Tuesday, February 20, 2007

LifeWay: Trying Again

Well, I just wrote and lost a long review of the LifeWay curricula. Let's try that again..and no guarantees that this one will be as good as the last.

LifeWay has several lines, here they are one at a time:

  • Bible Teaching for Kids (Learner):
    • - first activity is a word search
    • + word search requires reading Psalm 104, which is not printed in the hand outs.
    • --- major lesson text (Genesis 1--is there any verse that is easier to find?) is printed in the hand outs.
    • -- Suggested activity to do during the week is going for a walk with the family and challenging each other to name each item in God's creation that they pass, saying, "it is good" after each one. My students would definitely think this was for babies, and they'd be right.
    • + suggested Bible readings of a verse or two for every day of the week.
  • Bible Teaching for Kids (Leader) :
    • Over all, I liked the leader guide better than the student materials.
    • ++ includes a "personal Bible study" for the teacher to read and contemplate. Said Bible study would be a good lesson for late-elementary school kids, as it contains a discussion of a Hebrew word or two, and also an "object lesson" about the infinite number of things you could do to or with a sheet of blank paper--and then imagine how God ever knew where to start with creating everything without even that much to work from.
    • + early-arriver activity is drawing beautiful things in Creation. Ok.
    • - Start up activity is making "trash sculptures" from recyclables and duct tape. It's listed as taking 5 to 10 minutes. My students would take up the whole class period on this one--and what would they learn?
    • +/- Suggests that the teacher read the Bible verses aloud, while the students take "picture notes." I think it's better to have the students read, and I don't think they'd pay much attention if they were drawing. Maybe as a post-activity, or as a summarize-on-your-own task this would work.
    • -- activity about "naming living things created by God"--basically, which team can write the most nouns the fastest. I don't see this as developing Bible knowledge in 10-year-olds!
    • ++ Story about a missionary kid in Africa. I like these Christianity as a world-wide family bits.
    • - Sloppy editing ("Sunday's" where "Sundays" would be correct). It's a little thing, but seriously, I don't expect those kinds of errors in professionally-produced materials.
    • Three possible post-Bible time activites, none of which seem to promote understanding of the Bible:
      • Make a terrarium
      • Play 20 Questions with items from Psalms 104
      • Make notecards with stamps of nature-y things
    • Suggested activites to Bible study ratio: 2 to 1. Better than some, but still not very good.
  • G-Force (Leader's Guide):
    • - seems to be a lot of emphasis on creating the environment (pitching a tent, building a pretend "campfire). I see that kind of thing for VBS, but for Sunday school? The props are not the point.
    • -- pre-activity: Some kind of fishing game. I don't really get it, but it doesn't seem to involve the Bible.
    • --- campy script for a "host" and "co-host," in which the "co-host" interrupts by asking the kinds of questions that one might imagine a child might ask, if one didn't know any children. The script is basically like a skit, and it seems to preempt the students' role in the class.
      • Example: Host: "Yada yada, Jesus yada fasting and prayer."
        Co host: "What do you mean by 'fast prayer'?"
    • + encourages major discussion of Bible story, and makes sure that students get "the main point."
    • - an activity involves some sort of mind-numbingly simple code.
    • + includes a game that quizzes kids on what they should have learned, had they been paying attention.
    • - apparently involves PowerPoint. Why? PowerPoint was the worst thing to happen to sermons, surely we don't need it in our Sunday school classes.

From the website, it looks like they might have one more line of curricula, but I keep getting 404 errors on that.

That's probably for the best, as it's past my bed time.

Good night, every body.

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