As I have written in the past, I firmly believe that discipling our children in the ways of God is one of our most cherished and important privileges as parents. I am always on the lookout for things that will help me with this task. If you work with children in any type of discipleship or teaching capacity, you'll want to read on!
Company Information: Christianity Cove is a resource created to assist Sunday School and children's ministry leaders (and parents) in the important task of teaching God's Word to children. At the site, there are lesson plans, crafts, activities, and more to help you effectively communicate God's Word to your children. If you scroll down on their main page, you will see some of previews of their blog posts, full of ideas for free! Through these creative means, this ministry seeks to help children see Jesus as a real person and to come to know Him in a deeper way.
Product Reviewed: I received two of their lesson packs, one on The Lord's Prayer and one entitled, The Divine Dozen: 12 Parables of Jesus Every Child Should Know. These are both downloadable e-books in PDF format.
Price: The Lord's Prayer--$19.99 for the first 250 orders, normally $39.99; The Divine Dozen: $24.
Age Range: For these two selections, elementary and middle school. (There are teen resources available as well; I just did not review them.)
When I signed up for this study, I was interested in learning some new ideas for extending and solidifying the Bible lessons that we worked through each day. Jonathan and I had been studying the life of Jesus this past year, so I thought these two packs would help to round out what we were had been learning.
I first read through the entire lesson pack to get an overview of what was available. I selected the two object lessons, one of the crafts, found a couple good song resources, and a snack. As these are tailored for a Sunday school lesson and not necessarily the home, I had to do a bit of modification.
Using these, I put together a "unit study" of sorts for our Bible lessons each day. We used the Personal Prayer Booklet craft as our main lesson focus each day, along with one of the "extras" and some of the Divine Dozen lessons as they related to the focus of the day. Here's how it looked:
- Lesson 1: God takes prayer seriously, using object lesson #1.
- Lesson 2: Introduce the Lord's Prayer the suggested Steve Green track (which we happened to have). We then sang this every day before beginning the lesson.
- Begin the Lord's Prayer book, decorate the cover and assemble the book.
- Lesson 3: "Our Father in heaven..." Discuss and draw in book.
- Lesson 4: Attitude of prayer, humility, using the Parable #4 (The Pharisee and the Tax Collector) lesson from The Divine Dozen.
- Lesson 5: Praying with sincerity, using Object lesson #2 and the Oreo Prayer snack.
- Lesson 6: "Thy Kingdom come..." Discuss and draw in book.
- Lesson 7: "Give us this day our daily bread..." Discuss and draw in book.
- Lesson 8: "And forgive us our debts..." using Parable #11 (The Lost Sheep) from the Divine Dozen. Draw in book.
- Lesson 9: "As we forgive our debtors..." using Parable #8 (The Unforgiving Servant) from the Divine Dozen. Draw in book.
- Lesson 10: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Discuss and draw in book.
- Lesson 11: "For thine is the kingdom..." Discuss and draw in book.
- Lesson 12: Closing Review of the entire Lord's Prayer, watched performance of Andrea Bocelli on You Tube (from link found in ebook).
After I got my plan written out, I needed to purchase balloons, Oreos, and other supplies, as well as collect shoe boxes, tennis balls, and other household goods. Lastly, I made copies and prepared his book in advance.
How We Used It: Using the unit study plan, we worked through the material, about 3 times a week for a month. Each lesson took about 20 minutes. I used the material more as a supplement rather than the core of the study. Most of the teaching was my own explanation, with the activities used to fill in or illustrate those principles.
With The Divine Dozen, I had to do even more modifications as some of the illustrations and scenarios would be completely over his head. The parables chosen were great, but we found it a bit too advanced for a little guy. We ended up just reading the stories in his children's Bible. Some of them we acted out with his stuffed animals.
What We Liked:
- The program is of high quality. Everything that I have seen on the website and the e-books showed a dedication to teaching the Word of God to children and helping them to understand God's truth.
- There was definitely a variety and creativity in both books. It was not just the same lesson plan recycled over and over.
- It utilizes all the senses: tasting cookies, smelling vinegar, listening to music.
- Lessons are scripted if you need help to explain concepts.
- Jonathan enjoyed the cookie activities and was able to explain the concept it represented to others.
What We Didn't Like:
I was hoping that The Lord's Prayer study would include a verse by verse explanation of ideas on how to discuss the different lines of the Lord's prayer. It seemed like it was more on prayer in general, whereas I was looking for specifics. As it was, there was one page that summarized it, but it didn't really help me to know how to teach it to my children. I had to do a lot of it myself, which was fine, but may not be as helpful for a parent at home or teacher who is looking for a more thorough study or a little more hand-holding.
Lastly, Jonathan was on the very young end of the spectrum, so we had to make some adaptations. As a non-reader, he could not use many of the activities that were included. I would definitely say that this curriculum would be best for elementary age, not pre-school or younger.
I wanted to see if this program would be user-friendly in a home setting. I think, however, this would definitely work better for a crowd than an individual child, so if you have a large family or teach Sunday school/children's church, this may work well for you. But if you have one child at home, be prepared to do a little adjustment. For us, it served well as a support program, not as the main teaching.
I do have to say that even though it wasn't the best fit for Jonathan and for our uses, I still would recommend it as an excellent resource to those who teach groups of children. The material is well thought out and much care was given in putting it together. Again, I would definitely recommend checking out their site. I know I'll be going back to check out that blog for ideas!