Thursday, January 28, 2010

VBS Coupons

Here are some Vacation Bible school coupons you can use over at Christian Ed Warehouse.

(Click image for a larger view)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lessons Are Fun When You Are!

A leader or teacher should be fun. Do you have a good sense of humor? Are you fun to be with? Do kids like you? Are you "human?" To answer these questions yes means being a "warm body"—someone kids feel drawn to and want to be around—someone with whom they're free to be themselves.
Don't be so sensitive that you can't laugh at yourself. Try to see yourself as your kids do. Relax! Have a good time with your group. They'll respond more positively to you, feel more comfortable and secure in your presence, and be open to what you have to share with them from God's Word.
Ask God to help you stop and count to ten when you reach your saturation point with the students in your care. Meditate on Scripture that mentions those qualities of God that will help you in your ministry to children: patience, peace, long-suffering, grace, forgiveness, loving-kindness, mercy, etc. Refocus on meeting your students’ needs instead of thinking of your own. Pray for each child and his or her individual situation. Ask God to open your eyes to the special needs of each student. Listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you interact with your students.
A leader should be a good listener…and that means being a patient listener. If you give the impression of always being in a hurry and always too busy to hear the end of your students’ stories, they will feel that they're unimportant to you. Being a good listener shows that you sincerely care about those you listen to. Remember, kids can pick out of any crowd those who are genuinely interested in them. Talk to your kids—listen to them (look them in the eye)—give a bit of yourself to them as you share about the love of Jesus!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Commandments for Sunday School Teachers

By Dr. Henrietta C. Mears

  1. I will win the personal allegiance of every student in my Sunday school class to the Lord and Master by talking, writing and prayer.
  2. I will not think my work over when my pupil has made his decision for Christ.
  3. I will see that he finds a definite place in some specified task.
  4. I will bring Christianity out of the unreal into everyday life.
  5. I will seek to help each one discover the will of God, because the Master can use every talent.
  6. I will instill a divine discontent into the mind of everyone who can do more than he is doing.
  7. I will make it easy for anyone to come to me with the deepest experiences of his inner life.
  8. I will keep the cross of Christ central in the Christian life.
  9. I will pray as I never prayed before for wisdom and power.
  10. I will spend and be spent in this battle.
While still a college student, Dr. Henrietta Mears was concerned she was not fulfilling with complete diligence the ministry given her. She wrote out these 10 commandments, a list of things she would do, not things she ought to do. Miss Mears went on to serve as Director of Christian Education at Hollywood Presbyterian church for 35 years until her death in 1963. She founded Gospel Light Publications, Forest Home Retreat Center, Gospel Literature International...and had profound influence on countless leaders in ministry including Billy Graham, Bill Bright, and Richard Halverson.

These 10 commandments are reprinted from an article about Miss Mears that appeared in Life@Work Magazine. Used by permission. To learn more about Life@Work Magazine and how to subscribe go to Life@Work

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let's Get Crafty

By Carol Rogers

When you turn your crafts into learning experiences, you give your students worthwhile lessons that will be with them long after the craft is gone. Here’s how—focus on what the children can learn rather than what they can make. Do this by:

        1) Allowing the children to make their own creations, even if they vary from the suggested pattern.

        2) Explaining to the children the sensations they are feeling as they experience their creations. (Saying, “This clay feels smooth on my hands. It’s fun to make things with clay. I’m glad God gave us hands to feel clay.”)

        3) Describing to the children the colors and shapes they are seeing as they create their art projects. (Saying, “These colors are beautiful. I see blue, red, and green. I’m glad God gave us eyes with which to see such wonderful colors.”)

        4) Pointing out acts of helpfulness and relating them to what the Bible says about being helpful. For example, you might say, “Taking turns is one good way to be helpful. I like the way [Niko] is helping his friends by waiting patiently for his turn with the red paint.”

        5) Commenting on the process (or asking the child to comment) rather than focusing on the finished product. For example, saying, “I like the way you are molding the clay into such fun shapes” or “Tell me about your colorful creation” rather than asking, “What is that?” or incorrectly guessing what it is.

        6) Tying the craft into the Bible lesson by including a memory verse with it. If you teach young children, print the memory verse on a sticker they can add to the finished craft. Say the verse together as they work. Including the memory verse or Bible point somewhere on the craft can help parents understand the lesson theme, even when the child isn’t able to verbalize it.

        7) Talking about the Bible story or the lesson theme as the children work. Read through the Bible story the week before your lesson. Then pray throughout the week, asking God to work through you to help the children understand His Word and to prepare their hearts for what He wants them to learn. Briefly review the Bible story or theme while the children finish their crafts.

As you help your students with their crafty creations, enjoy the experience and let God's love shine through your attitude and actions. After all, you're not just encouraging children to be creative, you're serving the Lord!

Monday, January 4, 2010

VBS Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Our church only uses the King James Version of the Bible. Which VBS programs can we use?
A: The following VBS programs are available in KJV:
  • Kingdom of the Son: A Prayer Safari (This 2009 VBS is still available.)
  • Hero Headquarters lists references only. It does not actually have the verses written out, and there are Bible Verse Posters available additionally in KJV.
  • The Preschool All-in-One Kit lists all memory verses in KJV first, followed by the NIV. Simply cover the NIV verse or cut it off before copying your student sheets.
  • Regular Baptist Press also carries a VBS program in KJV.
Q: When is the Returns Deadline for VBS material?
A: Shop VBS closes on July 31, and this is our VBS returns deadline. If you have a late VBS and need to return some items, call us at 800-854-1531 and we can work with you. Please note that some items are non-returnable, and are clearly marked on our website.
Q: Can I return opened packages of product for partial credit?
A: Because we receive product prepackaged from our vendors, we are unable to process returns of opened or partially used packages. If you do find yourself with a few extras, use them as special gift surprises for Sunday school, for siblings of students, or for those who couldn't attend VBS.
Q: I’ve never done VBS before. What should I do first?
A: Dig into the Starter Kit(s) you’re interested in. Order more than one at Shop VBS...we offer a 30-day risk-free review on Starter Kits. Explore all the cool stuff, then find the Director’s Guide. This will give you the big picture of the theme, all the possibilities, and the activities that are included. Most Director’s Guides include a step-by-step planning calendar and training helps, too. Above all, decide what you want to accomplish in your VBS program: What do you want the kids to walk away with? Focus on that first!
Q: Can I use a VBS program in something other than a five-day format?
A: Most VBS programs nowadays are flexible. The Director Manuals contain different format options, including weekday mornings, weekday evenings, midweek clubs, day camp, Sunday mornings, or weekend retreats. If a specific program’s Director Manual does not contain these formats…improvise! Many options allow for the whole family to be involved.
Q: How do I figure out a budget for VBS?
A: The catalog for each program can help you plan your budget and choose the resources that will work best for you. (Remember to order early, as some items have limited quantities.)
If your church has had a VBS in the past, look at the registration numbers. Set a goal for how many kids you would like to reach this year. Then, using the catalog, write down the cost of each item you need and tally the cost. Visit Shop VBS to see VBS catalogs and online order forms from a number of publishers.
Find out what funds, if any, have been designated in the church budget. Determine if you will have a per-child registration fee to cover some costs. Make a wish list and work in conjunction with church staff to brainstorm ideas for additional funding (special offerings, fund-raisers, etc.).
You can even network with other local churches who are offering the same program this year and creatively collaborate for sharing some materials and resources.
Q: Do any of the VBS programs provide resources to guide children to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior?
A: Yes. Most of the VBS programs include helps for explaining the gospel message to children and counseling them about salvation.
  • Gospel Light has booklets to introduce children to Jesus Christ (God Loves You Evangelism Booklet) as well as booklets for children who are growing in Christ (Growing As God's Child Discipleship Booklets).
  • The Preschool All-in-One Kit has a section for the leader about "Leading a Young Child to Christ."
  • Wildwood Forest Director's Guide has reproducible resources to send home with a child who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior during your VBS. All Leader's Guides for this program have information on leading a child to Christ. Days 3 and 5 focus specifically on salvation lessons.
Q: What if our space is limited or we don't have enough kids or leaders for VBS?
A: Talk with other area churches about hosting VBS jointly. In addition to increasing the number of kids and volunteers, cooperative VBS programs are great ecumenical opportunities in your community. Cooperative VBS programs often lead to future events among different churches that can strengthen individual congregations and the entire community.
Q: What’s the best way to do VBS—Classroom-based or Site-based?
A: The way that works best for you! There are plenty of fun options in every VBS program.
Most programs can be set up as Classroom-based or Site-based. This means you can group kids by ages or grades to learn and interact in individual classrooms with teams of teachers and assistants (Classroom-based). Or you can group kids by ages or grades into small crews that move from site to site with their backyard crew guides (Site-based). Other VBS programs give the option of combining mixed ages of kids into one group (either Classroom- or Site-based). Some programs are not as easy to adjust one way or the other, so make sure you review your Director’s Guide before planning!
Q: How can we adapt a site-based model to a classroom model?
A: This may be easier for some programs than others. The steps outlined here are for general use of the classroom model. Modify them as needed.
  1. Determine how you will group your kids. The easiest way is to have one group per age/grade level. Recruit staff based on the number of Small Groups you anticipate. You'll need one Guide for each Small Group, as well as a Worship Leader, and other support staff as needed.
  2. Assign classroom space for each Small Group.
  3. Determine your large group gathering space(s) for the Opening and Closing times.
  4. Order your Leader and Student Resources
Q: How can our VBS program support faith formation at home?
A: Many student books feature a family activity for each day, and even if they don't, most kids like to share what they did at VBS with their families.
  • Including Adults and/or youth allows parents and teens to study the same Bible texts as the kids attending Vacation Bible School, either in their own small groups or at home.
  • Souvenirs, such as memory buddies, help the student to remember the Bible point and Bible memory verse for each day of VBS.
  • Giving each child a CD of the music from VBS helps them connect VBS worship at home. Consider giving children a CD when they register for VBS—then they will already know the songs when they come to VBS!
  • Some VBS programs include coloring pages for younger students and sheets that older children can take home each day to reinforce the daily theme and memory verse at home.
  • Follow up on the final day of VBS by inviting families to come back for your church worship service or Bible club or for your Harvest celebration.
Q: What schedule is best?
A: This depends on how much time you have. Most programs recommend at least three hours per day if you want to include all the activities provided, but that’s not always possible—especially if you have an evening VBS. You may need to modify the amount of time spent at each activity. Most Director’s Guides include sample schedules—modify them to suit your needs.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Off to a Great Start--Tell Kids Your Expectations

I have several students this year who have trouble moving from one activity to another appropriately. When everyone else is seated, they want to stand up and run around the room. What can I do?

Before beginning the Bible lesson or activity, clearly tell kids your expectations. Let the children know what you expect them to do and how you expect them to behave (should they be seated or standing, touch the objects on the table or just look with their eyes, etc.). Give simple, one- or two-step instructions. Whenever possible, show the children how to behave, then praise those who do it. Remind the students of your expectations each week, during each part of the lesson.

When talking to children individually, begin with the child’s name. Be sure you have the child’s attention and he is looking you in the eyes before you continue. Then state briefly what you want the child to do. Finally, add the reason why. If you are leading the lesson, have a co-worker approach each disruptive child individually to clearly state the expectations for that activity.

Also, try capturing your students' attention with an unusual signal (blow into a cola bottle, blow a wooden train whistle, play a xylophone, flick the lights, etc.). Students respond quickly to unique sounds and sights.

When moving from an active to a more quiet activity, try this action rhyme with your young students, leading the children in doing the actions described: My hands upon my head I place, On my shoulders, on my face. At my waist and by my side, And then behind me they will hide. Then I will raise them way up high, And let my fingers touch the sky. Then clap, clap, clap and one - two - three! And see how quiet they can be (fold hands in lap as you sit down).

Transition times can be especially challenging for keeping children on task. Make sure you are well prepared and ready to move quickly from one activity to the next so there are no lag times. Clearly state your expectations before beginning the new activity. This is a good way to hold the attention of your students and keep them focused on the Bible lesson or activity at hand.

How do you handle disruptive behavior? If you have suggestions or tips for classroom management, feel free to comment.