Monday, August 01, 2011

Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook: Preliminary Review

projects 001The first Chumash workbook from Bright Beginnings arrived a couple of weeks ago.  I like it!  It looks very nice, although, frankly, it isn't really MORE than you get from the free PDF version, if you have that already. 

I bought the book because I figured it would save me the time / money of printing the pages myself, plus, I’m happy to support the people who produced the workbook. 

I’m not disappointed – and for me, that’s saying a lot.    I’m a kvetcher, and I’m fussy about what kinds of educational stuff I expose my kids to

There’s only one workbook so far, though I hope they will come out with others.  This one covers the first part of Parshas Lech Lecha, which is one of many traditional places to start children learning Torah. 

(Why Lech Lecha?  Why not the Very Beginning?  Many people avoid the very beginning of the Torah at first because the narrative is not entirely straightforward, and many characters behave reprehensibly.  Whereas Lech Lecha starts with the relationship between Hashem and the Jews, so it’s a bit more wholesome and theologically sound.  There are other popular places to start, though, including Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus).)

The pages in the print version are laid out more professionally than in the free version.  There are bright colours, with graphics on each page.  There’s also a section of tear-out vocabulary cards at the back of the book.  They are nicely printed, in colour, and appear to be of good quality.

projects 003Throughout the book (including on the tear-out flashcards), I found some of the graphics unnecessary and cluttery, but the full colour version is nice and makes reading super-easy.

One thought:  the images are ALL “boy”-oriented, with scenes of yeshiva boys in hardhats and construction-related graphics on every page.  This definitely reflects the curriculum's origins in a boys' yeshiva, but it might be off-putting to some girls.  Here’s a sample of the full-colour version so you can see what I mean.

projects 005As I’ve mentioned (most enthusiastically), we’re already using Rabbi Yehudah Winder’s L’shon HaTorah series.  I'm not entirely sure we need BOTH of these workbooks, but we’re going to stick with them for the time being. 

My only concern might be that they both use a lot of colouring – and Naomi hates to colour.  But today, when we did colouring in Bright Beginnings, we happened to have multiple-choice in L’shon HaTorah, so it wasn’t a problem.

Overall, I like the "tachlis" (goal-oriented) feel of Bright Beginnings.  L’shon HaTorah is strong preparation, but doesn't really get them reading the actual Torah text.  Bright Beginnings starts from Passuk Alef and intersperses text reading with exercises so kids get a sense of where they’re headed.  Because of this contrast, I think the two workbooks will complement each other nicely.

We only had a chance to work for a little bit today, and Naomi Rivka is at camp for the rest of the week.  But I’ll report back after we’ve been using it for a bit longer!

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