When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

A Creative Twist on the Tower of Babel

I just came back from the KidMin Conference in Columbus, Ohio last week – AMAZING experience, by the way! – where I went to a seminar on the 5 C’s of 21st century learning.  One of these C’s is “creativity.”  The speaker decided to stretch our creativity by having us create a tower using any item in the room.  Her word of exhortation to start us off was this: Don’t “think outside the box.” That inherently puts a box in the picture.   Be creative.

I thought we were being pretty creative till the guy on the left stood up on the table and lifted the ceiling tile so we could continue to build!

KidMin Tower of Babel

The speaker then explained that an activity like this could be used when teaching a lesson on the Tower of Babel, which just so happened to be our lesson at First Alliance Kids for the following Sunday!

I gave our kids a few more limitations than we were given in the seminar at KidMin, mostly because I was afraid that they would stack bookshelves on the table!  I gave them a box of random items from our supply room including popsicle sticks, rulers, pipe cleaners, tin foil, and a few other oddities, then charged them with the task of working as a team to create the tallest tower they possibly could.  It was such a fun learning experience!  Here is part of their tower in progress:

Tower of Babel

 

It was a great intro to our lesson on the Tower of Babel – and so simple to pull off!  What are some ways that you’ve encouraged creativity in your classroom?

 

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Worship Bags

About a year ago, I started to brainstorm ideas for busy bags for little ones to use during the service until they are dismissed for children’s church.  I never ended up making them because the kids that I was working with at the time seem to do alright without them; however, now I am at a different church and it’s a much different story.  the children’s ministry lacked structure because it had so few children.  Older kids sometimes stayed in the nursery with the infants because they did not want to sit in the service, then would wander over to children’s church partway through the service if they felt like doing so.  I’m not one to try to fit kids into a box, but it was clear that we needed a structure in place to best serve the kids currently in our ministry as well as visiting families who had never been part of our ministry before.

Part of our solution was to create a preschool room for children ages 3-5, which has been an absolute lifesaver for our nursery.  The other part was to create worship bags as an option for children ages 6-11 who would stay with their parents in the service until they were dismissed for children’s church.  I decided that I wanted the worship bags to be more than just a collection of toys; I wanted them to be full of activities that would fall along the lines of what they would be learning in children’s church.

Here’s a picture of our first try at worship bags…

Creation Worship Bag

I bought some cheap canvas tote bags at a craft store, along with some iron-on transfers so we could make them look more colorful than just boring old black.  I found the “Finish the Picture” activity on Pinterest and absolutely loved it!  Just glue a few “googly” eyes on some construction paper and instruct the kids to finish the picture however they’d like!  I also included a paper bag puppet kit and a box of Lego-type blocks.

Can you guess what the theme was? 🙂

We just started our Gospel Project curriculum and, of course, the first lesson was creation.  Every activity required the kids to use their creative juices to make something unique!

Have you ever made worship bags for the kids in your ministry?  What have you used in them?

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Creating a Comfortable Environment

I was an Inclusive Childhood Education major in college, which basically means that I am certified both as a general elementary teacher and a special education teacher.  Throughout my college courses, we would constantly talk about approaches that would support students with disabilities to succeed in the general classroom.  Most of the time when our professors would explain these techniques to us, we would look at each other and say, “But that’s good for all students, not just those with disabilities!”

Today I wanted to show you something that I’m trying out that is helpful for children with disabilities, but really just a good idea for all of the kids in your ministry.

Ministry Schedule

 

I bought one of those pocket charts that you can find in almost any elementary school classroom along with some sentence strips.  Then, I went through my lesson for Sunday and wrote out titles for each section of the lesson – a schedule of what to expect.  For many children with disabilities, they take comfort in routine and knowing what to expect.  Something as simple as a visual schedule can help to calm their anxiety about being part of your children’s program!  And, because this is a pocket chart, I can move things around or add new sections or activities each week.  It’s another one of those things that is good for children with disabilities, but also good for everyone else!

What are some ways that you work to make children with disabilities comfortable in your ministry?

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We’ve Missed You!

Summertime can be rough in ministry.  As the routines of the school year fade away, so too can the routine of coming to church.  Don’t let your kids just fade away into “vacation mode” without letting them know that they are cared about and missed at church!

I made six of these “We’ve Missed You!” buckets to take to families that we haven’t seen at church in at least three weeks.  I’m also new to the church, so this is a great opportunity to get to meet the kids and their families 🙂  All of the items in the bucket came from the dollar store, so this is a very affordable option for even those with itty-bitty budgets!  We’re talking just over $20 for all six buckets!  Take a look…

We Have Missed You

 

Basically, I took a sand pail and lined it with colorful tissue paper.  Then I filled the bucket with sidewalk chalk, a Christian card game, bubbles, freeze-pops, and a few crazy straws.  Simple, but full of things that kids love!  Each bucket had a tag attached to the front and a little note inside.  You can create a note to suit your needs, but this is what I wrote:

We have missed you!

I mean, we hope you’re having a super awesome summer and everything, but you are missed at First Alliance Church!  We’d love to have you join us on Sunday morning. See you there, right?  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this bucket of summer fun. See you Sunday!

I’ll be delivering the buckets tomorrow, which should be fun!  What do you do to keep touch with families, especially over the summer?

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A “Sweet” Baptism Day Card

One of our kids is being baptized tomorrow and, rather than giving him just a plain card, I decided to sweeten it up 🙂 There are about a zillion different messages you could convey with candy bars, but this is the one I chose.

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What kinds of gifts do you give at a baptism?

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Thanks a Latte!

Hello, everyone! I’m going on a brief hiatus from blogging for a whirlwind vacation visiting family and my sister-in-law’s graduation. Woot!

In the meantime, take a look at this super cute volunteer gift that all our Sunday School teachers got this morning…

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Each included a note that said “Thanks a latte!” (You can find freebie labels with this saying, but the ones I found wouldn’t print. Grr!). Included in each mug is an instant latte mix, a biscotti cookie, and some fun flavored creamer. Quick, easy, inexpensive, and FUN!

Be back soon!

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Memorize the Books of the New Testament in Less than 10 Minutes!

A few weeks ago, I saw this video by Steve Demme on how to memorize the books of the New Testament in less than 10 minutes. I thought his approach was great, so decided to adapt it for our kids here at Fillmore!  I’ve written out the story as I plan to tell it to the kids, but you can adapt it to suit your church and ministry however you see fit.  Be sure to use the visuals, though, because they’re what the kids will remember!

Note:  I plan to recruit a few of the older kids to act out parts of the story with me to make an even deeper connection and make things even easier on me!

My Very Strange Day

I want to tell you about a very strange day I had not too long ago.  My story begins right here at church one Sunday morning.  Church is a place where we come to learn more about Jesus.  We know that we can read about Jesus’ life and ministry in the books of the Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Most of you already know those four, so they’re pretty easy to remember.

After the church service, I noticed an ax leaning against the wall.  It seemed kind of out-of-place, but I got to thinking that this ax can remind me of the book of Acts, which comes after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Axe

I turned around and suddenly bumped into [insert child’s name] who was drinking an RC Cola.  And I got to thinking, “Hmm, R.C.C. That reminds me of the next few books in the New Testament: Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians!”

Royal Crown Cola

Next, I walked up to the children’s church room and saw the strangest thing.  There in the corner of the room stood Goliath eating potato chips!  This day was getting stranger by the minute, but Goliath got me thinking. Goliath eats potato chips…That can help me remember the next few books of the New Testament: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians!

Goliath Eats Potato Chips

 

On the other side of the room, I saw [insert children’s names] playing these tambourines and cheering.  [Insert children’s names] are usually pretty goofy, so this wasn’t all that strange 😉  Their cheer actually helped me remember the next few books of the New Testament, though.  They were cheering, “Thess!  Thess!  Tim, Tim, Ti!”  Their cheer helps me to remember 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus.

Thess Thess Tim Tim Ti

 

Behind these cheerleaders, I saw two guys names Philemon and James.  I could tell that those were their names because of the name tags they were wearing.  Now, Philemon and James were fighting, which I don’t like to see at church, but it turns out that these two boys helped me remember the next three books of the Bible.  Do you want to know how I remember which book comes first in the New Testament: Philemon or James?  I can always remember that Philemon comes first because Philemon, he bruised James. Philemon, Hebrews, and James!

Philemon and James

 

At this point, I was so exhausted from my very unusual and very confusing day that I was ready for bed.  So, I put on my PJs.  But, even my PJs can help me remember the books of the New Testament!  After Philemon, Hebrews, and James, comes 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.

PJs

Now all that’s left is that last book of the New Testament: Revelations.  And that’s it!  You’ve memorized the books of the New Testament!

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Fun Idea for Lessons on Pentecost

Our J.A.M. Time curriculum has started this year off with a unit on the Holy Spirit.  The first lesson was on Pentecost, which I was afraid might be redundant for the the kids as we had covered that at the beginning of our sermon series on the book of Acts.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem of an activity in the leader guide!

Pentecost Activity

I gave each of the three groups one of these cards and they practiced saying their phrase for a few seconds.  Then, all at once, we said our phrases aloud (Each card says “Holy Spirit” in a different language).  Just a little taste of what it must have been like to hear so many languages spoken at once on that day so long ago!

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New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t That Bad

I used to make new year’s resolutions when I was a kid.  They weren’t always well thought-out, but I still made them.  And, like most people, I rarely kept my resolutions.  As the years passed, I gave up making new year’s resolutions.  I think it was mostly due to the fact that I wanted to make meaningful, attainable resolutions, rather than just making resolutions for the sake of making them.  This year, for the first time in a long while, I came up with a resolution that was worth keeping.  I’ve decided that starting this year I’m going to work in some sort of activity toward the end of each children’s church lesson for the kids to show what they’ve learned.  The activities will take on different forms depending on the lesson and vary to keep the kids’ interest.

For the past two Sundays, we’ve used this activity with sticky notes.  The kids could either write or draw a picture of something that “stuck” with them during the lesson.  I really love this idea, especially because the littlest ones really got into it!  There are quite a few little pictures on those sticky notes!

What Stuck with You?

 

This week we’re going to start a four-week series called Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner based on a set of lessons from Ministry-to-Children.com.  At the end of each lesson, we are going to take a paper plate and cover it with short phrases or pictures that summarize what we learned.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

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Wisdom Wednesday: Leadership

I read a quote the other day that struck a chord with me.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”  – Max Lucado

What a powerful thought.  Leadership isn’t always popular or in the spotlight, but God can work so powerfully when we allow Him to be the focus rather than ourselves.

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