Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Preschool Thanksgiving Lesson

The harvest season is upon us. Stores have begun selling pumpkins, dried gourds, and cranberries. Leaves on trees are turning from green to red, gold, and brown. They're starting to fall, creating soft piles to jump into. This is a wonderful season to teach your young students about giving thanks to God for the many blessings He's given us.

Try this Thanksgiving lesson with your preschoolers. It's completely reproducible and includes student sheets, visuals, and lots of creative ideas. Download your FREE preschool Thanksgiving lesson. Then check out the other 51 lessons for preschoolers we've developed as part of our Preschool Sunday School Lessons series. Each lesson is just $6.95. You can print as many teacher's guides and student pages as you need so there's never any waste. Click on the image below to go to the free lesson page.

We hope you enjoy sharing this lesson with your students. May God bless you and grant you a memorable harvest season.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Setting Up Your Preschool Bible Club Room

It is extremely important that your Bible club classroom provides a bright, cheerful, welcoming environment where the children want to stay. Following are some basic guidelines for setting up your preschool room:

Thirty-five square feet is recommended for each child in a preschool class. Toddlers and preschoolers are very active and require plenty of space for active movement. As much as possible, do not use a room that is smaller than 12 x 16 feet for your Honeybees or Cubby Bears classroom. Ideally, for a class of 12 children, you should have a room with a minimum size of 15 x 30 feet or larger. (A rectangular room gives a much more open appearance than does a square room.)

The room should be on the ground floor, if possible, and restrooms should be close by. A Dutch door is useful so the parents do not enter the room when they bring their children to the meeting. Electrical outlets should be above the children’s reach or kept capped with safety covers.

Floor coverings
Floor coverings should allow children to participate freely and sit on the floor. Floors should be spot-resistant and relatively easy to clean so the children can participate in “messy” activities freely. For colder climates, carpet is much warmer and will allow more freedom to use the floor year around. (You may wish to have a non-carpeted area for “messy” activities and snacks.)

No matter what your floor covering is, a large story rug, big enough for all the children and teachers to sit on, is necessary as a “gathering spot” for stories and group activities. A large flower-shaped rug could be created from burlap-backed felt or colorful carpet scraps sewed together.

Ventilation and lighting
There should be plenty of fresh air and light, but windows should open from the top only so little ones cannot accidentally fall out.

Wall coverings
Light colors are airy and restful, while bright colors may over-stimulate the children and cause behavior problems; use bright colors for accents. Choose paint or wallpaper that is non-toxic. Do not use murals as they can be a distraction to toddlers. However, a black-and-white coloring mural can be a fun area for your little ones to scribble color or add stickers. You will need two bulletin boards or other areas where posters, the Honeybees or Cubby Bears Attendance Chart, and other materials may be mounted on the wall.

Room layout
See the illustration in the PDF article below for a suggested room layout suitable for a class of up to 12 children using three learning centers.

Download FREE report
For more information about setting up your preschool Bible Club room, download the FREE PDF "How to Set Up Your Preschool Classrooms."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tips for Teaching Primaries

First and second graders are really developing their personalities and becoming more intellectual. Here are some tips for teaching your primaries. More hints and tips can be found on our website, ChristianEdWarehouse.com.

A Blooming Story
Here's a unique way for a story to unfold. Cut identical size circles, one for each element of your story plus one more. Use one circle as the center of your story plus one more. Use one circle as the center of a flower, glue an appropriate picture or print the title of the story on it. Use the other circles as flower petals. Attach them with staples. Print or put a picture of each story element on the petals so they are in order clockwise. Then beginning with the last element of the story and working toward the first element of the story, fold all the petals behind the center of the flower. Now you are ready to tell the story. Introduce the story with the center of the flower, and fold each petal forward as each story element is told. When the story is finished, the flower will be in full bloom.

Color Day
Help your students remember lessons better. Design the lesson around a color featured in the lesson. (For example, blue can be used for a lesson about the children of Israel crossing the sea or Jesus walking on the water.) On Blue Day (or whatever color you choose) everyone must wear something blue. (Have some blue ribbons or bandanas available for children who don't wear blue.) Snacks must be blue. Everything you do must have something to do with blue. What do you do as a follow-up to a color day? Why, have black and white day, of course!

Party TableclothHelp your students design their own party tablecloth. Use a flat, white, twin-size bed sheet. Place newspapers under it to prevent the colors from bleeding onto the floor. Use fabric dye markers for drawing or writing. Use acrylic paint in a shallow pan for hand prints. Personalize the tablecloth with everyone's signature. You can use the tablecloth again and again throughout the year for special events or to add interest to your room. If you wish, choose a central theme or make the tablecloth for a special occasion.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a lesson visual!
When setting up visual displays, don't limit yourself to bulletin boards. Other possible display areas include the classroom door, the sides of a desk, the sides of a file cabinet, or the back of a piano. You can use large cardboard boxes for movable stand-up room displays. If you feel adventurous, use the ceiling and have everyone lay on the floor for the lesson!

Primary humorOrdinary things out of place are funny to primaries. Mix things up. Do things backwards. For primaries, silly is fun. When you plant a seed, don't use a flower pot (that's too ordinary); plant your seeds in an old tennis shoe. That's something your students will talk about.

This week, shape the future

Most people only talk about making the world a better place, but you are doing something about it! In a series of experiments on the moral development of children, a significant discovery was made: children who are enrolled in Sunday school showed significantly better conduct in the areas of honesty, cooperation, persistence, and inhibition of undesirable behavior! How important is this week's lesson? You are making this world a better place. You are shaping the future!

Keep it concrete
Primaries are making tremendous intellectual progress. By this age they can manipulate data mentally, come to some logical conclusions, and define, compare, and contrast things. But they still do not understand symbolism. After touring the defense plant where her daddy worked, one first grader resisted when told it was time to go home. She cried, "But I haven't seen where Daddy makes the money yet!" When teaching primaries, say what you mean and mean what you say. Always teach them in literal concrete terms.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Preparing to Teach Preteens

Preteens are moving toward adolescence but no longer feeling like young children. They long to be treated as teens (or even young adults), but they still enjoy the games and silliness of childhood. Their minds and bodies are growing rapidly, and their emotions seem to be taking them on a roller coaster ride. So how do we help them grow in the knowledge of Jesus when they seem unpredictable, emotional, and overly dramatic one minute and serious, deep-thinking individuals the next?

First, let preteens take on leadership roles during your Bible club programs. They can assist adult helpers, especially in your preschool and kindergarten areas. They can help with crafts, snacks, games, song time, and much more. They often thrive when given responsibility, as long as the expectations are clear. Provide strong leaders to help guide the preteens with specific directions and clear assignments. Don't give them time to just hang out with friends until the younger students have gone home for the day.

Second, we can use a variety of methods in our teaching as we help the preteens focus on the lesson theme or Scripture passage. Object lessons, skits, pantomimes, stories, role-plays, worship and praise music, reader's theater, relays, art projects, games, quizzes, prayer, Bible reading, discussions, and many more teaching methods can be used to capture and hold their attention. Using more than one teaching method each week also gives us a chance to reach children of all learning styles and abilities.

Transition times, moving from one activity to another, can be difficult for preteens, causing them to lose focus, begin talking about unrelated subjects, etc. For this reason, the teacher must be prepared to move quickly from one activity to the next. Planning ahead and going through the lesson the week before will help you to iron out any rough spots before you stand in front of your class. To keep your students focused on the topic at hand, clearly state your expectations before beginning a new activity. Let the kids know if it's okay to talk softly while they work or if you need their undivided attention. If you expect them to raise their hands before answering, tell them. Or, if it's okay for them to just call out answers, say so.

If an activity will get your students up and moving, be sure to explain all the instructions before having them begin to move. Then ask for one of your preteens to restate the instructions. Clarify any  of the rules, if necessary. Finally, ask if there are any questions. Have a student answer the question, whenever possible. If there are no more questions, you're ready to begin the game or activity.

Provide a balance of active and quiet activities to help keep your students attentive, interested, and looking forward to the next activity. If your preteens begin to yawn or lose interest, quickly move on to your next activity or begin a discussion to recapture their interest.

Your older students will appreciate having leadership roles such as handing out pencils, serving the snack, leading the prayer time, etc. But it's still up to you, the teacher, to let your students know what's expected of them for each activity. Explaining your expectations for appropriate behavior up front will help prevent many behavior problems before they start. Lighten up and be prepared to have fun. Now you can begin enjoying your preteens as the interesting, dynamic, creative creatures God intended them to be!