The Bible offers homeschoolers a wealth of ideas and resources for use in studying. Nearly every subject of study can be tied to the Bible, from history to language arts to geography. You can use the Bible as a primary text or incorporate it only as another one of your reference books. Here are some tips for using the Bible in your homeschool.
Copywork and Dictation
The Bible is a wealth of poetry and quotable quotes. Whether you are doing copywork or dictation with your child, there are plenty of verses that give your child something to think about while they are writing. You can work your way through specific books of the Bible, like Psalms, Proverbs, or Sirach, or you can use a concordance to look up verses on a particular topic.
Copywork and dictation also work well with memorization. The act of writing can help children remember the passage. You could create posters for your school, based on what they are copying or memorizing. Then have children recite their memorized passages to Dad or at a homeschool co-op.
History and Culture Studies
Familiar Bible stories provide a great jumping-off point for history and culture studies. It can sometimes be hard to get children interested in a new or strange topic, but if there is something familiar in it, then they may wish to learn more about it. A great place to start is the Great Adventure Kids Pack, which uses games and colouring books to draw children into the Bible stories.
For example, the stories of Joseph or Moses could be used to dive further into studies of Egypt, and the story of Abraham leaving his father’s home could be used to ask questions about the Chaldeans and other cultures of the early Middle East. Reading about Jesus birth, or the Apostle Paul’s travels, could lead to questions about Rome — how the Roman army, government, and roads shaped this period of history and made possible the great expansion of Christianity.
Expand history and culture studies by having your children create historical props and costumes based on what they’ve learned, and then act out or dramatize the stories (see below). My daughters loved the crafts and activities in Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide (Hands-On History), which helped them more clearly imagine what it would have been like to live in the time of their favourite Bible characters.
Geography and Mapwork
The people in the Bible traveled a lot!!! From Abraham going from Ur to Egypt, to Israel returning from Egypt to Canaan, or Paul embarking on his missionary journeys around the Roman Empire, there are a lot of journeys in the Bible. Use these to discuss geography and maps with your children.
When we read Bible stories, it’s easy to gloss of the details of journeys. Looking at a map to see exactly how far and where people traveled can deepen our other studies. Map Trek offers printable maps and activity ideas to help students get started. Your child can pinpoint where specific events happen and trace various journeys across the ancient world.
Essay and Writing Assignments
Within the Bible, we also find a variety of different types of writing. As your students work on different writing projects, you can turn to the BIble for examples. There’s the poetry of the Psalms and the epistles of Paul and the other apostles.Your child could read a passage of the Bible and then try to write a similar type of writing; for example, read some Proverbs and write their own. Or children could try to write a persuasive letter, such as Paul wrote to his churches.
You can also use a Bible story or passage as a jumping off point for other writing assignments. For example, a child could write a short story from the point of view their favourite Bible character. Or they could write a letter from one character to another. The first year of the Connecting with History program offers a wealth of creative writing ideas inspired by the events and characters of the Old Testament.
Drama and Oral Projects
There are also speeches in the Bible which students could practice for oral assignments or analyze to see how the speakers motivated and inspired their audiences. The Book of Acts is a wealth of speeches, as the Apostles spread the word about Jesus and what He had done for them. There are also speeches throughout the Old Testament, such as when Joshua addresses his army or the prophets try to rally the Israelite people.
Students could also dramatize popular Bible stories. Since many children know these stories so well, it’s easy for them to begin to act out the characters. This also gives them a chance to think more about the characters in each story. How would it feel to be Joseph sold by his brothers? What would Moses’ mother go through in giving him up? Students will have to read the stories carefully for details and then work to fill in the “missing” details of the story.
Make speech and drama projects more fun by inviting another homeschooling family to join you. Again, because the Bible is a common book, it’s easy for a variety of families to agree on a Bible story to study and act out, and then get together to do it. This could come after history and culture studies, where children have learned about the era in which their characters lived and perhaps even created historical costumes or props to accompany their play.
The Bible is full of verses about learning and the importance of teaching. Both homeschool moms and students may find these verses inspiring and encouraging. You could copy a theme verse for each week or month into your homeschool planner or your child’s notebook, or make a poster for your classroom wall.
The stories of Bible characters may also inspire students struggling in specific areas. For example, Moses suffered from a stutter or speech impediment — at the very least, he didn’t like public speaking. Joseph is well-known for his rags to riches story, but it likely wasn’t that easy; the nomadic Israelite culture in which he grew up would have been very different from the sophisticated Egyptian culture in which he found himself, yet he managed to learn the language and culture and still thrive there. The Bible skips over some of these details, but you can help your child focus on those parts of the story to inspire them during a rough time in their lives.
Many of us have chosen to homeschool our children because we want them to learn more than just academics. We want them to learn character skills such as hard work and honesty. The Bible is full of both role models and bad examples, as well as lessons in hundreds of virtues and character qualities. You could choose a theme for each week, do unit or character studies, or weave character throughout their other studies. There are plenty of resources available to parents for these studies, such as the Kids of Integrity website from Focus on the Family, as well as books and curriculum supplements.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to consider using the Bible in your homeschool more often. I have enjoyed incorporating the Bible into our studies and seeing my daughters get excited as they learn more about familiar people and places.
What tips would you share for using the Bible in your homeschool?