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.

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.

 

One Way Sunday School Teachers Can Encourage Active Participation in Class

Kindergarten teacher and children with hands raised in libraryIt is well known that kids learn best when they are actively participating in class. One way teachers can encourage active participation is by asking good questions. Good questions give kids the opportunity to think and respond and discuss.

Teachers should respond to the answers students give in a way that will encourage active participation.

What are the most common types of answers kids give and how should teachers respond to them?

Silly Answers

Expect silly answers to questions and plan ahead of time how you will respond in a way that encourages further answers and discussion.

It is best to simply ignore silly answers. Say thank you and then turn to a student and rephrase the question you just asked.

Incorrect Answers

We learn from our mistakes, from being wrong. So, if a student gives an incorrect answer it is a great opportunity for learning for the whole group. You will want to do two things – tactfully correct the wrong answer and come up with an encouragement for the student to correct wrong thinking.

Don’t put-down or embarrass the student. This only makes students less likely to speak up and participate. Instead, point out where they went wrong in their answer and then provide hints, suggestions, or follow-up questions that will help your students understand and correct their answers. “Not quite, but what if…” “Let’s all look at verse 11 again.”

Correct Answers

When students give correct answers, you want to reinforce the answer and encourage the discussion to continue. Students need to learn how to have a discussion in class. One thing that can easily happen is for students to stop participating because a question was answered correctly. As the teacher you need to encourage your class to keep the discussion going even after a correct answer.

So, reinforce the correct answer by paraphrasing it or summarizing it and then ask the kids to provide another example to support or contradict the point just given. This encourages discussion to continue. Direct your students to respond to one another. “What do you think about the idea Emma just gave.” “Can you think of another way to solve that problem?” “Can you think of a Bible verse that talks about that?”

On-the-Right Track Answers

Sometimes, kids will give answers that are on-the-right track, but not quite there yet. They are specific but are just missing a piece. When this happens ask the responder to refine a statement or idea. “Is that response to the situation always the right one?” “Can you think of a Bible story or verse that talks about this situation?”

You want to respond in such a way that encourages students to keep thinking. Ask the rest of the class to respond to the idea that one kid just presented or ask the student who answered to explain the thinking that led to her answer.

Vague Answers

When students give vague answers they may be parroting back something they have heard or giving generalizations of what they have heard in class. Vague answers demonstrate a lack of understanding.

When students give vague answers you want to respond with clear instruction and questions that will help them clarify their thinking.

If an answer is too general, try to draw out specifics. “That’s a good observation, Leona. Can you give me another example of mercy?

Ask the student to clarify a vague comment. “Can you explain what you mean?”

If the kids are parroting answers encourage them to explain or define in their own words. Then you can get a better understanding of what they know and what you need to teach.

No Answers

Sometimes you will get no answers when you ask a question. First, allow for silence. A lot of teachers are afraid of silence, but silence is a good thing. Silence allows students to think before they answer and to put their thoughts together so that what they say makes sense when they do answer. After a minute or so, ask the question again. If there are still no answers you may need to rephrase the question. Maybe the kids didn’t understand it. If there are still no answers, you can answer the question yourself or choose to come back to the question later.

Another idea is to have kids write their answers on an index card. This allows them some time to think and encourages everyone to respond. You can choose to have the kids give their index cards to the person next to them, read them out loud themselves, or hand them in to you.

 

Encourage active participation in your Sunday School class! Ask good questions and respond to the answers students give in such a way as to encourage thinking, learning, and participation.

CONTEST: Decorating Your Classroom on a Budget

childrens-ministry-classroom-decoration

Last year I needed to design a special bulletin board that focused on the Bible. We were encouraging our kids to get in the habit of bringing their Bibles to Sunday School. I wanted a fun, colorful bulletin board that highlighted the Bible and the facts about the Bible that we would be teaching the kids. Our church doesn’t have a resource room and so I had to get creative if I was going to design this bulletin board. I created some Bible verse posters, and made some New Testament and Old Testament signs. I still needed trim and letters so I decided to try the local dollarstore. I was pretty excited to find that they sold letters and trim! I didn’t have a budget for this project but I didn’t mind spending my own money since it was only a few dollars.

Often Sunday School teachers have a great idea for decorating their classroom but they are constrained by budget (a small budget or no budget at all!)

So teachers need to get creative to find ways to have a fun, engaging classroom with little to no budget.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make pictures and posters yourself (if you have the talent!) or ask your class too. Kids love to see their own artwork on the walls.
  • Use the dollarstore and the thriftstore. I have found all kinds of interesting materials and ideas when browsing through the local thrift store and dollarstore.
  • Don’t throw away old curriculum until you have searched through it for posters, pictures, and resources that you can re-use in your classroom.
  • Ask a creative, artistic person to help you design some posters for your classroom.

Contest

I want to see how you decorate your classroom and I’m giving a prize for the best decorated classroom I see. I am giving away a signed copy of my book, The Well Equipped Volunteer Children’s Ministry Handbook. Take a picture of your classroom and send it in, along with the approximate amount it cost to decorate. Send your pictures to janelle@wellequippedvolunteer.com.

I will be looking for the most creative, fun classroom that uses its decorations to focus the children on Jesus, the gospel, and the Bible (and does it affordably!)

Rules

  • Please send no more than 5 pictures of your classroom (please keep your email below 5mb to ensure I receive it.)
  • I’ll be the judge.
  • Multiple submissions for multiple classrooms are okay, but you can only submit one classroom once.
  • Submitting pictures allows me to post them on my website so please ensure your pictures do not include children.
  • This contest is limited to Canada and the US.

The winner will be announced on March 2, 2015 at 12:00pm central time.

Recommended Resource – Basic Bible Skills by Susan L. Lingo

Looking for game and activity ideas for teaching Bible skills? Check out Susan L. Lingo’s “Basic Bible Skills.”

childrens-ministry-basic-bible-skills-bookThis book has game and activity ideas for children ages 6-12.

I love the set up of this book. First, it contains books of the Bible cards that you can photocopy onto cardstock. These cards are unique in that they have the name of the book, which testament it’s in, which division it’s in, a sample of what’s in the book, and a key verse.

Second, it contains four sections.

  1. How the Bible is Organized
  2. Scripture is God’s Word
  3. People, Places, and Events
  4. Bible Maps and More!

What I love about this resource is the inclusion of many different Bible skills – not just books of the Bible. Some of the skills included are:

  • Using the Bible’s table of contents
  • Understanding what a “Testament” is
  • Identifying major Bible divisions
  • Identifying chapter and verse numbers
  • Learning visual cues for remembering verses
  • Studying parallel passages
  • Identifying main themes and ideas
  • Using a Bible dictionary
  • Reading Biblical maps
  • Using time lines

Check it out on Amazon!

Have fun with your class learning Bible skills for exploring God’s Word!

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