The Friends and Heroes Homeschool Bible Curriculum is built upon the Friends and Heroes animated videos series. The original series has 39 episodes. Animated adventure stories based on biblical history feature two characters, Macky and Portia. While their adventures run through the entire series and are best shown in sequence, they can also be used out of order if need be since the adventures are presented episodically.
Within the context of those stories, each episode presents two biblical stories, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament (e.g., David and Goliath plus the story of God miraculously releasing Peter from prison). Character building themes are reflected in Macky’s and Portia’s adventures as well as the Bible stories.
Relatively high quality cartoon-style drawn animation is used for Macky and Portia’s adventures, while the Bible stories are done with computer generated animation. The look and feel of the different sections is noticeably different, although both are well done. This technique makes it clear when children are watching a Bible story rather than the fictional story. Note that the cartoon-style animated stories include some scenes where the villains get their comeuppance in traditional and impossible) comedic fashion.
The 39 DVDs are divided into three groups, but the homeschool curriculum has been created for only the first group of 13 DVDs. For each animated DVD, an individual unit study appropriate for about grades 2 through 5 has been created. Each of these is very extensive, teaching history, geography, science, composition, some grammar, and crafts along with bible study and character building. Each study should take at least two weeks to complete, but you could easily spend three to four weeks.
Bible study and character development are at the heart of each unit study. Students view, read, and discuss Bible stories and principles. One or two memory verses from the New Living Translation are incorporated into each unit, although it is up to the parent to create a system for memorization and review. The content is denominationally neutral.
Historical information pertaining to the Bible stories and stretching beyond is included, although students are assigned further research on some topics. Geography includes mapwork.
Numerous writing assignments challenge students’ composition skills in both creative and expository writing. These will likely take more time for younger students to complete than older. Even though a little bit of instruction is included, you will probably need to provide additional instruction and assistance for young students. Although some grammatical concepts are brought in—e.g., “use as many adjectives as possible”—that’s not a significant focus.
On the other hand, science gets serious attention with experiments and background information included. Some lessons even include “history of science” information. A list of required resources for experiments and activities is in the teacher’s guide.
Likewise, arts and crafts projects such as sculpting will take much more time than cut-and-paste activities typical of so many Bible curricula.
Student workbooks for each study have about 50 pages. The teacher’s guide for each study includes background notes, teaching instructions, answer keys, and web links. Both the student workbook and the teacher’s guide are included on the DVD-ROM as PDF files with permission to print for each child in your family.
The student workbook, written directly to the student, allows for independent study for the most part, although, as you can see from some of the above activities, parents need to prepare and supervise a number of them. In addition, occasionally there are narration and dictation activities or the student is directed to “discuss with your teacher” some topic. Of course, younger students are likely to need more assistance than older students. Students are sometimes directed to do additional research, primarily on the internet. Often, web links are included.
Even though the unit studies target grades 2 through 5, younger and older children will likely enjoy watching and participating in some of the activities.