If you would like to motivate and encourage your kids to learn stories from the bible, I would encourage you to read Bible stories with your kids and make the stories into Unit Studies. Unit Studies are cross-curricular and subjects (such as math, history, art, science, language, etc) follow a central theme and are adaptable so they are great for teaching all ages.
For example, if you are learning about apples, all the curriculum subjects will have an apple theme. You might do apple math, or apple science, or apple history, or write a poem about apples, etc. Unit Studies are hands on, they can be as simple or specialized as you design them to be, and they help children retain what they have learned. You can teach preschool, elementary, middle and high school all at the same time by varying the level of difficulty of the worksheets, experiments, and reading materials.
This school year we are doing lots of Unit Studies with a bible story theme. Each Unit Study is different, with different themes, but they all center around a theme that came from the bible. For example, if we are learning about musical instruments, we might choose the ones found in the bible, or if we are learning about castles or fortresses, then we can choose a story or few stories in the bible that mention this and then build on our learning about the history and construction of fortresses. Perhaps we want to learn about the eyes and we focus on sight and the brain, calculate vision, learn about colors and light, the disease of blindness, and the miracles of healing sight of the blind that Jesus did.
If you have younger kids, an easy teaching resource like the illustrated The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz is a wonderful way to get started. It contains 90 Bible stories at an affordable price of $16.99. They also have The Beginner’s Bible Website for families and teachers to use with lots of coloring pages and activities for free to compliment the stories you are reading.
A quick search on the interenet will provide you with lots of other ideas you can add to your Unit Study as you build it such as more free printables, lesson plans, craft and recipe ideas, etc. and you can use many of the printables to create lapbooks or keepsake notebooks of their projects too.
The stories in The Beginner’s Bible are written in a simple to understand way and include colorful illustrations that engage the kids and keep their interest. So I wanted to use this as the foundation of the Unit Study learning projects and built additional materials I found into our learning adventure.
Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study & Lapbook
We took advantage of all of the free printables and suggested activities from The Beginner’s Bible Website. They have lot of resources to choose from including two FREE sample curriculum lesson plans. They sell a curriculum kit too. We do not have the kit, but the free lesson plans give you a great teaching format to use to build your own lessons.
I printed out the free lesson plan called “Jesus Rescues the Lost” and created our own unit study. These resources are made especially for The Beginner’s Bible and help kids understand the stories and truths even more as the activities engage more of their senses (listening, coloring, drawing, eye hand coordination, decision making, etc) in a hands on way.
I made a “Bible Teaching Binder” for myself, and a “Bible Lapbook” for the kids with all of these wonderful free printables. On the front of the binder I put the suggested reading schedule. Inside the binder I put the printalbes and any lesson plans I find or create myself.
I keep all of the Unit Study and Lapbook materials in a basket, with pencils, crayons, markers, glue, etc with our Bible so we can easily set this up for our learning time each day. I also put in any other resources we will be using that relates to the story such as a science experiment, crafts supplies, recipes we will make and other activities, and other books related to the subject we are learning. There are lots of varieties of ways you can set this up easily so if you don’t like the basket idea, then you could put the printables in folders or daily workboxes or use another method that works in your home.
My binder is huge and will hold all the lesson plans from the Unit Studies I create using The Beginner’s Bible. I added dividers to help me stay organized. I kept the first section inside the binder for the Unit Study we are currently working on. This is where I put a copy of the free lesson plan “Jesus Rescues the Lost” in my teaching binder. The lesson came with 8 pages of free lesson plans! Next, I added in various coloring pages and other printables and craft ideas and directions. I will use the additional sections in the binder the same way for more lesson plans as we create more bible themed studies. I plan to have about a years worth of plans in the binder by the time we are finished. The kids will have completed about 30 Unit Studies and 30 Lapbooks by the time we are finished.
The “Jesus Rescues the Lost” Lesson Plan suggested reading three of the stories from The Beginner’s Bible and watching a video, a list of several “Bible Verses” to read from a regular Bible, and a “Memory Scripture Verse” for the kids to memorize, as well as a helpful “Teaching Point” to focus the lesson on. The lesson plan provided me with a master supply list for activities, and suggested optional supplies for craft projects (we made sheep puppets and a shepherd staff), printouts, and a skit for the kids to act out with props, and a take home family page. You could spend a week on this lesson, or take three weeks while focusing on understanding one story each week.
The Unit Study in Action
Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study based on the illustrated stories in The Beginner’s Bible and the free lesson plan and suggested printables from the website:
Bible Reading and Speaking:
Read 3 bible stories outloud: “The Lost Sheep“; The Good Samaritan“; and “The Lost Son“.
Audio Video Observation:
Watched the Free Video for Lesson Plan#23 Jesus Rescues the Lost.
Watched a video about the modern life of sheep in Idaho. This video goes over many different things such as economics, land management, herd management, wool, and contains interviews with the sheep farmers too.
Learned about the history of shepherding sheep.
Counting: Younger kids counted cotton balls to represent sheep’s wool.
Graphing: Older kids learned to make a graph that followed the sale price of sheep over a period of time. They also made a graph for the lambs showing the amount of food the sheep eats compared to the rate of growth.
Learned the major body parts of sheep.
We found this worksheet on Page 23 of a 4H manual we found online and it has worksheets for different animals.
Learned nutrition and health care of sheep.
Practice writing pages. Here my youngest son is practicing the letter “P” from the story of “The Lost Son” about the prodigal son who wasted his inheritance and ended up in a pig pen and later returned to his father who welcomed him home.
Additional letters to practice are: J (Jesus), R (rescue, redeem), L (lost), I (inheritance), H (healing), S (Samaritan, shepherd, save, and sheep).
We also practices spelling the word “sheep” with this printable.
Older children could practice rewriting the entire story on notebook paper, or writing it in cursive for additional writing practice.
This is a cute writing page you can add to your Lapbook or notebook.
Arts and Crafts:
Colored print out pages from The Beginner’s Bible website that correspond to the stories we read. In this picture, my daughter is coloring a page from the story “The Lost Sheep”.
Created paper sheep puppets with printouts included. You can glue cotton balls onto the sheep (younger kids can practice counting the cotton balls) and put construction paper on the back and attached to a popsicle stick, and the children can hold onto the stick to retell the story. You can also glue the printout to a toilet paper roll and that helps the sheep stand up on their own.
We used two folders and some glue and created a Jesus Rescues the Lost Bible Story Lapbook to store their finished learning activities. If we continue to create lapbooks like this for the entire illustrated Bible, combining two or three stories per lapbook, the kids will have 30+ Bible Unit Studies and Lapbooks for the year.
The last step in our learning adventure of Jesus Rescues the Lost, was to create a Lego sheep and shepherd diorama and use them to retell the bible story of Jesus (the shepherd) looking for the lost sheep (us).
Building with Legos or other building blocks to create scenes from a story you have read is so much fun.
I hope to have time for the older boys create a movie with these props they made where they can record their own retelling of the story. They love to make stop motion animation movies with Legos. We ran out of time to make the movie, but I hope we have it completed soon for a followup story.
Optional ideas to include in this Unit Study are:
Field Trip ideas: take a field trip to a sheep and goat farm.
Crafts and activities ideas: that would make this project lots of fun such as make a donkey, horse, pigs, a farm, a special ring, a shepherd staff, create a money bag, etc. Older kids would have fun creating (sewing or crafting) costumes to use to retell one of the stories. Perhaps they could also wear the costume and retell the story to a homeschool coop class or at a family gathering.
Math ideas: you could practice counting sticks to make a fence or pig pen, or count money in a money bag. Perhaps they could figure out a pretend hospital bill for services and supplies used for the injured man.
Science and Health ideas: You could also learn about health by making a first aid kit or herbs for healing supplies to care for the wounds of the injured man and nurse him back to health. You could learn about bacteria and healing wounds and learn the feed rations, nutrition, and digestion for pigs, sheep, and horses.
Cooking: You could also throw a feast and serve guests to represent the father welcoming home the prodigal son. You could research meals that were served to back in bible times to include in your feast. You could wear the costumes you made or decorate the table with the crafts and props you made.
There are so many fun ways to create a Unit Study with this illustrated Bible as the central foundation for your themes. I am very pleased with how this has turned out and I think this is a wonderful way to learn. I think Unit Studies and Lapbooks are a special way for kids to share what they have learned, and store the worksheet pages they have completed.