Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Curriculum Review - Large Group/Small Group - reThink Group!

My curriculum review continues today with first look and 2*52 BASICS from the re Think Group. These curriculum resources have become very popular and reThink Group makes several of these lessons available for review - I prefer to see an entire quarter, but appreciate I was able to see more than one lesson for the elementary age level. It is difficult to get a full view of a curriculum without being able to see an entire quarter, but the lessons I saw, I really liked. Allow me to share with you some information about reThink Group's first look and 252 BASICS curricula!
  • Publisher - reThink Group 
  • Website -
  • Price - $589 per year per age level for 0 to 25 students . . . the price goes up from there based on the number of children in your ministry
  • Type - Large Group/Small Group
  • Scope - Topical
  • Available for Preschool/Early Elementary and for Elementary age children
imageStrengths -
  • Biblically Sound
  • Entirely reproducible 
  • Children are intentionally engaged throughout the lesson with activities and questions/discussions - the older children are engaged in the lessons by being able to help with some of the lessons
  • Scope is built around virtues and centers on "three basic truths modeled by Jesus in Luke 2:52 - I need to make the wise choice, I can trust God no matter what and I should treat others the way I want to be treated"
  • Parent materials are included so parents are able to continue the learning at home throughout the week
  • Colorful graphics
  • Teacher devotions/Bible backgrounds are well written and help volunteers understand and see the "big picture" of what they want the kids to learn
Would like to see - 
  • More affordable pricing - I'd really like them to find a different "business model" and not charge churches based on the number of students in the church since the church is the one who has to print the student materials
  • Weekly - "live-it" activities to help children take what they learn out the doors of the church and live it in their everyday lives every day
  • quarterly service projects to "Put Feet to Their Faith"
  • Unified Scope and Sequence - there is a two year scope and sequence for preschool and a three year scope for elementary
  • An opportunity for volunteers to pray Scripture for each child to bless them
first look and 252 BASICS are written with the goal of intentionally engaging children so they are able to remember, understand and live God's Word for genuinely changed lives. Many churches have found these curriculum resources to be a good "fit" for their ministries and they are worth taking a look at to see if they "fit" your ministry and vision as well. As I mentioned above, I'd really like to see them take a different approach to pricing their materials - I personally believe it is not appropriate to charge churches based on the number of children in their ministries when the church is the one who is also paying for the cost of printing the materials for their children. I'd rather see a pricing schedule with more focus on ministry and less focus on business. reThink says, "first look gives children a first impression of their Heavenly Father and the wonder of His love for each of them. Our passion is to see elementary school students enter middle school eager to discover more about God. We believe as children experience the wonder of God and are drawn into discovering how He touches every aspect of life, then a passionate faith will grow."


  1. Lynda - Did you take a look at the Parent Cue app? That is a place that gives parents the next step for the "live-it" activities. Parents really use this and love it! For example, this past fall there was a suggested activity related to packing shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

    Also, my husband and I teach 252 each Sunday (4th grade boys) and we do get ideas in the curriculum for ways the kids can apply the lesson in everyday living. We have felt one of the strengths was in helping our boys translate the Bible concept to an everyday application.

    One other thought....this is just me and not based on anything I know for fact...but I think one of the reasons churches are charged based on the number attending kids is so to keep the curriculum more affordable for the smaller churches. I go to a church that doesn't have the resources of some of the well-known mega churches. We are thankful that the price of the curriculum is tailored more to attendance (attendance does usually have a pretty direct correlation to tithes and offerings and thus church budget).

    Also, there isn't that much printing involved. We (my husband and I) review the curriculum online. If we need to look at a paper copy, we print it ourselves at home. But usually we prepare off an i-Pad. And then the church does print maybe one activity page about every other week. (You never use all the suggested activities/exercises provided in the curriculum -- great problem to have).

    - Amy Fenton Lee

  2. Amy, I'm glad it is working for your church - I really like how they wrote it and have found it to be an excellent curriculum. It is too expensive for many small churches - I don't like it when any curriculum charges by the number of kids in the church for downloadable curriculum which the church has to print themselves. I'd rather see a reasonable price point and then give churches the freedom to print as many copies as they need for use in their ministry.

  3. I'm a little concerned that you put "Biblically sound" under one of its strengths. I've used 252 Basics and First Look in the two churches I've worked in, and I'd have to say that I'm a bit bothered with just how moralistic the curriculum is. Maybe this is a matter of personal opinion, but to me, a Biblically sound curriculum is one that is Christo-centric and narrative-informed rather than virtue-centric and behavior-based.

  4. Nate,

    252 is Biblically sound - they do not teach anything unbiblical, they do teach the Bible, they use the Bible, they have children and families learn the Bible - they are Biblically sound. I do agree with you about them tending to teach morals and would like to see them focus more on knowing Jesus, Who He is and how this brings about life change, but they are Biblically sound.

  5. Pardon my "Anonymous" but I wasn't sure exactly how to comment otherwise.

    Jennifer, Nashville, TN

    I am a department head over the Preschool at my congregation. We adopted the Orange First Look curriculum over a year ago. It was quite a change from what we had been using previously. The lessons we used previously were sequential Old Testament stories then New Testament stories (over 2 years). We were excited about Orange because of the focus on family and church cooperation. Unfortunately we have found that the lessons seem to be very shallow and the activities not quite age appropriate. Or perhaps we just have very bright students! The DVDs and lesson structure are good, but we do have to supplement the resources for the teachers. Fortunately we do have that old sequential curriculum to pull from. In the past year we have had 3 months of of the Creation story. We will be coming up with a replacement for that 3rd month. 3 & 4 year olds just don't need that much repetition - we want them to stay engaged.

    It is a decent curriculum but we have not found it to be something we could simply pull off the shelf and use. Which is unfortunate for the price we're paying.

    I have an older daughter in the 252 program, and it seems to be a little more appropriate. She enjoys it. I cannot say how much the teachers supplement, if any.