Wednesday, January 30, 2013

*Homeschool~ How We Study Pilgrim's Progress

We homeschool using The Ambleside Online free resource schedule. Currently, Sir Bean is in Year 1 and Prince Ray is in Year 2. The concept is based on the writings and teachings of Charlotte Mason, a British educator from days gone by. I believe her method of teaching is beautiful and effective. It is difficult with many multiples of children but the spirit of her teaching can really be brought to any subject. It is a non-text book approach that uses many 'living books', books that are written by an expert in their field and bring the subject matter to life in a real and memorable way. It has taught us all so very much!

On to Pilgrim's Progress! I will admit when I saw Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress on the schedule for this year as part of our Literature Readings I was a bit daunted. I read the book years ago and only understood a smidgen of it. In fact, several years ago, while helping co-teach a teen group at church I thought that perhaps we could go through the book together as a book club style teaching. It was a big No-Go. It was too challenging for most teens to put their time into slowing down and reading such an old book.

So here I was trying to figure out how I was going to help my nine year old understand all the nuances and hidden meaning in Pilgrim's Progress. How will he understand any of it? Do we really need to try this?

I happened upon this quick and to-the-point referral for the reading of Pilgrim's Progress on Answers in Genesis and decided we would give it a go. They offer a free online version to read, broken into 10 sections with Biblical References.
John Bunyan was a man unafraid to proclaim the authority of God’s Word without compromise, even when it came at great personal risk. His refusal to conform his preaching led to multiple incarcerations. On one such occasion, he was asked to simply stop and be set free. He replied, “If you release me today, I will preach tomorrow.”
Those now famous words led to a nearly twelve year imprisonment. It was during this time that he began to pen his classic work. Published in 1678, it quickly became one of the most popular stories of all time. Over 100,000 copies were sold within his lifetime alone, and today it is believed to be the second-most widespread book in existence, surpassed only by the Bible in number of copies distributed. It has been translated into over 200 languages, and it has never been out of print.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is a spiritual allegory that follows the path of Christian, a man weighed down by his burden of sin. He leaves the City of Destruction and learns that nothing can remove his burden other than the cross of Christ. But that is only the beginning of his journey through life to the Celestial City.

I did some research and found a really good audio version of the book. It is done so well that the characters practically jump out of the speakers and stand in your kitchen with you. I found it here and here. The best surprise has been that not only does Prince Ray love listening to it he audibly sighs when the lesson is over because he wants to keep going. He also has been able to fully understand the whole thing! This version is unabridged, but amplified, and it is done seamlessly. Sir Bean is only 6 and he can hardly wait to listen in on his big brother's Pilgrim's Progress reading. That is how good it is. I know we will listen to this over and over again. It was worth every penny I spent.

Orion's Gate Audio

Ambleside Online gives the option of taking 2 years to cover this particular book. Or you can follow Christian's wife and children on their journey the next year. When I found Christian's journey I purchased Christiana's journey as well. We will listen to that one next year.

Orion's Gate Audio

I also found a free series of videos called Dangerous Journey, on the website Kids Answers in Genesis. Scroll all the way down to the bottom. There are 9 parts and each is about 15 minutes long. As we listen along to the Pilgrim's Progress audio book, I will insert a 'video time' every so often that coincides with how far we have gotten in the book. There are some differences and the video has left a few things out but all in all it is a great, if rather old and a bit grainy, free video resource for really cementing the story. 

Dangerous Journey

Video Time :)

Check out this Bunyan Ministries for beautiful coloring sheets in PDF form. My kids love to color so these are a nice way to keep hands busy while listening to the audio.

Coloring sheet!

If you like to Map stuff, here is a printable map of Christian's Journey to keep track of his travels. It is beautiful and would cost me a print cartridge but might be worth it. So far, I just look at it and think about whether or not I can afford to print it off. Grayscale would not do it justice. 

 “This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let's neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress

Have you ever read Pilgrim's Progress? Have you ever taught it?

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

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  1. I've not read it but my daughter read it from her Ambleside list one year. I should ask you, what do you use for Math alongside Ambleside? We're using Rod and Staff and have used Alpha Omega in the past. I'm not totally thrilled with either one but can't put my finger on just why. Hope you're having a happy night!

  2. Hello Sarah!

    For math we are using Math Mammoth. My youngest who loves math is thrilled with the curriculum. My older boy who doesn't love math is struggling a bit with it. I like it because it is printable, has tons of links for online games, and is a no nonsense way to teach math from many different angles, presented in a good mastery sort of way. My older boy just doesn't learn that way. It is too much, a bit too fast. Next year we are going to give The Life of Fred a run. I got my hands on a book and had a chance to visit with a mom who loves it. Good for a literary based approach. We will see! :)

  3. My name is John Ryder. I work as a volunteer Director/Producer at Flame CCR, a Christian Radio Station in the North of England. For the past 18 months we have been working on a dramatized version of Book 1 of Pilgrim's Progress.
    This is currently Broadcasting in 25 fifteen minute episodes at with podcasts available (for a limited time) to catch up on previous episodes.
    I hope these broadcasts may be a blessing to you all.
    God Bless.

    There is also an hour long interview programme discussing the Making Of Pilgrim's Progress for FlameCCR and 2 shorter programmes with interviews conducted at the Bunyan Chapel and Bunyan Museum in bedfordshire, England.
    Please get in touch via the FlameCCR website if you would like to know more.

  4. Hello, not sure if you will read this but would you mind sending me an email at I have a question regarding the audio version ... I can't seem to get a hold of the company or family that produced it but I paid for it after reading your review of it (sounds good!), and have yet to receive it ... would love to hear from you.... thank you!!


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