Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: Who is My Neighbor?

A human's life has often been described as a path--the choices we make alter our course.  Even the Lord referred to the "broad road that leads to destruction" and the "narrow road that leads to life." (Mt 7: 13-14)  To expand that analogy, looming ahead in my son's path is the chain of Rocky Mountains with its chance of avalanches and dangerous passes.  It may be college or entering the work force or whenever he forced to stand on his own two feet and face the world alone.  The statistics are staggering--I've heard where 62% of students who enter college with a faith commitment leave without it.   I'm trying to do everything in my power to ensure Schnickelfritz doesn't fall into that category. 

Last year we had the opportunity to review a cooperative effort by Apologia and Summit Ministries called Who Am I?  I was so impressed with that worldview study that I purchased the first book in the series--Who is God?  I feel blessed to now review the third book--Who Is My Neighbor: And Why Does He Need Me?  (The fourth book due out this year is What on Earth Can I Do?).

This book ($39.00), geared at 6-14 year olds, has eight lessons:
  1. Does Anyone Really Need Me?
  2. How Can I Make a Difference?
  3. Who is My Neighbor?
  4. Why Did God Make Families?
  5. What Can I Do For My Country?
  6. Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
  7. Who is God's Family?
  8. Why Does the Church Need Me?
Each lesson begins with   "The Big Idea" and the "What You Will Do" to capture the child's interest to the lesson's topic give a brief description of the learning objectives.  Next comes a Short Story with young characters learning to work through their differences, minster to one another and seek counsel from the Bible.  The first four lessons deal with a Chinese family escaping the threat of Mao Tse Tung's communism  and trying to fit in American culture.  The last four chapters are about an Appalachian family dealing with the institution of slavery and the Civil War  Kids are invited to reflect and dig deeper into the story by answering the Think About It questions.   The Words You Need to Know and Hide it in Your Heart prepare the child for the What Should I Do?  This section highlights a godly character trait and helps the student see how to demonstrate it in his life ( the lesson ends with Prayer).

Text with plenty of colorful photos
New to this book is a section called Encounters with Jesus.  Stories that may only take a few verses in the Bible are fleshed out to show how Jesus showed God's love to individuals in their time of need:  the bride at Cana who ran out of wine at her wedding feast, the paralytic whose friends lower him from the roof to Jesus' presence, etc.  In Take a Closer Look student's have questions to ponder about what Jesus did and how they can serve others today. Four of the lessons end with the House of Truth--a visual aid to help you remember what God says in the Bible about Himself, who you are, and how God expects you to live.   Throughout the chapter are gray boxes with brief articles or exercises that tie into the main topic or give insight into the short story.

Like most Apologia texts, there is a Notebooking Journal  ($24.00) available for Who is My Neighbor?  There are places to write answers or draw pictures for the Think About It,  and Take a Closer Look sections of the text.  There are questions to see what you remember from the What Should I Do?  Often there's a word search or crossword puzzle, places to write the definitions of Words To Know and practice handwriting with the Hide it in Your Heart verses.   These is a mini book to construct and fill based on the lesson and other pages to write prayers and journal where you see God working in your life.  

Mini Book and Word Search

Perhaps its the visual learner in me, but the one thing I don't like about the Notebooking Journal is that most of the pages have background images in areas that are supposed to be written in.  I don't mind so much if it's a landscape or object but it almost feels like graffiti to write over some one's face or a piece of artwork.  Perhaps if they could make the images even more faded?

Writing over art?

The is a Coloring Book ($8.00) to round out the Who is My Neighbor set.  Schnickelfritz isn't one to color, but it might work for wiggly students while you read aloud to them.  At this time there isn't an audio CD available, but I'm sure it's coming.

The suggested lesson plan covers the book in 48 sessions (2 sessions per week).  I found this was too much material for Fritz to handle in one sitting.  The short stories and Encounters with Jesus are 8-10 pages on their own.  We chose to read one day and to the Journaling on the next.  Sometimes we would just discuss the questions (especially those just checking what he remembered from the story) and I would write in his response.

I'll be saving this book till we finish the first two in the series and I'll be eagerly awaiting the final volume..  (While technically each book is its own course and could stand alone, it will be more effective to teach them in order).   Be sure to read others opinions of Who is My Neighbor by clicking here.  


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the Who is My Neighbor text and Notebooking Journal for the purpose of completing this review.  There was no other compensation for my opinions.

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