Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grapevine Studies - A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In late September, the Schoolhouse Crew Reviewers learned there would be Bible studies available for review by Grapevine Studies. I looked over the available studies, discussed the products with my son, and indicated my interest. 

The following studies were being offered for review:
In early October I learned that we would be receiving Old Testament 1: Level 4 Creation to Jacob to review. I received a PDF download of Level 3 Student, Level 4 Student, and Levels 3-4 Teacher's Manual. I was not required to download and use Level 3 -- it is for a younger student than my son.

I was not previously familiar with Grapevine Studies, so I had carefully looked over there website before requesting the review.The levels being offered to the Crew for review ranged in age from 5 to 12+. I asked my son if he wanted to try one of these studies, and he was okay with giving it a try. My son is significantly 12+, so we asked for the only study advertising that age range. You can look at Information About the Levels,  or look below, to see which products might be most suitable for use in your family.

Grapevine Studies are Bible studies that focus on a timeline while you work your way through scripture. You are taught in the Teacher's Manual, and thus teach your student(s), how to fill in the timeline using symbols and stick figures as you work your way through the lessons. 

Grapevine Studies Old Testament 1: Creation to Jacob Teacher's Manual covers both Levels 3 and 4, and is 98 pages long. The Level 4 Student Book is a digital download 65 pages long. The Student Book Table of Contents lists the following lessons:
  • Timeline;
  • Creation;
  • Adam and Eve;
  • The Fall;
  • Noah and the Flood;
  • The Tower of Babel;
  • Section Review;
  • Job;
  • Abraham;
  • Isaac;
  • Jacob;
  • Final Review.
Ideally the lessons are covered one per week and the entire study takes 12 weeks to complete. The Teacher's Manual also has the following sections for the parent/teacher to read through before beginning the study:
  • The Grapevine Mission;
  • The Grapevine Teaching Method;
  • Statement of Faith;
  • Grapevine Teacher and Student Goals;
  • Teacher and Student Supply List;
  • Teaching Multi-Level Books;
  • Timeline Narrative; and
  • Lesson Goals and Keys.
It is explained that the week's teaching will follow this schedule:
  • Day 1: Timeline Review Page (5-10 minutes);
  • Day 2: Lesson Page 1 (lesson days take 30-35 days);
  • Day 3: Lesson Page 2;
  • Day 4: Student Drawing Page (5-15 minutes). 
The content of the study material is good. I particularly like that the material and timeline help the student understand and remember that all these Bible personalities (even Job) lived between Creation and Joseph. The format of the daily lessons is teacher intensive, instructing the student, then giving the student time to complete their work.

As if I were an inexperienced home schooler, with anticipation I opened the PDF of my study on Monday morning to begin our day with our Bible study time. Don't do this, please! You need to prepare yourself before you begin.

I thought I had prepared myself. The study calls for:

Teacher supplies: Bible, Grapevine Studies Teacher Book, dry erase board & markers (8 colors), and Bible dictionary.

Student supplies: Bible, Grapevine Studies Student Book, and colored pencils. Level 4 students will need a Bible Dictionary, Topical Bible, and Concordance.

I was trying to print out as little as possible. I had both the student book and the teacher book in PDF only.

First of all, there was material I needed to read before I started. I had skimmed the material Monday morning before we started, and I had skimmed too quickly. Second, there were pages I needed to print out for the student that I needed to have in hand to start. I hadn't done it. I wasn't ready. So, on "day 1" we resumed our previous Bible reading schedule.

I tried again. I pre-read the teacher materials. I printed out papers. I put my markers by the white board. We started again.

The beginning lesson has the teacher introduce the student to the time line of history for the story of Creation to Joseph. I was working my way through the lesson only to find that my dry-erase markers didn't include purple for the rainbow. Also, I had forgotten to find the colored pencils. I did that quickly, but my son was already disliking what we were doing.
  • He doesn't like time lines.
  • He doesn't like being told what to do when.
  • He doesn't like to draw.
  • He felt that the stick-figure concept was too juvenile for his age.
 I was hitting my own struggles with the program from the teacher's position.
  • The instructions said I needed dry erase markers but did not specify colors.
  • The materials list called for a Topical Bible. I thought I had one only to find it was a Study Bible. I was able to borrow a Topical Bible from my pastor. I also later found Naves Topical Bible free online.
  • I've owned Vine's Expository Bible Dictionary for 40 years. When I needed it for this study, I could not find it. I later found Vine's Expository Bible Dictionary free on line only to learn that it is an Expository Dictionary of the New Testament. We had to limp our way through with Google searches.
  • I got to Lesson "Preparation Before Class" only to find ANOTHER list of needed resources. This list called for a Bible Atlas, which I own but had not located because I was assuming the first resource list would include everything I needed to have in order to go through the lessons.
My son's opinion of the program did not change. The material and format do not suit him. Basically, this program is not a good fit for him, and he is my only student.

I myself had come to Creation to Jacob not knowing their format and not knowing what to expect. What I myself had been hoping for was a program that would teach my son how to study scripture independently. Grapevine is a good program, but it is not a program that quickly teaches the student how to study scripture on their own. Grapevine is a program that relies heavily on the parent/teacher for the daily lessons. At this point in our home school this is not what I was looking for, so Grapevine is not a good fit for me either.

That is not to say that the Grapevine Studies would not be a good fit for you and your family, so before you dismiss them based on my experience, please click through the button below to check out other reviews.

Other members of the Review Crew also Grapevine Studies. To see other product reviews, please click the button below.
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