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God's Great Covenant : A Bible Course for Children / Old Testament 1 Genesis to Ruth Review by Nancy Casari Dayton

Claire A. Larsen
Classical Academic Press
3920 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Classical Academic Press is a publishing house near Harrisonburg, Pennsylvania, that seeks to provide "superlative" classical curricula with a creative flair. According to the website, the press currently offers three levels of a grammar-stage Latin series; the Art of Argument, an introductory logic course with student and teacher editions; and one volume of a Bible study course with student and teacher editions. A beginning Greek course is due out this year. The press also offers a booklet of information about classical education and an extensive booklist. These last two items both cost less than five dollars and cost even less when ordered in large quantities. After perusing the website, I have the impression this company is serious about creating quality classical curriculum products.

This first volume in the God's Great Covenant series (GGC) is well organized and appealing to both teachers and children. The course consists of 5 units and 32 total chapters that span the Scriptures from Genesis to Ruth. The number of chapters in each unit varies between 5 and 8, depending on how the Bible books and chapters are grouped according to theme. Each unit begins with a theme statement and a one-page overview of the unit. Each chapter follows a clear organizational pattern. The last chapter of each unit is a review. Book 1 is intended for students as early as the second grade level. The workbook requires some written responses, but if your child is not ready to write his responses, he could dictate them for you to copy.

Here is the basic breakdown of Chapter 1, entitled "Creation of the World." The Lesson Scope (targeted Bible passage) is Genesis 1. The Theme statement is "God creates by the power of His words." Next is a Memory Verse: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). The Key Facts section, in this case, is a table listing what God created on each of the six Creation days. Things to Remember is for vocabulary and/or key terms. Chapter 1 contains three terms in this section: Ex nihilo, Genesis, and Elohim (each with a one-sentence definition). The Who Is God? section is very interesting. It contains a statement that would help your child understand God's character and/or nature. The Chapter 1 statement says, "God is Elohim (the mighty God) who creates everything from nothing. When He speaks, things happen just as He says." All the preceding material is on one page.

The next two pages of the chapter is the Story Time section. The Chapter 1 narrative is entitled "Creation of the World." The tone is clear; it is neither too heady nor too condescending, but friendly.

The following two pages are Review Worksheets. There are seven sections containing fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions pertaining to the material on the opening page and the Story. The last section, Think About This..., asks children to apply what they have learned about God to their understanding of themselves. In Chapter 1, children are asked to ponder the concept of how they are created in God's image by evaluating how they relate to others. The last page is a quiz that contains some fill-in-the blank and matching questions related to the chapter content. Classical Academic Press recommends that you spend about 20 minutes a day for 5 days on each chapter, including the quiz.

The Student Book contains helpful appendices,(e.g.. a summary of the memory verses, chapter word banks, the Ten Commandments). There is also a section of maps. The layout and formatting of the student pages are well done. There is just the right proportion of text and white space. The font size is comfortable to read, and the font style is clear and appealing. Each chapter contains a few illustrations that help create interest. They are in black and white, and I did not find them too distracting. The student text costs $22.95.

The Teacher Edition contains a reduced version of the student book with all the answers filled in. The reduction is a bit too small for my comfort level. There are also explanatory teachers notes with "additional factual information to expand upon the historical, geographical, cultural, and theological concepts" relating to the materials in the student book. There is plenty of room to take notes, too. The teacher text costs $24.95.

There certainly is much to recommend this program: the organization and clarity of the lessons, the right-on tone that balances rigor with age-appropriate language and expectations, its ease of use, its appeal to children to learn about God's character. The price is fair for the quality of the materials. At the same time, it feels very much like a classroom approach. If you would prefer to take a more "natural" approach to teaching your children about the Bible and God's character, this curriculum might not appeal to you. It is one thing to use a workbook and teacher edition for Latin, Greek, or Argumentation; it's another thing altogether to take a workbook approach to one's faith in your home. Then, of course, it also depends on how your children would respond to it. You know best.

Product review by Nancy Casari Dayton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2007