Coming Soon – Free VBS Available for Download in the New Year!

Are you looking for a VBS for your Children’s Ministry this summer? Sometimes VBS’s are expensive or are not created with your church’s needs in mind. Then you’ll love this…

In early January 2018 I’m releasing a free, customizable VBS that has been used in small and large VBS programs.

This VBS includes the following:

  • evangelistic Bible teaching
  • fun games
  • cool crafts
  • delicious snacks

Kids love this program and some of the kids who attended have talked about it for years after. Even though it’s fun, we haven’t scrimped on clear gospel teaching.

You’ll get all of the customizable files in Microsoft Word for you to use in your church, no cost and no strings attached.

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How to Put Together Ready-to-go Emergency Lessons

childrens-ministry-emergency-lessonAn emergency lesson is one that prepped and ready to go for situations where a substitute is required and has no time to prepare a lesson. The sub should be able to open the envelope or small container and easily follow the lesson inside.

So, emergency lesson kits should be simple, require no preparation, include no complicated activities, and need little supplies or equipment.

These kits should fit into an envelope or small container with everything ready (unless items needed are kept in the classroom the lesson will be used in – pencils, markers, etc)

Put together one lesson kit for preschool kids and one for elementary kids.

Putting Together a Lesson for a Preschool Emergency Kit

The lesson should include a Bible story, song, game/activity/craft, and coloring sheet.

1. Choose a key theme and write it in a simple sentence. For example, God made everything.

2. Choose a Bible story and write it out or even better provide a Bible story book. With a Bible story book the volunteer simply reads the story and the visuals are included. For example, tell the story of creation from Genesis chapter one.

3. Choose a simple song that the volunteer can sing acapella that reinforces the theme. Pick a song that has music familiar to the volunteer. For example, change the lyrics to “God is So Good” to

God made the day.
God made the day.
God made the day.
And He said it was good.

It’s easy to add verses changing what God made (God made the night; God made the stars, etc).

4. Choose a simple activity/game/craft that reinforces the theme. For example, set out play dough – encourage the kids to make trees, animals, whales, etc.

“You’re making a horse. God made the horses. God made everything.”

5. Choose a coloring picture and photocopy enough for an average size class.

6. Gather all the supplies that will be needed. Consider what will definitely be available to the substitute volunteer in the classroom. For example, if crayons and play dough will be in the classroom, then you don’t need to include them in this kit. You will want to include a short introductory letter stating what is expected of the volunteer and what they will find in the kit (include the key theme in this note and where to find any items they will need that are stored in the classroom), clearly print out the song to sing with the tune used, if you are printing out the Bible story, format it so that it is very easy to read – big font and space between paragraphs, photocopy enough coloring pages. If identification is required in your program, include a blank nametag that the volunteer can fill out.

Putting Together a Lesson for an Elementary Emergency Kit

Each lesson should include a Bible story, game/activity/craft, and/or activity sheet.

Since the teacher will not have time to prepare the lesson, you want to give them a lesson that is Biblical and meaningful yet easy to present. I would recommend choosing a Bible story that the class can act out.

Example – Jesus Wants Us to Trust Him

Key Theme – Jesus Wants Us to Trust Him.

Hook – Ask a volunteer to come to the front. Stand behind the volunteer and ask if they trust you. Say, “I want you to trust me and fall backwards. I will catch you.” After the demonstration talk with the group about whether the volunteer demonstrated trust in you or not. Say, “Today we are going to be talking about trust. Trust is confidence in something that is true or belief in someone. Jesus wants us to trust Him.

Bible Study – Split the class into two groups. Each group is going to read a different passage of Scripture and present a skit to the other group. Give each group a passage of Scripture (Mark 2:1-12 or Mark 4:35-41) to study and 15-20 minutes to come up with a skit. Tell the kids that the skits should emphasize how the people in the story showed they trusted Jesus or showed they didn’t trust Jesus. Each group will present their skit.

Discussion – Jesus wants us to trust Him. Why is He worthy of our trust? (because He loves us; knows everything about us) What does trusting Jesus look like? (obeying Jesus even when it’s hard; choosing to do what is right; doing the right thing even when we are scared).

Application – Is it hard to trust Jesus? Can you think of a time when you didn’t trust Jesus? What are some ways you can trust Jesus this week? Pray with the kids encouraging them to ask God to give them an opportunity this week to show that they trust Jesus.

Activity/Game/Craft – provide copies of an activity sheet related to the memory verse. A maze or code is always fun.

Memory Verse – Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4

Gather all the supplies necessary for this lesson. If the classroom doesn’t have a prop box, include a few props to make the skits more engaging for the students. Include the instruction sheet for the volunteer (a thank you note, the key theme, lesson outline, where to find any items stored in the classroom), index cards with one Bible passage reference written on each one, photocopies of the memory verse activity sheet.

2 Important Last Steps

1. Once you have a complete lesson in an envelope or small container, label it clearly and store it in an easy-to–access place. Find a spot to store your emergency lessons that is easy to remember for your volunteers and easy to get at when needed.

2. Let everyone know what it is and where it is. This includes your team of volunteers, all substitutes, and the pastor.

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Does Curriculum Lose its Value When It Becomes Dated?

childrens-ministry-dated-curriculum

I have found a curriculum book among my resources from 1993. It has 52 lessons for kids ages 6-9 on the life of Jesus but it’s 22 years old!

Finding this curriculum book got me thinking. Does curriculum lose its value when it becomes dated?

As I previewed this particular curriculum I found a well-thought out year of lessons focused on the life of Jesus. The curriculum was designed with three aims for each unit (knowledge, attitude, and action) and goals for each lesson that helps the kids reach the unit aims. The lessons build on the previous ones guiding children toward the unit aims. The lessons were Bible-focused and all about Jesus. The lessons get kids into their Bibles and the development of Bible skills is built right into the lessons. There was also a great focus on group application.

This curriculum also suggested cassette tapes for music!

In the end, if the curriculum is Bible-based, Jesus-focused, and educationally sound, the rest can be updated or customized.

In the curriculum example that I used, the music was very dated, but the core of the material was solid. Had it lost its value because it was dated? No! I would teach this curriculum. I would add some updated resources (especially music!) but the most important part was exactly what I would want the kids in my Sunday School class to be learning.

So, before you throw out that material because it is a few years old, take a good look at it. Does it focus on Jesus? Does it encourage kids to get into their Bibles every lesson? Is it educationally sound? Does it teach Bible skills? Does it teach theology and Bible study skills? If so, it has not lost its value. The rest can be updated.

 

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[Room Decoration Contest] And the WINNER is…

Children’s Ministry leaders are forced to work within a budget, so they need to get creative to come up with an engaging space for the children to learn. Last week I posted a contest because I wanted to see you decorate your classroom on a budget.

I’m excited to announce the winner is Joan Eppehimer from New York State. Here’s the winning picture.

childrens-ministry-room-decoration-contest-pic1

childrens-ministry-room-decoration-contest-pic2

This classroom went through a major renovation and the result is fantastic! This room was decorated for $56 – some of the paint was donated and the stove was found at a garage sale. The bulletin board was covered with a scene-o-graph. (You can see more classrooms that have been renovated on her website kidfrugal.blogspot.com)

Here’s why I choose Joan’s classroom as the winner:

  • She got an impressive result for a very affordable price.
  • It’s very easy for the teachers because they don’t have to switch up decorations every month or two.
  • It’s an immersive experience for the kids – they feel like they are in Bible times. It stimulates imagination and helps kids understand a bit of what it was like in Bible times. They start to understand that the stories they are hearing are real – real people in real places.

Congratulations Joan! I’ll contact you to send you your prize. Thanks to everyone else who sent in your pics!

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5 Tips for Decorating Your Classroom on a Budget

childrens-ministry-classroom-decoration1. Set Up a Resource Room

If your church doesn’t have a resource room, set one up! Even if it is just a closet, a resource room is a place to keep material that you know you will re-use. Let the other teachers know about the resource room and encourage them to store bulletin board materials, visuals, and other re-useable items in it.

If your church does have a resource room, make sure it’s organized well and easily accessible to your Sunday School teachers. Encourage them to use it.

Need some help organizing your resource room, check this out!

2. Wrapping Paper is a Fantastic, Inexpensive Decoration

Wrapping paper makes a great, festive background for bulletin boards or highlight areas on walls and it’s really inexpensive. You can find general wrapping paper and seasonal wrapping paper at Dollar stores. And then you have the tube that can be used for any number of things when the roll is used up! You can also re-use wrapping paper (as long as it is still in good shape after being unwrapped!)

3. Spend Your Budget on Things that Have Lasting Value

If you have a budget for decoration, spend it on things that have lasting value that can be re-used in multiple ways. Stay away from fads when choosing items to decorate your classroom. Instead, spend your limited budget on letters, trim, construction paper, and poster paper that you can use and re-use as you design bulletin boards that will engage your class and help them to focus on God and the gospel. Find well-illustrated Bible story pictures and Bible timelines. Spend your budget on items that will have lasting value.

4. Decorate for Larger Seasons Rather than Single Events

I have two bulletin boards in my classroom. I decorate one of them according to the season (fall, winter, spring, summer). That way I am only changing out the bulletin board 4 times a year. Then, I add thematic elements to keep it fresh. For example, a week before Valentine’s Day I added some red hearts. This got the kids attention and it was a great hook into our Bible verse for the month – John 3:16!

5. Ask for Donations of Old Magazines

Old National Geographics are a great place to find pictures of nature, animals, and people. Ask people from your congregation to donate old magazines and then comb through them for pictures that you can use to decorate the classroom.  This is a great way to find material if you are doing a missions related bulletin board.

Don’t forget to send in a photo of your classroom for a chance to win a signed copy of my book! Get more info about the contest here.

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