Thursday, May 7, 2015

Becoming Firmly Planted with Real Life Press {A TOS Review}

Real Life Press Review
We recently completed a quick survey of Old Testament stories with our core curriculum. We started with Creation and touched on many of the main events as a part of our history lessons.  Due to the fact that we would focus on one a day and then move on to the next story, we didn't get a chance to really dig into each one. Which is perfectly understandable, as it was an introduction suitable for a first grade curriculum. When the opportunity came up for us to review Firmly Planted, Books of Moses, Part 2 by Jay and Heidi St. John of Real Life Press, I thought it would be a blessing for the children and I to have a chance to go back through these stories in more detail. 

We received the PDF digital download version of both the Family Study Guide and the Student Workbook. You will need to have a computer or device to view the ebooks on,  plus a printer for printing out the worksheets. It was quite convenient to have the PDF version, as I read the daily readings during our Bible times, from my tablet, and printed out the worksheets for the children to use during our school time. This study is also available in physical format, which some of my fellow Crew Mates received. It is a part of a series focusing on being Firmly Planted in God and his Word. Each of the studies in this series are 10 lessons long, with each lesson designed to last a week.

The Books of Moses, Part 2 focuses on the time period between Joseph being sold into slavery (Genesis 37) and the Israelites exploring the promised land (Numbers 13-14).  Here is the list of lessons:
  • Joseph Sold Into Slavery
  • Joseph Saves His Family
  • Moses and the Burning Bush
  • The Plagues
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • The Ten Commenadments
  • The Tabernacle
  • The Golden Calf
  • Choosing the Levites 
  • Exploring the Promised Land
The Study Guide begins with an introduction that explains the origin of the title of the series, "Firmly Planted." Our desire is the same as that of the St. John's, to have our children and ourselves firmly planted in God's word, so we can reap the benefits of the well-watered, nutrient-rich soil and yield fruit and not wither, as stated in Psalm 1 verse 3. 

Before the weekly lessons begin, there is also a section that explains the icons that will be found  in each weekly lesson. 
  • The Seed is the "key concept" for that week's lesson.
  • Planting the Seed is the easier of the 2 memorization options, suitable for younger children (approximated ages 4-11).
  • Additional Planting the Seed is the more challenging memory selection.
  • Watering the Seedling is the short, 5-6 minute, story lesson to help the seed "germinate."
  • Daily Study contains the daily devotions which guide us into learning what God is teaching in the week's passage.
  • Digging Deeper is meant for older students or adults to lead to deeper discussions.
  • Taste the Fruit is the life-application segment.
Let's move on to the actual lessons. 

Each week starts with a Bible passage to read. You get an overview, with select verses on the first day, and then you delve into other verses as the week progresses. Having these specific verses from the Bible passage helps the children to focus on the relevant verses, and keeps the children from being overwhelmed. 

It took me a few weeks to get a feel for how to present the lessons. We tried morning Bible time, and then we tried evening devotion time. I finally found the best plan was to focus on reading the daily Bible verses in the morning along with the devotion passage. In the evening, I combined my shortened version of Digging Deeper (as our children are quite young) with a discussion of Taste the Fruit. These last two sections usually have additional Bible verses to read and discuss. From what I can see, these verses are from the New Testament and help connect what we are learning from the Old Testament with Jesus.

The Firmly Planted studies also include lots of fun worksheets for a wide range of ages. You will find them in the Student Workbook.  There are puzzles, mazes, coloring pages, word searches, Map It! pages, copywork, Write About It: Fruit of the Spirit, prayer journal sheets, and so much more. After a bit of trial and error, I discovered the worksheets that are the best fit for our family.

During our morning lesson time, the children have time to use the coloring sheets or the Picture It! pages. 

While I am working with the younger children on their preschool time, the older girls have independent workbox time. This is when they work on the more challenging worksheets. I have them work on the copywork one day,  the "What Do You Remember?" sheet another day later in the week, and the "Write About It: Fruit of the Spirit" page when I can fit it in.  Additional activities they have been enjoying are the crossword puzzles, word searches, and mazes. 

I love that they have to use the Bible to fill in the crossword puzzle. One word of caution, to get the correct answer, you will need to use the ESV of the Bible. We have found that the needed passage isn't always in the actual reading, so I will pull up the required verses on Most of the time they have been able to work independently. However, there are times we work together, especially if they are getting frustrated.

Occasionally, there will be Map It! pages. Completed maps are included, as well as blank maps for the children to fill in. I have them view the one map on my tablet to help them find the needed information.

 I have found the above worksheets to be the perfect amount for right now. Especially because if we did all the included worksheets, we would never get our other subjects done. 

There are also worksheets for the "Upper Class," made specifically for the older child. These assignments really help older children to dig deeper. 

I have enjoyed using this study, though I do wish there was a bit more direction on when to use each worksheet. I haven't found a great time to make them fit with the actual lesson, so we use them randomly throughout the week. Additionally, the children have said some of the devotion information is a bit difficult for them to understand. I am probably going to put this aside for now and revisit it when they are a bit older and can get more out of it. This will also allow Hannah and Harold to be able to participate more. 

I think it is a great study for digging into God's word and investigating what the Lord wants us to know. I do think older children will get a lot more out of it though. 

You can find Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom) on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The Crew was given several different Real Life Press products to choose from for this review. In addition to the study we reviewed, you will find reviews for Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1, Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 2, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance, and Lapbooking Made Simple.

Real Life Press Review

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