Thursday, May 9, 2013

Curriculum Review - Large Group/Small Group PreTeen - Grapple!

As I continue my curriculum review, today I'm reviewing curriculum from Group Publishing. I reviewed the three curriculum lines I'm including in my Large Group/Small Group reviews from Group Publishing four years ago for an article I wrote for Christianity Today's Your Church Magazine and was able to look through an entire quarter's material. Sadly, Group has a marketing policy where they will no longer make their curriculum available for review beyond the one lesson they have on their website. It can be extremely difficult to get an accurate view of a curriculum when you are only able to see one lesson . . . the one lesson could be the best one of the entire quarter and other lessons may need a lot of "tweaking" to make them work well. Likewise, the one excellent lesson could be highly representative of the entire quarter, but when I can only see one lesson, there is no way for me to know this, making it difficult for me to recommend a curriculum. 

However, for this review, I'm basing my review on what I saw three years ago. I sincerely hope Group will re-think their review policy as reviews frm unbiased reviewers are an excellent resource for those in children's ministry. Having said this, please allow me to share with you some information about Group's Grapple Preteen Curriculum!
  • Publisher - Group Publishing
  • Website - http://grapple.group.com/sunday-school/grapple
  • Price - $94.99 per quarter for 10 students - goes up from there based on the number of students in your ministry.
  • Type - Large Group/Small Group
  • Scope - Topical two year plan.
  • Available for Preteens
Strengths -
  • Biblically Sound
  • Entirely downloadable and reproducible 
  • Password-protected access to MyGrapple.com for you and your students - this is potentially a real "plus" as it is unique and could be a great tool for connecting with the kids all week long. Group gives you absolute control over your Grapple website as to who may visit keeping it a free and safe place for the children in your ministry to connect on-line.
  • Leaders guide preteens as they discover the Bible lesson through questions, activities and use of their Bibles rather than just "telling" kids the Bible lesson. I love this feature!
  • Colorful graphics
  • Children learn how to find their way around the Bible, by actually spending the class time in their Bibles.
  • Love the Grapple Dare as it challenges kids to think about and live what they learned!
  • Unique plan to involve kids in choosing part of each week's lesson through your own Grapple on-line.
  • Highly applicable design - preteens will be able to get into their Bibles and discover it really does apply to their lives today.
  • Parent Connection allows parents to keep up with what their preteen is learning and doing.
Would like to see - 
  • Quarterly service projects to "Put Feet to Their Faith"
  • A different business model/pricing schedule not based on the number of students since churches are the ones printing the student materials.
  • Teacher devotions
  • Family flyers to continue the learning at home
  • Optional Second Service
  • An opportunity for volunteers to pray Scripture for each child to bless them

Grapple is written with the goal of intentionally involving Preteens in discovering what the Bible has to say about their real lives and the questions they face each day. Group says, "Grapple Preteen is the best age-relevant, innovative tool available for helping preteens navigate their questions about God. And when you bring Grapple to your preteens you provide more than just answers - - you also help your kids form powerful, lasting relationships - - with you, each other and God!" 

I really like Grapple as it involves kids in fellowship, activity, small group time, prayer and in learning about things they care about. It is inventive, unique and extremely well done! Check it out as it might be a great fit for your preteens!

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