The Bible Study Guide for All Ages consists of four separate units (or courses) that cover the entire Bible. This non-denominational Bible study program can easily be taught either at home or in a classroom setting. The entire Bible is studied over the approximately four years you spend going through all four units. Each unit is divided into quarters with both student and teacher materials for each quarter printed as separate books.
For each unit, there are four different levels available: Beginners for ages 3 through K, Primary for grades 1 and 2, Intermediate for grades 3 and 4, and Advanced for children in grades 5 and 6. Teaching materials and student pages vary for the different levels so that they are age appropriate.
The Beginner-level courses incorporate teaching information into the student pages and have only Beginner Teacher Visuals rather than a teacher's manual. For the Primary level, there are a separate teacher guide and student pages for each quarter of each unit. The teacher guide includes reproductions of the sections of the student page within the instructions in the order that the activities are to be completed. Intermediate and Advanced levels have student pages and teacher keys. Teacher keys reproduce student pages with overprinted answers. Some instructional information is in the margins around the reproduced student pages.
All levels are designed to be taught as interactive lessons. Student activity pages reinforce the lessons with a variety of activities. The layout of the teacher material is designed to make it very straightforward and easy to teach the lessons. Still, you need to do some lesson prep before teaching.
Three optional resources are Children's Songs (either a set of two CDs or a digital download), Wall Maps & Time-Line, and Bible Book Summary Cards. If you use the timeline, you also need the Label Book or Books that go with each unit. If you are teaching Beginner level, you might use the Beginner Time Line, a set of 34 full-color pictures with questions that helps children recall key people and events. While labels need to be purchased according to the units being studied, other items described here are one-time purchases that can be used with all or most levels.
All of the student materials have cartoon illustrations throughout the lessons. While the amount of text increases from level to level, even the Advanced level still has plenty of cartoons, maps, and other illustrations. All student and teacher books are printed in black-and-white. All teacher and student books are oversize with pages 14 inches wide and 8.5 inches tall. Books are glue-bound with paper covers. Student books are intended to be consumable, so they only need to be durable enough to last for a quarter of a school year. The only exception is the bulkier teacher guide for Primary level which is 11 x 8.5 inches with a plastic spiral binding.
You should begin with the first unit and use the units in order because of the somewhat chronological nature of the study and because of the built-in review. It generally follows the order of the Old Testament story line, but it also periodically jumps forward to the New Testament to demonstrate connections between the testaments. Especially helpful is the teaching of prophetic books simultaneously with the historical books to which they correlate.
While lessons for the levels vary, the lessons generally include drills on basic Bible knowledge, an interactive lesson introduction (that might include an object lesson, interaction with other students, or other interesting ways to get student's attention), memory work, review questions, a list of Scripture passages and/or verses for the lesson, some additional background information that will help students understand the lesson, questions for that lesson, map and/or timeline assignments, names of songs to use, and a personal application activity.
The interactive lesson introductions often assume that you are teaching a class rather than just one or two students. These activities are important for setting the stage for the lesson, so they are very useful. However, this poses a problem for parents teaching just one or two children, and sometimes even for large families. You can try to adapt some of these, but that often won't be possible. You can skip them at all levels if you have to. In addition, the Intermediate and Advanced Student Pages might be used by students completing most work independently if they skip those sections. The publisher tells me that some families don't get the Teacher Keys for Intermediate and Advanced levels if they are not using the Wall Maps & Time Line, but it seems to me that the Teacher Keys are well worth it for the time they will save you in checking answers even if you don't use all of the lesson material.
The original Bible Study Guide for All Ages seemed to be a bit more appropriate for families than the new version. I don't recall that it required class groups for activities even though it is very interactive just like the new version. Fortunately for those who need it, you can still purchase the original version which comes in four binders for the four units. Each binder covers all age groups. This version requires more prep work and isn't as attractive to use as the new materials, but it might be more practical. You might want to read through the "Family Suggestions" page on the publishers website for more help in choosing and using the right components for your family.
The Wall Maps & Time Line add more visual impact to lessons. This set includes three large, colored maps and a timeline that is more than six feet long. Both are printed in color. Labels can be placed on the wall maps and timeline as studied. The first package of labels is your starter package, so it costs more than the others.
Children's Songs is the name of the set of 91 songs on CDs or MP3 files. The songs are sung a cappella. There is also a set of Bible Book Summary Cards. These can be purchased as full-color 8.5 x 11 cards or as color-it-yourself, 11"x 14" posters. Either version has an illustration of one of the books of the Bible on one side and information and questions on the reverse.
Thorough knowledge of the Bible is the goal throughout the curriculum. Personal application of Biblical lessons is also stressed, and activities for practical application occur at the end of each lesson to make sure that children both learn and apply the lessons.
Bible Study Guide for All Ages allows homeschoolers or schools to teach students the same topics with age appropriate learning activities, keeping everyone "on the same page." If you use the complete curriculum starting with young children, you might find it very helpful to cycle through again four years later at a higher level.