Customizing Curriculum

childrens ministry customize curriculumAll curriculum is customizable. Each lesson is waiting for you to bring your personality, teaching style, and knowledge of your students.

Maybe the hook idea is not relevant to your class of students. Change it so that your class gets it and is hooked onto the central theme of your lesson.

Maybe there is a lesson illustration that won’t work. Often I find there are illustrations specific to living in the States. As a Canadian, that illustration may not be the best to use. If possible, change it to a Canadian example or find an illustration that highlights the point being made that is better suited to your students.

Maybe during application the discussion questions listed in the lesson are taking a direction that won’t be the best personal response for your class. Write new questions that will help your students see how they should respond to the Biblical truth being taught.

As a teacher, you know your own personality and your students. So, customize your lessons so that your class focuses immediately on the central truth in the lesson and are encouraged to respond Biblically to the truth that was taught.

Teaching Tip – Start Early

When preparing for Sunday (whatever your role), start early.

Sunday or Monday night, read through the lesson material. Whether you are teaching the lesson, leading small group application, or both, read through all of the material. Focus on the Scripture passage the lesson is based on. If you read through the lesson early on, it will be in your mind and you will have the opportunity to think about the truth of the lesson, how kids might apply that truth to their lives, and what activities might best highlight the truth taught.

If you start early, you will also have time to pull together props or teaching aids you may need for the lesson.

Once you have read through the lesson, pray and ask God what He wants you to teach. Pray that the truth of the lesson will penetrate your heart. And pray for the students in your class specifically that the Holy Spirit would be working in their lives and preparing them to hear this truth.

And then continue praying throughout the week for yourself as a teacher or small group leader and for the kids in your class or group.


Easy Template for Building a Lesson Series

Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s Saturday night. You’ve had a busy week and you are only now getting to your Sunday School lesson. As you look over the curriculum, it looks like an unsorted pile of Bible verses and life lessons and you need to turn it into something coherent for the kids in your class tomorrow morning. If you fail in this task, you’ll have a bunch of blank faces staring back at you. So where do you start? How do you quickly gain some structure? What’s an easy template to build a lesson around?

Lawrence O. Richards in his book Creative Bible Teaching presents an approach to structuring a Sunday School lesson that has been used by hundreds of children’s ministry volunteers since he first wrote about it in 1970.

“We call it the HBLT approach. That stands for Hook, Book, Look, Took. Don’t worry, we already know it’s a bit corny, but that’s why you will never forget it! It is an easy-to-remember approach to lesson preparation that, when followed, opens up the student to learning Biblical truth and to making meaningful application of the truth in his or her life.” (Creative Bible Teaching, Lawrence Richards)

In this series, I am going to expand on each of the 4 elements in this approach and give practical tips and ideas for using this method of planning a lesson.

Easy Template for Building a Lesson Series

Classroom Activity Idea – Comic Strips

Here’s a great classroom activity idea that gets kids engaged and involved. Have your class create a comic strip of the Bible story, central theme , or the real-life application of your lesson.

This idea allows kids to work individually or as a group. It gives them a chance to be creative and it gives them time to mull over the Bible story or application.

As they are creating their comic strip, they are thinking about the Bible story or application.

This is a quiet activity idea. I like it because it involves creativity that isn’t often used in the classroom setting.

This idea could become a class project. If you are doing a theme that lasts for a few weeks or a few months, the class could work together creating comic strips that will end up being a comic book.

To make it even easier for you, I have created three different comic strip templates. Download them and use them in your classroom this weekend!

Comic Strip template – regular portrait

Comic Strip template – regular landscape

Comic Strip template – large

Don’t Bite off More Than You can Chew!

Children's Ministry Don't Bite off More than you can chewHow to Avoid a Major Pitfall in Teaching Children Biblical Truth

My husband and I visited a church recently that was starting a children’s feature in the main service for the summer. I have great respect for the people willing to sit in front of the entire congregation and teach children for 5-10 minutes. It’s not easy! That proved especially true on this particular morning.
The decision had been made to have the children’s feature match the sermon series. The first sermon in this particular series was about Saul and his experience on the road to Damascus.

The children were called to the front and the feature began with a brief discussion about faith. Then the speaker read from Philippians 3: 4-10

“If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;  as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

I was a little surprised when I heard him read this text. The majority of the kids at the front were preschoolers!

He did a pretty good job explaining that Saul was a Hebrew who knew God’s Law and followed it strictly. He was proud of his job of arresting Christians because he was convinced that he was right.

The speaker got into some trouble though with wording and explanations and ended up saying something about Jesus that wasn’t true.

I don’t think he meant to say it and I don’t think he believed it, but the truth is he said it. Kids listen and kids believe what we tell them. It is so important to make sure that we are speaking truth to them.

The speaker should have simply stated that Saul was a man who was proud of the fact that he knew about God and about God’s rules. He was convinced that he was right and Christians were wrong. He did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

No matter what situation you are in, teaching a small class of children or leading the children’s feature in front of the whole church, be prepared. If you are teaching a difficult concept or passage, plan ahead of time how you will explain it.

It is so important to be prepared. Kids are listening and absorbing what we tell them. Kids will also ask questions – sometimes unexpected questions. This can distract teachers and throw them off.

Take the time to prepare. Make sure you understand fully what you are going to teach.
Remember, we are teaching children the truth of God’s Word. We need to get it right!

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