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Grapevine Studies - A Chronological Study of the Characters and Events of the Old Testament from Creation to Nehemiah (Digital Download) Review by Julie Kieras

* Early Elementary Traceable Overview of the Old Testament
* Elementary Student
* Teacher Book
Dianna Weibe
Grapevine Studies
Grapevine Studies
PO Box 2123
Glenrock, WY 82637

Biblical literacy for children can be a daunting subject to teach, as the knowledge base is vast. But it’s also essential in our family to give our kids a sense of the scope and sequence of biblical people, lands, and events. Here’s where GrapeVine Studies Old Testament Overview has become a foundational part of our homeschool Bible time.

The digital download of GrapeVine Studies Old Testament Overview offers several options. Choose from five student levels from Pre-K through Grade 8; we’ve been using the Early Elementary Traceable and the Elementary Student eBooks along with the Teacher Book.

The Teacher Book .pdf download contains everything needed to teach through the main events of the Old Testament. The Overview is divided into four sections: Creation to Jacob, Joseph through the Promised Land, Jericho through Psalms and Proverbs, and the Prophets thorough Nehemiah. The lessons go in chronological order, not in books of the Bible order, and cover timelines, memory verses, vocabulary, review questions, and maps. Because this curriculum has been developed with simplicity and ease, it’s flexible enough to be used by teachers of any level of Bible knowledge.

The student versions are similar to the Teacher Book with the omission of notes and maps. The traceable version has light gray stick-figure drawings that are slightly simplified from what is depicted in the Teacher Book. The student version has blank boxes for the student to copy what the teacher demonstrates.

Additional resources for using this course are minimal and discretionary. A printer is a fairly essential item, as drawing pages would ideally be printed out for the traceable version and worksheets for the elementary version. The Teacher Book could be used on a tablet, or printed as preferred. Although the Teacher Book contains summaries of the Bible content studied, a Bible would be prudent for reading the accounts and studying the memory verses. A dictionary or Bible dictionary is helpful for looking up the vocabulary words, but the program could be used without one.

Each component of the course is sold separately, and in four sections. To purchase the entire Old Testament Overview course for a teacher and two early elementary children (traceable and student versions), the regularprice would be $144.

The GrapeVine Studies courses are highly flexible in how a teacher could break up the work. Ideally, lessons are a brief fifteen to twenty minutes, covering about two to four pages of the Teacher Book. In our mostly classical-method homeschool, I have a four-year-old and a seven-year old, and we’ve been using this course as our Bible time each morning. I give my four-year-old the traceable printouts for the day’s lesson. As I teach the lesson, he traces the pictures; these printouts go into a three-ring binder for the year. My seven-year-old copies my drawings onto 4x6 cards, which he stores in a case, and uses to review the timeline. This modification saves me on paper and printer ink! Sometimes for review, I mix up his cards and have him work with his brother to put them in order again. Or he and his younger brother retell the stories from the cards.

Using drawings to capture the meanings and messages of Scripture has helped my young children grasp and retain the timeline of the Bible in a colorful and visual way. These lessons are perfect for visual and tactile learners, and the lessons can be modified for a variety of learning styles and levels. Students can watch and enjoy the teacher’s drawings unfold, trace the stick figures, or create their own drawings. The act of drawing scenes from the Bible prompts them to ask questions that allow for extended teaching.

Although I’m using it in my homeschool, this course could easily be used in a larger classroom or with a Sunday School class. I made minor modifications and omissions, like electing to skip the memory verse work, since my children already memorize passages for several other classes. And, since I’m teaching two levels of children simultaneously, I usually skip the Bible vocabulary portion or work the terms and definitions casually into the lesson narrative.

I absolutely love the simplicity of GrapeVine Studies Old Testament Overview and how it allows me to cover Biblical literacy smoothly. The lessons fit nicely with the Christian worldview history timeline we use as well. The scope of the material is thorough, such as including prompts for kids to learn other Bible facts like the books of the Bible, number of books in the Bible, and map skills. And I appreciate the digital format, since I can view the Teacher Book on my iPad, which saves the cost of printing pages.

My boys beg for their GrapeVine Studies lesson every morning and are disappointed if we have to change the order of our work. They enjoy coloring and drawing during the lessons, and I believe this hands-on activity boosts their engagement. Their retention of the material is also excellent because they recall the pictures they drew, or they can quickly retell the stories by glancing at their drawings.

If I could alter anything about this product, it would be to create an option in the file to be able to bookmark the .pdf document, as once you get deep into the 356-page Teacher Book, it can become timeconsuming to scroll through and find your place again.

GrapeVine Studies products have been previously enjoyed by our family, and the Old Testament Overview is no exception. Had I not received this product for review, it is one I would buy with our homeschool budget, and I plan to purchase the New Testament counterpart in future years. This product is well worth the investment to give children a solid foundation of Biblical literacy in an engaging and memorable way. Most kids enjoy creating art, and making Bible stories come alive through vivid but simple drawings breathes life into devotional time or Bible class. The Bible facts and knowledge they learn will serve them well in upper grades when they begin to learn more about doctrines and theology studies.

-Product review by Julie Kieras, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2017