“What ages is Bible Quest designed for?”
I’ve had many opportunities to engage variations of this question, and thankfully Bible Quest addresses every stage of student development. It also has the advantage of being able to be used in a classroom with many different ages learning together.
Bible Quest is intended for all three stages of learning in the Trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. While we all engage in learning in all three of these stages, children tend to emphasize each stage at different points in their development. In this sense, Bible Quest is theoretically intended to be used by students of any age.
EQUIP (up to about 8 years of age)
In practice, the lowest I recommend in age actually is a limited lesson for four-year olds.* For four and five-year olds, focus on the Big Bible Story Song, the Who? questions (the people of the Bible for the week) and the What? question (the verbatim Scripture learned through song for the week). Depending on the students, it might be possible to do the Where? question and play with the map for awhile - younger kids tend do very well with that if their learning is very touch-based and motion-based. That portion of the lesson might sound something like this:
"Here's Jerusalem - that's where Solomon built the temple, right? Touch Jerusalem!
Now, here's Egypt - that's where the people of Israel were slaves before Moses led them out.
Touch Egypt! Good! Now... touch Jerusalem... Egypt! Jerusalem! Egypt! Je-Egypt!
Ha! Nice one! You caught me on that, didn't you?"
Don’t be afraid to have fun with your students! Remember, people can make memorization as boring and dull as they want to, but I suggest you refrain from making it so painful. Choose not to make it boring!
Full engagement with the Equip Phase (the first of three phases in the program) can generally occur around age 6 (please note: every child is different, so exact ages vary by individual). Youngsters up to 7 or 8 years of age may be dismissed after the Equip Phase is complete.
* Students that are younger than four will be best served with a simple plan: read Biblical narratives to them, pray with them, and sing Scripture songs together with them. Then, let them play! There will be plenty of time for intentional learning later on, and this gentle, intentional strategy will serve them well.
EMPOWER (from about 9-12 years of age)
Older students from about 9-12 years of age are in the dialectic phase of learning and are ready for great conversations. They can easily engage in the Equip (grammar, or memorized knowledge stage of learning) Phase with their younger classmates before tackling more advanced Empower Phase activities. For tips on how to engage older students in learning along with their younger counterparts in earlier stages, check out this article.
When younger students have been dismissed, parents and mentors may choose an Exploration (these are conversation-driven activities) to dig deeper into the Word and increase student understanding. Explorations may take extra time, depending on student aptitude and the method chosen. Teachers should also explain and model how to do one of the Exercises (these are scriptural-aptitude-building activities) and challenge their students to practice it 15 to 20 minutes daily throughout the week to increase their ability to use Biblical knowledge.
New Student Tip: I suggest limiting new students in the dialectic phase to simpler Empower (dialectic or "logic" stage of learning) activities like review games or possibly each week's Bible Dig Exploration for their first time through the material. Give them opportunities for success prior to introducing them to more advanced Exercises and Explorations, the backbone of the Empower Phase. However, if a student indicates that what they are doing is too easy, feel free to increase the challenge of their Empower Phase a bit at a time.
EXPEDITION (from about 12 years old and up)
Students roughly 12 years old or older are beginning to think in the rhetoric phase of learning, a time of application and wisdom development. Bible Quest handles this developmental stage in the Expedition Phase. Expeditions are coached assignments in which students discuss what they’ve learned and decide how they’d like to communicate their understanding to others. It is best practice to assign an Expedition at the end of a week of Equip and Empower activities, because it is at that time that the student has had the opportunity to gain a little knowledge and understanding to apply to the task. A student should plan to work about 30 minutes a day on an Expedition until it is complete.
New Student Tip: The ‘Deeper Questions’ material in the Expedition section will serve beginning rhetoric students well when they start. This material can be used for discussion or as a journaling opportunity, or they can be used as a springboard to begin an actual Expedition Phase.
What ages is Bible Quest designed for? Bible Quest equips parents and mentors to teach their students the Word of God in every stage of development in the classical model. For more information about how these elements fit together, read this blog post.