Telling God’s Story, Grade 2, Is Out and About, I’m Told

Telling God’s Story, Grade 2, Is Out and About, I’m Told February 20, 2012

Grade 2 of my children’s Bible Curriculum Telling God’s Story is out, or nearly so, the proof of which I offer in the colorful photo above–a sort of first fruit of the harvest, guaranteeing what is to come (if I may paraphrase the Apostle Paul).

You can take a gander at the table of contents. Olive Branch Books also has a blog for the curriculum. The main website has some other information and FAQs.

So far, the reception of the curriculum has been very encouraging to me and Olive Branch Books. Below is a flyer that gives an overview of the volumes out so far, including some testimonials.

The curriculum is scheduled to cover grades 1-12, and the approach we are taking is unique.

We do not begin with Bible stories at the youngest ages. Adam and Eve, the Flood, Tower of Babel, the Exodus, and David and Goliath may seem child-friendly, with a lot of action and dripping with clear moral lessons.

But these are not children’s stories and they were not written to be moral guides. These are complex ancient narratives that bear nuanced theological lessons intended for adult readers and thinkers. That does not mean that children can’t benefit from them. It just means that these stories may not be the best place to start with six year-olds.

So, rather than beginning with “Bible Stories,” Telling God’s Story begins in grades 1-4 by grounding children in the faith by introducing them to Jesus as he is presented in the four Gospels. In grades 1 and 2, we have laid out the Gospels in eight units totaling thirty-six lessons (one a week for the school year), complete with an activity book that makes this professor want to break out the scissors and paste.

The eight units are intended to introduce children to Jesus in the way the Gospel writers do: Stories Jesus Told (parables), Miracles Jesus Did, Teachings of Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ Early Life, Jesus’ Disciples, Opposition to Jesus, and The End of Jesus’ life.

Each lesson includes a “parent lesson,” intended to explain the theology of the passage for that day to parents on an adult level, should they feel they need a jump start. The children’s lesson follows–an abbreviated and simplified version of the parent lesson.

The plan for grades 5-8 is to turn back to the Old Testament and walk the students through Israel’s “grand narrative” from creation through the return from exile.

We won’t go book by book, and we will work hard not to get lost in the details. The focus here will be on grasping the big picture of what the Old Testament is trying to get across so that young students can feel like they generally “get” the Old Testament, which will prepare them to study the books of the Old Testament as they continue their spiritual journeys.

The high school curriculum will look more closely at the Bible in light of its historical backgrounds. Too often young men and women go through high school and then into college without any true awareness that the Bible reflects the ancient cultures in which it was written–and the difference such awareness can make in reading the Bible. They are ill-prepared to work through the complexities of what it means to read the Bible as an adult, and are often deeply unsettled in their first college “Introduction to the Bible” class.

We want to help that not happen, and we feel the way to it is not by giving young adults simplistic arguments for why they know they’re right and their professors are all wrong. Rather, we want to talk to them about what the issues are, and give them tools for thinking through the issues to help them on their journeys of faith.

That’s a quick summary of the curriculum. If you want more details on what the curriculum is about, I have written a short parent guide book doing just that.

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  • RJS

    Makes me wish I had young kids again.

  • Mary

    Just wanted to say how very grateful we are for the work you’ve put into this curriculum. I can’t imagine it comes with a lot of monetary compensation so know that it has been immensely helpful already in our family as we’ve been using it the past year with our boys. Also love the parent’s guide. I found myself reading aloud paragraph after paragraph to my husband, who has always asked “where are all the dead bodies floating around?” in the Noah’s Ark pictures from the other children’s books we have. Really, I would recommend it to just about anyone (with or without kids) and it has been very formative and encouraging in my own life. Glad to hear the next book is out!

  • Kenny Johnson

    I own Grade 1 and really like what I’ve seen son far. Haven’t had a chance to actually go through any units yet. Even though my son is only 4 (5 in May), I think I may start early.

    Good to see that more are coming!

  • Jeremy

    I would love to start this with my kids (10, 8, and 6) but it’s really important to me that we start with Jesus. I hate to jump in mid-stream, so to speak. Any advice for parents with kids too old to start with grade 1?

    • peteenns

      Jeremy, the lesson can be adapted. The activity book will be too young for the 10 year old–but who knows–you might be able to adapt that, too. Remember, too, that each children’s lesson is preceded by a parent lesson. Maybe you could do some morphing for your oldest?

  • James

    I’ve never been happy with starting out children on a diet of long hair and fig leaves, a collage of zoo animals, and a stone between the eyes. Much better to tell the story of Jesus first. Then the Grand Story on which the Gospel is built makes good sense. As Jesus said, “these (Hebrew Scriptures) are they that testify of me.” Bravo!

    • peteenns

      So, how many copies can I put you down for? 🙂

  • Hooray! We’ve been using Year 1 with our (now) six year old daughter and she loves it. It’s her favorite part of school. Thank you for doing this. Will you be speaking at the Cincinnati convention again this year?

    • peteenns

      Jeremy, I think I’ve been banned from the state of Ohio in general.

  • Adele Lyman

    I grew up on Old Testament Bible stories from as early as I can remember, and my children did too. The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes was a favorite of mine and theirs. Creation, Adam and Eve, the Flood and all the rest. I’ve just started The Evolution of Adam and have also done some reading on your blog here – enough to know that I’ve got to grapple with a serious paradigm shift.

    Now our granddaughters are coming up to their 1st birthdays and I would like to get them a Bible story book. What would you recommend for such little ones?

    • RonH

      I’m not Dr. Enns, so feel free to disregard… But I’ve got young children, and they love The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It does start back at the Old Testament… but Lloyd-Jones tells the stories in such a way that they each point clearly to Jesus. In fact, she makes it sound almost as if they were intended to! 😉 We’ve actually got the deluxe edition with the book on audio read by David Suchet. Wonderfully done.

      (FWIW, I’ve read Dr. Enns’ curriculum parent guide, and really like his approach. I think Lloyd-Jones’ book is in a similar vein, even if she does take the stories in a more traditional order.)

  • Adele Lyman

    Thank you – this is helpful. I have puzzled over what place OT Bible stories have for very little children in light of some of these changes to my own views in how to interpret the Scriptures. But one doesn’t have the luxury of limitless time to contemplate such things when these little ones are already here and growing every day! I like the looks of this Bible story book and appreciate your recommendation.

    • Chrish574

      Adele, Sally also has a book for very young children. I just ordered one for our family. “Baby’s Hug-a-Bible.” It looks wonderful.

  • Chrish574

    I am thrilled! My 5 year old daughter and I are enjoying and learning so much from Year One. Thanks Peter.

    • Chrish574

      Oh and I have already pre-ordered Year 2 Teaching Guide and the Activity book. Keep em coming. 🙂

  • jacob z

    As a youth pastor, I am really looking forward to the middle and high school lessons. Your paragraph about kids coming into college without a realistic and nuanced idea of what the Bible is resonates strongly with me and I don’t quite know how to go about it with them.

    Any idea when those will be coming out?

  • bonnie

    I really, really wish you jump into the middle school/ high school ones before completing the elementary grades! There’s a huge lack of curriculum like this for curious, thinking, intelligent tweens/ teenagers, and I desperately need a teacher like you to help!

  • We’ve had to completely upend our curriculum for my six year old. The two things he wanted to keep from our original plan this year Telling God’s Story and Story of the World. He loves the variety of activities and the STORIES.

    Please, please keep hard at work on this so that he can keep following year to year. And his three year old sister is chomping at the bit for her turn to do the activities.

    And yes, year 2 is preordered already.

  • Megan

    Are these books available for preview at homeschool conferences and vendor fairs? It wasn’t clear from the WTM web store…

    • peteenns

      They are, typically, but I don’t for sure. Feel free to email Olive Branch from their website. They can give you the direct scoop.