(Disclosure: I received a free copy of the teacher and student handbooks for The New Testament Overview Traceables from Grapevine Studies in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. Affiliate links are present. Thank you for supporting this site!)
When you have young kids, how do you help them really learn the Bible? We’ve read to our children since they were born, and we’ve prayed with them at meals before they could say “amen.” But, how do you help young children begin to build that solid foundation of what real faith is?
I’ve read about Grapevine Studies for nearly two years now, and I’ve held it in my mind to try as soon as my kids were old enough. I then had the opportunity to meet Dianna at Grapevine Studies at the 2:1 Conference last April. Knowing most of the reviews I had read previously mentioned the studies being geared towards 5 years old and up, I chanced asking Dianna if they offered any studies for preschoolers.
Grapevine relatively recently began offering Grapevine Studies Traceables! These studies cover similar material to the beginner level studies, but with traceable stick figure images. When the opportunity arose to review a Traceable study, I jumped at it!
What is Grapevine Studies?
If you haven’t heard of them yet, Grapevines Studies aims to provide Scripture-focused Bible study combined with the tactile component of drawing stick figures to aid in memorization and understanding.
They offer numerous studies, and each study focuses on a time period, a section of the Bible, or a person. Each lesson of the Beginner and Traceable levels looks at three or four small sections of Scripture (2-4 verses each section) with a stick figure drawing to illustrate each one. The lessons then end with 4-6 review questions and a memory verse.
The New Testament Overview (which we reviewed) has a section review halfway through the curriculum with more questions and 10 lessons total. They recommend using a whiteboard to draw the stick figures as a model for your kids. We had a MagnaDoodle handy, so we used that instead of the whiteboard.
See sample lessons of all the levels offered here.
How We Modified Grapevine Studies for Special Needs
My oldest preschooler has multiple special needs, including a severe expressive speech delay (he uses sign language) and minor delays in all other developmental areas. The New Testament Overview was the perfect place for us to start since he’s extremely fascinated with “baby Jesus” right now.
I love that each lesson uses Scripture as the reading text and pinpoints verses to focus on so as not to overwhelm preschoolers with too much information at once.
We aim to read from the kids’ Bible everyday. Grapevine Studies allows us to continue using whatever Bible we choose, but focuses and reinforces our learning.
We currently aim to read two lessons a week from Grapevine Studies and review those lessons on the day(s) in between. Due to the nature of my son’s special needs, repeating and reviewing material helps him immensely.
Because my son can’t talk, I needed to simplify the review questions. For example, in Lesson 2, I asked my son, “What did the angel tell Mary?” and he would respond “baby Jesus” meaning that the angel told Mary she was going to have baby Jesus. Some of the review questions are above my son’s currently capacity for understanding, so I replaced some questions with simpler ones. A few examples:
I would ask: “What does an angel do?”
His response (in sign language): “angel help God”
I would ask: “What does a shepherd do?”
His response (in sign): “farmer sheep”
I would ask: “What do the shepherds tell others after they meet Jesus?”
His response (in sign): “Thank you God” (to signify that they praise God)
Even those some of our modifications were simpler, these questions help him practice expressing his recalled memories.
My son doesn’t draw or write like most kids his age, but we’ve amped up some prewriting activities, and he’s making progress! These traceables add motivation for him to practice more.
I don’t harp on quality as much yet, but instead focus on effort. I helped with hand-over-hand modeling early on, then he tried tracing more on his own.
When he attempts to draw a circle for the person’s head, I get excited with him. When he draws lines straight down for the body and legs, he’s getting the right idea. Small steps lead to big progress!
The littlest even got in on the tracing action some. :-)
My son is working on the concept of sequencing, so I modified our review of each Grapevine lesson to incorporate sequencing.
I printed out the lesson pages from the teacher’s handbook. Then, I cut out the stick figure picture and pasted it on one side of an index card. On the other side, I pasted the teacher’s handbook notes for that particular part of the lesson. The front side with the picture acts as a piece of a sequence, and the teacher’s notes are now easily available for me to look over.
After we review a lesson together through rereading and retelling, I pull out these sequencing cards and ask my son to order the three or four pictures into the sequence we read in the Bible. I’ll be honest: this skill is still difficult for my son, but more practice leads to better understanding, and he’s already shown progress here, too. I give him the opportunity to try sequencing the cards on his own first, then I offer verbal cues if needed. If he’s still struggling, I have him focus on just two cards and either “retell” the story to me, or tell me which came first.
I love that these studies include memory verses for each lesson. We’re working to memorize about one verse a month for my son, and I have to simplify verses since he signs them, but Grapevine’s memory verses help pinpoint some good ones.
An example of our simplification:
The memory verse for Lesson 1 is Luke 1:63, which reads: “He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John.’”
We have to simplify this to: “His name is John,” which my son can sign.
Just like we need renewing in our hearts and minds to hold to His truths, helping my children review and renew Scripture aids in using strong bricks for a sturdy foundation. My son has enjoyed Grapevine Studies so much, he pulls the papers down from the shelf on his own during the day and spreads them all out in a semicircle around him, pointing and babbling about each one, signing “angel, God, baby Jesus, thank you” as he goes.
Interested in Grapevine Studies? See tips on where to start here. See frequently asked questions about the studies here.
Grapevine Studies is offering one copy of the New Testament Overview Part 1 Traceables (for ages 3-5) student handbook and teacher handbook to one of you! (Side note: Their customer service and response is fantastic! That’s totally my opinion and my initiative to say so.) Enter this giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms of giveaway: This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end at the end of the day (EDT) September 8, 2013. All entrants must be 18 years old or older. Enter through the Rafflecopter widget above. Incomplete entries will be deleted. Once a winner is selected, I will contact them via email. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, I will select another winner.
Don’t want to wait until the giveaway is over to purchase a study? Grapevine is offering a coupon code special for my readers! Enter the code “UGMH” at checkout for 20% off any item not already on sale. How awesome! (This code is valid through September 30, 2013.) Click here to visit the Grapevine Studies store.
What are you and your family currently studying in the Bible? Which Grapevine course looks most useful to you right now?
This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up, Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner, Hearts for Home linkup, Tender Moments with Toddlers and Preschoolers, and Free Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party.