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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday school’

The Joker is teaching Junior Church tomorrow. If we have some kids in… Yes, we have got to that stage of life here – where the teenagers are taking up leadership roles. The Joker and the Engineer and their pal Miss Clean all teach at our Kids’ Club on Wednesday evenings. The group is thriving – recently they’ve had almost twenty kids most weeks. All three of them run games, give short talks and take responsibility for the group in many different ways. It’s a real pleasure to see them maturing into service – and enjoying themselves in the process

And the Joker and Miss Clean also teach the small (but perfectly formed) group that meet on Sundays. It was a bit of a shock for them both when they started. Instead of a good size group of kids that includes every age from 5 to 11, we normally have a couple of small girls, aged 3 and 5. Although sometimes we get others. But we still teach them a proper curriculum. And tomorrow is the final session of a short series in the book of Esther. Which happens to be the Joker’s favourite book of the Bible, ever since he developed a serious crush on the VeggieTales Esther at the age of five.

VeggieTales Esther

I guess she’s pretty for a spring onion

And the theme of tomorrow’s session is how God does the impossible – saving his people from certain death by sending his saviour – for such a time as this, at just the right time. A truth that gives us hope for today and for all the days to come, even when facing uncertainty and global turmoil. For entertainment in the Vicarage this evening, the Joker practised the opening illustration – cutting up an A4 piece of paper so that he can walk through it. Impossible, you say? But look! Ta-daa!

Teenager stood in paper cut up so that you can step through it. In messy living room

The Joker does the impossible

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In my week and a bit of Doing the Next Thing, I have failed to do various admin tasks. They are glaring at me from the planner and I will need to make friends with them next week. I’m not even going to mention the ironing.

But I do seem to have a genuine, not-seen-before, result. I managed to get my head around the term for Junior Church. That means that the other leaders will have their planning notes ahead of time. I’ve done a little of that before. But my completely new achievement is a set of visual aids for the new series (on Elijah and Elishah). They always suggest them in our On The Way materials. But when I’m planning on a Saturday evening, there isn’t usually time (or energy). I am also quite pleased with the discovery of wooden skewers to make the pictures into puppets. They slightly remind me of the characters from the Victorian style puppet theatre I had as a child.

I think we’re going to have fun with these on Sunday morning. I’m going to give different children a couple of puppets each and see if we can act it out as I read the passage. Who shall I cast as the bowl of flour, I wonder?

junior Church characters

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If you have been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know we are fans of Seeds Family Worship here in the Vicarage, especially their kinetic typography videos. I just came across a couple of new videos they’ve done. Maybe not quite as fancy as the early ones, but still brilliant for teaching memory verses – at home, in Junior Church or Kids Club, in school assembly or even with the full church family on a Sunday.

The first one is John 16:33 – Take heart

 

And the latest production – just out this week- is Hebrews 4:12 – The Word of God

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I was teaching the first of our new Junior Church series on the Ten Commandments this morning. We had a great time thinking about Joshua 24 and the people being reminded of all the great things God had done for them before they thought about their choice to worship God or the gods of the various ‘ites they’d come across in their journey to the Promised Land.

I also taught the kids the Ten Commandments using hand signals for each one. I first learnt these a couple of years ago – and now I actually know which commandment is which after years of having only a vague idea about their order. Here’s the Joker showing you the moves:

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And we all enjoyed a rather cheesy song: the Ten Commandment Boogie. A good opportunity to practice your signals!

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Like Vicar’s wives up and down the nation (and around the world too) I am involved in our Sunday School – I teach about once a month and also help others by sourcing various materials. We base our teaching programme on the excellent TNT materials, which work well for our fluctuating numbers and wide age range. I supplement the TNT stuff with extra colouring and wordsearches. I have blogged previously on some of the sites I use for sourcing helpful extras, but now I have a couple of additional ones to share.

Mary at Mission Bible Class has a great site with lots of links and ideas, including helping children to pray and blank lesson plans.

I’ve been using Sermons4kids for a while, but only recently discovered their worship bulletins – these are great if you have an all age service with a visiting speaker who might not be that child-friendly. They’re also brilliant for your normal Junior Church. The bulletin contains colouring, wordsearch and other puzzles and can be printed back and front on an A4 sheet to give you a folded A5 bulletin. You can even customise it with your church logo!

The site is arranged using the Lectionary, but you can easily use the search facility to find the passage you’re using. You’ll find the bulletins (if there is one – they don’t seem to have them for every kids sermon on the site) at the bottom of the page eg see this one on Exodus 16.

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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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We normally have about ten kids in our Junior church. Their ages range from 4 to 12, so we have readers and non-readers. We often have some very wriggly childen with us. So as well as creatively teaching the bible through story telling and crafts (we’re currently looking at the life of the prophet Samuel) we try to include a runabout game which reinforces what we’ve been learning.

I reckon that there are three ‘games’ that be readily adapted for any bible story and include some bible reinforcement along with fun and (hopefully) enough physical activity to keep the kids engaged.

Roundabout games can be lots of fun

1. The first game I use is an adaptation of Port Starboard Bow Stern (PSBS). I used to play PSBS when I was in the Girl Guides – you label the ends and sides of the hall and run between the walls and do various actions as commanded by the leader (in PSBS eg ‘Captain’s Coming’ = stand straight and salute).

What I do is adapt PSBS to the bible story. So when we were looking at Samson the other week, we had the kids running from Gaza to the temple, to Delilah’s house and then to the country of the Philistines. They had to stop to scoop honey from the lion or pretend to drink wine. They brought down the temple columns and had their hair cut. I think they all remember the story of Samson pretty well now.

2. A big favourite with the kids is any adaptation of ‘Simon Says’. We might play ‘Samson says’ or even ‘Jesus says’ (cos you should do something if Jesus says it!). And then they can all be encouraged to run around or to do silly actions or some based on the story. Very simple.

3. The other game option I sometimes employ is a relay race with some tangential allusion to the story, but I use these less now, as the first two games are easier to prepare and also give you more opportunity to reinforce the teaching. Also the first two games ensure that all the kids are running all the time and get nicely tired out. And there are not really any winners so everyone stays happy.

How do you help your active Sunday schoolers use up their energy?

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Recently we have started a new way of praying in our Junior Church. I was fresh back from Bible By the Beach, and the fantastic youth and children’s work that went on there. And from there we have snaffled an idea which helps our youngsters to think of something to pray for, and that encourages them to pray for a variety of things. Our secret: sweeties!

Every week the leader goes armed with a packet of Skittles (M&Ms or Smarties would work too). They go in a bowl and at our prayer time each child takes a sweetie. Then they say a prayer triggered by the colour of the sweet. Depending on the colour selection, you can make up your own code. Ours is as follows:

  • Red – a sorry prayer
  • Purple – prayer for the sick
  • Green – prayer for the world
  • Orange – a thank you prayer
  • Yellow – prayer for the church
  • Blue (when we have the special packet) – anything you like!

This would work for any small group – even grown ups who want a different way to pray. And good for families too – our kids love it!

 

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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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The other day I noticed an interesting tweet in my Twitter stream:

Just finishing talk for tomorrow’s Easter Praise. Have taken @thevicarswife Resurrection Eggs & adapted them for under 3s. It will be mayhem

So I got onto Abi, who was responsible for the tweet and asked her if she’d mind writing up the details of her session – I thought it might be a useful resource for all toddler group/Sunday school teachers out there.  She very kindly sent me a write up and a photo of her eggs. And there’s even still time before to use her ideas this Easter. Maybe even if you’re a Vicar struggling for an All Age Easter Sunday talk aswell. So, over to guest blogger, Abi:

Our Parent & Toddler group is a thriving ministry and the leaders are great at taking opportunities each week to share the gospel. Two notable opportunities that are taken are at Christmas and Easter. A short ‘Toddler Praise’ service takes place as part of the normal session in the church. This year I was asked to do the short talk. My natural comfort-zone is Pathfinders (11-14 year olds), but I agreed nonetheless!

I remembered reading about Resurrection Eggs last year, and so took the idea and adapted it for pre-schoolers. I reduced the number of eggs involved down to 6. I also used much larger eggs. My local Hobbycraft had some ‘paint your own’ cardboard eggs, about the size of an average chocolate Easter egg. I painted them in bright colours and numbered them 1-6. The numbering was crucial, if only so that I opened them in the right order! The colours were just for the children. I scattered the eggs about for the children to find at the appropriate time(which they were very eager to do). Although the way I told the story was aimed at getting and keeping the children’s attention, I was aware that parents would be listening, so some of the language is maybe a bit adult for the younger toddlers.

I explained to the children that I was to tell them a true story; that it was all about the first ever Easter and was all about Jesus. I said there were some sad parts, but there were also happy parts. I explained that to help us learn this true story, there are some eggs hidden around the place that have bits of the story inside. At this point some children ran to get the eggs, whilst others sat still pointing to where they were…!

We opened the eggs in number order to see what was in each egg, with me saying something along the following lines:

  1. Donkey – Jesus was going to a town called Jerusalem with his friends. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Some people were very happy to see him, and they welcomed him, shouting ‘Hosanna’ and ‘Jesus is King’. But some of the leaders weren’t very happy to see Jesus. They didn’t like that the people liked Jesus.
  2. Praying hands (just a picture found via google) – Later that week, Jesus went with his friends to pray in a garden. Jesus prayed to his Father God that he was doing the right thing. But while he prayed, soldiers, sent by the leaders came and arrested Jesus.
  3. Cross – The soldiers took Jesus away and made fun of him, and put a heavy wooden cross on his back. He was made to carry it up to a nearby hill. Some people cheered, but some people knew this was very sad, and cried.
  4. Nails – On the top of the hill, Jesus was nailed to the cross. It hurt him a lot. Jesus had never done anything wrong, like we have, but he was treated like he was a criminal by the soldiers. Even though this was the middle of the day, on a Friday, it became really, really dark. In the dark and with the sadness of his friends and family, Jesus died.
  5. Stone – Some of Jesus’ friends gently carried Jesus to a tomb, cut in the rock. A bit like a small cave. A huge stone was put over the tomb so no-one could get in or out. Jesus’ friend were sad, and thought they would never see him again. Three days later, on the Sunday, a woman called Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She was amazed to see that the huge stone wasn’t blocking the way in, and like our sixth egg, the tomb was:
  6. Empty! – Jesus had risen from the dead. It was such happy news. Our true story has a happy ending.

I went on to explain how it can be a happy ending for us today, because Jesus died and rose from the dead so we could be saved.

I also said: “When we say or do things that are wrong, we must say sorry, don’t we?, to our parents or friends or brothers or sisters. We need to say sorry to God too. We ignore him, we say wrong things, we do naughty things. The Bible calls this sin.

Because of Jesus, who has never done anything wrong, or said anything naughty, and has never ignored God, we can be friends with God. We can be saved. Jesus’ death and rising again means we won’t be enemies with God, if we trust in Jesus and ask God for his forgiveness. We will be safe and we will be forgiven.

Let’s pray.
Dear God, thank you that you sent your Son Jesus to die and rise again, so that by trusting in Jesus and asking for forgiveness we can be friends with God, we can be forgiven and we can be saved. Amen”

Things to note:

>- Make sure an adult is nearby to give the nails to when that egg is opened! With the other items, the Toddlers often picked them up to wander off to show their parent or grandparent.

– We sang a song part-way through to break it up. We also sang one at the start and one at the end. All 3 had actions, and 2 were ones they knew from being incorporated in the usual weekly singing time (a mixture of Christian and other songs/choruses)

– This could be adapted and expanded for an all-age service with Bible readings included in the contents of the eggs to make it helpful to a wider age-range, along with other parts to the service as well of course!

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