Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gospel Study: The Firm Foundation

Eventually, I'd like to cover all of the subjects we study in our homeschool and show how we do it and make curriculum suggestions, etc.  I am starting with the gospel lessons because that subject reflects what is most important to me and my goals for my children.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) so these ideas and book suggestions are going to reflect my beliefs.  Feel free to take them or leave them as suits your needs.

What gospel curricula have I tried?

Over the years I have tried various methods of teaching gospel lessons in our homeschool.  At the beginning, I used the Gospel Art Kit from the LDS church.  It doesn't seem to be available anymore but I think the Gospel Art Book is the same thing only in bound form.  Anyway, we would look at the picture on the front and read the story on the back and then discuss for a few minutes.  For some reason, that never went over very well with my oldest two girls and we've just never gone back to it.  We seem to be a worksheet-style family anyway.  I may try it again sometime or maybe not.

When the kids were little, I subscribed to the Living Scriptures videos and one year I decided to try those for our gospel study.  We would watch the video and then read the story directly from the scriptures and color a page from the coloring book that came with the video.  That was great for the littlest kids but I needed something a little more.

So then I discovered Discover the Scriptures.  This is a program written by a homeschool mom for homeschoolers.  There are two levels of the Book of Mormon lessons so I started with the lower level.  I really wasn't that impressed.  We do our scripture memorization together as a family so we didn't need those pages and my kids tend to be reluctant writers so the copywork was no good for us.  There are a lot of pages where the assignment is to draw a picture of something from the story.  Once again, it didn't work.  My kids love to draw but not when they are told what to draw.  And, the kids found the program boring.  The one thing I liked about the program, however, is that it uses the Book of Mormon Stories book also available online on

What am I using now?

So that led me to what I'm using now for early elementary gospel study.  I'm still using the Book of Mormon Stories book mentioned above but I've made my own activity sheets to go with it.  I realized that the main thing I wanted my five-to-nine-year-olds to get out of gospel study is the stories.  I mostly want them to know the stories.  The deeper meanings and doctrine involved can and will come later.  But the stories are the foundation of an understanding of the gospel.  That simplified things a lot.  My goal became to simply keep the stories in their heads for a few days to give each one a chance to sink in.  Now, don't think we spend 4-5 years doing just the Book of Mormon.  Just because it's the only book of scripture I mentioned above, doesn't mean that it's the only one there is.  Just like in the rest of the Church Educational System, there are four divisions among all of the scriptures.  Besides Book of Mormon Stories, there's also Old Testament Stories (online here), New Testament Stories (online here) and Doctrine and Covenants Stories (online here).

I still do the Living Scriptures videos and coloring pages for Kindergarten but I'm now using the Scripture Stories books and my own activity pages for first through fourth grades.

Well, that's good for early elementary, but what about upper elementary grades?

This image might be a little misleading as the
book is only available as a digital download.
Oddly enough, we are using Discover the Scriptures for fifth through eighth grades.  My complaints about the easier versions just don't apply to this age.  There's still the memory work and the copywork and we do those or not according to our needs.  No more drawing pages so that's not an issue either.  Sometimes there will be a project assigned that the student doesn't want to do and I will let them skip it. For these years, they use the actual scriptures as the main text instead of the Stories readers.

How about high school?

High school should be the easiest level for gospel lessons (at least for Mom) as they can now go to Seminary.  (I say "should be easiest" because I have a daughter that refuses to go.)  We have release-time seminary here so I can either send them over to the seminary building by the high school for a period or we are lucky enough to have a homeschool seminary class in our stake.  So our kids have a choice.  If you live in an area with early-morning (or some-other-time-of-day) seminary, there you go - you can enroll them in that.  There are options for doing home-study seminary but I don't know what the requirements are if you want them to "officially" graduate from seminary.

What does all of this look like put together?

Kindergarten - Living Scriptures videos and coloring pages
1st Grade - Old Testament Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
2nd Grade - New Testament Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
3rd Grade - Book of Mormon Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
4th Grade - Doctrine and Covenants Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
5th Grade - Discover the Old Testament
6th Grade - Discover the Life of Christ and Discover the Acts of the Apostles*
7th Grade - Discover the Book of Mormon for Grades 4-7
8th Grade - Discover the Latter-Day Prophets**
9th through 12th Grades - Seminary

*We do these faster so we can get through the entire New Testament in one year.
**This constitutes our Doctrine and Covenants/Church History year.

So now if I put all of this together, this is what our gospel curriculum will look like this coming year:

Kjeri - 11th Grade - Seminary either at the high school or the homeschool group
Emmy - 9th Grade - Seminary either at the high school or the homeschool group
Eli - 6th Grade - Discover the Life of Christ and Discover the Acts of the Apostles
Miri - 4th Grade - Doctrine and Covenants Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
Josie - 1st Grade - Old Testament Stories and Mom's Activity Pages

Is that all?

That's not even close to all there is to learning the gospel.  Don't forget:

  • Family and personal prayers
  • Family and personal scripture reading
  • Scripture memory work (Pres. Hinkley challenged us to memorize one per week)
  • Hymn/Primary song practice
  • Family Home Evening
  • Ward and Stake Youth Activities
  • Sunday Meetings
  • Primary Activities
  • Scout Activities
  • Impromptu discussions of gospel teachings
  • Parent/Child Interviews
  • Discussions of history and science topics in which gospel doctrine is incorporated

I'm sure I've missed some things but you get the idea.  Now, don't get me wrong, we aren't nearly perfect at doing all of these things but we can all pick and choose the things that are important to our families.

How do I schedule gospel lessons?

Well, I'm a believer in lots of short lessons rather than fewer longer ones so we do all of our subjects every day - including gospel.  The resources listed above are easy to schedule; I just figure out the number of days we are going to have school and the number of pages there are in the book and divide accordingly.  In almost all cases, it works out to one page per day.  The main exception to that is the sixth grade in which they do two of the Discover... books.  I want New Testament to only last a year at a time and they've divided it into "Life of Christ" and "Acts of the Apostles," so that year will be two pages per day.

How do I grade gospel lessons?

They either did the lesson or they didn't so these lessons get a 100% or a 0%.  Easy peasy.

Keep in mind that this is just one family's way of doing gospel lessons and may not work for you.  The key is to figure out your teaching style(s) as well as your children's learning styles and go from there.  Hopefully this information will help get you going in the right direction.  If I missed anything, let me know in the comments and I will get back to you.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Beef Enchiladas with Green Sauce

I really should stop calling these "Recipe of the Week" as I don't post them nearly that often but I guess it's too late to change it now.

Anyway,  we love these enchiladas!  I use what my local grocer calls "taco beef."  It's coarser than ground beef but finer than stew meat.  I really like it for my Mexican dishes.  If you can't find "taco beef," ground beef will do just as well.

Beef Enchiladas with Green Sauce

2 lbs taco beef or ground beef
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
9 large flour tortillas
1 can black olives, sliced
28 ounces mild green enchilada sauce
1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
optional: salsa and sour cream for serving
Brown your meat in a large skillet.  Drain if needed and add seasonings and about 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Roll up a couple of heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture in each tortilla and place in 9x13 inch baking dish.  When they are all in there, scatter the olives on top, pour the rest of the sauce over and cover everything with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and serve with salsa and sour cream (or without).