TOS Crew: Esther (Grapevine Studies)

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I had used Grapevine Studies‘ material years ago, when our younger two were very little, and stick-figuring (TM) sounded like a good idea. We were used to narrating (telling back a story) either by telling or acting out or drawing a scene from the story, but we’d never tried something so ambitious as drawing out an entire book of the Bible before. Besides, none of us were accomplished artists!

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Anyhow, when our study was complete, I laid the notebook back on the shelves and after awhile sort of forgot about it… until the TOS Crew was offered the chance to review more Grapevine Studies.

After some deliberation, we chose Esther, a nine-lesson study based on the biblical book of the same name. Because of the range of ages in our family, we liked the fact that Esther is a multi-level study. In addition, the stories of Esther, and of Ruth, are two of the girls’ favorites. (Hear us, Grapevine Studies? Hint, hint!)

I really like the way this study is laid out. The introductory material includes Grapevine Studies’ statement of faith, which is in agreement with orthodox Christianity. (I don’t mean “Greek Orthodox” but basic doctrine as it’s been laid down since the early days of the Church.) These are the “majors”–they leave the minor points of doctrine to the teacher, making these studies suited to a range of denominations.

The supply list is simple: Teachers need a Bible, the Teacher Guide, a dry erase board (a newsprint pad or chalkboard will do in a pinch), and colored markers (or chalk). Students need a Bible, student book, pencil or pen, and colored pencils.

I’d recommend reading all the introductory material, as it puts you in the right mindset for leading a Bible study. This includes goals for the teacher and student, how to prepare and teach the lessons, an explanation of various elements found on the lesson pages, lesson goals and key points for each lesson, and suggestions for review.

Esther begins with an overview of the entire book. It was fun! On the timeline, we drew stick figures (and some of us drew more elaborate characters) to represent key points in the story of Esther. I really liked that the lesson was fully scripted, down to easy-to-copy stick figure drawings in the Teacher Guide. I faithfully copied the figures as we worked our way through the lesson, adding a few things as I went along (for example, above the figure of the king celebrating in his third year of reign I put a banner that read “Happy 3rd Year!”), and the girls were adding their own special touches along the way.

After the initial timeline lesson, the rest of the lessons share a similar format.

– There’s a background Bible reading (I assigned this for the girls’ early morning quiet time, with our group lesson coming later in the day).

– The students have spaces to illustrate a number of Bible verses, while the Teacher’s Guide presents the information to share while the students are drawing, as well as suggested stick figures to draw, which come in handy if you’re at a loss or not much of an artist.

– There are suggested words to look up, to write out definitions or even spur additional research.

– A couple of the lessons in Esther involve mapwork. (A map is included in the student’s book, while the Teacher Guide provides the map key.

– Each lesson ends with review questions and questions to spur application.

At the end of the book there’s a grand wrap-up and review that covers the entire book.

We added to our study by looking up references to Purim. We found a number of recipes for Hamantaschen on the internet and baked these to munch during our final lesson. What fun!

Esther is available as e-books for $10.95  each for the Student and Teacher books from the Grapevine Studies’ website. You can also see sample pages and a Frequently Asked Questions page. Printed Teacher Guides are also available for $19.95 (color) and $15.95 (black-and-white).

To read TOS Crew reviews of Esther and other Grapevine Studies products, click here.

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