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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday school’

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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Stuff that I have to think about hard doesn’t often make it onto the blog. I’m busy. And lazy. So despite my best intentions, my reviews of children’s bibles, about which I think I have a bit to say, are so far limited to one. And anyone who reads my Twitter stream would probably deduce that if I can’t clear mould from my windows, other stuff doesn’t always get done either.

Despite my general ineptitude, those excellent people at the Good Book Company still somehow thought that I might be a suitable person to review their newest bible study booklet. I’ve already had it a couple of weeks and wanted to share my enthusiasm for it with you.

They have come up with a great addition to the range. It’s called Beginning with God and is subtitled ‘Exploring the Bible with your child’ and ‘Bible discovery for pre-schoolers’. The colourful cover invites you to ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’ and inside are 29 studies from Genesis and the gospels.

I haven’t test driven the studies in the Vicarage (the Urban Pastor, has though). The Engineer is already reading for himself but I really wish we’d had this book a few years ago. I reckon you could start using it as soon as your child can sit up and take notice. Once your child can look at the pictures in a children’s bible, this book would be a very useful addition to the parent’s bible armour.

Beginning with God is designed for use with the Beginner’s Bible (which must be only children’s bible NOT in the Vicarage library). But it’s based so simply on well known bible stories that I think you’d get by with whichever one you already have.

Each study page is crammed with information, and can seem a little overwhelming at first glance. But after taking my time to read them through I became excited by the format, especially the many practical suggestions about prayer and making the bible story relevant throughout the day.

The studies are broken into appetisers, a main course and a snack for the journey. The appetiser menu is a great list of ideas of things you can chat about or do in introduction to your bible time. The main course includes prayer suggestions, a simple summary of the main truth learnt from the bible story and some great questions to ask your child. The snack is an idea you can carry with you through the day to continue the conversation about the bible reading.

It's sometimes hard to know where to start

The Vicar and I tried to do most of these things when the children were young, but it was so hard to know where to start, especially with the Queen, who was first. Neither of us had been brought up reading the bible regularly so we didn’t have a clue and bumbled along asking everyone we knew for their suggestions. This book would have been brilliant for us. And having run a 2-3s creche, I also think this book would be a great resource in a small church for the littlest kids group.

The book is also packed with bonus extras – stickers (the delight of every small child), craft ideas, tips on prayer and a cut-out-and-keep sheet of ‘snacks’ that you can shove in your pocket or handbag, to remind you to keep talking about God throughout the day. At £5 it’s quite expensive, but littlies love repetition – you could use this a good few times until the kids notice!

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