We’ve been homeschooling for four years, and until recently, I have always struggled with finding the best way to include my youngest daughter (who’s now 7) in our Bible study time. Even when our curriculum or study book has questions and activities that she is old enough to participate in, it’s been more difficult to keep her engaged in the topics along with my two tween daughters. Not only is she the youngest, she’s also a kinesthetic and auditory learner who likes to keep moving.
So I was very excited about the opportunity to review a new and innovative Bible study program called The Picture Smart Bible because it is designed to engage children at their level with Biblical history, geography, doctrine, important verses, and major themes of each book of the Bible in a hands-on, multi-sensory way.
I received a complimentary review download of the K-3 Picture Smart Bible Old Testament in PDF format, which retails for $46. You can purchase shrink-wrapped, binder-ready printed pages for $10 more. The system is designed to work with other Picture Smart products, including the OT & NT study guides for 4th grade-adult ages.
The version I reviewed, K-3 Picture Smart Bible Old Testament, is a 144-page study guide that includes teacher and student worksheets. It provides an overview study of the entire Old Testament, with master drawings and student coloring/drawing pages for every Old Testament book that complement the lessons in the teaching guide. If you’re worried about having a thick binder and too much printing, it’s actually very manageable. I liked being able to choose to print out only the pages we would write, draw or color on. The teacher’s lesson pages are very readable in digital format, even on a portable device such as an iPad, which I personally prefer over working from a big binder.
Here’s what The Picture Smart Bible Study provides in a nutshell:
- Scripted lesson pages for the K-3 level, so parents/teachers know what to say & draw.
- Lesson supplies to accomplish the basics of every lesson, with suggestions for optional add-ons.
- Simple drawings for young hands to color and “Power Symbols” that help students remember key concepts.
- Use of the “see-hear-do” method, in which the student actually draws one picture for each Bible book that represents major themes and lessons of the book.
- An overview of each OT book, with key characters & key concepts in the introduction.
- Scripture references are listed for further study.
- Thumbnail drawings that guide the teacher through the lesson plan for each OT book.
- Blank margins for your personal notes.
- Maps and timelines that show where and when the action occurred.
- The “Good News Starburst,” which highlights Jesus throughout the Bible.
- Review questions for discussion and life application of lessons learned.
- Memory work and tools for memorizing and drawing the scriptures.
My daughter loves to color, so I wasn’t surprised that she jumped in with enthusiasm to start each lesson. Because she works best with a lot of movement and feedback, I really liked the step-by-step approach of each lesson, which created a lot of back and forth between us as we worked through it together. We labeled symbols, drew some items, and colored as we discussed the content of the Master Drawing for the lesson. I also appreciated the practical suggestions for adding 3-D elements to our drawings, such as cotton balls for clouds.
The review questions for each lesson were very effective and well written. We didn’t experience any “deer in the headlights” moments, which is a sign to me that the material is age-appropriate for comprehension and memory. The same goes for the selected memory verses.
If I could change one thing about this program, I would add a short writing component. Although pictures and the drawing process are very important elements to this method, and students should be able to review and narrate lessons learned through their drawings alone, I don’t think it would take away from the program to have a short writing segment. At this age, I’m looking for every opportunity to strengthen my daughter’s reading and writing skills, so I would have liked to see this addressed somehow.
That said, I was really impressed with the quality of The Picture Smart Bible study guide. It’s not simply a Bible “for kids” — it’s a well-conceived, step-by-step Bible overview program that I believe meets its goals to provide a visual and memorable understanding of the Bible that reflects God’s heart throughout scriptures, while also providing foundation, context, memorization, and perspective that younger ages can understand and put into practice. Once completed, your child will also have a wonderful visual tool for sharing the gospel message with young friends!
If you’re starting out at the younger side of the age spectrum for this Bible study, I think you could easily go through The K-3 Picture Smart Bible when your child is just getting into the art and coloring stage, then again in a couple of years. Each time, your child will strengthen his or her understanding of the Bible as a whole, as well as remember and learn the key concepts and characters from a more mature point of view. I would have loved to start my youngest on this a few years ago and be able to work through it again at her current stage of learning.
I’m also happy to see that The Picture Smart Bible offers a free lesson download so you can see firsthand how the program works and test drive it with your children before you decide if it might work for you.
Win a Picture Smart Bible!
The Picture Smart Bible is giving away one K-3 Old Testament download to a NextGen Homeschool reader! The deadline to submit your entry for this giveaway is July 18! To enter this one-week giveaway, use the Rafflecopter form below:
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Review Disclosure: I was not compensated for this review post but did receive a free download for evaluation purposes. However, my opinions are entirely my own and based on a personal review of the product. We also receive a small commission for any affiliate links that are used on our site to make a purchase.