Monday, December 27, 2010

The Empty Cross Craft

While the excitement of Christmas is still fresh in your student's minds, help them remember the reason God sent His Son Jesus to be born. Let your students review the Christmas story. Then explain that Jesus didn't stay a baby. Rather, Jesus grew up into a boy and then into a man. Remind the children that Jesus told people about God's love and then he was crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin (the wrong things we say and do).

Let your students make a cross craft to help them remember that Jesus didn't stay dead. Instead, He came alive again and now lives in heaven. Talk personally with each child and follow up with those who interested in learning more about becoming a Christian. (See the post from May 17, 2010 on "Leading a Child to Christ" for more helpful information.)

Click on the image below to see the cross craft. You have our permission to copy it for your students.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shepherds Visit Baby Jesus Action Rhyme

Here's a fun action rhyme to help your students remember the Christmas story. Read Luke 2:1-17 from your open Bible. 

The birth of Jesus related in this passage emphasizes God's plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus. For instance, when the angel appears to the shepherds, he declared the Christ child to be the Savior and Messiah. He would bring peace and goodwill to humankind.No wonder the shepherds were so excited to share this wonderful news with everyone they saw (Luke 2:17-20).

Encourage the children to follow your motions as you do the rhyme:

Shepherds watching, watching, watching(use hands as pretend binoculars),

Watching over their flocks by night.
(Fold hands under head as if sleeping.)

Comes an angel, angel, angel
(stand tall and strong with hands on hips),

And the sky shines big and bright.
(Spread arms and wiggle fingers.)

The angel says, "GOOD NEWS!"
(Use a loud voice for capitalized words.)

The angel says, "GOOD NEWS!"
(Cup hands around mouth.)

The Son of God is born! (Clap, clap.)
The Son of God is born! (Clap, clap.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Make No Assumptions

By Becky Ussery

Your teacher training session is just around the corner, and you're staring at a list of volunteers—a mixture of people from various backgrounds. You have Rookies, Veterans, and Experts with a wide range of abilities and teaching experiences. How can you possibly meet all their needs?

Identify which category your volunteers fall into, and then customize training to meet their unique needs. Rather than having individual meetings for Rookies, Veterans, and Experts, sprinkle in a variety to meet all their needs. The following ideas will help you understand your volunteers and provide them with the basic skills needed for each experience level.

Your new teachers and assistants come to training with preconceived ideas about what's going to take place in their classrooms. They're either eager to pitch in and make a difference—or terrified at the possibility of being asked to pitch in and make a difference! This is your opportunity to set their minds at ease, inform them about the basic ins and outs of their responsibilities, and let them know what's really going to take place in their classrooms.

Training Needs

Relationships—Introduce all new teachers to your team. Let your Rookies know that they're a welcome, valuable part of your team. Present each new teacher with a tote bag of supplies or a tub of materials as a welcome gift. Intentionally plug Rookies into relationships with Veterans and Experts by having them pair up for discussion and prayer times.

Mission Statement—Provide Rookies with the written mission statement for your ministry. Let them know that accomplishing this mission will be their motivation for all that takes place in their classrooms.

Job Descriptions—Develop job descriptions for the different positions within your ministry. By the way, these can be one paragraph long. Give each Rookie the appropriate job description.

Age-Level Characterisics—Provide age-specific information for the grade level each Rookie ministers to.

Curriculum—Review the curriculum you've chosen with your Rookies, focusing on each component of the lesson. Consider having a mock classroom to demonstrate teaching a lesson. (Your Experts can even teach this.) Include a suggested schedule that'll also be posted in the classroom as a backup reminder to keep things moving in class.

Safety—Review safety procedures and administrative policies regarding finding substitutes, chain of command, discipline methods, and confidentiality agreements.

Supplies—Tell Rookies about your resource area. Discuss your system for checking out resources, purchasing supplies, and adhering to classroom budgets.

Partners—Pair Rookies with Veterans or Experts in classrooms. Have partners evaluate the teaching sessions in four-week intervals. Encourage teaching teams to pray together for the children in their classes as well as for each other.

With one year in children's ministry under their belts, your Veterans can be a valuable resource. They've learned by trial and error how to run a classroom and have experienced success in making curriculum and schedules work. It's time to take your Veterans to a deeper level and further develop their skills and interests to make an even greater impact on children.

Training Needs

Mission Statement Review—Keep your mission statement and policies in front of your Veterans. Everyone needs a "refresher course" on these topics.

Job Description—Have your Veterans review their job descriptions to see if they've been taking on too much or if there are responsibilities they've let slip through the cracks.

Skill Development—Help Veterans pinpoint their "specialties" so you can help further develop those skills. Provide training from guest speakers or team members on worship, prayer, Bible teaching, and creativity geared toward children.

Growth Plan—Have Veterans identify personal areas for improvement. Connect your Veterans with other volunteers who have strengths in these areas.

Deeper Training—Provide in-depth training on teaching skills and understanding the needs of children. Discuss learning styles, involving the five senses in lessons, delegating responsibilities, in-home visitation, and outreach projects.

Veteran Stories—Have your Veterans share testimonials with Rookies about what they learned during their first year in the classroom. Use their enthusiasm to make announcements to the congregation about children's events and recruiting needs.

Volunteers who've put in five or more years of service are unique in their own way. They've gained a great deal of experience in the classroom and have seen their assistants and other teachers come and go. They may've begun teaching out of guilt or just to fill a slot, but they've found a reason to stay. Your best way to provide continuing training for your Experts is to find out why they've stayed in the game and maximize on their desires. Show respect for the years of service your Experts have given to children's ministry. Help them stretch beyond their experiences by introducing them to new resources and strategies for ministry.

Training Needs

Ministry Reminders—Remind your Experts of nuts and bolts of your ministry, such as your mission statement, administrative policies, and procedures. Provide Experts with age-level characteristics, curriculum overviews, and administrative policies annually. Go over any changes to curriculum, schedules, classroom assignments, or teaching teams on paper and in person. Ask for Experts' feedback the first week after any changes have been implemented.

New job Descriptions—Have your Experts create or edit their job descriptions to fairly represent all they're doing. This will provide affirmation about the impact they're making on children. It'll also give them an opportunity for personal evaluation in areas where they may've started "coasting" through the preparation process out of familiarity with the curriculum or children.

Personal Touch—Spend one-on-one time with your Experts outside of your regular training sessions. Ask for their input on special events and additional programs for your ministry. Train them to handle responsibilities in these areas with less involvement from you. Ask these volunteers to tell you what's working in their classrooms. Affirm them for the work they're doing and ask how you can help. What areas of development would your Experts like to explore? Just ask them. Have them suggest possible topics to cover in future training sessions, and see if they'd be willing to serve on a question-and-answer panel or teach about a topic they've suggested.

Extended Training—Pay for your Experts to receive training at national and regional conferences where they can choose the seminars they want to attend. Have them report what they learn to your Rookies and Veterans.

Leadership Development—Help your Experts recognize their opportunity to make contributions to the teachers with whom they teach as well as the children in their classes. Pair these teachers with Rookies and Veterans. Your volunteers will learn from each other if you promote these relationships.

Feedback—Allow Experts to offer advice on problems in the classroom and share common experiences and struggles. Before making any dramatic changes in curriculum choices, teaching teams, or classroom assignments, ask for your Experts' feedback. Valuing their opinions and insights will make them stronger team players when changes are implemented.

Update—Some Experts may feel close to retiring from your team because they think children today have changed too much since their first classroom of kids. Other Experts are teaching in your children's ministry because they know it's what God created them to do, and they wouldn't consider doing anything else. Either way, Experts need to keep in touch with today's kids. Create a "What's Hot" list detailing the interests of kids in each age group. Include movies, books, hobbies, clothing trends, and other details, with a brief description or blurb about each topic. Give your Experts their own copies of Children's Ministry Magazine to keep them in the know. Better yet, encourage your Experts to survey kids about their interests. Although members of your ministry team have different levels of experience and talents, your training can level the field and help all of them, regardless of their years of service, feel confident and equipped to accomplish the mission the Lord has laid out for them and the children in your church. Your sensitivity to your volunteers' needs and understanding of how to effectively address their concerns and interests will lay the foundation for a strong and effective team that sticks together for the long haul.

Encouraging Long-Term Service
While many people are willing to volunteer for a year or so, long-term workers are harder to find. What can you do to turn your Rookies and Veterans into Experts? Make a strong start with the following steps.

Pray, pray, pray. When facing the challenge of recruiting volunteers and assigning teachers to classrooms, ask God to lead you to the specific people he wants ministering to children.

Make it personal. Approach each individual personally, focusing on gifts rather than availability. When you know the specific positions you need filled and the best types of people to fill them, seek out individuals who are good matches—not just warm bodies.

Connect consistently. You've only begun your job when your classes are staffed with equipped teachers. Your volunteers need to see your face and hear your voice weekly. Lend support verbally and physically. Offer to serve as an assistant from time to time. Volunteer to take over a class to give a teacher a non-vacation related break. Call, visit, and send notes.

Listen as you lead. Ask for input from your teachers about ideas, implementing as many as you can to give them ownership in children's ministry.

Offer timely training. Meet in large and small groups throughout the year. Hold weekly or monthly prayer times whenever possible.

Develop relationships outside of your roles. Take time to invest in the lives of your volunteers, not just in their ministries.

Practice what you preach. Demonstrate the level of commitment you expect from your workers. Treat your volunteers as if they were your class.

Be flexible. Keep in mind that children's ministry isn't the only area where your workers are involved. They need personal ministry, time with family, and occasional breaks from the grind. Keep the doors of communication open so you're approachable when your workers need to ask for getaways. Better yet, build into each person's job description a clause that provides for refueling and time off at the end of a yearly rotation. When people know they have a break coming, they're likely to be more consistent.

© 2001 Children's Ministry Magazine. Used by permission. To learn more about Children's Ministry Magazine and how to subscribe go to Children's Ministry Magazine. Use your browser's back button to return to

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celebrate Jesus' Birth

For many of us, the Christmas season is a hectic time with too much to do and not enough time to do it all. But the Christmas season is really a time of preparation for Jesus’ birth. Beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continuing through Christmas Eve is a time often called the advent season. The word advent is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming” or “arrival.” The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is recognized as the first advent. The advent season is a time to prepare spiritually for the birth of Christ.

To help get your classroom ready for advent and Christmas, use coupon code DECO to save 20% on classroom decorations (minimum $100 order) in our Classroom Decorations Store. But hurry! This offer expires December 1, 2010.

You can also save on candlelight service sets in our Candlelight Store. 

Set aside family and/or Sunday school or children’s church time to read about the preparation for Jesus and His birth in Luke 1:1-80 through 2:20. Read a few verses at a time, letting some of your good child readers alternate with adults to take turns reading the verses. Talk about how the people of so long ago must have felt as they prepared for the birth of Jesus.

You may also want to read Matthew 1:18-24. Explain that when the angel appeared to Joseph, he told him to name the Baby Jesus, “because He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves. (You may  need to explain that "sins" are the wrong things we say and do.) This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet Isaiah: “The virgin will … give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel —which  means, 'God with us.'” This Scripture is taken from Isaiah 7:14.

Let each person describe how he feels as Christmas approaches. Take time together to remember all of the reasons you have to be joyful. Sing a favorite Christmas carol or two. Close with a prayer of thanks to God for sending His Son, Jesus, to earth.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fundraising Ideas for Your Bible Club

Don't let a lack of funds keep you from  having an exciting and dynamic All-Stars for Jesus program. Here are some ideas for funding your Bible clubs. For even more ideas plus a kick-off party with reproducible invitations and patterns, download the FREE report: How to Pay for Your All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club.

Registration Fee
Have an annual registration fee of $20.00 to $25.00 per child. Just as sports teams have a sign-up fee for equipment and supply costs, your All-Stars for Jesus Bible clubs can, too. Let your students' parents know that the registration fee will help to cover the costs of shirt, caps, pennants, and awards. Provide scholarships for needy families and "family packages" so no family has to pay more than $75.00 (or whatever amount you set). Have church members sponsor children whose families can't afford to pay the entire amount.

Special Offerings
Have a special Bible Club offering over five weeks, and challenge your congregation to reach a certain goal. Give an update following each week, letting everyone know how much was raised. Have an artistic church member draw a thermometer with some benchmarks indicated at the quarter, half, and three-quarter points, with the goal at the top. Color the "mercury" in the thermometer red each week to show how the offering is progressing. Collect a different coin each week for the first four weeks (of course other coins and bills are welcome, too!): Week 1 pennies, Week 2 nickels, Week 3 dimes, Week 4 quarters, Week 5 bills.

All-Stars Sponsors
Have your church members sponsor children for All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs. Read the free report for bulletin board ideas. Most people will jump at the chance to support children in a positive, Bible-teaching program. Have sponsors purchase stars for the entire Bible club registration amount or an amount of their choosing. Cut out two stars for each of of your donors—one to add to your "Hall of Fame" bulletin board. Write a note of thanks on the other star and give it to the donor (or have the child receiving the scholarship write the note).

Yard or Rummage Sale
Encourage your congregation to clean out their closets and garages and bring the unneeded items (in good condition) to the church for a giant rummage sale. Be sure to advertise that all the proceeds will be used to fund the All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club programs at your church. Have children and teens from your church set up a bake sale at the rummage sale to sell donuts, coffee, muffins, cookies, and juice donated (and baked) by members of your congregation.

Business Sponsors
Ask several local businesses to sponsor your All-stars for Jesus Bible Clubs. Include the business names on all promotional materials and encourage your congregation members to frequent those businesses. Create a donor star for each business and add them to your "Hall of Fame" bulletin board.

Stuck on All-Stars for Jesus
Make a list of items needed for your Bible clubs and the cost of each item. Print each item needed and its price on a sticky note (notes shaped like stars would be great). Post the notes on a bulletin board or wall and have your congregation members go "shopping." Each member can choose a sticky note and then pay for the items at the All-Stars Sponsor Table or your church office. Give each "shopper" a donor star on which to print his name and then add to your "Hall of Fame."

For more fundraising ideas, download the FREE report: How to Pay for Your All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

God's Message to Us

Children's Bibles
Hold an open Bible. Explain that the Bible is God's Word and it is true. Have a child read II Peter 1:21 aloud from the Bible. Say it together in unison. Then lead your students in saying the following poem together.

Where did this Book
    (hold hands like an open book) come from
That tells us (point to other children)
   Of God’s love (point to your heart)?
Why, it came from God Himself
   (hold both hands high),
My Father (point to self) up above (point up).

This Book (hold hands like an open book)
   Is God’s own precious Word (hug self):
True things spoken (point to mouth) by Him
   (point up).
It tells me (point to self) I am His own child
   (point up)
When I (point to self) ask Jesus in
   (form cross with fingers, then point to heart).

This Book (hold hands like an open book)
   Is a light, a map, a guide 
(shade eyes with hand, look left to right)
   That shows the way to walk (walk fingers up arm).
Each day I read (point to self)
   From God’s own Word (hold hands like an open book)
Each day with Him (point up) I talk
   (fold hands to pray, and bow head).

Say, The Bible tells us that God loves us. He has always loved us, and He has always wanted to tell us so. A long, long time ago God spoke in many ways to tell about His love for us. Sometimes He spoke through men called prophets. They and others (such as King David) wrote down what God wanted everyone to know. And sometimes God talked to people directly, telling them little by little about His plans.

Then when Jesus came down from heaven to be born on earth, God spoke to us through Him. God’s Son, Jesus, brought us the message of God’s love.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Party in a Box

Prepare for this party several weeks in advance by collecting boxes of all sizes. Look over the game rules to get an idea of the kind of boxes you'll need. Save them as you empty them, ask the children's parents to save them, and ask store managers to save them for you. Prepare six bean bags (six socks full of dried beans or corn kernels or pebbles). Ask church members to donate shoe boxes and small toys and toiletries to fill the boxes. Choose an organization where you will donate the boxes when they are assembled. Decorate your room with wrapped boxes and ribbon streamers. Visit for additional decoration ideas.

Up And Over
Divide into two teams. Place bean bags in two shoe boxes and put lids on the boxes. The members of each team stand in a line facing the front of your play area. The leader gives the first person on each team a shoe box with a bean bag inside. At the starting signal, the first player on each team person passes the box back over his head. The second person passes it back through his legs. Continue to pass the box back in this fashion (over head, through legs, over head, etc.) to the end of the line. When the box gets to the last player in line, he runs to the front of the line and starts the passing process over again, passing it over his head. If anyone in line drops the bean bag or box, he must pick it up and give it to the first person in line again. If anyone in line passes over his head when he should have passed through his legs, etc., the box goes back to the first person in line. The winning team is the first team to have all their players back in their starting positions. Sing OH, HOW I LOVE JESUS.

Bag In The Box
Place an open box about ten feet from the first person on each team. Have the children each toss three bean bags into the box. After the bean bags are tossed, retrieve them and give them to the next person in line. A leader keeps score for each team. See which team can toss the most bags into the box. Sing I AM A “C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.”

Prepare boxes of refreshments for the children. Each box will hold a cookie, a napkin, and a juice box. Have volunteers say a prayer of thanks before the snacks are served. Recycle the snack boxes to use for the next activity.

Pack The Box
Fill the empty shoe boxes you've collected with a number of small gift items, school supplies, and toiletries to be donated to a local mission or to an organization such as Samaritan’s Purse ( Set up an assembly line so each child picks up a box and then fills it with assorted items (one item from each section of the table).

Before the party, fill one box with trash. Fill the other with enough candy for each child to have one. Wrap both packages. Show the children two wrapped boxes. Talk about boxes being used to wrap packages. Ask the children if they can always tell what is in the wrapped presents. Read I Samuel 16:7, explaining that God makes it clear that He doesn't look at what people are on the outside, but at what they are on the inside. He sees each child exactly as he or she is. Let the children guess what’s in the wrapped boxes. Then show them the boxes. Let them look inside. Say, “Sometimes we look nice on the outside with the clothes we wear, but what comes out of our mouths can be like this stinky trash.” Challenge the children to be kind and loving to others on the outside so people will be able to tell that they love Jesus. Encourage them to do and say things Jesus would do and say. Explain the purpose of the gift boxes they packed for charity. Let them know that the toys and gifts they provided will help others to have a special Christmas. 

Close in prayer.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Preteen Spiritual Fitness

Your preteens are learning about physical well-being in school so this is a great time to teach them about spiritual health and fitness—relate it to their physical health. Around your classroom, put up posters and other information about physical health. Include material about nutritious food groups, good exercise principles, friendship principles, and developing individual talents. Some of your students may be able to make posters encouraging good physical health. If you know elementary school teachers, they may be willing to let you borrow posters from their classrooms.

Help your students relate these areas of physical health and fitness to their spiritual health. Emphasize a different area each week.

Bring a nutritious snack of whole-grain muffins, veggies and dip, or fruit. As your students eat, talk about the things our bodies need to stay healthy (vitamins and minerals, food, water, sun, exercise, etc.) Explain that just as our physical bodies need many vitamins and minerals to keep healthy, the body of Christ needs each member to stay healthy. Have your students describe what happens when a body is missing a vitamin or other essential element. Explain that when one member is absent, the body of Christ suffers. Hand out construction paper or poster board and markers. Let your students make posters that show how necessary each person is to the body of Christ, the church.

Have your students do a few jumping jacks together. Then have them relax and sit on the floor. Explain that just as our bodies need exercise to keep them strong, we need to exercise our spiritual muscles to keep our spiritual life strong. Talk about responsibilities we have to serve and help others in the church. Let your students brainstorm ways they can help others. Give each child a large piece of felt, scissors, glue, fabric paint, fabric markers, and felt pieces. Let your students make banners that show ways they can help and serve others.

Have your students name some of the important people in their lives. Explain that no one can be truly healthy unless he or she develops strong bonds with other people. This includes parents, siblings, friends, and adults such as teachers, pastors, neighbors, and parents of friends. The body of Christ can't be truly healthy without developing friendships either. Believers are part of an eternal family and must therefore treat each other with respect and care. Make up a class list of 3-4 rules to ensure each person in your group is treated with respect. Then brainstorm ways your students can make visitors feel welcome to your class.

Gifts and Talents
Invite a couple of your students to share their talents with the class (playing an instrument, jumping rope, telling jokes, displaying a work of art, etc.) Explain that just as each person has talents that allow him to excel in different areas, God gives us spiritual gifts. God expects us to use these spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ. Read I Corinthians 12:4-6 and 11 aloud. Tell your students that even though they may not yet know which spiritual gift(s) they have, all Christians have at least one spiritual gift, and some have more than one. Whatever your spiritual gift, it is beneficial to the body of Christ.

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,

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!

Monday, September 27, 2010

KJV Midweek Bible Club Program

Looking for a fun midweek Bible Club program that uses the King James Version of the Bible? Look no further! All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs are the only Bible clubs for two-year-olds through sixth grade that are easy to teach, fun for kids, Bible based, and so flexible they can be used any time!

God loves his children. He commanded parents to "train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6). We want each child to know that he or she is a star in Jesus' eyes, no matter what the child's skills and abilities. Jesus loves children just as they are. 

All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs are designed to help churches and parents teach children to know God, to believe in Jesus as their Savior, and to live for Him. All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs help children to feel loved and accepted so they, in turn, can share the love of Jesus with their friends and families. Researchers say that 43% of people who are Christians accepted Christ as Savior before the age of 13! We want to help you reach that 43%...and more!

Take a look at the age levels available in All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs:
            Honeybees for Jesus — ages 2 & 3
            Cubby Bears for Jesus  ages 4 & 5
            All-Stars for Jesus Primaries  grades 1 & 2
            All-Stars for Jesus Middlers  grades 3 & 4
            ASF56 Preteens  grades 5 & 6
            All-Stars for Jesus Explorers — combined grades 1 through 6

You and your kids will love the Multi-Use meetings, interactive activities, teacher-friendly lessons, KJV memory verses, optional awards program, and helpful resources that are all part of the All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs.

Every part of each All-Stars for Jesus meeting relates to the Bible lesson and reinforces that week’s theme or memory verse. Throughout each quarter, suggestions are provided to help teachers present the salvation message to their students.

We count it a privilege to partner with teachers and to provide you with the tools you need for the spiritual education of your students and their families. There is no greater calling than to teach children about Jesus!

Customer testimony: "We've been using the All-Stars for Jesus program for a couple years now. We used to use Awana® but found that the children lost interest in their student books. The kids love the All-Stars for Jesus program, and especially love the award books! Not only are they attractive and fun, but they have a lot of solid life-application activities that vary from week to week. We've kept the same AWANA format and adapted the All-Stars curriculum to fit perfectly for us." —Marnie Clawson, Chesterfield, MO

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cupcake Garden

Here's a fun way to reinforce your meeting on Creation, Nebudchadnezzar's sin, or any other Bible story that mentions grass. Before your meeting, mix together a bowl of coconut with a few drops of green food coloring. Have the children wash their hands. Cover the work table with a plastic tablecloth. Give each child a plain cupcake, icing, and a plastic knife.

Let the children cover their cupcakes with icing. Then have them spread the coconut grass on top of the cupcake (or simply use green icing, if they don't care for coconut). Encourage older children to help the younger ones.

Provide gumdrops, wax paper, toothpicks, rolling pins (optional) and clean scissors. Use scissors to cut notches in the tops of the gumdrops to create tulips and other flowers. Ask the children to save the green gumdrops for leaves. Poke a toothpick stem into the bottom of each flower. Have the children flatten the greengumdrops on wax paper (using rolling pins, if they wish). Then have the children cut the flattened green gumdrops into leaf shapes.

Poke the toothpick stem through the leaf and push it up the toothpick. Let each child make 1-3 flowers to put into his cupcake garden.  As the children are making their flowers, talk about the Bible story you have taught. For example, if your story was about Nebudchadnezzar, you could say, "The grass on your cupcakes reminds us of Nebudchadnezzar He ate grass while he lived like an animal for seven years. Then he finally admitted that God is King over all, and he gave God his wealth. Remember to always thank and praise God for everything you have."

Let the children enjoy their cupcakes or make one to eat now and one to take home. Provide sealable plastic bags for the ones they take home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teaching Twos and Threes

Up until the time a child reaches his second birthday, his main interests have been his parents, exploring his world, and practicing new motor skills. These interests continue while he is two and three, but as twos, the children also develop social skills and specific interests. This makes learning centers an especially good method for teaching twos and threes (see the "Setting Up Learning Centers" post from February 25, 2010); your goal as a Bible club teacher is to promote and develop each child's individuality and interests.

Intellectual reasoning or "thinking it out in your head" also develops while a child is two years old. An infant trying to get a hard-to-reach object will usually try various physical methods to reach the object, whereas the child over two years of age will very often consider an alternative in her head, and then act.

As a Bible club teacher, you can help each child develop the ability to "think through" a problem by using directed conversation. By saying words as the child plays or scribble colors, you can direct her thoughts to consider different behavioral options. This leads the child to think about and talk to you about a way to solve the problem before the child acts. Don't forge to use praise and encouragement as the child thinks through the situation and after she succeeds in solving the problem.

After a child's second birthday, he will become increasingly interested in his peers, whereas earlier, his main interest was his parents. However, while young children are interested in other children, they do not always interact with them or find it easy to develop friendships.

Children become capable of loving others as they have first received love and as they learn to interact with others. Therefore, children need a positive opportunity to interact with other children in an atmosphere of loving and caring so they can learn how to form friendships, a skill with life-long importance.

The activities in Honeybees for Jesus and Cubby Bears for Jesus Bible Clubs are designed to help you create such a place, where the growing child can receive a foundation of positive interaction with other children. Not only do preschoolers sing and talk about loving God and each other, but the children are given the chance to talk and interact with each other and with adults who love and care for them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Personal Memo Board Craft

Let your students create their own erasable memo boards. Let them use the boards each week to print the week's Bible verse and then erase it little by little as they memorize the verse.

Give each child a sturdy paper plate, a 10-inch length of ribbon, and water color markers. Let him decorate the rim of the plate (both sides) with the markers. Have him print the memory verse and his name in the middle of the plate. 

Help the child punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon hanger. Let him cut a sheet of self-stick plastic to cover the back of the plate (the rim and the empty center). Have him draw a picture on top of the plastic with the watercolor markers. Let him put a wet wipe in a resealable plastic snack bag and tape it to the back of the plate. 

Explain that this memo board can be wiped clean on the plastic side and reused over and over with watercolor markers. Say the Bible verse together. Talk about how God made each person unique and special just as each piece of art on the memo boards is unique.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Cards

Recognize your summer workers, teachers, and volunteers with handmade cards created by your students.

Give each child a half sheet of construction paper. Hand out markers, glitter glue, puff paints, scissors, and stickers. Talk about some of the people in your church who serve God on a regular basis or who have served during the summer months (missionaries, pastors, teachers, music leaders, custodians, volunteers, etc.) 

Explain that each child will make an appreciation card to give to some of these Christian servants, showing them they are appreciated. Print some Bible verses on the board for the children to include on their cards. As they work, have a volunteer read Mark 10:44 aloud. Explain that this verse teaches that the greatest people in the kingdom of God are those who serve. Say a prayer of thanks for each of the workers and their ministry.

Tell your students that Jesus is our best example. He came to give His life for us and to save us from sin. Invite any children who want to accept Jesus as Savior to talk with you afterward. Distribute the cards during the week along with a large candy bar, an All-Stars for Jesus Pin (item #14824), or a couple of balloons (item #14820) to each worker.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wet 'n Wild Bible Race

Play this game outdoors or in room where water can easily be mopped dry. Set two clear plastic cups at one end of the play area. Set two buckets of water and two sponges at the other end of the play area. If you have a large group of students, set up more buckets, sponges, and cups. Divide the children into two or more groups. Line up the groups behind the buckets. 

Have one child read James 1:5 from the Bible. Say the verse together a few times as a group. Encourage the teams to memorize the verse and help each other out if anyone forgets the verse during the race.

Give the first player on each team a sponge. Explain that at your signal, the first player on each team will soak his sponge in the bucket to get it as full of water as possible. He will then run to the clear cup and squeeze out as much of the water as possible while saying the memory verse. He will then run back and hand the sponge to the next player on his team. That player will quickly soak the sponge, run to the cup, and squeeze the water into the cup while saying the same memory verse. The first team to fill the cup (or to fill two or three cups)  while saying the memory verse wins.

Explain that it took some physical and mental strength to win this water race, but it takes spiritual strength to do the right thing at home and school. Remind the children that God gives us wisdom and strength to do the right thing, when we ask Him.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Parable of the Sower Puzzles

Let your students do a couple of fun Parable of the Sower Pencil Puzzles for your Sunday school or Bible club program. 

Give each child a pencil and a copy of each puzzle. These two puzzles come as one download you can purchase for just $1.99 for the set of two. Choose either the KJV or the NIV version. Then print as many puzzles as you need. The first puzzle is a simple word search (pictured). The second puzzle is a picture puzzle to help your students review the Bible story. Answers are included in the download.

As the children work the puzzles, talk about ways they can tell others about Jesus this week, sowing the seed of God's Word.

Make sure names are on the puzzles after they are completed. Have a child read the memory verses (Psalms 34:8 and 39:12) aloud. Say them together a few times. Then let each child have a chance to say the verses individually.

Click on the image above to download the Parable of the Sower Puzzles.
KJV is on the left and NIV is on the right.