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Monday, May 4, 2015

Firmly Planted/Real Life Press (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

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My husband and I use to enjoy doing various Bible Studies together.  Back when life wasn’t quite as busy as it is now, we use to enjoy laying in bed together and making our way though whichever study we had picked up at the local Christian bookstore. It allowed us time to connect with each other while discussing the scriptures and what they meant in our life.  Then, life got busy!  Changing diapers and late night feedings left us to the point where Bible study fell to the wayside and all we wanted to do was sleep.  Years went by and we would have enjoyed picking it up again but could not find one that the entire family could do together without either boring the little kids out of their minds or be well over their heads.

John and Heidi St John, the Co-founders of Real Life Press seemed to recognize the need for a Bible Study that could be applied to all members of the family, from the youngest to the oldest. Together they developed the Firmly Planted Bible Study Series; a series of 10 week courses that used various activities to allow all family members to be involved.  I had the opportunity of using and reviewing the digital version of the third volume of this series, The Gospels Part 1- Stories from the Life of Jesus, along with the Student Workbook.

The Gospels Part 1 is broken down into 10 weekly lessons that cover various aspects in the early life of Jesus life, before the Crucifixion.   The lessons included  are:
1.  Gabriel Visits Mary
2.  The Birth of Jesus
3.  John the Baptist
4.  Calling of the First Disciples
5.  Jesus Clears the Temple
6.  The Woman at the Well
7.  Jesus Casts Out Demons
8.  The Good Samaritan
9.  Feeding of the 5,000
10.  Jesus Walks on Water


Each week uses scriptures from various portions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to help paint a picture of Jesus’s birth, life, his teachings and his compassion.   The study guide starts each week with a brief reading from one of the scriptures that sets the mood for the rest of the week.

The main concept behind the Firmly Planted program is the cultivation of learning from the seed to "tasting the fruit".  The way this works is that the key concept is presented early on in the start of the week and as the lesson progresses, the understanding of this seed progresses until finally the real life application is presented.  The journey from the seed to the "tasting the fruit" goes through various steps that include the memorization of key scriptures and working towards deeper understanding of the lesson.  Each of these steps are clearly marked in the Study Guide so that you know what level of understanding you are currently working on.




The symbols used as you progress from Seed to Tasting the Fruit


I was VERY pleased to see that I could easily upload the PDF of both the Study Guide and the Student Workbook to my Kindle Fire without any loss of formatting and I was able to print the work book pages from the PDF file on my computer.

For the last few weeks we sat down as a family 5 nights a week, reading the lessons and working through the various activities.  Each day, my husband or myself took turns reading the daily lessons out of the study guide (occasionally my 15 year old daughter agreed to read) and then we would spend anywhere from 30-45 minutes helping the kids with the activities we had printed out for the day.   I really liked how this made us turn off all electronics (with exception of the Kindle) and brought us all together and spend time as a family.

An example of the Scripture Reading from the Study Guide

The kids working on their crossword puzzles together

We really liked the various activities provided in the student workbook.  Many of the activities such as the
crossword puzzles and word finds are presented both for younger children as well as a more challenging version for the older children. It was very nice to see Alyssa working with Garrett and Ashleigh on their various activities as they all worked side by side on the activities.






An example of the same activity presented for two different age levels

Other activities included mazes, mystery word searches, coloring pages and either scripture copywork for younger children or Prayer Journal pages for both older children and parents . Each of these activities help to reinforce the key concepts presented during the weekly lesson. Mapwork activities are also provided to study ancient geography and history. 




Two other activities presented are the "Exploring the Bible with Theo Logy" (I love the name *giggles*) and the Upper Class activities. The Exploring the Bible pages help to take children deeper into the lesson and present material that require actually thinking about the lesson (the answers aren't just found in the material) as Theo Logy teaches the doctrines of the Bible.  These pages are bit more challenging and provide a great opportunity my husband and myself to sit, discuss and guide the kids (Especially Ashleigh and Garrett) through the activity. The Upper Class pages are designed for "older students" (ie: parents get to do fun activities too) to dig deeper into the scriptures, think about them on various levels, and then see how those scriptures apply to our lives as Christians.  



Final Thoughts

As a whole, we thoroughly enjoyed this bible study. There were some minor mistakes in editing in both the Study Guide and the Workbook that have been addressed and should be corrected soon but they did not take away from the lessons being learned by the material.   The multi-age approach is a perfect fit for our family that has a year age gap between our oldest and middle child, allowing each of our kids to have their own activities geared for them but also allowing them to help each other out.  As mentioned above, this was a perfect way to get everyone to turn off their electronics, sit together as a family and participate in the discussions since there were questions on all various levels of understanding.

All of the Firmly Planted Bible Study series (both the Study Guides and Workbooks) can be purchased at the Real Life Press website. All of the series is available as a PDF and many of the series are available in a physical book.

Heidi St John (AKA The Busy Mom) can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Real Life Press Review



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