Changes in Bible Studies For Life: Kids

land-1024x1017 I’ve heard it said, and I’m sure you have as well, that hindsight is 20/20. I think that we live and we learn. It’s easy to get caught up in the conundrum of life and forget to make sure that everyone is on the same playing field. So this is a post that probably should have come several months ago when everyone started using Bible Studies For Life: Kids and not now. But, again, hindsight is 20/20.

 

I wanted to take a chance to visually and verbally (through my writing) explain some of the changes to Bible Studies For Life: Kids curriculum. Also, I wanted to show you some of the many ways that it is the same as the Bible Teaching For Kids that you knew and loved.

 

Bible Studies For Life: Preschool

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You can see from the chart above that the basic elements remained the same. The “Teacher Connection” actually became a more robust and full “Leader Bible Study.” The Bible Story and Group Time are still there, but they were moved from the end of the session to the beginning. This was done to give the teacher the ability to read the Bible story right along with the Leader Bible Study. It also, as one preschool leader described, “gave him the freedom to do Group Time at the beginning of the session so the learning activities became more applicable.”

We did make a major shift from calling activities “Learning Centers” to “Learning Activities,” however, the learning activities still list the appropriate center.

Some new optional activities to the material that weren’t seen previously are the Coloring Pages and the Life Action DVD. These are optional and are only intended to be used if you are comfortable with them. We didn’t cut content in order to include them.

The most major changes are the removal of dates and the One Conversation pages. Starting in the Spring 2014, you can find the dates on the Table of Contents and the Bible Stories will be back on the One Conversation pages. In the meantime, here is a link to a handy resource of dates and Bible Stories. The link also has extra activity ideas for every session!

As we have heard from our customers, we’ve heard requests for more crafts with preschool. We are in the process of adding more crafts.

Bible Studies for Life: Kids

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In kids you will notice that the Personal Bible Study became the Leader Bible Study.

Preview has become Practice Bible Skills. The intent of preview was to be an Early Arriver activity, but with Practice Bible Skills, we hope that it can be used wherever you need a hole filled.  You will notice that there is an Optional Coloring Page listed as well. As with preschool, the intention is that this would be optional for churches that want to use them.

Power Up has become Introductory Activity. This activity has maintained the same approach and idea, we just thought it would be better to call it what it is.

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Plug-In became Study the Bible. We left this section pretty much exactly the same. The Bible Study is the most important part (in my opinion) of the whole session. We wanted to devote time and energy to this section.

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Personalize became Live It Out! We want kids to know how to live out the biblical principles that you have taught that day. It is so important that with kids you provide active and hands-on activities to get them to interact with the biblical content.

Some new optional activities to the material that weren’t seen previously are the Coloring Pages and the Life Action DVD. These are optional and are only intended to be used if you are comfortable with them. We didn’t cut content in order to include them.

The most major changes are the removal of dates and the One Conversation pages. Starting in the Spring 2014, you can find the dates on the Table of Contents and the Bible Stories will be back on the One Conversation pages. In the meantime, here is a link to a handy resource of dates and Bible Stories. The link also has extra activity ideas for every session!

I hope this clears up any confusion about the curriculum and I also hope that you find this post makes it a little easier.

Here are some training videos that really explain the changes well.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Andrea Lyon says:

    Will the suggested dates be added to the Preschool classes Table of Contents as well? Or just to the elementary classes? Our church ended up making a separate sheet of paper to include with each preschool leader guide that lists the dates that they should teach the lessons just to keep everyone straight — it’d be a lot easier if the suggested dates were included in the preschool leader books they way they will apparently be with the elementary class. Thanks!

  2. Christy Compton says:

    Wow, I could have written several of the comments that I have been seeing myself. I particularly like the comment “what are you thinking”? All faith in LifeWay preschool curriculum has been flushed (excuse me!) I am one who came into my position asking that we use LifeWay. I am looking for another curriculum,

    • I’m sorry you have lost faith in us Christy. Could you offer specifics on the issues that you are having? We might have already addressed the concerns.

  3. Ann Ingram says:

    I agree with Christy. I have used Lifeway material for Sunday School in different age groups for over 40 years and this is the worst I have ever seen. Extra for Bible study Leaders for kids is non-existant. Today is December 2. The information on Extra is for November 24 Thanking God. If Extra is in a different location, it would be helpful if you would notify us. Have you heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke,don’t fix it”, I think that is what you did with the older Lifeway material. You jumped off a cliff with no parachute. If you thought your changes would help and increase sales,boy were you wrong. Now you really need to fix this mess. One thing I would try to do is be consistent. Some weeks you have several different ideas for applying the lesson. The nest week I find none. What are you doing?

  4. Gentlemen, I have no idea why you have reinvented yourself. I have been teaching out of this book for several years and now run the Children’s church for two years. This curriculum was so easy for me to separate for my teachers as I have different ones every week. Now I spend hours trying to figure out what they should be teaching in their packet for each week and where it is in the book. If do not simplify this, as it was before I will have to look elsewhere.

    I’ve always loved your curriculum. Please fix it.

    Barbara

    • Jeff Land says:

      Hi Barbara,

      What age group do you teach? I’m not sure how to respond to your question. For the kids ages, we have listed the packet items with the session that they are used for. We are adding that for the Preschool ages in the coming quarter.

  5. Last fall it felt like we were being pushed into the new Bible Studies for Life. All of our adults opted to stay with Explore the Bible mainly due to the format change. Then with the Students, Children and Preschool, we had no choice. It felt like Lifeway was “SELLING” and we just never thought that revenue and profit were the main jist of the SBC literature provider. But I guess that was then and this is now. Do our complaints go to the top or just stop in the tower in Nashville?

    • Jeff Land says:

      Hi Ron,

      I’m sorry that you felt like you were being pushed into a curriculum. We have lots of choices available for your needs and it sounds like we need to help you find the one that works best for your group. We have The Gospel Project for all ages, Bible Studies For Life for all ages, and soon we will have Explore the Bible for all ages. Beyond that, we have many other curriculum choices. I’d love to help you figure out which solution is best for your church! Email me!

  6. After struggling for a year with the Gospel Project for preschool, we started using the BSL series this year. Although not up to the caliber of the discontinued BTK series, the material being used is much more appropriate. Although we wish the BTK was still an option, this series has a lot of potential, and hopefully soon be up to standards we came to expect from Lifeway. We are in an adult class that uses BSL, and use BSL kids Sunday nights with Hispanic children, as well as BSL kindergarten Sunday mornings. We have enjoyed the continuity between the different age groups, as well as the appropriateness for the age. We look forward to the continuing development of this series.

  7. Jane Hughes says:

    This is the only time some children come to church all year. Where are the stories explaining what we believe about the Christmas story–the prophets, the angels, the shepherds, Anna and Simeon, the Wise Men, etc.? I am ditching the stories about Peter that you had planned for December. What were you thinking? I can’t imagine only one Christmas story for the whole month. I always loved the broadly graded literature until now.

  8. Debi Mishoe says:

    as the words just above say “Speak Your Mind” I will ——

    The month of December should be emphasizing the birth of Jesus. In many past years that has always been the focus, Isaiah telling about Jesus, the good new that Mary and Joseph heard, Jesus birth, the Wise men visiting Jesus. But this year, except for the week of Christmas, there is NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING about the stories leading up to and after the birth of Jesus. What in the world happened?

    I have been teaching Kindergarten SS for about 20 years now, and never have I been so disappointed in the teaching material as I am now. Nothing about the material inspires me, how very sad, that for me, I am almost at the point of feeling it would be best to resign, from a ministry that I dearly love. Also, my class, has 1 and 2nd graders, a combined class, we use the kindergarten age materials.

    To be quite blunt, I despise the new format. The Units and Session numbering system is to confusing, honestly, it’s stupid, I spend more time trying to figure out what week we are in than should be. Again, what in the world has happened? If I am out of class for a particular Sunday, getting back and trying to be in the correct week is sooooo frustrating. And why in the world would the bonus Sunday (or what ever it is called), that is suggested to be used for week 4 (or whatever week) instead of the listed week 4, is it not already in chronological order? Why in the world do we have to then renumber the remaining weeks because now we have inserted a bonus week —–good grief————-who’s on first—–

    The concept of repeating just two bible verses for 13 weeks shows lack of interest in helping children to learn the Bible verses – who ever came up with that, again to be quite blunt, was lazy. To not take the time to challenge the children with more than two verses per unit, shows no regard for their growth in the knowledge of the Bible. Again, what in the world happened????? Please don’t say there are suggested optional verses, yes saw those, I found them to be to advanced for the kindergartners, compaired to the verses that we have used for many, many years for the many many different stories that they have learned.

    I also find the weekly pictures to be depressing, they are, I guess supposed to be new and better 3-d? The children don’t care for them, they are to dark, seeing them all on the bulletin board next to each other, they all look basically the same, is that what was intended?

    And the suggested craft activities – leave nothing to the imagination, so I have resorted to referencing my old teaching books. Thank goodness that I like to save things!

    I have always use the material the way I feel it fits my students, renaming sections, and moving them around as referenced above is of no value to me, but rather the “bones” of the material. I start with letting the children have a few minutes to play with blocks, puzzles,etc, then we have bible verse time, then it’s story time and prayer, then crafts are last. So all of the rearranging and shifting of any of the material, is not going to be something that will have an impact on my class. But changing the way each Sunday is now called unit and session is frustrating—-

    The list goes on and on – my poor Mother is 82 years old, she says the new quarterly ss books for her class are to awkward now to manage, she can’t keep that and her Bible open on her lap as she used to………..they actually have a binder, and can not be folded back on itself for easy use.

    Who ever was paid to change to this new format, I feel, has never taught, and does not understand the complications that it has now caused for many teachers. The next class above mine, has now ordered a different curriculum to use. And am told there is really nothing else for the pre-school ages.

    I just found this blog, so this is the first chance to be able to make comments, this change has been frustrating from day one. And by the way, there are no dates in our leadership books to help us know what Sunday we are on. It truly is frustrating, wonder why the ones that use the material were not asked for input, if that did happen, I never heard about it.

    Lifeway should go back to the previous version, yes there have been tweaks over the years, but nothing like this, this is NOT an improvement!

    • Jeff Land says:

      Hi Debi,

      Clearly, we have missed the mark for your class. I’m truly sorry. We do have other preschool options, The Gospel Project: Kids and soon we will have Explore the Bible for Kids. We also have e-anytime, anywhere lessons online that you might enjoy using. I am happy to help you find the curriculum that works best for your class. We on the Bible Studies for Life: Kids team are seminary trained, degreed children’s ministry professionals who work weekly with children using the products that we work daily to create. I’m sorry that you get the feeling that we don’t work with kids. We love kids and work with them in order to make sure that we stay connected.

      Also, there are Christmas sessions available on your enhanced CD and here: http://blog.lifeway.com/biblestudiesforlife/winter-2013-14-preschool-leader-extras-with-suggested-dates/

      • Debi Mishoe says:

        Where is one supposed to find all of this information, it is not on the enhanced CD that I got, one person wrote that we should NOT have to go looking for the material that should be the standard for Christmas, I so agree…… we have ALWAYS taught the Christmas story for the month of December – all you can now say is that it will be there for next year – I normally prepare the entire month (now unit according to you all) for the bulletin board and bible verses, but for this current unit I was so frustrated that I only did the first Sunday, so I didn’t realize that the Christmas story had been deleted from this years materiel – and all I see as an explication is that it will be there for next year……the joy is totally gone…….

    • Debi,
      We understand your frustration. My wife and I have been teaching preschool for approximately 12 years and appreciated the BTK literature. Our preschool program used the Gospel Project for kids literature last year. We were also extremely disillusioned with the Gospel Project literature and videos. It was not appropriate for preschool age. We also were questioning whether we could continue teaching, if we had to continue to use the GPK literature. We love our kids, so we we glad to be able to start using the BSL curriculum this year. Since it was to be a replacement for the BTK literature we had high expectations. Although not currently up to the standards we came to expect from BTK, we feel like it has good potential. Jeff seems to be listening to our concerns and comments. We hope that the program will soon develop into what we have come to expect from Lifeway.

      • Hi Frank,

        I haven’t posted this yet, but I want you and Debi to see this. Here are the changes coming to BSFL in the near future.

        http://blog.lifeway.com/biblestudiesforlife/files/2013/12/enhancements-1-1.pdf

      • Debi MIshoe says:

        Frank, I don’t see the potential that you see, wish I could, but there is so much that doesn’t make since that it’s hard for me to see past that. I don’t see the purpose of going to the format of Unit and sessions, what does that mean anyways – trying to keep track of what Sunday is what session is ridiculous. I was out sick for 2 Sundays, oh my goodness coming back was a nightmare———-having only 2 bible verses to learn for 7 weeks is disappointing………..my children are so smart, many are home schooled so they are advanced in learning for their age, so for them having two verses, is not a challenge, and I have been asked why are they doing the same verse again.

        Jeff, I don’t know what your link is supposed to be showing, I printed it out, and appreciate the info to review.

    • Joni Thomas says:

      Amen Debi!

  9. Thanks Jeff.

  10. Jeff,

    Thank you for a great children’s Bible study material. One of our teachers, too, has commented on the lack of Christmas lessons for December. We have the supplemental Christmas material for her class. Thank you for that. Thank you for listening to all of our concerns. And when you see him, thank our local contact Tom Crocker for his help along the way with our issues, too. I just wanted to encourage you. I have noticed that the Gospel Project For Kids includes Christmas and Easter into their scope and sequence, and I look forward to the solution you great folks at Lifeway Kids will create for BSFL for Kids for Winter 2014-15 and Spring 2015! Keep doing what you are doing!! God bless you.

  11. It’s good to hear that a new curriculum, Explore The Bible for Kids, is in the works. From the comments posted on this blog, it seems there are many churches who are looking for an alternative to BSFL Kids but wish to stay with LifeWay. I hope EB Kids will be of the caliber we had with BTK and Worship Kidstyle.

    Having the same lesson in SS and worship has worked well for us. Will there be a Worship Kidstyle or Children’s Church component that uses the same lesson each week as Explore The Bible for Kids? My teachers liked Worship Kidstyle. Having four activities to choose from worked well since we rotate teachers each week.

    We are currently trying a children’s church material by another supplier — one thing we like is that it has an opening worship & skit for each lesson that is suitable/designed for the younger children. After the opening worship & skit, the younger children dismiss to a classroom for additional learning activities designed for their age. This format is working well for us and helps the younger children transition to big kids’ church. The activities that are suitable for younger children are marked with an asterisk. This might be something to consider for future curriculum.

  12. Stephanie S says:

    I have been hearing from my teachers and it seems they are not pleased with the new curriculum. I wanted to give some feedback on some of the issues. I hope that these are just some glitches that can be fixed as soon as possible. Unfortunately it is causing us to look at alternative options. Here are some of the complaints:
    The activities are not age appropriate; 5-6th grade –too young and not deep enough, 1-2 grade—too difficult in activities, also heard this from Kindergarten teacher and the example she gave me was definitely true it did not match the age level in mental ability or drawing capability. The 3-4th grade seems to be more on coarse. These teachers are experienced and some are school teachers as well.
    The activities are lacking and forcing them to go hunting for more options from other sources like past literature. Some reasons are:
    There are not enough applicable options.
    The activities are not centered around the Bible story or scriptures instead focus too much on the life application or are just time fillers.
    They do not fit their age group.
    There is no continuity for the stories which jump around because of the nature of the curriculum. Sometimes even in reverse chronological order.
    Even though it saves you money the pictures reduced size are not suited to large group teaching.
    There is not as much expounding on the scripture with background information to give further insight into the story.
    I looked at a sight on line that showed the improvements for 2014 and I did not see any of these issues addressed. Whenever anyone complains they are passed off to do more searching through links etc. This curriculum is causing my teachers to put in much more prep time and searching for options which of coarse should be totally unnecessary in an all inclusive curriculum. A weak week or unit can occasionally be expected (although not desired) but week after week of frustration just shouldn’t be an option.
    I am very desirous of strong Biblical teaching. Therefore the more bible emphasis and scripture the better. Just like the VBS direction of cutting down on verses is totally disturbing to me, the same is true for Sunday school. The teachers can always cut back if they can’t fit it all in but the curriculum should not.
    Please tell me there are going to be changes in the content not just the structure of BSFL. I liked being able to have the children’s church and Sunday school cohesive and hope we will be able to continue using them both.

  13. Sue McClelland says:

    We were one of the pilot churches who started with “The Gospel Project” Love it, Loved It, Loved it. Our Pastor wanted us to try the standard Lifeway children’s material. We’ve used it for about a year now, gave it a good chance. Just as I suspected, its dull, shallow and non-reproductive in connecting and creating young believers. The Gospedl Project is deep, educational to the Old Testament and insightful. Kids need that today. They have video games out of this world stimulating their minds and then we shove this lame stuff at them and expect them to be interested and excited about it. I’m sorry, this is probably not what you want to hear. Our Lifeway writers need to take a lesson from the Gospel Project writers. Give us some MEAT for our young believers to chew on. The bonus holiday stuff is a waste of time.

  14. I am the director for our nursery, 1 year olds and 2 year olds. We find it hard to get the 1 and 2 year olds to get any concept of the Bible Stories. The stories are not easily conveyed to this age bracket. We loved the BTK concept of teaching one overall theme for a month. We find it is the repeating of stories that help the 1 and 2 year olds to grasp the story. It also seems so difficult to jump from Old Testament to New Testament and back to Old Testament which leaves no chronological reference at all.

    Our minister to children has written material for Lifeway for some time now and she wrote a month worth of cirriculum for December that was focused on the events building up to the birth of Jesus. We are also trying to convince her to do the same for Easter. To us these two events are important in the foundation of Christianity and what we need to be teaching our children at such an early age.

    In the past we would select a Bible verse that “fit” the month theme so that our preschool (3s, 4s and preK) children could work on memorizing the verse. They were given the verse on the first Sunday of the month and had until the last Sunday of the month to recite it to the director. Now with BSL back and forth and lasting for 6 weeks instead of the month we find this quite challenging. Parents have a much harder time remembering when the new verse is presented and what the recite date will be. Therefore we have lost this verse memorization that has been used for 20+ years.

    We continue to teach the fundamentals such as creation, the Bible as the most precious book giving us God’s instructions and prayer begin our way to talk with God (and other basics). We have always loved to hear the 1s and 2s retell the story of Noah and the Flood, Baby Moses, Crossing the Red Sea, Birth of Jesus, Jonah and the Whale, David and Golaith, etc. Now we are finding it hard to keep their attention long enough to get through the Bible story.

    I understand the thought behind the adult, teens and elementary have similar lessons theme but I would like to suggest the curriculum for kids under the kindergarten age be reconsidered going forward. My prayer is that we give these little ones the best foundation possible providing them with knowledge that will allow them to grow in Christ.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for your comment. It is helpful. Please note that we do have Easter sessions available here: http://blog.lifeway.com/biblestudiesforlife/spring-2014-preschool-extra-helps-and-bonus-easter-sessions/

      You will be happy to know that with Bible Studies For Life we are going to use some of the stories that we never used in BTfK like Jonah and David and Goliath. I’m not sure why it is more difficult to keep their attention through the story. We really didn’t change that format at all. Can you please explain more?

      We are working on the memory verse ordering system, so hopefully you will see some changes in that area soon.

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