This is by far the best Bible curriculum I have seen in a very long while. It is totally God-centered and God-focused. Your children will learn who God is, what God is like, and how they should act towards Him. Nothing I have ever seen at this level introduces these concepts so thoroughly and so dynamically.
I think it is an oft-made assumption with early years Bible curriculum that we must not go too deep or we may lose them. The thought that all we need do for these little ones is tell them Bible Stories is just not true. Desiring God Ministries proves this once and for all with this program, and, indeed, with all their programs. This is not a collection of stories and moral themes but rather a theology of God, for children.
The material I reviewed is written for grades one through three. It has amazing content. Thought provoking, satisfying to the intellect, honoring to God, and a whole lot of fun as well; I think you will love this program, it adapts beautifully to the home environment.
The ABC's of God uses the alphabet as a theme for discovering and exploring the attributes, or characteristics, of God. There is a supposition that the children taking this course have been exposed, in some way, to most traditional Bible stories. The lessons in this program go directly to using these familiar stories in new and dynamic ways, as a springboard to show the character of God.
Week by week, one letter at a time, the children build their own, personalized notebook celebrating the attributes of God. The notebook is pre-bound and each child gets his/her own book. In a Sunday school situation, you are encouraged to photocopy a few extra pages each week for new arrivals and guests. The books are brought out during small group or family time, when the lesson is being talked about. The children are to be encouraged to decorate the page of the day as you discuss the content. A box full of markers, glitter glue, stickers, etc. comes in perfectly here and you can really see each child's individuality as they progress. Because this curriculum is designed for a Sunday school setting, a division is made between lesson time, in a large group, and small group time when discussion and more learning happens. It would be easy to adapt this to the home situation. You just do all the talk time together with your kids, and let them build their notebooks while you are doing this. The lessons are scripted to make it easier week by week if you had to change teachers or even venues. The authors pray that the person delivering the lesson each time will have a visible passion for God. It is true that children can sense when someone is genuinely excited about the material being presented.
This stuff is SO great. The family time leads naturally into the application time. During family (lesson) time, the questions who is God and what is He like are answered with Biblical theology and Scripture. That discussion leads to the application of the question: Because God is (attribute or characteristic) how should I act toward Him? This involves the kids in active discussion. This is not to be a time of simply recalling facts from the lesson. The goal is to lead the children to really think about what these things mean to them personally. This is where the excellent writing and scripting of the authors is so valuable. The guiding questions are so valuable and help to keep the lesson on track.
The notebooks help here too. They are not included just to have a picture to color. They are beautiful books and as the children are busy working in them, their minds can be engaged in meaningful discussion. The books become treasures; unlike most Sunday school papers that rarely even make it home. I love how this time is developed in the Teacher's manual. Questions to ask are provided along with commentary about how to elicit the type of answer you want. As they progress through the lessons, the children will also be memorizing verses that show the particular attribute being discussed. From Almighty (Jeremiah 32:18b-19a) to Zealous (Isaiah 42:13) there is a verse to correspond with every characteristic. Small cards are provided with the particular attribute on one side and the key verse on the other. Collecting all their cards, I predict, will become a fun and motivating part of their lessons.
There are so many neat surprises contained within this curriculum, it would take far to long to discuss them all. Suffice it to say, you will be delighted!
I cannot wait to begin with my little ones and then to continue with more of their programs in the future. I so wish I had teaching like this when I was young. It has been like cool water on parched land. I know you and your family will be blessed. Check out the Desiring God web site and discover all they have to offer. Choose the level you think will be best for your family. One other neat thing is that most of the packages offered cover a wide range of ages, making it easy to incorporate your whole family.