November 3, 2009

Bible Review, Part 2

Scholastic Read & Learn Bible $14.99

My favorite for ages 5 and up!

Again my criteria included: 1) number of stories included, 2) quality of illustrations, 3) age appropriate language, and 4) text size.

1) Although this is a “story bible” (meaning a collection of stories rather than the complete text of the bible) it is a rather complete collection of 102 stories. I only found 2.5 stories not included from this year’s curriculum (Elijah listening to God’s voice, the Wise and Foolish Builders, and the half because David celebrating in front of the ark is barely covered.) 

2) The illustrations are simple, yet very culturally and historically relevant. Great for the primary age group as it is still very colorful and inviting, yet the more realistic illustrations give it a non-babyish look.

3 & 4) The print is large, making the text easy to read and understand.  It is paraphrased specifically for young readers using the CEV and KJV. I appreciate how they tried to give accurate accounts and not edit out key details. Instead, they highlighted words in bold, then explained or gave interesting information about them in a text box at the bottom of the page. This is a double bonus as it helps children develop skills to read informational text, and at the same time sparks interest in and a deeper understanding of God’s word.

Another bonus is a 40 page section at the back of the book, encouraging parents to share the Word with their children through 20 lessons on understanding topics of the Christian faith like worship, prayer, etc.

Love the price too!

Note:  Be careful searching for this online.  If something comes up at $29.99 it is probably the computer game...NOT the bible!

October 20, 2009

Bible Review, Part 1

I spent this summer reviewing Children’s Bibles to use for the Joyful Learning curriculum. At first it was overwhelming, seeing an entire wall stocked with “Children’s Bibles,” but as I started looking through I was less than impressed by many. My criteria included: 1) number of stories included, 2) quality of illustrations, 3) age appropriate language, and 4) text size. After hours of clicking through online reviews, then sitting on the floor of the Christian bookstore scrutinizing the finalists…I found a couple that I really love!

My favorite for 2-4 year olds is...

Read and Share Bible by Gwen Ellis: $14.99

1) There are more than 200 bible stories

2) Every story has one or two delightful illustrations.

3) The stories chosen give a good chronological overview of the bible in simple, yet accurate language that preschoolers can understand.

4) The text is large and clear, making a nice transition for preschoolers who are becoming interested in recognizing letters and sounding out words.

A bonus feature is a little box at the end of each story commenting or making connections to a preschooler’s life.

Another huge plus for this bible is that you can buy it on DVD! The stories are not presented in order, there are four volumes each containing multiple stories using the same illustrations and language from the bible.

Note: I see that they just put out a toddler version in July. I would NOT recommend the toddler version for our purposes, as it only has half of the stories along with parent activities integrated after each story. Also, they have Christmas and Easter specials which are basically just the stories extracted from the bible and DVD and packaged together in a holiday theme. (I would save your money since it would just be repetitious, but it would be a great gift idea.)

October 16, 2009


When I first came to Panama, Geoboards were unheard of.  So, I had my wonderful husband cut, saw, paint, and nail until our Kindergarteners had a class set.  They worked fine, and bending the nails back into position just became part of the weekly routine.  (If anyone would like to try it as a family project, I have a pattern.)  However, now you can buy one at Ultracom for $5.49!  Pick up some colored rubber bands, and your child should be ready to go. 

As with any manipulative, children need lots of time just playing and exploring independently.  When they are ready for more of a challenge, here are some ideas you can suggest...

- Make a picture "Can you make a _____?"

- Copy someone else's picture

- Make shapes

- Make numbers (I have a master if anyone would like a copy)

- Make letters (uppercase are easier)

- Copy a geo-board design on a paper grid like this one

- Follow verbal directions of the teacher or another classmate

September 19, 2009

Faith Comes By Hearing...for FREE!

We have been listening to this dramatized audio bible over the summer, and Levi especially loves it.  He sits in the school room staring at the speakers, or tries to look through his bible to match the pictures to the story he's hearing (which often is followed by the occasional frustrated screech when he can't match up the exact story, or when the story is over by the time he finds the pictures).  We were missing a few of the beginning stories, and I just happened to receive an email newsletter about this site yesterday.  I went to their website to complete our files and was delighted to discover all the options.  They have 442 versions/languages available to download for FREE!  We have the KIDZ bible, which is the New International Reader's Version, dramatized by enthusiastic people with British or Australian accents.  Also included are 60 songs like "Let's Go Pharaoh," to the tune of "We Will Rock You."  Next we downloaded the Spanish New Testament, Dios Habla Hoy, which I plan to use to help the children and I with our Spanish when Papito isn't home.  It would be a great way to introduce your children to another language as you can play it in the car, around the house, wherever!