Pros: Teaches basic Bible principles, written at the first grade level, well designed
Cons: Bible memorization plan a little ambitious, detailed lesson plans should be at the front
As a homeschool teacher, there are several things that I want to teach my children. Of course there's reading, writing, and arithmetic, but as a Christian, I also want to teach my child about the Bible. My five year old daughter and I went through Bible Truths 1: A Father's Care this year. It is developed for first graders, and although my daughter is five, most of her school materials have been at the first grade level.
Bible Truths 1 is part of BJU Press's homeschool curriculum. As of right now, they only have a Teacher's Edition available and not a Home Teacher's Edition for this subject... but unlike the music curriculum, it didn't matter a great deal with BJU Bible 1.
BJU Bible 1 Teacher's edition is meant to go with several other items, which have varying degrees of usefulness. I recommend that you get the student worktext that goes along with the Teacher's Edition. The Student Materials Packet has nice charts of creation and Easter week, along with some bookmarks, but you could do without it if you like. I did not purchase the CD/Cassette, which might have helped because I didn't know all the songs. My daughter and I both enjoyed the missionary biography, Adoniram Judson: God's Man In Burma... there are alternate lessons you can use if you choose not to buy the book, but I thought it was a good purchase. The visual packet is not cheap, but it is very nice, with large photos and maps, and even a miniature Jericho and Noah's ark... I was upset to lose it in our recent fire.
Bible Truths 1: A Father's Care consists of 10 units totalling 36 weeks. There is also a Thanksgiving Mini-Unit. The different topics covered in this book are:
- God's Promises to Noah and Abram/Abraham
- How God Protected Jacob and Joseph
- Christmas and the Birth of Jesus
- How God led Moses and his people, and took down Jericho
- Israel's kings Saul, David, Solomon, and Josiah
- The Life and Miracles of Jesus
- Jesus's Death and Resurrection
- God Sends Missionaries... in Paul's time and Today
- The Bible and Prayer
Every week (except for the Thanksgiving Mini-Unit) is four days long. We only have school four days a week, so this is perfect for us.
In every unit in Bible Truths 1, there is a song to learn. Some songs were familiar to me, like "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful" for Christmas, or "Jesus Loves Even Me". Other songs, like "Golden Harps are Sounding" and "A Child of the King" were new to me. The curriculum usually has your child learn one verse a week. If you are good at playing the piano, the music is located in the back of the book. When I had time, I programmed my computer to play the songs I was unfamiliar with through my keyboard's MIDI port. You can also buy the cassette or CD.
There is a new Bible verse for your child to learn every week. It was a fairly aggressive schedule for my daughter, and one 4-day week was not long enough for her to memorize these verses. She did manage to learn John 3:16 and Romans 10:13, primarily because I took extra time to teach it to her.
In every lesson, there is a story and discussion questions to read to your child. About 50% of the stories come from the Bible, and about 50% of the stories are application stories. You are given the Bible reference to all Bible stories, in case you prefer to read straight from the Bible, but I found the stories in the book to be easy to read and at my child's level. The stories get longer as your child progresses through the first grade and is presumed to have a longer attention span.
Every day has an accompanying worksheet page for your child to do, and the answers are printed in the teacher's edition for you. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out what some of the pictures were trying to say, so it helped me, even though the answers themselves were easy enough to figure out on your own. The workbook comes separately.
Bible Truths 1 comes with instructions for fun activities for you to do with your child. Many of them were pretty easy to do and could be done with stuff lying around your house. Many of these activities have connections to topics that your child may be learning in other subjects. My daughter had fun making a cloud on the day we learned about how God made the sky. We also made salt water, and a suncatcher (requires the workbook). Your child can learn about thunder and lightning, and calculating a storm's distance, in the unit that talks about trusting Jesus.
There was one activity that I really wanted to do but couldn't find the materials for. In the Noah's Ark lessons, they have you build a snowglobe with a toy boat inside. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a small toy boat to put inside.
Another activity that was suggested in the curriculum was writing a letter to encourage a missionary. After my daughter sent off a letter to a missionary that our old church supports, she got a letter back! She was pretty excited about that.
BJU Bible Truths 1 is laid out fairly simply. There is a Table Of Contents in the front that tells you where the units start... the biggest problem that I had with this was that there were no detailed lesson plans in the front, like with other subjects. You have to go to each individual unit to find out what each lesson teaches.
At the beginning of every unit, there is a detailed lesson plan that tells you what subjects you are teaching, what memory verse goes along with the lesson, from where in the Bible the lesson comes from, what Bible doctrine is being taught, and skills and applications that will be learned from the unit.
Every lesson begins with a list of materials that you will need. For lessons that have items that you might have to go out and gather ahead of time, you can find a list at the beginning of each unit as well.
The lessons are well scripted and give a list of questions that you can ask to try to get your child to think. Some of the questions were a little difficult for my daughter, like "What kinds of 'enemies' do God's people fight today?". I've learned that my daughter likes to try to avoid some of the more difficult questions by saying "lots of stuff" if she doesn't know.
The Bible and application stories are all highlighted in purple boxes, so they are easy to find.
Other items that you will find in the Teacher's edition include Bible doctrines, basically outlining what the people at BJU believe with Bible verses pointing to why they believe it, a Catechism answering questions that your children might have along with simple answers, unit reviews (in case you would like to give your child a simple test at the end of the unit), activity pages, and a glossary.
There is also a Cumulative Index at the back of the book, covering all the topics discussed in Bible Truths in grades 1 through 6, that tells you what units in what grade levels cover each topic. This might have use to you for planning ahead, especially since you probably don't have all 6 grades purchased already when you're teaching your first grader.
When my daughter started out the school year, I was shocked that she didn't even know about Adam and Eve. They hadn't covered it in Sunday School, evidently. Now she knows all about Adam and Eve, creation, Noah's Ark, and several other important Bible stories.
She also has learned several hymns this year that she wouldn't have learned otherwise. Now when we sing them in church, she is able to sing along.
The application stories have helped her learn more about how to behave selflessly rather than selfishly, how to be kind to your friends, and have taught her about other qualities that I would like her to have.
One thing that I found quite surprising, was how the stories and applications in this subject have helped me. We have gone through a lot of trials in this last year, and even though these lessons were supposed to be teaching my daughter, they helped me in the process, and gave me encouragement. I thought that was a nice bonus.
BJU Bible Truths 1: A Father's Care has been a joy to teach, was fun for my daughter, and taught both of us important principles from the Bible. I highly recommend it!