This series of four books is intended for parents to use to teach their own children about the Bible and their "Christian heritage" as well as for classroom use. Subtitles on the books reflect the planned division of these four volumes into two levels. The first two books begin with the subtitle "Teaching Younger Children Everything They Need to Know About…." Volume 1 completes the subtitle with "The Bible" while volume 2 completes it with "Their Christian Heritage." Volumes 3 and 4 begin with the subtitle "Teaching Children Ages 10 to 12 Everything They Need to Know About…" then complete the subtitles with the same two endings as the first two volumes. Volumes 1 and 3 focus on the Bible.
The phrase "Christian heritage" is a catch-all describing content much broader than we normally see in Bible curricula. Christian heritage includes topics such as basic Christian teachings (from a Protestant perspective), Jewish culture and religious practices, the history and development of the church, Christianity and the arts and sciences, missions and missionaries, prayer, the history of Christian symbols, development of Christian feast/holy days, Sabbath observance, and hymnody.
First, you need to understand when you might use the different books. The first two are designated for "younger children" and the latter two for children ages 10 to 12 (although the text of the book sometimes mentions the age range as 9 to 12). I think the author and publisher erred with their age labeling. The first two books will work very well for children about ages six or seven up through even the junior high years. You need to choose among the suggested activities and worksheets those appropriate for different aged learners. The second two books should probably be reserved for children at least ten years of age.
I would suggest starting with the first books and approaching this as a family study. Teens might be exempted if they are doing more in-depth Bible reading and study on their own.
The first half of each book is lesson content. The second half is detailed lesson plans. I suspect that it should take about a year to complete each book if you use most of the material and ideas provided.
A major part of the content material in these volumes is retellings of Scripture that shorten passages, summarize, and otherwise make it easier for children to grasp the Bible storylines in a chronological fashion. You can read these passages directly to your children. Volumes 2 and 4 cover a range of topics that help children to better understand and appreciate their faith—sort of a Christian literacy approach. Most of this material will also be appropriate to read directly to children. A general list of the what's in the content section (not including the lesson plans that comprise the last half) of each volume follows:
Vol. 1: Bible stories from both the Old and New Testament that cover the key stories through the entire Bible; a section on "religious practices" covering topics such as observation of the Lord's Day, Christmas, Easter, Passover, and Pentecost; and Bible geography—segments that might be pulled in as they correlate with the Bible stories in the first section.
Vol. 2: Bible customs covering "life in Bible times" and "religious occupations" in Scripture, religious practices of Jews and Christians (e.g., the Sabbath, the tabernacle and temple, the various Jewish feasts), growth and development of the church from the time of Jesus up to modern times, basic Christian beliefs, prayer, missions, Christianity and the fine arts, and science and Christianity.
Vol. 3: review of the Old Testament, Old Testament poetry, Wisdom literature, review of the New Testament, the tabernacle, Solomon's temple, and Bible geography.
Vol. 4: basics of the Christian faith, Jewish traditions, missions, hymns, art, science, and ethics.
Lesson plans each begin with lists of objectives, words or phrases to learn, key people, and materials needed for activities. There are anywhere from three to twelve suggested activities for each lesson—choose those appropriate for the ages of your children. Some of these activities direct the use of the reproducible activity pages included for each lesson. These range from question and answer pages and crossword puzzles through craft projects, and writing assignments. Some of these include instructions for a classroom—but most (although not all) such activities are easily adaptable for families. For each lesson, you will use a combination of reading from the content material and inserting activities as much or little as you choose. There are 14 to 15 lessons per book, so you might spend a week or two per lesson. It might be possible to go more quickly through the books, using fewer activities and completing two books within one year.
Books are printed in a 9" x 7" format so you might want to enlarge worksheet/activity pages for your children.
These books are excellent, but I wish the publisher had titled them differently. I'm afraid many parents won't get past the titles and "age designations" to discover the treasure inside that makes these marvelous tools for family centered Bible and Christian Heritage study.