A Family Study of the Gospels From Real Life Press: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

I am a firm believer in expository Bible study-for myself and to do with the kids. I like to take Scripture and go through verse by verse and look at what God has to say to us. I also like Bible studies that help us draw application for our own lives. So I was interested in the family Bible study materials offered by Real Life Press. Real Life Press has a series of Bible study guides written by Heidi St. John.

We received for review Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1. This comes only as a downloadable PDF and included a Family Study Guide and Student Book. This guide is meant for the family to use and includes material that you can read and discuss with children of all ages.

The Family Study Guide is divided up into ten weeks of Bible study. These studies start in Matthew with Gabriel’s visit to Mary and continue through part of Jesus’ ministry and miracles. The studies include Scripture readings as the basis for each week’s lessons, and the Scriptures come from the gospels.

The weekly lessons are divided into an overview and then four daily lessons. The overview has a copy of the verses for the week printed out for easy reference. It then gives an overview picture of the lesson for the week and the Scripture memory recommendations. The whole series of Bible studies is called Firmly Planted, and, as explained at the beginning of the study, there are seed/plant icons throughout the weekly lessons that guide me as a parent in knowing exactly what the focus of that part of the lesson is.

  • The Seed- This is the big lesson idea or concept.
  • Planting the Seed- This is the Scripture memory for ages 4-11. (More Planting the Seed offers a little harder Scripture memory section for older children.
  • Watering the Seedling- This section is a short story that helps children think more deeply about the lesson.
  • Daily Study- This is the daily devotional that is based on the week’s theme verses.
  • Digging Deeper- This is a section to be used specifically with older students as they think through the lesson.
  • Taste the Fruit- These sections are the application sections that help the children- and me!- draw applications from the lessons.
Knowing what these icons mean make it easy to draw attention to various lesson sections.
I used this Gospels study with just my younger girls- ages 9 and 11. I thought it was a little too involved for our family devotion time, and I didn’t want to rush through it or miss parts. So I used it with just the younger set as their Bible time. For Scripture memory purposes we used the 4-11 verses. For most of our discussion, I stuck with the material for younger kids, but my girls do like the thinking questions at times. Because this was a PDF file, I sent it to my Kindle for easy reading during Bible time.

Along with the Family Study Guide, we used the Student Workbook. The workbook provides material that complements the lessons in the study guide.
The Student Workbook contains activity sheets for every lesson. The sheets have a variety of activities used throughout the ten lessons. There are theology lesson pages, crossword puzzles, mazes, puzzles, copywork, journal pages, question pages, vocabulary pages, map activities, coloring pages, nature studies, and activities designed to stimulate discussions about the culture. There are special activity sheets for older students as well.

I have had my girls using the set of pages for younger kids. We haven’t ventured into the older student pages. They have been doing the older version for the crossword and word search puzzles, however, because there is an easier or more difficult version. We haven’t done every page, but was have used many for each lesson. There isn’t a set schedule for how to use the pages, so I’ve just used them along the way.

Typically for our Bible time, I read the day’s lesson from the study guide and we discuss anything that comes up. Then I give the girls a couple of the activity sheets. Each day we define words from the vocabulary sheet. (They are labeled by what verse they’re found in. So when we read the verse, we define the word.) We also answer some of the discussion questions. They then copy the memory verse each day on the copywork page. Then they might do a puzzle or color a sheet while I read.

Some of my favorite activity sheets are the ones that introduce theology concepts to the kids with Dr. Theo Logy. Dr. Logy covers Biblical doctrine in each lesson. For instance, he looks at the difference between the Old Testament and New Testament. He looks at different types of Biblical study, like Christology, the study of Christ. He explores the disciples in the Bible. These are just a few of his lessons. I love doctrine presented plainly and simply to be discussed with children.
There are quite a few things I’ve really liked about the Firmly Planted study.
  • I love that it’s geared for the whole family and can spur discussion for older and younger kids. Some of the worksheets would probably be too difficult for young kids, but there are some good choices in the workbook. Although we’ve used it for Bible, it could easily be adapted to use a family devotional time.
  • I love the verse by verse approach to teaching the Bible. Presenting thethey kids with Scripture and taking time to talk about what it means is an excellent approach to Bible study.
  • There are many discussions of the gospel and salvation and sin and grace. These are some great discussions that I love to have with my kids. Even though they’ve grown up in a Christian home, they need to have a personal faith. And the readings in the Family Bible Study provided some good opportunities to talk about that.
  • The girls have enjoyed it because the daily readings are long enough for a good discussion but not too long for young kids to sit and be involved. They’ve really enjoyed some of the discussions that have come up as we read.
There really weren’t many things I didn’t like. There was one crossword puzzle that we never could figure out, and it ended up being different than the answer key. So there was a little frustration over that one with my child who wants to finish what she starts and was frustrated because we couldn’t. 
Otherwise, I really like Firmly Planted. It’s a good tool to help parents read Scripture, memorize Scripture, and discuss spiritual things with their kids.
The Facts:
Company- Real Life Press (author Heidi St. John)
Product- Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1 (Family study guide and student workbook)
Price- Family Study Guide (9.95) Student book (24.95)
Age Range- All Ages
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