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Last week I was on Junior Church duty. As usual, we are using the excellent TNT resource On The Way, and we were beginning a series of four sessions from 1 Samuel on King Saul.

One of the reasons that we like On The Way is that bible stories are taught in full – not just the purple favourite parts. So we’re not just teaching the kids about Samuel anointing Saul, but other parts of the story leading to that point, and beyond it. Last Sunday my teaching was about the people of Israel asking for a king, and then Saul turning up at Samuel’s house whilst he was searching for missing donkeys. We did a lot of thinking about the temptation to want to be like the “nations” around, even when we really know that it’s not good for us.

It seems that the passage I was teaching (1 Samuel 8v1-9v26) is not a favourite one for Sunday school. On The Way has great resources and we used their printout to make little card Sauls and Samuels. But I always like the kids to have a colouring sheet and wordsearch to keep their fingers occupied as I tell the bible story.

And, even though I looked through the WHOLE of the internet (approximately), I couldn’t find a picture of Saul looking for donkeys, nor of the people of Israel whinging at Samuel about wanting a king. So I had to improvise with a simple picture of donkeys. And I made my own wordsearch, which meant I was able to use the exact words from the Good News Bible that we have in Junior Church.

Surprisingly, the kids quite enjoyed colouring two rather boring looking donkeys. And listened very well. Samuel will do the anointing in our next session, so that will be an easier surf for resources.

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Tonight I’ll be preparing some crafts for this Sunday’s Junior Church, which will be on the crucifixion. I know it’s not Good Friday yet, but Palm Sunday is an All Age service and there’s no service suitable for kids on Good Friday. So this week it is. This is helping me get started on thinking how best to prepare for Easter in the Vicarage this year:

  1. I shall be fetching our Resurrection Eggs from their storage cubby hole in the cellar. I *think* they are buried with the Christmas decorations. You could also do something similar with a toddler group or even a holiday club. There’s still time to sort yourself a set out and get in a dozen or so readings.
  2. We’re still listening to the NIV Audio Bible at teatime – heading for Jerusalem in John’s gospel. Lazurus was raised this evening and the Queen remarked ‘Every chapter it talks about people who believe‘. I think our time listening to the bible being read has been worth it just for this.
  3. I am in charge of the catering for our first ever Passover Supper at church on Maundy Thursday. I have a great recipe for slow cooked shoulder of lamb but will also have to source matzos and parsley in appropriate quantities. I anticipate long lists and negotiations with our high street butcher.
  4. I have booked the lovely Bee to help out with an Easter Cake and Chat in the morning of Maundy Thursday. A sort of DIY Easter Holiday Club – she has lots of lovely Easter crafts up her sleeve.

How are you preparing to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord?

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I have recently started leading regularly at our Junior Church. When I began, we were using materials which were tailored to a narrow age range and which were tied to the lectionary and sometimes seemed to miss the point of the passage.

Since our group has an age range of 3-14 and we don’t follow the lectionary in church, we have now switched to using On The Way for 3-9s. Although this still misses the top age range we have, it caters for a greater number of the children, and also enables us to design our own programme of teaching.

On The Way has excellent craft resources and helps you to get into the passage you’re teaching yourself. It doesn’t, however, always help you to prepare the teaching of the passage very easily. At the moment we are doing a little series on some of the kings of Judah, which has been great for me as some of the passages were unfamiliar to me, let alone to the kids!

So to help me to tell the stories of some of the passages (and to source some good colouring pages for less well-known stories) I now turn to Deaf Missions – their daily reading notes are available online and give some excellent short summaries of bible passages together with clear black and white illustrations which blow up very well for colouring in. Check out their page on Jehoshaphat and Ahab to see what I mean.

I always like to have a colouring page and a wordsearch for the children – sometimes I like to get them to colour in a picture as I explain the bible passage, as it can help with concentration. And it’s always useful to have something up your sleeve in case the Vicar preaches too long and you’re in Junior Church for an unplanned extra ten minutes.

DLTK have a good selection of colouring pages. For wordsearches I tend to go to Calvary Church‘s site first – they also have colouring pages on many passages and other word puzzles, although the bible version they use (possibly the American Standard?) doesn’t usually mesh with the readings we use, so I don’t use the more complex puzzles. If the passage isn’t in the Calvary Church curriculum, I go to Teachers Direct, where you can make your own wordsearches – cool, eh? Unsurprisingly I used this when teaching about Jehoshaphat.

Do you have any favourite online places for Sunday School resources? Do share!

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