Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Christianity Cove

As one of the leaders for our Wednesday night kids group at church I am always looking for great class ideas for my kiddos so when I had a chance to review Christianity Cove for the Schoolhouse Review Crew I thought that might be a neat way to help both at church and at home.  I never really thought about using a Sunday School curriculum at home for personal use before, but these do seem to work.

Christianity Cove actually offers much more than Sunday School materials. They also offer games, experiments, crafts, skits, object lessons and other creative ideas to help children learn and understand the Bible better.  They have everything you need to engage a group of kids in learning about God's Word, whether at church or at home.  Their philosophy is that children learn better through play than just sitting still in a classroom and I certainly believe that is true!  While they have many materials available I was given two of them to review:  The Divine Dozen - 12 Parables of Jesus that Every Child Should Know and Bible Science Experiments.

We used the The Divine Dozen - 12 Parables of Jesus that Every Child Should Know in our homeschool as part of our Bible time.  We would use it instead of what other Bible lesson we would have planned for the day.

I found them quite fun but certainly would have enjoyed some of them more as a group.  Of course most homeschool families have "a group" of their own at home.  We, however, only have one child at home and since summer is here our church class isn't meeting so I haven't gotten to try them there yet.

Each lesson is presented in segments to help you easily prepare and plan the message.

The Lesson Capsule - This is the over view of the topic and the summary of what the children are expected to learn from the lesson.

Scripture - This is the Scripture the lesson is based on.  They use the NIV version but note that it is sometimes modified to make it easier for the student to comprehend.  You can also read it from your own version if you prefer.

Materials - The list of materials you will need are generally easy to find and you most likely already have them in your home or in your garage.  Even the snacks they use are often things you will have handy but in case you do not the list is there for you to make sure you have everything you need before the lesson begins.

Lesson - This is how to teach the lesson.  It is pretty simple and even has all the words you need to say in bold to make it easier for you to follow along if you need to.  The bulk of the lesson is a story about a child, or children, in a modern day situation in which the principle of the parable would apply so that your students can see how the parable relates to their every day life.

Activities - These range from worksheets, puzzles, group games, crafts, snacks and visual aids to use during the lesson.

Here is a lesson we did about The Rich Man and Lazarus which taught us how to be patient and realize that while things don't always seem fair, we can trust in God and know that one day it will be.   We started with the Bible reading and then it had a demonstration that Gess really enjoyed.  I like how they share the scientific principle behind what is happening, even if that doesn't directly relate to the lesson.  Afterward she played a game placing some of miracles we read about in chronological order.

You know, parables can be tough lessons to teach and I am glad that they are not shying away from teaching these to children. I think they did a good job helping the child relate to the parable. Each lesson has different activities as you teach.  We popped balloons in one and used nicely illustrated props in others.  The activities that follow the hands on lesson are usually fun as well, though as I mentioned we didn't always have enough people if it called for games so some of them we did not try.

I also found a few mistakes in the lessons.  For instance in The Rich Man and Lazarus the actual Scripture reference was missing.  Every other lesson told you where to find it in the Bible but this one did not.  It also had some mispellings.  In the game of miracles in the Bible it had "Shadrak, Meshak and Abednago survive the fiery furnace" but that is not how you spell their names.  It should be Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Most lessons take about 15-20 minutes but with the other activities you can stretch them out to about 30 minutes.  I do not feel you could make the lesson go longer than that.   If you are looking for curriculum for an hour long class you would certainly have to supplement these with other activities such as songs, bible verse memorization, games and prayer time.  These are great if you are looking for something to cover just the 15 to 30 minutes of lesson time which was perfect for our homeschool usage.

I do think the lessons are based upon solid biblical doctrine and do address things children need to learn about the Bible.  The lessons I used did not cover any topics that might be interpreted differently among various denominations so it is pretty compatible for any church program. I also felt they did a great job at making the lesson easy for children to understand and relate to. Gess certainly both enjoyed and learned from them. 

Bible Science - 25 Fun Experiments That Teach God's Word tries to incorporate both science and the Bible to make the lesson fun and engaging.  

Sometimes both science and the Bible can be intimidating but these bring it down to a really simple level.  These are very easy to both understand and implement.  These are not your test tube type science experiments that are going to involve lots of cost and mess.  These are simple ways to engage children in learning how God's scientific laws are there to teach us.

I was actually a bit disappointed that there wasn't more to the experiments. They are more like demonstrations.  Many of them simply called for spinning a ball in water, putting a pencil in a water filled jar, or just wetting your finger and then sticking it into the air.  While these were super simple they did do a good job at explaining what scientific principle was at work and relating them to God's Word.

These are good object lessons which is how I actually used them.  They only take about 5 to 10 minutes on average.  While awfully short that can work to your advantage.  I was excited because I had a chance to use one in church.  While our pastor was out of town they needed someone to do the children's moment for the Sunday Worship Service so I volunteered because I knew I had some great lessons handy with this book.  I got to use the principle of inertia and the force of gravity to explain Proverbs 37:24 and the only material needed was a quarter.  Well, I actually used more than one quarter because at the end of the lesson I gave one to each student so they could try it too.  Of course I encouraged them to do so at home, not during the service!

One of the funner experiments was "How Heat Affects Gravity" which encouraged children to be "on fire" for God.

As you can see Gess enjoyed doing it as well as cleaning up her mess which consisted of actually eating the materials!  

One problem I had with the book was that it does not tell you what version of the Bible they are using in the lesson.  They were not from the NIV, at least some of them were not.  In fact some Scriptures didn't even seem to be from the same versions as other ones.  I think it is important to let the reader know what version you are using.  I also wished there was a bit more to the experiments but I still thought they were fairly good and Gess did enjoy them. While they were short, that can sometimes be helpful with large classes or for kids that have a short attention span.  These are good if you are looking for a short object lesson or something to open up or transition your class time with.  Just be aware that these are definitely just a filler, not an entire bible lesson or science class.

The Divine Dozen - 12 Parables of Jesus that Every Child Should Know sells for $24.00 which includes 12 lessons and Bible Science Experiments sells for $25.00 and includes 25 experiments.  I would say these are great for children on an elementary school level and they can be purchased by following the links above.  To learn more about these books visit the Christianity Cove website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about these and many of the other Christianity Cove products by clicking on the banner below.


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