What Do You Do with Old Curriculum?

When was the last time you delved deep into the shelves of your resource room? (Insert scary music here)

I did a clean out of ours a few months ago and I found some gems! I found a curriculum book from 1948!

Some churches have a lot of old curriculum cluttering up the shelves and some churches don’t. Some churches have a rotation for the curriculum they use and don’t have leftovers. Other churches change up their curriculum more frequently and end with lots of boxes and binders kicking about.

What do you do with the old curriculum in your resource room?

Step One – Evaluate it

Don’t throw away something just because it’s old. On the other hand, I’m a big proponent of frequent clear outs. Don’t keep something just because you think you might use it. Take the time to evaluate what you find. Is this curriculum that you can add to your rotation schedule? Can you use it during a mid-week club? Is this curriculum accurate, Biblical, practical, and relevant? Are there parts of the curriculum that you can use? Sit down with what you find and look through it carefully. When you have, go to step 2.

Step Two – Do Something With it

Don’t put anything back into the resource room without making a decision about it first. Here are 4 options:

1. Throw it out
It’s okay! Take a deep breath and find a garbage can! I sometimes have a hard time with throwing away curriculum, but sometimes it is the only option. The book of lessons I found from 1948 could have gone to a children’s ministry museum, but since I don’t know of one, the garbage was the next best option.

If curriculum is just too outdated or inaccurate, the best option is to throw it out. I had to throw out some curriculum that wasn’t really old, but the lessons were just wrong. Bible stories were at times inaccurate and I knew that I would never teach it to my kids and I wouldn’t want it taught to other kids either.

2. Add it to the rotation

You may just find a gem! Some great curriculum that has gotten shoved to the back or fallen behind the shelves. If you like it and it passes evaluation, then work it into the curriculum rotation. Maybe it will work for Sunday School; maybe it’s perfect for mid-week clubs; maybe it is just what you were looking for for children’s church.  Either way, pat yourself on the back and dive back it!

3. Take it apart and make use of the bits

Sometimes you may not want to reuse the curriculum as a whole. Maybe the resource pictures are great and you can add them to your picture file or there are some great classroom activity ideas. Take what you will use and get rid of the rest.

4. Do a curriculum swap with a neighboring church

Finally, consider doing a curriculum swap with another church in your neighborhood or denomination. Maybe you find some great curriculum that you just can’t make use of. Contact a neighboring church and find out if they are willing to do a swap. This is a great way to build relationships with the children’s ministry volunteers from other churches and to freshen up your curriculum and resource room.

 

So, what are you doing this weekend? Grab some children’s ministry volunteers and dive into your resource room! You never know what you’re going to find!

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Choosing Curriculum for Toddlers

Young children have a huge capacity to learn! Young children have a sense of wonder and awe about just about anything!

I have taught preschool Sunday School for years. I love watching children learn and explore. I love giving them opportunities to discover new things & I absolutely love telling them about God.

I believe that young children should be given opportunities to learn and grow. I also believe that children have the ability to understand more than we give them credit for sometimes. But I also know that children have limitations.

It’s important to take into consideration the age characteristics of young children when choosing curriculum. Toddlers love routine and repetition. They are literal and concrete thinkers. They have not developed the capacity yet to think abstractly or to understand symbolism. It’s important to choose curriculum that embraces these truths about little ones.

The best curriculum I have ever seen for toddlers is Biblical, focused on teaching kids what God is like, and fun. The story takes about 2 minutes to tell – this shows an understanding of a toddler’s attention span. The story using short sentences and language that makes sense to toddlers; the illustrations are soft and colorful and appropriate. The themes teach big truths about God in ways that toddlers can understand. God is big; God made everything (God made you); God loves you; God is strong. This shows an understanding of toddlers literate and concrete thinking. The lessons are to be repeated 2 or 4 times before you move on to the next one. This shows an understanding of toddlers love of repetition and routine.

I have also come across toddler curriculum that does not take into consideration toddler characteristics. The purpose of this curriculum was also to teach toddlers about who God is – His character and attributes. But this curriculum focused solely on symbolic truths. For example, the main theme of one of the lessons is that God is my light. When a toddler hears, “God is my light,” they will think literally of a light. So, now God is light. They will think sun or flashlight or light bulb.

When looking for curriculum for toddlers (or children of any age) always evaluate it with the age characteristics of the children it will be taught to. Set children up to succeed by choosing curriculum that will challenge them to learn big truths about God in ways that fit their stage in life.

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The Young Peacemaker – Excellent curriculum for Teaching Kids about Conflict Resolution

I have just finished reading the best material I have seen on teaching children how to respond to conflict.

The Young Peace Maker – Teaching Students to Respond to Conflict God’s Way by Corlette Sande was published in 1997. It and the accompanying student activity books are well-written, biblical, and age-appropriate.

This material includes 12 lessons for kids in grades 3-6 on responding to conflict God’s way. Kids deal with conflict every day – at home, at school, at play. It is vital that they learn how to handle conflict. Knowing how to handle conflict the right way brings glory to God and ensures healthy relationships.

This material helps kids to understand why we have conflict with each other, how to prevent it, how to deal with it when it happens, how to accept responsibility for our role in conflict, and how to give and receive forgiveness.

The following 12 key principles are expanded upon:

  1. Conflict is a slippery slope.
  2. Conflict starts in the heart.
  3. Choices have consequences.
  4. Wise-way choices are better than my-way choices.
  5. The blame game makes conflict worse.
  6. Conflict is an opportunity.
  7. The 5A’s can resolve conflict.
  8. Forgiveness is a choice.
  9. It’s never too late to start doing what’s right.
  10. Think before you speak.
  11. Respectful communication is more likely to be heard.
  12. A respectful appeal can prevent conflict.

I particularly like the way lessons are laid out in this material. The author begins each lesson clearly stating the key verse, lesson goal, lesson objectives, key principle, and lesson needs. The lesson is then presented in a logical, easy-to-follow manner. And then the author includes a lesson summary that briefly describes the main points of the lesson.

These lessons can be daunting – they are long and there is a lot of material to cover. However, the author has laid out the lesson very well; especially the lesson outline and the lesson summary. I would suggest using the lesson summary as a way of customizing the lesson. Write out the main points as outlined in the lesson summary and write the key principle at the top of the page. Now fill in each section with the lesson material. You can customize the lesson further by using examples that your students are familiar with or situations that have occurred in your classroom.

Some of the lessons are quite long (especially if you are using this material for Sunday School.) You may want to separate a lesson into 2 lessons if there is a lot of material to cover and you don’t want to rush it. For example lesson 8 “The Freedom of Forgiveness” is a very long lesson but it is full of excellent material. It can easily be separated into 2 lessons. There are 6 objectives for this lesson. One lesson could cover objectives 1-3 and a second lesson could cover objectives 4-6.

This material is not expensive and therefore a good option for church’s with a limited budget. The teacher manual costs $19.95 (US.) A set of student activity books is $14.95. There is also a 4 poster set available for $5.95. The student activity books are the most expensive part of this material. One option would be to purchase one set for the class rather than a set for each child (that could get very expensive!) There is good stuff in there for you to use. The cartoon version of the story gives the kids something to follow along with as you tell the story. There are activity ideas as well that are not in the teacher manual.

Resources are not included with this material, but it is easy and inexpensive to create visuals and memory aids of your own. An important teaching tool used to explain our reactions to conflict is called “The Slippery Slope.” A copy of this is available in the teacher’s manual and the student manual. You could enlarge this poster and maybe have your class color it and attach it to a larger colorful piece of poster board. This can be put up in your classroom area for the entire series as a great reminder of how we react to conflict.

Another idea is to make posters of the key principles from each lesson and put them up in your classroom to help the kids remember what they are learning. Here is an example of a poster I made for lesson 1 – Conflict is a slippery slope.This is a poster idea for lesson 2 – Conflict starts in the heart. They are not high tech or complicated, but they are effective in reminding kids of the important things you want them to know.

Also consider making posters of each key verse and hang those in your class.

This material can be used for Sunday School, summer programming, mid-week club material, small group material, or even mentoring material.

I really liked this idea given in the teacher’s manual:

  • Set up a Peace Table or Problem Solving Corner where students can go to resolve their conflicts after they have learned how to do so. When they come to tattle on each other, simply send them to the peace table to work out the problem. Then have them report back to you as to how they resolved the conflict. (page 15)

This material is available from www.peacemaker.net. You can also find it on www.amazon.ca and www.christianbook.com.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

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Easy Summer Preschool Class Idea

Summer is fast approaching! What do you do with your preschoolers over the summer? Your Sunday School teachers deserve a break – they have served faithfully all year – yet 2 to 5 year olds turn into wiggle worms in the main service.

Here’s an idea for an easy, no-prep preschool Sunday School Summer class:

I have used parent volunteers and picture books as the basis of my summer Sunday School class. Parents are willing to volunteer when they know that they will only be asked to help for 1 or 2 weeks and that they will be supervising the children and reading them a story from a picture book. I found a great series of pictures books by Carine Mackenzie based on the attributes of God – God is Faithful, God Never Changes, God is Kind, God is Everywhere, etc. I also use some books written by Debby Anderson – I Love My Bible!, Let’s Explore God’s World, God Knows my Name, I Can Talk with God, Every Child Everywhere, Jesus is Coming Back. (These books are available through your local Christian Bookstore or at www.christianbook.com)  I made a schedule for my parent volunteers so they knew which book to read and I found coloring pages to go with the theme of each week. I also found a Bible verse to go with each theme and made it into a poster. Here’s an example of one of the lessons plans. I told my parent volunteers that the most important thing was reading the kids the scheduled book. They could choose to do what they were comfortable with other than that. Parents appreciated knowing that they didn’t have to sing with the kids if they weren’t comfortable doing it. Also, they could choose to do one, all, or none of the activity ideas provided.

I created a checklist for parent volunteers that told them exactly how the morning would go. I provided snacks and juice and toys. It’s easy and non-stressful for parent volunteers but still makes use of the time we have to teach children big truths about our big God.

This idea works whether you dismiss children during the service or they go directly to their class at the beginning of the morning.

So, take a break over the summer! But make use of the time you have to teach our children about our great, big, awesome God!

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Curriculum Pick – Discipleland

It can be hard to find good, solid, Biblical curriculum. I spend a lot of time previewing different curriculum and searching for the best-valued and most Biblical curriculum for my readers.

Discipleland is one of my top 3 picks. Here’s a promotional video about their curriculum that highlights one of the reasons why I love Discipleland – their systematic approach to teaching fundamental truths.

Check them out and let me know what you think.

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