The authors of ACSI’s Bible program revised their material extensively after surveying educators around the country to find out what they looked for in a good curriculum. The result is a course at once easy for teachers to implement, and thorough in its presentation of Bible facts and principles to students.
ACSI’s elementary Bible curriculum (for grades pre-6th) maintains the same basic structure throughout. Each level consists of one teacher’s edition with visual aids packet and as many student worktexts as you have students. (Student pages are not reproducible, so you really do need a book for each child.) Important themes are emphasized throughout each level, making the course cohesive while easy to begin using at any point. Each teacher edition/student worktext covers one year in 36 weekly lessons.
The teacher editions are necessary; without them, the student worktexts make little to no sense. Each lesson is fully plotted, with scripted stories, memory verses, ideas for songs and activities, instructions for student worktext pages, detailed teacher descriptions of before-class preparations, etc. Each student workpage is reproduced in reduced form in the teacher edition complete with answers to all written work.
Student texts are full color with lots of illustrations on each page (if anything, they’re a little too busy). There is not much text for students to read at any of the levels, and instructions for most exercises are only found in the teacher edition. Exercises range from fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice to coloring pictures and arranging images in chronological order. Nothing real strenuous is found in any of the texts, the exercises are there for reinforcement rather than critical thinking.
This course is very visual. Not only are the student texts colorful, there are visual aid packets for each level with lots of pictures and charts. Lesson plans call for teachers to lead students in singing, playing games, and a variety of other activities designed to teach to multiple learning styles. A section in the back of each teacher edition provides plans for chapel services; another includes blackline masters to reproduce for extra student written work.
The authors state their main purpose to be the inculcation of godly attitudes, Bible knowledge, and Christian behavior in elementary students. Throughout the emphasis is on practical application of information learned. Doctrinal issues, other than universal orthodox Christian teaching, are mostly avoided, making this adaptable in a variety of denominational settings.
In the preschool course students are taught from stories of the children in the Bible. All the texts in the series take a story approach—these aren’t surveys—some focusing primarily on the Old Testament, and others on the New. The intent is to give kids Bible knowledge, so if you’re looking for in-depth doctrine you’ll want to look elsewhere.
This course provides a good introduction to the stories of the Bible for young people, and it is engaging enough to hold most kids’ interest. The de-emphasis of doctrine means you can present your own beliefs to your kids without having to run damage control on what they’re learning from the curriculum.
Our biggest concern is with the lack of a narrative presentation of the events of Scripture; kids may learn the stories, but they won’t get a clear picture of the whole story, just its disconnected elements. If you use this, we’d recommend maybe a year of Explorer’s Bible Study before using something along the lines of Search the Scriptures or Grasping God’s Word.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.