Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review of GrapeVine Studies

Grapevine Studies Review

For the past month or so, the kids and I have been using GrapeVine Studies' Old Testament 1: Level 4 Creation to Jacob. The Bible study comes as a 48 page PDF (although it is also available in physical form) and covers from Creation through Jacob (maybe that's obvious?). Its focus is on introducing students to the Topical Bible, the Bible Dictionary, and the Concordance. In other words, students begin to move past just reading the Bible to actual Bible study using Bible study tools. We also received the 82 page Teacher's Guide (which covers both levels 3 and 4 - although we only reviewed level 4). The Teacher's Guide has all of the answers, including the pages of Zondervan-published resources on which the answers to questions may be found (the answers can't be published for copyright reasons).

At first it can be kind of confusing to try and figure out which level to choose. This infographic is a great place to start. GrapeVine also has very helpful Information About the Levels on its website. 

Grapevine Studies Review
Grapevine Studies Review

Once I reviewed the levels, I knew that OT Level 4 was perfect for Nicholas, Michael, and Mary-Catherine (12 and very-nearly 11 year-old twins). All three of them have studied the first half of the Old Testament narrative several times, so they are quite familiar with the story and the Catholic interpretation of it, but none of them has yet used Biblical tools like a concordance. I was really excited about the opportunity to introduce them to these tools. 

Grapevine Studies Review

The study offers a weekly schedule, but I didn't go by that. Because my kids are older, and because our regular Bible Study has them doing timeline work daily, I didn't have them do the timeline work with GrapeVine. Although I think the stick figure aspect of GrapeVine is cute and would be great for younger kids, mine are past that stage, so I didn't have them doing the illustration work, either. I wanted this study for its meat, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it! I like that it is non-denominational, so it is possible to teach your children in the way you want to, thus taking advantage of the pre-prepared work, without worrying about the imposition of doctrine.

Obviously, you need a topical Bible, a Concordance, and a Bible dictionary. All of these things are readily available online and in various apps. BibleStudyTools is a great place to find most of what you need (including Nave's Topical Bible, used by the study). For a Catholic Concordance, we used the one found here. So, for instance, the GrapeVine study asks how many times the word "Satan" appears in the Bible. Using the Concordance I link, we found this result:

Once you start using tools like these, it's easy to get lost in the results! There are so many opportunities for discussion that arise naturally with the kids! 

Using the Bible Dictionary was one of our favorite parts of doing this study. I am always stressing to my kids that we can't read or interpret the Bible as if it were written in English because it wasn't. Our priest, Fr. Troy, is excellent about telling us in his homilies what various words mean in the original languages and how certain words can actually be translated in various ways, so my kids are not strangers to the idea that the same word can have entirely different meanings or connotations. Being able to actually discover this for themselves was new to them, though. 

All in all, we have really enjoyed using this GrapeVine study. For our purposes, there was more included than I needed, but that is because we already use a different Bible Study daily (one I am really happy with, but which really only deals with the narrative - it doesn't dig deeper). This study adds just what we lack in the other. They complement perfectly! If you are looking for a gentle way to introduce Biblical study tools to your children, I really recommend GrapeVine!

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Grapevine Studies Review
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