One of the biggest challenges in studying ancient civilizations is the difficulty in finding interesting ways to make those time periods come alive. Unless of course, you are just studying Egypt, Greece, and Rome, because there are plenty of activities and books for those civilizations.
While being able to read straight from the Bible is such a great way to study the history of Ancient Israel, I also pulled together a handful of other resources to help spark my kid's imagination.
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Old Testament Days is a well written and well thought out activity book for students of all ages. The activities and readings in this book helped us to understand the life and culture of Old Testament times. Most of the activities were interesting and easy for me to pull off.
Ancient Israelites and their Neighbors is geared to a slightly older audience than Old Testament Days, and also includes activities for the Phoenicians and the Philistines. In addition to activities it also has short readings about the cultures, which was especially helpful in learning about the neighbors, because there isn't that much information readily available for kids about the Phoenicians and Philistines.
We also read the Jesus Storybook Bible as a read aloud during our study of Israel because it does such a great job tying the themes of the whole Bible together.
I used the illustrations from The Family Time Bible as I read the relevant chapters from our Bible because my younger kids like having a picture to look at.
While there are plenty of picture books about Noah's Ark and the Christmas story, I have a few favorites. My favorite Noah's Ark book is this award winning book from Peter Spier and my favorite nativity book is this beautifully illustrated one. The Story of Hanukkah tells the history behind the Maccabean revolt.
Throughout our study of ancient civilizations we have been going to our library to check out relevant videos from the series Ancient Civilizations for Children. Each video teaches how we learn about a specific civilization through archaeology. The Ancient Mesopotamia video covers the Israelites and the Ancient Egypt video also covers the Hebrews time in Egypt.
We also watched Prince of Egypt and Joseph Man of Dreams for fun when we finished reading about Joseph's life and later the Exodus.
Hands On Learning
Apparently you can buy toys for almost any story from the Bible, including the stories of David and Goliath, Noah's Ark, and the Calling of the 12 Disciples. A Bible Trivia Game would be a great review game.
For Further Reading
It isn't very often that a five-year-old turns to her mom and says:
"If God is... what's the word for no beginning and no end again? ... Eternal. If he is that then what about this?" She then points to the letters BC in a children's history encyclopedia. "This means Before Christ. So how does that work?"
It isn't often that a child make a connection between theology and history and the only reason is that, as a general rule, children are taught neither history nor theology. In the schools, at her age, students are taught about community helpers for social science and in church, they are familiarized with Bible stories, the same ones that faithful parents should be exposing them to anyway.
But, against the unspoken rules, I have included both theology and history in our curriculum for both my five year old and my eleven year old. They learn the same history and they learn the same theology, and each takes what they can from the books we read and the discussions we have.
Now, I wasn't surprised that she made this connection and used a question about history to clarify her understanding of God. She was processing some of the ideas that we had been learning about in school and in life. The week prior, we had read about the eternalness of God in The Ology (Read my review here) and we have just spent nearly six weeks celebrating the birth of Jesus during Advent and the twelve days of Christmas following, so both ideas were fresh in her mind. (I was a little surprised that she had remembered what BC stood for because it had been months since I remember telling her what those two letters meant.)
I should also point out that I wasn't planning on her making this connection either. I know that she absorbs a little of every lesson that is presented to her, but I don't know what little part she's absorbing. She could be absorbing a fact, an idea, a new word, a new way to use the English language, or all of the above. Whenever she connects two dots across subject lines on her own, she is demonstrating her comprehension of what she has learned, but more importantly she makes a little bit of her learning permanently part of her understanding of the world.
The reason that I had introduced my five-year-old to theology in the first place is because I have been putting more and more of Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy to the test. Theology and history are a part of the "full and generous curriculum" that I am spreading before my kids as a part of our morning read alouds and as a part of their assigned reading.
Even thought they had never met, Charlotte Mason understood that my daughter is a "born person" who is capable of wrestling with big ideas even though she has just begun the process of learning the skills of reading and writing. Mason's philosophy of education is a strong contrast to our public schools, where the emphasis is working on skill development while subjects like science and history take a back burner until middle school, and theology is, of course, completely absent.
Subjects like theology, history, and literature help young people put words to the interesting things they are seeing, the big emotions they are feeling, and the big thoughts they are thinking. They should be included in every child's life even if it means the mastery of writing and reading comes a little later.
This post is a part of a series I am writing about Charlotte Mason. Read the rest of the series here.
This post was shared with Weekly Wrap Up, Homeschool Blog and Tell, and Homeschool Coffee Break.
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One of my goals in homeschooling is to help my kids make meaningful connections with all of the knowledge that they are receiving. When it comes to Biblical knowledge, there is just so much to synthesize that even adults need help connecting the dots between what we learn about God in Genesis and Revelations and every book in between.
I came across The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New, and it seemed like a fun introduction to the overarching themes of the bible for my age range of kids, so I added it to my cart with a few other books I was purchasing for our homeschool.
How The Ology is Set Up
The Ology has a total of 71 chapters divided into 11 sections that teach about God and his relationship to us. The eleven major sections are:
Each chapter is four pages long. Two pages contain a short, yet example-rich explanation of a truth from the Bible with several verses included in the margins. The other two pages have simple illustrations that are symbolic of some part of the text. The illustrations also have verses that further support the text and can be looked up by the parent or older students.
At the back of the book, there is a glossary for the theological terms that are used in the book. Each term is explained with a kid friendly definition. There is also a section titled "Think Theology, Talk Theology" which has discussion questions for each of the chapters.
How We are Using The Ology as a Family
At the beginning of the book is a parent guide on how to use The Ology with different age groups: Early Elementary (ages 6-9), Upper Elementary (ages 10-12) and Teens and Adults. Since the recommendation for both Early and Upper Elementary is to read the book straight through to get an overview, that is what we are doing.
As we read each chapter, I remind my kids about what the prior chapter was about. Then I ask my youngest (3 years old) about the illustration for the current chapter. Next. I read the first page of text and ask my daughter (5 years old) why she thinks they picked the first picture for that chapter. Then I read the verse that is alongside of the main text and ask my oldest son (12 years old) if he can tell me how the verse relates to what the chapter was about. We then turn the page and repeat with the second half of the chapter.
There is more that we could do with The Ology. We could memorize the verses each week, spend more time with the questions in the back, or we could look up all of the verses from the pictures, but in this season of life, what we are doing is working just right for our family.
Our readings from The Ology are a part of our morning family devotions, which also include prayers and readings from the Bible.
It is easy to teach who's who in the Bible and to memorize a few verses, but as our culture moves more and more into secularism, it is important that our children know the truths of the Bible and how they are connected. I believe that The Ology is a good tool towards that end.
Before reading The Ology to my kids, I read them The Jesus Storybook Bible since it is a good introduction to how everything in the Bible points to Jesus. After reading The Ology, I will probably get my oldest son Big Truths for Young Hearts to read on his own while rereading The Jesus Storybook Bible to my youngest two before moving on to The Ology again.
Disclaimer: I purchased The Ology with my own money to use within my own family. All opinions in this article are my own. Links in this article are affiliate links.
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