Friday, February 26, 2010

Using Directed Conversation in Your Bible Club

Combining words with actions in a relaxed Bible club atmosphere greatly increases a child’s ability to understand and respond to biblical truths. As you use Bible learning activities or interact with children as they play, color, make crafts, worship, sing, and have fun in learning centers, remember to talk with the children to help them focus on the Bible lesson and the memory verse you are teaching. 

Your Bible club teacher's guide will most likely include suggested conversation to help direct the children to the Bible theme. Be sure to include this "directed conversation" during each portion of your Bible club program. Here are a few tips for using directed conversation as you teach and play with children during your Bible club meeting:
  • Use a natural tone of voice. Do not talk down to the child.
  • Encourage Bible learning by talking with the child as he works and plays.
  • Use your words to focus the child back to the Bible lesson or biblical truth.
  • Relate what the child is doing to what the Bible says.
  • When referring to the Bible, hold it open in front of you.
  • Stoop down to her level and use eye contact when speaking with the child.
  • Use the child’s name frequently, especially at the beginning of your sentences.
  • Say the child’s name and make sure he is looking at you before giving instructions.
  • Use non-verbal signals of touching (if it’s okay with the child) and smiling.
  • Actively listen to how the child responds to your conversation.
  • Repeat the child's words back to him or ask a question about what he said.
  • Recognize and accept the child’s feelings. If she really does not like coloring, give her another activity to do.
  • Use praise and encouragement, focusing on the child’s strengths.
As you play with children during your Bible club meeting, encourage them to talk about the lesson theme, the Bible story, or the memory verse. Keep the focus of each activity on God, Jesus, and the Bible. Smile as you talk about God's love for each person. After all, you're modeling the love of Jesus as you sing, play, pray, and worship with the children during your Bible club meeting!

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Setting Up Learning Centers

    Effective teaching with learning centers
    In your preschool Bible Club classrooms, the place where the most in-depth and long-term learning will likely take place is in the learning centers. Learning centers are areas of your classroom that are the setting for a particular kind of activity (home living, block building, reading, looking at picture books, etc.) that teach or reinforce a biblical concept to the children.

    The dramatic impact of learning centers on effectively teaching spiritual truths to twos and threes lies in the fact that the activities in the learning centers help to give meaning to Bible teachings through associating these teachings with everyday activities.

    We can talk to the class about Jesus showing kindness to others and then pray, "Help us all to be kind this week," but many young children may not know what it means to be kind. The learning center approach is for children to work together in meaningful activities (playing with toys or blocks, pretending in the home living center, etc.) while guided by a teacher who labels and encourages acts of kindness and relates what the children are doing to what the Bible says about kindness. 

    However, effective teaching in learning centers happens only through the careful guidance of the leader or helper who guides the children's attention toward the lesson theme or biblical truth through "directed conversation." In directed conversation, the leader relates what the child is doing to the spiritual truth or biblical aim of the lesson. He or she is not simply watching or caring for the children while they build blocks or play in the home living area; the leader actively facilitates Bible learning in light of the children's activities. (This is one of the most important roles leaders and helpers play in your Honeybees classroom and the reason it is crucial that there is one adult leader or helper for each learning center each week.)Directed conversation is the key ingredient in making learning centers effective in your classroom. Combining words with actions in a relaxed climate greatly increases a child's ability to respond to Bible truths and also helps the child build positive attitudes about himself and others.3

    Suggested learning centers
    In Honeybees, three learning centers are suggested each week, and two are suggested each week for Cubby Bears. The same learning centers (with different activities each week) are used for four weeks at a time. Instructions are provided in the Leader's Guides for setting up the centers, supplies needed, and ideas for directed conversation to help fulfill the lesson aim. However, there are many more learning centers that may be used effectively, in addition, in your classroom.

    Well-equipped rooms for Honeybees and Cubby Bears should definitely include a permanent Home Living Center, God's Wonderful World Center, and Art Center, as these form the basis for the learning centers suggested in Honeybees. Below are listed the basic furniture and supplies needed for these three centers.
       •  Home Living Center: This center should include a play sink, a stove, a refrigerator, doll dishes and pans, doll beds or cradle, a doll blanket, dolls, doll clothes, a child-size rocking chair, a small table, chairs, and a play telephone. Group materials to simulate a kitchen arrangement.
       •  God's Wonderful World Center: Based on the season, this center may include sprouting seeds, rocks, fresh flowers, colorful dead leaves, blossoms, pine cones, feathers, a magnifying glass, a bird’s nest, growing plants, a goldfish in a fishbowl, and seashells. Children may also make leaf collages, water plants, plant seeds, or make a bird feeder.
       •  Art Center: This center should have low tables where the children can sit plus a heavy-washable drop cloth to provide work space. Basic art supplies include crayons, felt tip markers, glue sticks, glue, scissors, and construction paper.

     Optional learning centers
    The following additional, optional centers may be provided, either permanently or temporarily, if space and finances allow. (Children feel more secure if they see the same learning centers week after week, so do not feel you must constantly change your learning centers; this is the reason each learning center in Honeybees is used for a minimum of one unit before being changed.)
       •  Worship Center: This center should include a picture of Jesus, a picture of Jesus with children, a Bible (preferably with colorful pictures) that the children can touch and hold, and a picture of a church building. All items should be arranged attractively on a small, low table.
       •  Book Nook: This center should include picture books (Christian stories or Bible stories only), a Bible, a photo album showing families together, "touch and feel" books, and places to sit comfortably.
       •  Puzzle Center: This center should include simple wooden-type puzzles (no more than 12 pieces in each for your twos and threes) and low tables and chairs where the children can sit to work on their puzzles. The center may also include the wooden, three-dimensional puzzles of cars, trucks, and animal shapes. (If necessary, children can work on puzzles on the floor rather than on tables.)
       •  Block Center: This center should include assorted sizes and shapes of plastic, wooden, or cardboard blocks and toy cars and trucks.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Bible Club Crafts = Creative Learning

    When selecting craft activities for your students, ask yourself these five questions:
    1.   Does the craft help the children feel valuable and worthwhile?
    2.   Can the children experience success with this craft or activity?
    3.   Do the children do the work?
    4.   Does the craft allow the children to express themselves?
    5.   Does the craft encourage creativity?

    When you turn your art projects and Bible club activities into learning experiences, you give the children worthwhile lessons that will be with them long after the project is gone. Here’s how: focus on what the children can learn rather than what they can make. As the children work, talk about the Bible lesson or theme of the day. Keep the focus on the Bible story or the memory verse. Tie the craft back into the day’s Scripture or Bible point.

    Help the children have a fun time during your Bible club program. Don’t let them get frustrated. If a craft becomes too difficult, switch gears and adapt the craft to the child. For example, if threading yarn becomes tedious, stop the threading and let the child add stickers to the craft or decorate it with markers or jewels. Turn your time with the child back into a fun experience. If a child finishes early (or just gives up), let him move to a free play area or begin a coloring project or a pencil puzzle.

    Let each child's creativity shine. As you keep the mood light and supportive, you allow each child to be the creative being God has made him or her! 

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Storytelling Tips

    By Barbara Mills

    Everyone loves a story. Children move to the edge of their chairs when they hear, “Let’s have a story.” Use this method of teaching to reach young hearts with Christ’s love. It’s your responsibility to become the best storyteller you can.

    Note that we said storyteller. Reading stories to children is an art in itself to be discussed later. First we’ll concentrate on the techniques of telling the story.

    Prepare your introduction carefully. Begin your story smoothly. If you fumble through your first few statements, you’ll become frustrated and may lose your train of thought. If you stammer to a stop and have to start over you’ll want to leave the room and never return! Never memorize a story word for word. But if it makes you feel more comfortable, memorize the first few lines for a snappy opening.

    An introduction with interest-catching appeal will capture your listeners from the first word. “Mac had been Peter’s dog for as long as Peter could remember, and they were real pals.” Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun than ‘Peter had a dog named Mac?” Use your imagination and knowledge of the group to make your introduction sparkle.

    Progress naturally from the introduction, building to the climax or most exciting or interesting portion of the story. Then finish the story with a brief conclusion. Don’t attempt to delay the conclusion, for once the climax of the story has been reached, listeners’ interest drops. A story is a unique teaching tool. Most contain a moral or teach a lesson. Let the story do it! Don’t attempt to tack on your own “sermonette” on the end of the story. Weave the moral into the plot in such a way that your hearers can’t miss it as you tell your story. When you’ve finished telling the story, stop!

    Being yourself is important. Thorough preparation and practice will lead to naturalness in storytelling. You’ll probably feel most comfortable if you sit in a circle or semi-circle with your listeners. It suggests intimacy with the group and conversation at their level. If you must stand, due to a large group, stand naturally and relaxed. Never hide behind a podium.

    Use gestures such as the shrug of the shoulders, a raised hand, a finger over the lips to indicate quietness. But don’t force or overuse them. And by all means, use facial expression. Raise your eyebrow, smile, frown, show enthusiasm. Try to portray the feelings of the story characters.

    Some storytellers show pictures while telling their stories. This is fine, but don’t show 27 pictures during a four-minute story! Have several attractive illustrations to use at the appropriate times. Display them so all can see, then put them aside.

    Place your hands quietly in your lap when you aren’t holding a picture or gesturing. Avoid the “gymnastics” of too many hand motions. They only draw attention to yourself. Beware of distracting habits, such as playing with a string of beads or a button on a jacket. Remember, you are the means to help your listeners SEE the story in their minds. The less they see of you, the better! Thorough practice, perhaps in front of a mirror, will help you know where and when to use gestures effectively. If well used, they can add life to the story. If overused, they can distract and spoil the story.

    Your voice tells the story. Use your natural voice. By all means avoid a whiny, monotonous, or honeyed tone. Practice to develop variety in inflection. Let your voice reflect wonder, strength, sadness, etc. Imitate noises and sounds indicated in the story, such as “Buzzzz — was the sound Kate kept hearing outside her bedroom window.” Practice these sounds beforehand so they resemble the natural sounds. Pause to impress or to increase suspense. Work on projecting your voice. Record your own voice — it may surprise you!

    Use dialog or direct discourse frequently to bring your characters to life. Make them speak to your hearers , rather than always telling your hearers what the characters say. “Hi, Mom!” is much more realistic than, “Jerry greeted his mother when she entered the room.” Change the voice to indicate the different characters. Use action verbs and colorful adjectives to tell your story. Never use words your listeners may not know.

    If you suddenly discover that you’ve left out an important point, don’t try to correct it by saying … “Oh, I forgot to say…” Continue on, and if it is an integral part, weave it in. But don’t interrupt your story to apologize for your goof!

    When you’re telling a Bible story, hold your Bible so all can see it. This especially impresses little children with the fact that your story is from God’s Word.

    “Let’s have a story.” Do your students’ eyes brighten at the sound of those words? Use these helps to make story-time an exciting high point in your class.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Be Prepared to Teach

    A good leader is always thoroughly prepared. A concert pianist wouldn't dream of going into a recital without hours and hours of practice and preparation. Why should a Bible club teacher or Sunday school leader feel that his performance demands less practice?

    Remember—when teaching from God's Word, we're dealing with the souls of children! How this should challenge us to be more diligent in our preparation of every Bible lesson, craft, project, or game time for  our Bible club program! Don't minimize the importance of your calling as a leader by a slothful attitude toward your preparation for the task of teaching and training children.

    Here are a few tips to help you feel well prepared for your Bible club programs this year:

    The week before your lesson or activity, read through the Scripture passage and/or memory verse. Start praying about what concepts God wants you to focus on with your students.

    Ask God to continue to give you insight as you meditate on His Word. Jot down ideas as they come to you. You may even want to keep a pencil and pad of paper near your bed at night!

    A few days before your lesson, decide which activities you will be using, and collect all the necessary supplies. Modify activities as needed for your students (or your location or your class time). Make any notes as reminders of the changes you're planning.

    You may want to prepare a sample craft or try the activity ahead of time so you are able to help your students. Be sure to remove any stumbling blocks. (For example, if your preschoolers cannot yet draw faces, bring wiggle eyes and mouth shapes for them to glue onto a circle or head shape.)

    Pray for each child, that God would open each heart to the lesson and to His Word. Ask God to guide you so that you model the love of Jesus throughout your time with your students.

    Now that you’re prepared to lead your students, have fun. As you share God’s Word with your students, do it with a smile. After all, you’re serving the Lord!

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Discipline Basics

    Discipline tells a child that you care enough about him and want him to behave in a manner that you know to be right. Be sure your youngsters know what kind of behavior is acceptable during your Bible club program, and set limits and boundaries for them while they are with you. It’s unfair to punish them for breaking rules they didn’t know existed.

    Here are five guidelines for maintaining good discipline:

    1. Establish the necessary standards and limits at your very first Bible club meeting, and make sure everyone knows what they are. Keep the list short!

    2. Consistently enforce the standards. If they’re not worth enforcing always, for everyone, they’re probably not worth having.

    3. Be reasonable in your expectations. “No talking” is not reasonable. “No talking during prayer time or when someone else is speaking” is a reasonable rule and should be enforced. Simply stop talking until the offender realizes he’s the cause of the problem. Your silence should be sufficient. The second time it might be necessary to say, “Ricky, you’re interrupting our story. Please stop talking so I can continue.” If it happens a third time you might say, “Ricky, the next time I have to stop this story because you’re talking, you’ll have to leave the group.” Then be sure he’s removed (quietly) if it does happen again.

    4. State your expectations before transitioning to a new activity. Let children who attend your Bible club regularly repeat the expectations for visitors to hear and as a reminder to everyone else. Be sure to restate the expectations each week and before each activity. Don’t expect children to automatically remember to raise their hands before talking if you haven’t reminded them.

    5. Be logical about punishment that must be administered. Don’t make a federal case out of a minor infraction, or you’ll have to send a major offender to jail! If a child smears glue in another child’s hair during craft time, separate the offender from the glue for the evening, or have him work alone at a table. Children do bizarre things at times on impulse — usually to get attention!

    Once you’ve established your standards and enforced them firmly and fairly for a while, the best rule to follow is to assume that each child can be trusted to handle his own behavior until he proves otherwise. Let the youngsters know that this is what you expect now. Then, when a child misbehaves, you can let him know that you’re disappointed that he isn’t ready to be in charge of himself in the group, and that you’ll have to help decide where he should sit, and whether or not he can work with others. Make it clear it’s the behavior you’re disappointed with — not the child. When the child and you determine that he’s ready to try to be in charge of his own behavior again, emphasize how much you want him to be successful this time.

    Children who have serious problems at home will test you to see if you really care about them. Some will try your patience to the limit before they’re convinced you really like them. You can usually spot such children during your first Bible club meetings. They’ll be doing everything possible to get you to notice them.

    Love and discipline are inseparable. Love wants what’s best for the loved one. The product of no discipline during a child’s early years is irresponsibility, which leads to lack of self-respect, and can mean an unhappy, unproductive adult life.

    Find some strength or asset in each child that you can commend him for. If you’re sincere, he’ll know it — and your efforts will be rewarded. Make a point of emphasizing the positive qualities of every child each week, no matter how hard you have to look to find them sometimes! Reward the positive behavior and try to overlook the negative as much as possible.

    One primary goal of your time with the children is to provide opportunities for leadership training, but you can’t develop leaders out of children who don’t believe they have worth, or who have a poor self-image.

    While these basics will not solve every discipline problem you may encounter in your Bible club class, they will go a long way to making sure your Bible club program is happy and fun—an environment where the children can effectively learn about their heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus.

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Decorating Your Bible Club Room

    You'll want a cheerful, well-lighted, well-ventilated room for your Bible Club meetings. The room should be equipped with bulletin boards, a chalkboard or whiteboard, or a screen (or white wall) where you can show computer presentations, tables, and enough chairs for everyone. The elementary department of your Sunday school or kids worship program may have furniture ideal for your needs.

    Wherever you do meet, use your imagination to make the room interesting for your students. Use lots of color in wall and bulletin board decorations, and invite the children to help decorate. Your meeting room should say “Welcome! This is a great place to be!”

    Does your meeting room have bulletin boards? Are all of them being used? Nothing is quite so depressing as a blank bulletin board, unless it’s one that hasn’t been changed in months. Have you ever visited a church and found outdated notices and posters displayed on the walls for all to see? It seems to say, “Nobody cares.”

    Children care, and they appreciate attractive posters and bulletin boards. If you have several boards available for your use, you’re fortunate. If you don’t have a bulletin board you can make one out of fiberboard or cork squares. Edges of fiberboard can be bound with colorful cloth tape or finished off with wood strips. Cork can be purchased in large sheets or small squares and can be painted or left a natural color. Cork squares can be arranged in a variety of patterns or used in blocks to create a large surface.

    Plain cork or fiberboard bulletin boards are most attractive when covered with paper or burlap for a colorful background. Borders of paper, yarn, or corrugated edging give a finished look. Backgrounds and borders can be changed for the various seasons and holidays.

    Taping colored paper to a large area on a wall can give the look of a bulletin board without the expense. Use heavy tape to hold up your background. Then simply tape your visuals to the background paper. Or tape a border to the wall to form a large rectangular shape, and tape the visuals directly to the empty wall inside the border.

    Hang a few All-Stars for Jesus posters in the room and in the hallway to remind the children and visitors of the places and times of your weekly meetings. Take a photo of each child and glue it to his pennant. Hang the pennants around the room and iron the embroidered awards as they are earned.

    Eye-catching posters can help publicize upcoming parties and Bible club activities. Give your youngsters the chance to make posters and publicity pieces, too. Neatness and imagination are far more important than artistic abilities, but you may be surprised at the abilities your students will display and develop. Invite high school and college students to help you decorate. Tap into the artistic members of your congregation for creative ideas.

    Posters don’t need to be limited to the traditional sheet of poster board. Use unusual geometric shapes, cut-outs of animals or other objects, mobiles, banners, sandwich boards—anything that will catch the eye and attract attention.

    You may want to add a few Bible charts, timelines and maps to your meeting rooms for older students. Children will enjoy making charts and posters showing Paul’s journeys, creation, the building of the temple, etc. Create a missionary map for your meeting rooms. Mount a map on fiberboard and place pictures of your church’s missionaries around the border. Run a ribbon from each picture to the country in which that person serves. Be sure to identify each missionary and keep current locations by each picture.

    Colorful bulletin board trims, cut-outs, borders, and banners can be ordered from Check out the 50% off decorations section for some great bargains! Here's a fun set that fits the All-Stars for Jesus theme: All-Star Students Set.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Leading Discussions with Kids

    As an adult teacher, leader, or helper with Bible clubs, you have a very important role in making any discussion (and any Bible club lesson) a success. In any group discussion, you will have a variety of students. Some may be loud or talkative, others will be quiet; some children may be highly intelligent, others may have learning difficulties. Your job is to involve all of them in the discussion. Although some may be Christians and some may not be, everyone’s contribution must be acknowledged and appreciated.

    One way to do this is to use the words “we” frequently in your discussion. After all, it is “we” who are talking in the discussion. Also, use the children’s names frequently; everybody likes to hear his or her name.

    As the leader, keep your speeches short. Don’t make the mistake of launching into a sermon in the middle of a good discussion; there is no quicker way to kill group interaction.

    Try to be impartial and listen to everyone’s point of view. That doesn’t mean you must condone or accept a position that goes against the Bible. After the speaker has finished, you could say, “Thank you, [Brad], for your thoughts, but that is not what God says in His Word. The Bible says…”
    With little or no guidance or direction in a discussion, students will sometimes pool their ignorance. Don’t let that continue for long. Interject some relevant information that will help to focus the discussion. It is also important not to take sides until you sense that the group has reached the point where a conclusion needs to be drawn or an application made.

    If difficult questions arise, don’t panic. Assure your group you will check and get the answer for them by your next Bible club meeting. Or, have a member do the research, either during the discussion (if research tools are available) or by the next meeting. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know an answer. Students will recognize a bluff or vague answer, but they will respect you more if you are honest in admitting you don’t know.

    The same approach can be used if a question comes up that has no bearing on the discussion. Simply say, “That’s a good question, [Angela]. Let’s talk about it after the lesson. Right now, let’s continue talking about…” then get right back to the subject of your discussion.

    If you are well prepared before your meeting begins, if you ask God for His guidance, if you are interested in the subject, and if you treat the students in the discussion with respect and consideration, you should be able to handle most any situation that might arise out of the discussion.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Why Bible Clubs?

    God loves his children. He commanded parents to "train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6).

    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. 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!

    Bible clubs also offer a non-threatening place for children who might never attend a regular church service or Sunday school class to learn about Jesus in a fun, casual atmosphere. In a whole where children are exposed to a variety of bad influences coming from all directions, All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs are places of love and encouragement, where kids can safely learn how to say no to those bad influences and learn how to live a victorious life in Christ!

    So...what exactly IS All-Stars for Jesus?

    All-Stars for Jesus provides everything you need for an exciting ministry to children!

    All-Stars for Jesus is:
    • A multi-use Bible curriculum in a fun club environment for age 2 through grade 6, with an optional awards program.
    • A program that provides solid Bible teaching in a fun and interesting way for kids—one that directs them to know and follow Jesus.
    • Curriculum that is easy to teach and includes helpful options for teachers, giving you maximum flexibility.
    • Bible- and curriculum-based, rather than activity-based.
    • Age appropriate and fun for kids of all ages.
    • Bible-centered—every activity helps kids focus on God's Word.
    • A way to help churches reach the children and families in their communities for Christ.
    The All-Stars for Jesus Bible Club program is designed to lead children from age 2 through sixth grade to a personal faith in Jesus, to teach them about God's love and care, to encourage them to grow spiritually, and to give them a solid biblical foundation for their lives.
    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 are. Jesus loves children just as they are. All-Stars for Jesus Bible Clubs help children to feel loved and accepted.
    All-Stars for Jesus partners with churches to extend their outreach from just Sunday school to mid-week, Sunday evening, or other times children can gather to learn about Jesus. All-Stars meetings are fun, less formal time with a variety of interesting and fun activities to direct the child's attention to God's Word. The optional awards program offers a further way to extend the Bible learning into the home.
    What unique features does All-Stars for Jesus have?
    Each All-Stars for Jesus age-level Flex-lesson Leader's Guide has everything you need for two meetings a week—to use for Sunday morning and mid-week, Sunday evening and after-school Bible club, or whenever great Bible lessons are needed. Or, you have extra options for one meeting a week!
    • Easy-Trac meeting plans direct the leader step-by-step through each weekly program, and let you see at a glance which activities and materials to use.
    • The optional awards program provides more opportunities for kids to learn about Jesus by completing Bible learning activities in their award books at home. When each activity is completed, children earn colorful awards to place on a cap or pennant. Plus, each child could have ALL first-year awards for as low as 82 cents per week!
    • All-Stars for Jeus offers not only five age-level programs for children age 2 through grade 6, but also the All-Stars Explorers program for grades 1 through 6 in one classroom for smaller Bible clubs.
    • There are no membership fees, dues, or doctrinal requirements—just fun, Bible-based, solid Christian learning.
    • The All-Stars Promo Kits (included with your Starter Kits) offer great resources to promote your clubs: promotional posters, clip art, fundraising ideas, and club kickoff plans!
    • All-Stars for Jesus offers lots of colorful "fun stuff" as gifts, awards, and promotions.
    • All-Stars for Jesus is an affordable program. The Flex-Lesson Leader's Guide provides two lessons a week!
    • Christian Ed Warehouse offers Standing Orders on All-Stars for Jesus quarterly curriculum so you don't even have to remember to order! Plus, Standing Orders receive a 10%-%15 discount every quarter. We'll send you an email reminder so you can make changes before your curriculum ships.
    • There is no requirement that you use all available materials—just choose the options that will work with your group and your finances.
    Does all this sound like something you would like for your church? Visit and order your Starter Kits for a risk-free review! Or order a FREE Lesson Sampler to review with your church.