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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Is Sunday School Prep Really That Important?

childrens-ministry-yesThis past Sunday was the last Sunday School before Christmas and the week preceding it was busy! You know how it is – shopping, baking, Christmas concerts, finishing up work before the holidays, and to add another layer of awesomeness, I was sick! I had caught a nasty cold and spent a few days early in the week under a blanket.

I teach a kindergarten-Grade 1 class for Sunday School and the Bible story for that Sunday was the wise men who journeyed far to worship Jesus, the King. As I got out my curriculum to prepare I was reminded just how important preparation is for Sunday School teachers.

The curriculum publisher had chosen a fun, interactive way to tell the familiar story of the wise men seeking Jesus. They had created a game board with cards and activities. It was great! It was also very complicated. There were multiple card packs and pieces and many different activities that had to be done at the right time for the game to work. I also had to consider whether certain activities would work in my classroom (it’s very small!!) and in the time we have in the classroom (30-40 minutes).

If I hadn’t taken the time to prepare for this lesson , it would have been a disaster! Everybody is busy. If you are a Sunday School teacher, take the time during the week to prepare for your lesson. It’s worth it! God will be at work in your heart and in the hearts of your students.

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Curriculum Review – What’s in the Bible? Church Edition

What’s a testament? Why are there so many different books in the Bible? Who wrote the books in the Bible? Is the Bible a book of stories or a book of one big story?

What’s in the Bible? Church edition is a brand new curriculum for elementary age children created with the purpose of helping them see the Bible as one big story – the story of God and His people.

Beginning in Genesis and continuing through to Revelation, this 52 week media-driven curriculum gives kids the big picture story of the Bible. It helps them see that the Bible is one big story, not a bunch of unconnected stories. If you are looking for a curriculum that will take your students through the Bible in a purposeful, orderly manner, then this may be the curriculum for you.

Along with the 13 volumes of Genesis to Revelation curriculum, there are two special volumes that can be added. Four weeks of Old Testament review and 4 weeks of special Christmas curriculum designed for fewer volunteers and more guests.

Here’s a video of Phil Vischer talking about this new curriculum.

This curriculum is a unique combination of video and small group segments. Each lesson is designed in four sections. Each section includes a video lesson and group activity. The group activity includes games, discussion, and Bible study.

If you are familiar with the What’s in the Bible? DVD series, you will recognize some of the videos. The two teaching videos from each section are taken from the What’s in the Bible? DVD series. The other two videos are getting to know each other and review created for this curriculum.

Things I Like About This Curriculum

Its Focus on Biblical Literacy

I love the focus on Biblical literacy. This curriculum contains the whole narrative of the Bible, not just highlights. I also really like that repetition and reinforcement are built into the lessons and units. This curriculum was designed to give kids a big picture view of the Bible and to help them understand how it all fits together.

Its Customizability

This is a truly customizable curriculum. All material is on disc or DVD. The leader’s guides and take-home papers are available as pdf or as word documents. This means that leaders or teachers can go into the lesson guide and make changes as necessary. Customizable take-home materials allow leaders to add notes to parents about upcoming events and projects and memory verses.

I think this is a truly fantastic aspect of this curriculum and I hope other curriculum providers follow suit.

Leaders can also customize the format. It can be used in a large group/small group format or a traditional classroom format or whatever format works for your situation. The only limitation is the number of screens you have to show the videos on.

The Combination of Bible Story and Bible Skills

I really like the combination of Bible story and Bible skills in this curriculum. Each lesson, the students are encouraged to read and study their Bibles. They hears stories from the Bible and they are taught important Bible skills like how to read a reference and what a testament is and the books of the Bible and how they are organized.

 

I encourage you to check it out! Click here for free samples of What’s in the Bible? Church edition.

And for a limited time What’s in the Bible is offering 40% discount on your entire order. Visit this page for more information and for the discount code.

 

As a thank you gift for writing this review, I will be receiving a DVD and poster from What’s in the Bible?.

 

 

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Is it okay to change Sunday School lessons?

Have you ever wondered if it’s okay to make changes to the Sunday School lessons you are teaching?

Let me tell you a story…

I am a Sunday School teacher in a 4&5 year old class. I love it! I teach from the curriculum given to me by the ministry leaders.

A little while ago I was preparing for Sunday School and saw that the lesson was on a relatively unfamiliar Old Testament story.

The curriculum provided this story on cd so the kids could listen to it. I thought that was a fun way to change things up and encourage the kids to use more of their senses.

So I listened to the story. The story was well done with sound effects. The total story time was 5:04. The kids were encouraged to be involved physically and vocally in the story. They were encouraged to pretend to taste, pretend to smell, pretend to see, kick, make sounds like various animals, and listen.

Having kids involved in the story is a good thing and I try to do it as often as I can. Encouraging kids to use various senses is also a good idea.

But all the involvement the kids were encouraged in was focused on a part of the story that had nothing to do with the key theme! All of this involvement took 2:40. Almost half of the story was used for this!

Unfortunately, the kids were taken out of the flow of the story. All the involvement was actually a distraction.

In the end, I did not use the story provided. The recording had been done with sound effects and an animated voice, but no visuals were provided.

I told the story myself. I found visuals and props and I choose to stay focused on the main theme of the lesson.

So, let me get back to the question I asked at the beginning.

Have you ever wondered if it’s okay to make changes to the Sunday School lessons you are teaching?

Keyboard with Customize Orange Button.The answer is yes! If the story as written is going to end up causing distraction, then yes, change it! There are times when the curriculum as written is going to need some customizing.

If you do end up customizing curriculum, here are some tips to make it the best you possibly can:

  1. Always make the Biblical text your priority.
  2. Stay true to what the Bible says. Don’t try and make the Bible say what it doesn’t say.
  3. Keep the lesson focused on the key theme.
  4. Look for ways to get the kids involved in such a way that they are focusing on the key theme and discovering Biblical truth for themselves.
  5. Customizing sometimes means getting rid of things that don’t highlight the key theme or could end up being a distraction.

Remember, you’re the teacher! Take the time you need to prepare every week and make each lesson the best it can possibly be!

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