesson over four days, or doing the whole lesson in one day.  I chose to follow the four day schedule, as that's our homeschool schedule and works with our family dynamic right now.  However, it's very flexible and you could easily tweak this any way you needed.  We spend about 10 minutes each day, which is just enough time before the toddler or baby inevitably need me.

Essentially ~ I read a passage, and then we discuss it as we draw.  It's what I would call lightly scripted.  There's enough guidance for those who need it to not feel like they're floundering, but there's not so much text that you feel stifled trying to pull out only what you need.  The reviews are worked in naturally in two ways.  One is a Q&A type activity at the end of each lesson.  The second way is that at the beginning of each new lesson there is a timeline review, and you are able to to review everything previously learned up to that point.

I keep the teacher's manual on my Kindle Fire so I can reference it easily during the lessons.

Levels 1 and 2
The difference between Level 1 and Level 2 is minimal.  They both have boxes for drawing each element of the story being discussed and memory verse references.

Level 1 is for children 6-8 years old (approximately 1st/2nd grade) and it has larger blocks for the drawing area.  It typically has two large rectangles per page.  I'm using this with Emory, a 6 year old 1st grader.

Grapevine Studies Review

Level 2 is for 8-10 year old students (approximately 3rd-4th grade), and has less drawing space.  It generally has four squares on each page, so takes less printing overall.  It also has a focus on memory work.  I'm using it with Elliott, an 8 year old 3rd grader.

Grapevine Studies Review

I let Emory try both levels, and he prefers the Level 1 for the extra room to draw, especially since he prefers crayons to colored pencils and tends to embellish his drawings quite a bit.  Otherwise he could keep up with his brother in Level 2 material.  If you're on the fence between the two levels, I'd primarily consider the child's fine motor skills, because the additional material in Level 2 is not intense.  The only time we've run into "trouble" is when a box required writing some lists.  Neither of my boys enjoy writing, which is why a drawing-based curriculum appeals to them.  I found myself helping to copy the notes so we don't get hung up on the section and lose momentum.

Working through the Timeline overview to prepare us for the lessons.

The Traceable levels are available as an extension of other levels, and are intended for children 3-5 years old who can/want to participate, but might not have the fine motor coordination to draw the pictures.

The pictures that the parent draws on the board as examples are in gray scale in the Traceable book, so the preschooler can trace them and follow along with the rest of the family!  The traceable level was laid out like Level 1, with the larger drawing spaces.  I really wanted Eleanor (a few months shy of 3) to use this with us, because she generally likes to participate, but she just wasn't quite ready.  However, she does like to look at her "lesson" from time to time, even when we're not working through it, so I will go over the main ideas again and she will help trace or color them.  Even this exposure is good for her, but she needs a little more time before she's ready for this.

Final Thoughts
I knew when we started the introductory timeline and Elliott was immediately intrigued that we may just have a winner.  Elliott follows the lessons very well while he's "busy" drawing, and Emory gets so engrossed in the drawings that he talks about everything all afternoon and into the weekend sometimes.  It's fascinating to see something so simple engage them this way.

This is not quite an open-and-go program since there is printing involved for the digital version.  I've been printing as we go, but I probably should have just printed the student books up front and had them bound, which is what I might do next time.  This study is easy to implement and we are all enjoying it.

Grapevine Studies Review

GrapeVine offers multiple levels for different ages and abilities.  They have six levels total for preschool through 8th grade, so you can read more about their levels and what each one focuses on, read how to choose a study or level, and view sample lessons to decide if these would work for your family devotions or co-op.  Of course you can find out more by reading the Crew reviews to see what the other levels, and a topical study, look like in other families.  

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Grapevine Studies Review

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