August 29, 2010

The Bible Bee Explained

Before I launch into a detailed description of our time at the Bible Bee yesterday, I thought I'd take a few moments to explain just what IS the Bible Bee and how we came to be involved with this opportunity. The official web site is here, and I encourage you to check it out and plan to join us next year!

Here is the mission statement as given on the web site:
"The mission of The Shelby Kennedy Foundation is to help families strengthen their personal relationship with the Lord and dynamically impact the world as ambassadors for Jesus Christ. The National Bible Bee seeks to encourage parents as they disciple their children through in-depth study of the Word of God, Scripture memorization, and prayer."

We learned about the program initially through the ads in WORLD magazine (which I also encourage you to check out--news from a Christian perspective! Love it!). I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it, so when I saw a booth at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention, I made sure we stopped by. After hearing more about the Bible Bee, Ted and I were very excited about making it a part of our family plan for the summer.

We registered in May and eagerly looked forward to receiving our materials in June, at which time we would learn which book of the Bible we would be studying. When the box arrived, it nearly rivaled our Sonlight Box Days! It contained, for each participating child, the following:

* A Bible in the version of our choice (NIV, but families could choose from five)
* A "Sword Study" notebook, with 12 weeks of study materials (5 days each week)
* A Bible Bee t-shirt and pin, and
* A box of verse cards.

Also included were:

* Two parent study notebooks
* A Sword Drill game for the computer, and
* The official rulebook.

From the web site:
"Bible Bee 'Sword Study' materials draw a family into God’s Word together through age appropriate studies and Parent Guidebooks that encourage sharing and praying as a family each week. Every contestant has an inductive study guide which takes him or her through a stimulating daily investigation of the Word. The Parent Guidebook provides activities, discussion questions, and other thought-provoking suggestions for Scripture-based family interactions. The format for a weekly "Family Bonfire" of the passages covered helps the parent(s) lead a lively and interesting conversation around God’s Word."

We had 12 weeks to study the book of COLOSSIANS, using the study materials provided. The daily studies included overview readings of the whole book, writing a verse or two each day, word studies, cross references, application questions, and ACTS prayer times, which taught and guided the kids through their own prayer time using the acrostic that stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. There was a memory verse checklist, a prayer journal, and plenty of notes pages. To say it was thorough would be a complete understatement! The materials were incredible! I'll take the time here to confess that I did modify the materials for the boys, since I usually worked with them while Charis chose to have her own study time alone. We skipped a lot of the activities that I felt they just were not going to sit through. Mostly, I had them write the passage for the day, answer the application questions, and do the ACTS prayer time. Then, I also helped with some of the in-depth activities, like cross referencing and "interrogating" each verse, but we did these things orally rather than taking notes.

Knowing how busy parents are, the writers gave us guides that provided a very quick overview of what our kids would be learning that day. Usually the studies for us were no more than two pages--one page with the daily/weekly passage written out for us (how much easier can it get?!), a place to write the verse(s) our kids would be writing that day, questions that mirrored the questions they would be asked, and then one page for a focused time of prayer journaling. I have to confess that I did not complete my whole study, but I did try to keep up with it most of the summer. The days I did do the study, I was also doing my regular quiet time materials, so I appreciated that the Bible Bee studies were easy enough (I thought) to incorporate into my day. Unfortunately, Ted didn't really do any of his--which is understandable, since he does leave for work super early!

A special part of our learning process was our weekly "Bonfire Time." The quick guides in the parent study notebook allowed us an easy time of getting everyone together to talk about the passage we had studied in-depth over the previous week. This allowed Ted to keep up with what we were discussing and made for some wonderful times of bonding. We always closed in prayer, going in a circle and praying a part of the ACTS prayer one at a time. Then we enjoyed microwave s'mores (since it was, after all, a "bonfire" time!). (You can put a large marshmallow on top of a graham cracker and zap for 10 seconds, and it will be perfectly gooey! We used chocolate frosting to smear on the other cracker, and presto, you have a s'more!)

Last, but not least, was the Scripture memorization portion. From the web site:
"The Bible Bee format is similar to a spelling bee, in that contestants are rewarded for their knowledge and memorization skills. However, in a spelling bee, contestants learn words without substance; the Bible Bee contestants learn the living, eternal Word of God! Jesus promises His followers the Holy Spirit, Who will, “…remind you of everything I have said to you.” This implies that we are intimately familiar with what He has said (all of Scripture!). The Bible Bee Competition is designed to recognize diligence in Scripture memorization at all levels, in warm, old-fashioned, family reunion-style gatherings. Your Local Bee Host will provide a Kickoff gathering in June, and one meeting per month in June, July and August as an opportunity for all of your families to review, trial quiz, and play memory games together."

I should note here that while we did attend the kickoff in June, we did not attend any other gatherings, sadly. We probably should have been more on top of things to check the online calendar, but we didn't. However, it would have been a good opportunity for the kids to keep in touch with others who were working hard throughout the summer as well.

There are 3 different age groups:
* Primary, ages 7 - 10
* Junior, ages 11 - 14
* Senior, ages 15 - 18

Additionally, you could choose to have children participate in various ways:
* National Track contestants would be eligible to compete on the national level, depending on their scores the day of the Bee.
* Timothy Track contestants would only participate in local events.
* Supporting Siblings got to wear a t-shirt. :-) (Presumably they were participating in family activities at home, but they did not compete in the Bee.)

While we initially signed Charis and Tobin up for the National Track, Tobin ended up switching part way through the summer and did the Timothy Track with Arden. Here are the differences in what they were expected to learn:

* They ALL did the same Sword Study and were expected to have a good, working knowledge of the book of Colossians.
* Charis had to learn 250 Bible verses; the boys had to learn 100.
* For the written test portion of the day, Charis's test had 200 questions; the boys' test had 100.

So, the Bible Bee event itself had three main parts:
1. The preliminary oral round, during which contestants would individually go before two judges (family members were allowed to watch, sitting behind the contestants) and say up to 30 passages of Scripture in 10 minutes. Each contestant would have the same passages in the same order, but obviously we had no idea going into it which passages would be picked. Contestants could earn up to 10 points per passage, with a point lost for EACH word that was incorrect, added, switched, etc.

2. The written test, which lasted one hour and covered material from the Sword Study (75%) as well as questions about the memory passages (25%). It was multiple choice, done on a scan-tron form.

3. The final oral round. The top 5 scores resulted in those contestants having the opportunity to compete on stage for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies. This round was similar to a spelling bee--when someone did not quote the passage correctly, he/she was eliminated.

I'm trying to resist the urge to add lots more commentary--I'll save that for a separate post. Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what all this has entailed!

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