My Book Recommendations for Your Classroom

There are certain books that I recommend all classroom have to enhance the learning experience for kids.Girl reading books.

1. Bibles

It’s important to have extra copies of kid-friendly Bibles in our classrooms. Have enough so that you can have Bibles available for kids who forgot to bring their and also so that you can give a Bible to a child who does not have one.

2. Bible Dictionaries

One reason why I love Bible dictionaries in the classroom so much is that they can be used by teachers to encourage students to discover the answers to their questions themselves.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary For KidsHolman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids is hardcover, beautifully illustrated, and indexed for easy use. It includes reconstructions that show how building and cities may have actually looked in Bible times; illustrated charts such as foods in Bible times or tools of the Bible; Charts such as the names of God, musical instruments of the Bible; pronunciation guides; photographs; and definitions. This great resource is available for about $13 from amazon.ca

The Action Bible Handbook – A dictionary of people, places, and things. Vivid illustrations and kid-friendly explanations. A complete index is included so you can find just the topic you’re looking for.

3. Reference Books

These are any books that help the children understand that the people and events in the Bible are real. They are real people who lived in a real place. Look for books with maps, atlases, descriptions of life in Bible times.

The Amazing Expedition Bible by Mary Hollingsworth– contains 60 Bible stories told chronologically. Some features include an historical timeline showing the dates of Bible & non-Bible events, illustrations, history mystery and Bible mystery sections, special sections for Science, Technology & Growth, Daily Life, History & Politics, etc.

The New Kids Book of Bible Facts by Anne Adams – This book is full of facts, lists, details and trivia about life in Bible times. Sections on customs, daily living, education, government, occupations, travel, and warfare.

Thomas Nelson Publishers put out a series called Bible World. One book in the series is called Everyday Life in Bible Times: Work, Worship, and War. Another is called The Bible Story Begins: From Creation to Covenant.

Atlas of Bible Lands by Broadman Press is an illustrated atlas of the Bible including  terrain maps, photographs, city plans, diagrams, and a time chart of Bible history.

4. Storybook Bibles

Be selective of the storybook Bibles you have in your classrooms. Make sure students understand that they are not Bibles, they simply tell some of the stories of the Bible.

For preschool classrooms I recommend:

My Great Big God – 20 Bible Stories to Build a Great Big Faith by Andy Holmes. This board book contains delightful illustrations with one story per page. The reference for the story is included under the title. I love this storybook because it focuses on our great big God! Each story has a key theme: My great big God made everything! My great big God hears me when I pray! My great big God saves His people! My great big God gave us Jesus!

The Beginner’s Bible – contains more than 90 Bible stories with wonderful illustrations. The large font makes for easy reading.

The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm – This storybook is designed to help kids see the big picture of the Bible. The back says, “The Bible is a big book, about a big God, who keeps a big promise!” Includes an audio recording on 2 cd’s.

For elementary classrooms I recommend:

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – this storybook Bible was written to highlight how everything in the Bible points to Jesus.

The Action Bible – God’s Redemptive Story – includes over 200 fast-paced narratives in chronological order. This comic book style storybook Bible will appeal especially to boys.

5. Missions Books

Include books in your classroom about missionaries and other parts of the world. I recommend:

Operation World by YWAM Publishing- the definitive prayer guide to every nation. This book includes information about every nation – population, languages, politics, missions activity. Highly recommended!

From Akebu to Zapotec – A Book of Bibleless Peoples by June Hathersmith – this book is available through Wycliffe Bible Translators. 26 people groups are highlighted in this book. Descriptions of where they live and what life is like for them are included. Great illustrations!

There are a series of books called Hero Tales by Dave & Neta Jackson that tell the story of Christians throughout history and around the world. These books don’t contain a lot of illustrations, but each story is short and kids can read them on their own or enjoy hearing the story read outloud.

There is a lot of great material out there, but you don’t need all of it in your classroom! Do your research and be selective. Carefully choose a few really good books for your classroom that will add fun and learning to your students Sunday School experience.

(The links above are affiliate links.)

 

Classroom Management – Reasonable Consequences

A consequence is the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier. Good classroom management regularly uses reasonable consequences.

When a teacher makes use of reasonable consequences in her classroom, she is teaching her kids to be accountable for their actions.

“The purpose of a consequence is to retrain the brain and transform the heart.” (Jody Copehart)

I love this quote! I think Jody said it very well. The reason we use consequences in our classrooms is to retrain how our kids think , feel, and behave.

It’s important to make sure that the consequences for actions in our classes are reasonable. Remember, we are lovingly training our kids to love God and to love people. Kids pick up quickly on actions they consider unfair. A reasonable consequence would never be considered unfair. They may not like it, but they can’t call it unfair.

For example, during snack time a child spills their juice. An unreasonable consequence would be to tell the child that they cannot have snack for the next month. Kids would consider that unfair (and rightly so!)  A reasonable consequence would be for that child to clean up the mess. That consequence is logical. They had a spill so they clean it up. Logical and reasonable.

Keep in mind that reasonable consequences are not just for misbehavior. That is why I am talking about them during this series on classroom management and not during a series about discipline. Reasonable consequences are about teaching kids the result of choices. Sometimes these are related to unacceptable behavior and sometimes simply poor choices.

Here are some other examples of reasonable consequences:

  1. If a child plays with a toy, they are responsible for putting it away.
  2. If a child spills their apple juice, they clean it up.
  3. If a child spills a friend’s apple juice, they apologize, clean it up, and make sure their friend gets another drink.
  4. If a child uses rude or inappropriate speech during class, they need to find a nice way to say the same thing.
  5. If a child hurts someone, they need to do something kind for them.
  6. If 2 children are talking to each other instead of listening to the story/lesson, they need to move so they are not sitting together anymore.

Let me encourage you as a Sunday School teacher to start using reasonable consequences in your classroom. Teach your kids that they are responsible for their behavior and the results of their behavior.

Classroom Management – Expectations

Classroom Management - ExpectationsLet kids know what your expectations are. Teachers should never assume that children understand what is expected of them in classroom situations.

Let’s talk about reasonable expectations and how to let kids know what is expected of them.

It’s important for teachers to remember that children need to be taught how to behave in the classroom. They will not automatically know. So talk with your students about what you expect during class. This is important for all ages, but especially young children who do not yet attend school and therefore do not have experience to draw on.

First, ensure that your classroom expectations are reasonable.

Here you need to consider the age and developmental stage of your students.

5 years olds do not have the attention span to sit still through a 30 minute story. It would be an unreasonable expectation. However, 5 year olds can sit for a 10-15 minute story that is engaging, age-appropriate, and interactive.

If you are not sure what your students can do developmentally, there are lots of resources out there that will give you good information about age-level characteristics.

Second, tell your kids what is expected of them for general classroom behavior and for specific classroom situations.

General classroom behavior includes how students should address you, knowing the rules and that students are expected to follow them, how students should treat you and each other.

But it is also important to let students know what your expectations are in specific situations. For example, if a student has a question at any time, they should raise their hand and wait for you to call on them.

Specific situations include story or lesson time, application time, games and activity time, craft time, group projects, dismissal time.

Here are some examples of reasonable expectations:

“Any questions asked will be about the lesson topic.”

“If you have a question, raise your hand and wait for me to call on you.”

“I expect everyone to participate during lesson time.”

“After playtime, I expect everyone to help clean up.”

“Before we eat snack, everyone washes their hands.”

“During application time, we will respect what each other has to say.”

Rules and expectations are similar. Rules should be clearly stated, ideally posted, and repeated often. The expectation, then, would be that students will obey the rules.

Not all expectations are directly related to rules however. Some expectations are about how we handle snack time or bathroom breaks. They are more about how things are done in this classroom.

Don’t make the assumption that children will know how to behave or participate in your classroom. Let your kids know what your expectations are. And then watch them rise to the challenge!

Classroom Management – Offer Choices

Ryan was a great kid! He had a huge heart. I saw him take care of his little brother and do the nicest things for other children. Ryan was also stubborn. He could really dig in his heels. There were mornings when he just didn’t want to be at Sunday School and he let you know it!

One morning his teacher came to get me because Ryan wouldn’t come into the classroom. His mother had already dropped him off and he had decided that he didn’t want to join the class. When I got there, I took a minute to talk with Ryan and then I offered him a choice. I told him that we cared about him and it was important to us that he was safe. In order for us make sure he was safe, he needed to be in the classroom where we could see him. I told him, “You need to come inside. Would you like to sit with your friends or would you like to sit by yourself on this bench?” He came inside. He still chose to sit by himself, but he was inside the classroom.

Now, Ryan hadn’t been given a choice whether to come to Sunday School or not. There are a lot of things in kids’ lives that they don’t have control over. Ryan was trying to exert some control by refusing to come into the classroom. By offering him a choice, I was giving Ryan some control and he didn’t feel to need dig in his heels quite as much.

Here are 4 tips for offering choices in the classroom:

1. Make sure the choices are acceptable.

Another way of saying this would be make sure that you can live with either choice. When you offer a child or your entire class a choice, make sure that both options are acceptable. For example, “Which of these 2 activities would you like to do (or do first)?” Plan two activities that are fun and engaging and highlight the central theme of your class. That way the kids stay focused and learn no matter which activity they choose.  Another example would be, “Would you like to continue playing or come join the story circle?” This is an example where one of the choices isn’t acceptable. We want all children to join in for story time, so don’t offer them a choice that lets them choose to sit out.

2. Make sure the choices are legitimate.

Kids will quickly pick up on it if you are not offering them real choices. When you offer choices you are letting the kids practice making decisions and accepting responsibility. So offer real choices. “Would you rather work alone or with a partner?” “What should we do first: have snack or play a game?”

3. Make sure the choices are significant.

It’s important that the choices you give kids are legitimate, but also that they are significant. Give them opportunities to make important decisions. If you are planning a class party, for example, let the kids help decide the theme of the party by offering significant choices.

4. Finally, make sure the kids know the rules.

It’s important that kids understand the rules of making choices. Tell them that you will offer a choice, but it they refuse to choose, you will choose for them. For example, when I teach Sunday School, one of our rules is that the class does activities together. That means that during story time, every sits in the story circle. If a child is misbehaving you could say, “It’s not a choice not to join us. So, would you rather sit here in the story circle or sit there in the story circle.” If they refuse to choose, then you choose one of those spots for them.

Give over some of the control in your classroom to your students by offering acceptable, legitimate, significant choices. They will have an opportunity to practice decision-making and taking responsibility for their actions and you will be practicing solid classroom management.

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