When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

How to Teach Your Kids the Books of the Bible in 30 Weeks: Weeks 5-8

If you have been following along at When One Teaches Two Learn, you will remember that last month I started a series on teaching kids the books of the bible in thirty weeks.  It has been wonderful to see our kids taking on the challenge of not only memorizing books of the Bible but learning to look verses up in the Bible!  As I mentioned in the first post of this series, much of what you will see is a compilation of ideas from a variety of books, websites, and experiences.  Hopefully you will be able to use many of these same ideas to help your kids to achieve Bible literacy too!

Though it certainly isn’t mandatory, it would be helpful to have a books of the Bible chart.  I made the chart pictured below or you could buy a poster version online.

You’ll also need a song about the books of the Bible.  I use “A Perfect Book” from Awana’s CD “Sing the Awana Way!”, but you can use any song that you would like

Week 5

Building Memory:  Cover up the first half of the purple section of the chart (Joshua through 2 Samuel).  Review these books with the children, then sing “A Perfect Book,” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.  Afterward, give each group a set of popsicle sticks with the books of the Bible written on them.  Have them work in their groups to arrange the books in the right order. I created three sets of popsicle sticks.  The sets that I gave to the lower elementary and upper elementary groups were the same – the books of the Bible written on popsicle sticks.

I did something a little different from the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten group.  Most of these children are not yet reading, but they are learning their letters, so they required a bit more guidance from their leaders, but these simplified plates worked well for them.  I used the same method as I had for the paper plates, but this time, because we were working with two different sections of the books of the Bible (The Pentatuch and the first half of the books of history) I also color coded the sticks so they match what was on the chart.

Key Verse:  1 Peter 2:17*

Sword Drill:  Have a volunteer from the lower elementary group find the New Testament on the chart.  Have a volunteer from the pre-K/K group find the light blue section.  Have a volunteer from the upper elementary group find 1 Peter.  Read the verse aloud together off the poster.

*I included the verses that we are studying during J.A.M. Time, but you can substitute any verse that you’d like.

Week 6

Building Memory:  Sing “A Perfect Book,” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.  Leave the blue section and the first half of the purple section covered.  If the kids are feeling a little uncertain of the books that are covered, review them briefly before singing.

Key Verse:  1 Peter 2:17

Sword Drill:  Repeat the same process as last week to find 1 Peter on the chart.  Then, demonstrate how to find the verse in the Bible.  Verbalize your thoughts (i.e. “When I opened the Bible, I was in Job.  I know that Psalms comes after Job, so I need to turn a few pages.).  Read the verse aloud together off the poster.

Week 7

Building Memory:  Cover up the second half of the purple section of the chart (Genesis through Esther).  Review those books of the Bible. Give the kids the popsicle stick sets, with sticks added for the second half of the purple section..  Have them work in groups to arrange the books in the right order.  Then, sing “A Perfect Book,” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.

Key Verse:  1 Peter 2:17

Sword Drill:  Have each group work together to find 1 Peter in a Bible.  No need to find the exact verse, just practice finding the book itself.  Then, read the verse aloud together off the poster.

Week 8

Building Memory:  Sing “A Perfect Book” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.  Remember to keep the entire blue and purple section covered!

Concept to Teach:  Review with the children that chapter numbers are usually printed in large numbers and verse numbers are usually printed in small numbers in the Bible.  This will come in handy when they do their sword drill!

Key Verse:  1 Peter 2:17

Sword Drill:  Have each group work together to find the key verse.  Walk the groups through these steps:  Find the book, find the chapter number (large number), then find the verse number (small number).  Then, read the verse aloud together.

This is what our chart looks like now.  The kids are really doing well!  One column down, two more to go!

Stay tuned for the next installment of How to Teach Your Kids the Books of the Bible in 30 Weeks!

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How to Teach Your Kids the Books of the Bible in 30 Weeks: Weeks 1-4

Bible literacy is something that I’m passionate about.  It doesn’t matter how effectively I teach on a Sunday morning if I haven’t given my kids the tools they need to make their faith their own.  Bible literacy is one of those tools.  Since the kick-off of J.A.M. Time (our kids Sunday School program) in September, I have been trying to think of creative ways to teach the books of the Bible to the kids at Fillmore.  Over the next few months, I will be posting mini-lessons that I have used to teach our kids the books of the Bible step-by-step.  Much of what you will see is a compilation of ideas from a variety of books, websites, and experiences.  Hopefully you will be able to use many of these same ideas to help your kids to achieve Bible literacy too!

First, you’ll need a chart similar to this one that I created.

You’ll also need a song about the books of the Bible.  I use “A Perfect Book” from Awana’s CD “Sing the Awana Way!”, but you can use any song that you would like

Week 1

Concept to Teach: The Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Point to the labels over each section on the chart.

Building Memory:  Sing “A Perfect Book,” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.

Key Verse:  Psalms 47:7*

Sword Drill:  Have a volunteer from the blue group find the Old Testament on the chart.  Have a volunteer from the green group find the pink section.  Have a volunteer from the yellow group find Psalms.  Read the verse aloud together off the poster.

*I included the verses that we are studying during J.A.M. Time, but you can substitute any verse that you’d like.

Week 2

Concept to Teach: Review the Bible breakdown: Whole Bible breaks down into the Old and New Testaments, which breaks down into books. Have the kids try to guess how many books they think are in the Bible, then explain that there are 66.  Post the number near the chart.

Building Memory:  Sing “A Perfect Book,” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.

Key Verse:  Psalms 47:7

Sword Drill:  Repeat the same process as last week to find Psalms on the chart.  Then, demonstrate how to find the verse in the Bible.  Verbalize your thoughts (i.e. “When I opened the Bible, I was in Job.  I know that Psalms comes after Job, so I need to turn a few pages.).

Week 3

Building Memory:  Cover up the blue section of the chart (first five books).  Review the first five books of the Bible. Give the kids paper plates with the first five books of the Bible written on them.  Have them work in groups to arrange the books in the right order.  I created three sets of plates.  The sets that I gave to the lower elementary and upper elementary groups were the same – just the books of the Bible written on the plates.

I did something a little different from the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten group.  Most of these children are not yet reading, but they are learning their letters, so they required a bit more guidance from their leaders, but these simplified plates worked well for them.

Then, sing “A Perfect Book,” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.

Concept to Teach: Books are broken down into chapters and verses.  Examine the “verse address” on the poster of the verse and explain what each piece means (Where is the chapter number?  Where is the verse number?).

Key Verse:  Psalms 47:7

Sword Drill:  Have each group work together to find Psalms.  No need to find the exact verse, just practice finding the book itself.

Week 4

Building Memory:  Sing “A Perfect Book” while pointing to the books of the Bible on the chart.  Sing it through a second time with the blue section covered.

Concept to Teach:  Chapter numbers are usually printed in large numbers and verse numbers are usually printed in small numbers in the Bible.

Key Verse:  Psalms 47:7

Sword Drill:  Have each group work together to find the key verse.  Walk the groups through these steps:  Find the book, find the chapter number (large number), then find the verse number (small number).

I also enlisted the help of our parents by listing some ways that they can reinforce what we’re learning at home in the October edition of our Fillmore Kids Newsletter.  Here are a few ideas that you can suggest to your parents:

  • Have your child sit with you and watch as you look up a verse in the Bible and explain the process to them.
  • Learn a song about the books of the Bible.  We have been using “A Perfect Book” from the Sing the AWANA Way! CD, which is available on the iTunes store.
  • Play a game with your kids.  Tape pieces of paper with the books of the Bible written on them onto blocks.  Have your child try to stack the blocks in the correct order.  Start small with just a few books of the Bible, then you can build your way up!
  • Check out Granny’s Bible Dojo (either the app or online), a way to karate chop your way to memorizing the books of the Bible!

Stay tuned for the next installment of How to Teach Your Kids the Books of the Bible in 30 Weeks!

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October J.A.M. Time Projects

The kids have really been enjoying our J.A.M. Time projects so far!  If you’re new to When One Teaches, Two Learn, J.A.M. Time, which stands for “Jesus and Me,” is what we call our children’s Sunday School program.  At the end of the Sunday School hour each week, we set aside about 15 minutes to work on projects that serve our community, church family, or others.  This past Sunday the kids completed their first project as they led the congregation in worship.  The Sunday prior we practiced together and then I explained that leading the congregation in worship is a big responsibility – that we would certainly have fun, but we also needed to do our best.  They took my words to heart and practiced earnestly throughout the week.  Not only was I thrilled that God used our kids in such a powerful way, but that it turned into an incredible opportunity for the kids to invite family members to church.  One child had several family members with her in both services (some of whom are not regular church attenders), then gave a second performance at her house later that afternoon for other family members who couldn’t make it!   I plan to post a step-by-step guide to helping your children lead worship sometime soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

This October will be a busy time for J.A.M. Time Projects, as we will have not one, not two, but three projects.  A little crazy on my part?  Maybe, but I know the kids are going to love them!  I’ll keep you posted over the next few weeks as we reveal each project!

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What’s in the Bible?

(Source)

Have you heard about the new series What’s In the Bible?  If you haven’t you should definitely check it out.  Developed from the creative mind of Phil Vischer, What’s in the Bible? is a DVD series designed to walk children and their parents through the content and history behind the entire Bible.  The first DVD was released in March of 2010 and they just released Disc 9, rounding out the Old Testament potion of the series.  Their website includes testimonials from parents and others who tell not only of how much their children have learned through these DVDs, but how much they have learned as well!

Phil Vischer and his cast of characters (Source)

In addition to the DVDs, Vischer has also made church curriculum available if you want to use the DVDs in your Sunday School or Children’s Church program.  I’m looking forward to walking through these DVDs with the kids at our church!  What a great way to promote Bible literacy.  For ordering and pricing information, click here.

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Coming Soon! J.A.M. Time Kids Sing!

A few weeks ago, I posted about our J.A.M. Time decor and mentioned that this space would be used to post information about the kids’ service projects.  Well, it’s just about time for the first of those service projects to start!

On Sunday, September 30, the J.A.M. Time kids are going to be singing one of their new songs “Living Inside Out” for the congregation!  Of course, a marquee is the most appropriate way to make the announcement 🙂  The kids have been working so earnestly to learn the motions.  I couldn’t be prouder!  We spent the past two Sundays learning the song, so this Sunday we will be rehearsing down in the sanctuary before the actual presentation the Sunday afterwards.  Hopefully I’ll remember my camera this time so I can record it! (My family is infamous for forgetting the camera to important events.)

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Teaching Books of the Bible: Part 2

So, I wrote not too long ago about my thoughts on teaching the books of the Bible.  I wanted to start working on this particular skill sooner rather than later, so we started things off yesterday during the J.A.M. Time.  Some of our kids are familiar with the books of the Bible, but others are not.  In light of this, we’re beginning with a system that helps the kids to develop a sense of how the Bible works, then we’ll build into a more thorough knowledge of the order of the books (different sections, memorizing their order, etc.).

This is the display I created on the back of one of the doors in The Hub.  I color coded the books of the Bible according to divisions (books of law, history, poetry, etc.), but we won’t discuss the purpose of the color-coding until we’ve covered more of the basics.  This Sunday was our first time working on the books of the Bible, so we talked about the two major parts of the Bible: the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Then, we started learning “A Perfect Book,” a song written to help kids learn their books of the Bible from Awana’s CD “Sing the Awana Way!”.  It seems a bit fast-paced at first, but the kids caught on pretty quickly.  I also pointed to the books of the Bible as we sang them for reinforcement.  After the song, I explained that our verse for the month is from Psalms, a book in the Old Testament.  Then, I asked a child from the lower elementary group point out where the books of the Old Testament were located on the door.  Next, I had a child from the pre-kindergarten/kindergarten group to find the pink section (pink represents the books of poetry where Psalms is located).  Finally, I had a child from the upper elementary group find Psalms in the pink section.  I really enjoyed seeing kids of all age levels working together to find a particular book of the Bible and they seemed to get a kick out of it too!

Over the next few months, I’ll work with the kids on the following concepts (not necessarily in the order listed):

  • Each book of the Bible is divided into chapters.
  • Each chapter is divided into verses.
  • Chapter numbers are usually printed in larger font.
  • Verse numbers are usually printed in smaller font.
  • There are 66 books in the Bible.
  • There are 39 books in the Old Testament.
  • There are 27 books in the New Testament.
  • The books of the Bible can be grouped according to the kinds of information they give.  The divisions I used were Books of Law, Books of History, Books of Poetry, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, Gospels, Church History, Letters, and Prophecy.

As we cover more of these concepts, we will start to actually practice looking up verses in the Bible, especially our key verse for the month, and continue to learn “A Perfect Book” to help the kids to eventually memorize the order of the books.  I’m sure there will be games or activities that we’ll do along the way to help us learn the books of the Bible, but this is our start!

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Why We Need Sunday School

I posted earlier this week about the importance of Sunday School, then one of my favorite websites, Ministry-to-Children.com, posted this article today.  Here’s a taste of what they have to say:

“”In a culture saturated with change, one of the most stable aspects in the religious sphere has been Sunday School – the weekend educational efforts that Protestant churches offer to people outside of worship services.’ Why? More than ever before, people need a counterweight to the massive cultural shifts that modern societies are now experiencing.”

Head on over to see their five reasons why children need Sunday School.  It’s a quick read, but worth adding to the conversation about the importance of Sunday School.

http://ministry-to-children.com/why-we-need-sunday-school-ministry/

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Teaching Books of the Bible: Part 1

I mentioned yesterday that I believe that learning the books of the Bible is a key first step in teaching children how to find passages on their own.  I learned my books of the Bible using songs – probably Donut Man songs or something like that – but I have been trying to brainstorm a variety of ways to teach this particular skill.  I remember growing up that my mom had a set of cassette tapes (old school, I know) that had a different book of the Bible on each spine.  They were even color coded according to section (Books of Poetry, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, etc.).  She would mix them up and allow her students to rearrange the books into the correct order.  I’ve tried doing something similar with the books of the Bible written on the lips of cups that are then stacked in order and have even recently found these coloring sheets at Kids Bible Worksheets.com (You can access the full set at http://www.kidsbibleworksheets.com/books-of-the-bible-coloring-page.htm)

http://www.kidsbibleworksheets.com/genesis-bible-coloring-page.htm

http://www.kidsbibleworksheets.com/1-peter-bible-coloring-page.htm

I was thinking that the kids could work on coloring these as we learn different sections of the books of the Bible and then we could hang them up on the wall.  Still toying with that idea, though.  What are your thoughts?  Have you taught the books of the Bible before?  Any creative ideas to offer?

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Tackling the Issue of Sunday School

Sunday School.  These words stir up a variety of emotions, depending on the crowd.  Some look back on Sunday School with fond memories of flannel graphs and cotton-ball sheep crafts, while others remember little more than having to sit still for yet another morning – as if sitting through school five days a week wasn’t enough.  As I continue to grow into my role as a children’s pastor, I can already see these opinions of Sunday School formulating in the children in our ministry.  Some of them just love going to Sunday School and would come regardless of what curriculum we might choose; others already seem to be completely turned off to the idea of Sunday School.  Growing up, I have to admit that I was in the group who loved Sunday School.  I loved hearing the Bible stories (Yes, I was a fan of the flannel graph), and working on the coloring pages and cotton-ball sheep crafts.  Having such fond memories of Sunday School has always caused me to wonder why anyone wouldn’t enjoy Sunday School; however, the more I have thought about it, the more I realize that there are several reasons that Sunday School might not be a favorite for every child.

1. Calling it Sunday School makes it sound an awful lot like the Monday through Friday routine.  The idea of “school” does not necessarily conjure up positive emotions in every child.  Some may deal with bullying or struggling to fit in, while others might not fit the mold of the “good student” that many teachers have in their minds.  What can we do for these children?  How can we make Sunday School something that they eagerly anticipate?

2. Sometimes, Sunday School seems to be exactly the same as children’s church.  Why bother showing up an hour early for the service or stay and hour later if the kids are doing essentially the same thing in both children’s church and Sunday School?  If we aren’t working to distinguish between the two, then I can see where this is a legitimate argument.  What is the difference between Sunday School and children’s church?  How do we make each meaningful in distinctive ways?

3. Sunday School is just another stretch of time where the kids have to sit still.  Kids have energy and lots of it.  It doesn’t take a whole lot of observation to figure that one out.  As a kid I remember watching fidgety kids in school and at church and wondering, “Why can’t they just stay still and listen?”  It is difficult to understand the wigglers in the room if you aren’t a wiggler yourself, but what is easier to understand is that each child learns differently – whether by reading, listening, singing, moving, or any number of ways to intake information.  How can we help make the valuable lessons taught during Sunday School accessible to all learners?

So how do we respond to some of these issues?  Here are a few of my initial thoughts:

1. I’m trying out several new ideas this year, one of which I think address the first issue.  To be honest I hadn’t thought about the negative aspects of having the “school” label attached to Sunday School until just a few weeks ago.  It seems that I read an article somewhere that posed the question, but, regardless of where the thought originated, it really got my wheels turning.  I started to search the internet for ideas.  Maybe Sunday School didn’t have to go by the same moniker it had been given for goodness knows how long.  After some digging around, I stumbled on the name “J.A.M. Time,” which stands for “Jesus and Me.”  Not only does it sound fun, but it conveys the message that, while we are also learning about Jesus, Sunday School is about developing a relationship with our Savior.  J.A.M. Time might not be the perfect name for your Sunday School program, but I think it is an exciting and welcomed change to our program.

2.  I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the distinctions between children’s church and Sunday School ever since I was offered the position of children’s pastor.  In my mind, I knew that they had different purposes, but was working on articulating what exactly those differences were.  Since that time I have come to the conclusion that I believe that the purpose of children’s church is to be just that: a children’s version of church.  I don’t believe that the children should be learning something completely separate, detached from what the adults are hearing in the service.  My goal in children’s church is to convey the same key point that the senior pastor is making in his sermon, but do so through games, activities, creative story-telling, and so on.  Sunday School, on the other hand, is a time to teach our children how to take ownership of their faith.  This is accomplished through learning about Bible stories (so they know and understand the basis of their faith and beliefs), learning books of the Bible (so they can grow to read the Bible on their own), memorizing Scripture (so they have God’s word ready in their hearts), and more.  Will there be some overlap?  Sure, but the distinction is still there.

3.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m not much of a wiggler, but I have a growing appreciate for the wigglers in my life.  I think that children, especially wigglers, benefit from movement, but more importantly variety, which is what I think we have found in the curriculum we have chosen for the fall.  Our J.A.M. Time starts off with large-group activities, ranging from music to skits, object lessons to games.  Then, the children break off into grade-level groups for small group discussion, activities, and prayer.  Then, we all come back together at the end for project time, where we will be working on ongoing projects to serve our church and/or community.

Sunday School might not have been a favorite for all of our families, but it is my hope that by addressing some of these key issues we can show our children that Sunday School can be an amazing time of fun and meaningful learning.

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