Religion - Elementary - Catechetical Programs

Faith and Life Religion Series

Book cover: 'Faith and Life Religion Series'
Copyright:
2000
Publisher:
Ignatius Press
Subject(s):
Catechetical Programs
Grade / Age level:
Elementary
Resource Type:
Text
Review:

This is a very popular religion series for Catholic homeschoolers. There are probably many reasons for this: they're reasonably priced, they're filled with beautiful selections of fine religious art, and they're unquestionably orthodox. The series incorporates questions from The Baltimore Catechism for memorization. Some homeschoolers don't like the brief content (the text contains approximately one lesson per week - although there is also a work book, teacher's manual and extensive resource guide available for each grade). Others are glad to have a solid text for the backbone of their religion curriculum that leaves room for lots of supplementing with Saints Stories, Bible study, memorization, service projects, devotions, celebrations of holy days, etc.

Please Note: The Seventh Grade book contains an examination of conscience in the back that touches upon sins that are unfortunately common among the type of youngsters that this series was aimed at (largely public school students who attend CCD) but might be better avoided with innocent homeschooled children. I don't believe that the series needs to avoided for this reason, but the segment, and in particular the word "masturbation" should probably be avoided at this age level.

Update: This series has been updated in the 2000s, with expanded activity books.
This series is available from most of the Catholic homeschool suppliers including those listed below.

Perspective:
Catholic
Additional notes:
Original series 1980s; updated 2000s
Reviewed By:
Alicia Van Hecke
Review Date:
1999
Available From:
Emmanuel Books

Faith Quest: The Basics

Book cover: 'Faith Quest: The Basics'
Author(s):
Michelle Willis, M.Ed.
Publisher:
Ocean East Teaching Publication
Subject(s):
Catechetical Programs
Grade / Age level:
Elementary
Resource Type:
CD ROM
Teacher manual
Review:

Faith Quest, The Basics is an interactive computer program that covers the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. The package includes a CD-Rom and a Facilitator Resource Guide. It has both a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.

The Facilitator Guide includes an overview of the materials, Lesson Worksheets, Quizzes, Crossword Puzzles, Unit Practice Test, Unit Test, and Answer Keys.

When you turn on the program, you hear pleasant contemporary music as the title and other basic information comes on the screen. In fact, music is interspersed throughout the program. The instructions are easy to follow. Other than a computer, the only other requirement is that the student should be able to read. Because of the index menu, the student is able to leave off in the middle of a lesson and return to it later.

Lesson 1, Step 1 is vocabulary. A lovely picture is in the background, reflecting the beauty of God's creation, as the first vocabulary comes on the screen with a short, simple, and accurate definition. Throughout the program, there are various sound effects to catch the student's attention with the changes of the information, while the picture may remain the same. In step one, the sound effects accompany each new word. The picture only changes when moving from one step to the next. A pleasant woman's voice reads the word and the definition. At this point, the student should write down the definition he has just heard and read on his worksheet. This incorporates three senses. The student is listening, reading, and writing. When the student is ready, he clicks on the move ahead button.

In step two, a new background picture appears on the screen as the question on the worksheet with the answer come on the screen. Again, sound effects accompany the change of text, while keeping the picture the same. After the word and definition are given, the text changes (after the student clicks on the move ahead button) to a scriptural reference and/or a reference to the CCC. Because of the length of the text, there is no voice to accompany the reading of the text in this step.

After completing these steps, the screen changes again to the "Challenge" portion. In Lesson one, the student is asked to recite the Apostles Creed and explains the significance of knowing the Apostles Creed in defending our faith to others. For those who don't know it, the next section displays the Apostles creed on the screen along with music. In Lesson one, it closes with a Question and Answer. Not all lessons close with a final question.

At the end of the four lessons, there is a Unit 1 Practice Test on the computer, covering all four lessons. The first 20 are multiple choice questions. Questions 21-30 are true/false. Questions 31-40 are statements with two words highlighted as choices for answers. The student must click on the correct choice. A cymbal clashes with the correct answer. The final Unit test is only in the Facilitator's Guide.

In the Facilitator's Guide, after the overview of materials, the following sections are included.

Lesson 1 is "You Are a Special Creation of God." Step one is "Building Your Faith Vocabulary": Apostles, Creature, Creed, Crucified, etc. There are sixteen vocabulary words in lesson 1. In Step Two, the student answers fundamental questions such as "Who created the world?" There are references to the CCC or scripture throughout all the questions. The next section of Lesson 1 is a crossword puzzle on paper, reviewing the vocabulary in Step One. The next section is a Quiz that includes matching and fill in the blank.

The next three lessons cover: The Nature and Mystery of God; Creation, Angels, and Original Sin; and Understanding the Meaning and Nature of Sin (all with a similar format to the first lesson). Although the format may not seem like much material, the student should have a through grounding in these topics when he is finished.

I think this program is ideally suited for the student who is used to a lot of media stimuli. It concentrates on "sound bite" messages with a grounding in the basics with scriptural references and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Because the program incorporates all the senses and the student can go at his or her own pace and go back and review at any time, I can also see this program as ideal for the special needs student who has difficulty reading or processing information or retaining large chunks of information, Since the student sees the words on the screen as well as hears them spoken, and then writes the definition down, retaining information should be easier. For a student who has English as a second language, this would also be a good program provided the student has at least minimal reading skills. A mentor could also read the longer sections and explain them as needed. This program would also be ideally suited to the student who needs foundational knowledge or who needs a basic review.

The program is visually appealing as well as well presented and gives a through grounding in the faith. Another advantage to the program is that the student is able to work at his or her own pace. Because of the crossword puzzles, quizzes, and tests, the teacher can easily determine whether or not the student is grasping the material.

Since the program has the student working primarily independently, the teacher should set aside some additional time to discuss and apply what the student has learned to real life situations.

Perspective:
Catholic
Additional notes:
Imprimatur
Reviewed By:
Elizabeth Yank
Review Date:
7-14-04
Available From:
Ocean East Publishing

The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No.1

Book cover: 'The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No.1'
Author(s):
Father Bennett Kelley, CP
Copyright:
1964
Publisher:
Catholic Book Publishing Company
Binding:
Softcover
Number of pages:
192 pages
Subject(s):
Catechetical Programs
Grade / Age level:
Elementary
Resource Type:
Text
Review:

Though very inexpensive, the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechisms written by Father Lovasik are worth their weight in gold. They are based on the Baltimore Catechism which was first approved by the Archbishop of Baltimore, James Cardinal Gibbons in 1885. The New Saint Joseph version goes beyond the simple question-and-answer format of the original catechism, it incorporates Holy Scripture with each lesson and includes discussion questions, a fill-in-the-blank section, and suggested Bible readings at the end of each lesson. The pictures themselves are a great teaching tool, as they illustrate spiritual truths.

Memorizing the questions and answers of the catechism provides the opportunity to build a religious foundation. This basic Catholic doctrinal foundation gives children the tools necessary to defend their faith when they are old enough to apply reason and logic, much like memorizing the alphabet before learning to read and analyze literature.

In addition to memorization of the question and answers, I copy the accompanying Scripture onto a 3 by 5 index card. Then the children and I memorize the Scripture verse and discuss how it applies to the week's lesson. I am careful to emphasize the Scripture as a part of a whole picture rather than putting too much emphasis on individual verses. We review the Q&A and Scripture each day for a week, before moving on to the next lesson. Book no. 1 has the Baltimore questions and answers divided into three parts: The Creed, The Commandments, and The Sacraments and Prayer. Its recommended use is for grades three through five.

This book is available from nearly all Catholic homeschool providers, including those listed below.

Perspective:
Catholic
Reviewed By:
Maureen Wittmann
Review Date:
5-16-02
Available From:
Adoremus Books
Available From:
All Catholic Books
Available From:
Aquinas and More
Available From:
By Way of the Family
Available From:
Catholic Shopper
Available From:
Emmanuel Books
Available From:
Our Father's House

The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2

Book cover: 'The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2'
Author(s):
Father Bennett Kelley, CP
Copyright:
1964
Publisher:
Catholic Book Publishing Company
Binding:
Softcover
Number of pages:
264 pages
Subject(s):
Catechetical Programs
Grade / Age level:
Elementary
Resource Type:
Text
Review:

Book no. 2 has the same division and order as book no. 1, but the lessons are more in depth for the older student, taking a spiral approach. Its recommended use is for grades six through eight.

This book is available from nearly all Catholic homeschool providers, including those listed below.

Perspective:
Catholic
Reviewed By:
Maureen Wittmann
Review Date:
5-16-02
Available From:
Emmanuel Books
Available From:
Kolbe Academy
Available From:
Aquinas and More

Our Holy Faith Series

Copyright:
1964
Publisher:
Neumann Press
Number of pages:
96 pages
Subject(s):
Catechetical Programs
Grade / Age level:
Elementary
Resource Type:
Text
Review:

My Father and Mother on Earth and in Heaven (Book One)
This small, heavily illustrated (with black and white drawings) text is designed to be a sort of "religion storybook" for first graders. The text is very brief, particularly in the beginning (when they expect first graders to have more limited reading abilities) and is well suited to discussion with a parent as well as drawing in supplemental resources, such as the full stories from the Bible. It covers beliefs and spirituality in a simple way, very appropriate for those just being introduced to their faith. The text (very appropriately) relies heavily on the pictures to portray ideas and lessons to the children. Topics covered include: the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary briefly explained and suggestions for how young children can try to be more like Jesus. The Appendix includes basic prayers and the "First Communion Catechism" (Questions 1-54 of the Baltimore Catechism). A teacher's manual is also available.

(Alicia Van Hecke, 2-28-2000)

Note from the webmaster: Because I don't have a copy of the teacher's manual, I feel that my review is somewhat incomplete. Please read the following review as well, from a friend who is using the program...

You are right to think that the bulk of the material is in the teacher's manual. The little hardcover book is more of a picture book. It gives the kids something to look at while we read/discuss the lesson. There are 144 lessons in the Teacher's Manual. It covers roughly the same material as the Faith and Life series, but Our Holy Faith goes into much more depth. The main reason that I see for this is that Faith and Life is primarily designed for weekly classes. Our Holy Faith is designed for daily use. And so, for example, Faith and Life covers the Passion in one lesson, while Our Holy Faith has eighteen. (There is a lesson for each Station of the Cross.)

Also, Our Holy Faith follows the liturgical calendar, and at the end of each month's material there are a few lessons devoted to specific feast days that are within that month. For example, in February we had additional lessons on the Feast of the Purification, St. Blaise, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Valentine.

Within the text are questions to ask the students and then suggestions of how to implement the virtues that are being taught/exemplified by Our Lord, Our Lady, the Saints, etc. This first year also covers all the mysteries of the Rosary. As you can see it is very thorough. I am amazed at all the material that is covered. First grade looks like the entire scope of what I learned in 12 years of Catholic school!

The Seventh Grade text takes some controversial stances with regard to Biblical interpretations. While belief in the "old-earth" theory (that the world is billions rather than thousands of years old) is not outside the teachings of the Church, some parents have objected to the strong tone the text takes in defending this view. More troubling is the authors' interpretation of many biblical events that would otherwise be considered historical (such as God changing Lot's wife to a pillar of salt or the story of Jonah and the Whale) to be mythical in nature. It should also be noted that Our Lady of the Rosary School, which uses this series, does not use this portion of the text.

Perspective:
Catholic
Additional notes:
Imprimatur
Reviewed By:
Z.C.
Review Date:
3-26-2000
Syndicate content

Back to top