In Their Sandals

In Their Sandals

Positive Action for Christ is best known for their great Bible study courses, but In Their Sandals is a gem of a book that launches from Bible study into composition. It might be used as an adjunct to Bible studies. But it really provides serious, structured work in developing composition skills, so it is better suited to that as its primary purpose.

Creative writing assignments are based on detailed study of biblical stories. For example, the first lesson is to write a story as if the student were one of the "hog farmers" whose herd of swine drowned in the story related in Mark 5: 1-20, while another lesson, “The Inn and the Stable,” is based on Luke 2: 1-20.

There are eight lessons in the book. Lessons are divided into sections so it's easy to figure out how much students should tackle each day. Suggested lesson plans offer schedules for spending either one or two weeks per lesson. Expanded lesson plans allow more time for each step of the process as well as time on the last day for sharing the story with classmates (for those in a group class).

The 2013 edition of In Their Sandals has added more instructional information in the introduction. That information is so useful that you should plan to add additional lesson time to go through it with students before tackling the lessons themselves. The lessons themselves really walk students through the writing process with many brief writing prompts to help students develop their story bit by bit. Students really learn how to construct a story!

Some helpful details and background information are provided for some of the biblical passages. While this enhances understanding of Scripture, it also makes it easier for students to “put themselves into the story" and write in a more interesting fashion.

At the same time, the course helps students who already know how to construct a story to refine their writing skills. For example, the "Rough" section in one lesson presents five different strategies each for beginning and ending a story, with an explanation of each one.

The fourth part of each lesson has students step back from the writing process to do some spiritual application using the Scripture passage used for the story and other passages—essentially a Bible study. Design of this section in each lesson seems much improved over the original with more subjective questions for the study itself, and good personal application questions.

The final part of each lesson is revision of what the student has written. This section always has the students revise for "economy, variety, and clarity." But each revision section also has a unique "Tools of Grammar" lesson that reviews a particular grammatical or usage concept then directs students to apply it in some fashion to the piece they have just written.

I expect that in most situations the teacher/parent will work through at least the first lesson with students to help them understand the methodology. Once students have experienced a lesson, they might be able to work independently a good part of the time, although some discussion is still required. This course design makes it ideal for a homeschool group meeting once or twice a week.

The final lesson in the book differs from the others. Students are free to select their own Bible passage from which they will develop their story. The lesson includes general prompts rather than the specific questions found in the rest of the lessons. This is an excellent way of ensuring that students are able to apply skills and strategies they have been learning with little assistance.

Two pages of "Extra Exercises" at the back of the book provide suggestions for nine additional writing projects from other genres such as a monologue, a poem, and a brief article.

I really liked the original version of this course, but this latest version is even better with the additional instructional material and improved questions throughout the lessons that should really help students become enthusiastic story writers. And the fact that this happens by using Scripture as the source material is a real bonus. In addition, the price is unbeatable; the student book is inexpensive, and the teacher manual is a free download at the publisher's website.

Pricing Information

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List price: $8.95

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Instant Key

  • Audience: best for group, but will work one-on-one
  • Prep Time Needed: moderate
  • Need For Parent/Teacher Instruction: moderate to high
  • Teacher's Manual: essential
  • Religious Perspective: Protestant

Publisher's Info

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