One Year into Long Story Short
I’ve been feeling kind of bad that I haven’t posted anything about our Bible lessons in a long time. It’s not that we haven’t been doing them, but rather that there hasn’t been much to write about. We’re doing less “extras” and pretty much sticking to the book these days (though I have also been trying to be on top of having out the pieces for the flannel board set because all my children, especially Ian, really enjoy being able to play out the story through the week).
It’s been one year since we started using Long Story Short by Marty Machowski, and I’m still just as excited about this book as I was when we began. It is so simple to use, and it has been such a great tool for Eric to lead us in family devotions every night. It doesn’t require any preparation; we just sit down with LSS and the Bible and start reading. Ian loves the fun little introductory stories. (This boy is all about fun). Elijah loves the structure of each devotion. (He points out the little symbols frequently: “The book means we read; the hands mean we pray.”) I love the way Machowski includes even lesser known stories (like our story this week about the bronze snake Moses made in the wilderness that provided a way for the people to be saved after God allowed poisonous snakes to plague the camp after yet another round of grumbling and complaining), and that he uses each one to point us toward Jesus. I’m amazed at the theology my young children are able to discuss after the repeated exposure through this book (like Ian being able to describe what a “mediator” does).
There are 78 weeks’ worth of devotions in the book, but since we took a few weeks off for holidays (doing devotions specific to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter) as well as losing a few weeks when we moved this spring (and couldn’t find the box with our book in it!), we’re now on Week 42 after starting last August. I’m guessing we’ll finish up with the book sometime next year in late spring/early summer, and then we’re looking forward to going straight into its companion book, Old Story New. It has another 78 stories so it should keep us going for almost another two years. Then we might just start all over again, since everyone will be at a new level of understanding!
For now I’m continuing to use the weekly story as the basis for our homeschool Bible lessons, though after this year I might have Ian read through the Bible at a quicker pace, possibly following the Ambleside Online Bible reading schedule). Here’s what we do each week (in addition to reading the selection from the ESV each night):
Monday: I have Ian read the story in an easy reader version. Which book I use varies depending on which stories are included, but I usually look first in The Beginner’s Bible (the ORIGINAL version, by Karyn Henley, which is the easiest for him). Other easy versions we have are the Day-By-Day Begin to Read Bible (also by Karyn Henley) and The Young Readers Bible. If the story we’re on isn’t in any of those, I can usually find it in the Day-By-Day Kid’s Bible (again, by Karyn Henley).
Tuesday: We get out the flannel board set. I tell the story first, and then I have Ian tell it back to me using the board. He usually does this several times on his own throughout the week.
Wednesday: We do our “listening lesson” (usually in the car), using the passage from the from the ESV Audio Drama Children’s Bible (or the ESV audio drama) from Faith Comes By Hearing as well as any songs related to the week’s story (and our “hymn of the month”). We usually listen to this more than once a week, but Wednesdays are park day with our co-op so I have a lighter workload scheduled and we’re guaranteed to be in the car.
Thursday: I read the week’s passage from the King James Version to help the children become familiar with the sound of the language. (Obviously we’re not KJV exclusivists, but I recommend reading the essay “Why the KJV?” on the Ambleside Online site for more on why it makes sense to include it in our homeschooling.)
Friday: We had gotten out of the habit of doing Bible Notebook pages, mostly because I was feeling low on creativity and some of the stories are more obscure so I didn’t have any luck finding other ideas out there. So what I decided to do this year is have Ian create his own pages. He draws a picture of part of the story (not one of his strengths, so this provides him with an opportunity for drawing at least once a week) and then comes up with a sentence to write about it. It’s simple and doesn’t require any prep work on my part. The only downside is that Elijah’s not quite ready for even just the drawing part of it, so he gets left out until I come up with some brilliant idea that can include him.
Just having this basic framework helps me to ensure that we’ll be in the Bible every day as part of our school time, as well as doing family devotions every night.
All that to say that Bible is still a big focus for us, but I probably won’t be posting much about it unless I come across some great resources that I want to make note of to go along with certain stories.