Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Jesus Is Born" Action Rhyme for Preschoolers

Here's a fun action rhyme to help your students remember the Christmas story. Read Luke 2:1-17 from your open Bible. 

The birth of Jesus related in this passage emphasizes God's plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus. For instance, when the angel appears to the shepherds, he declared the Christ child to be the Savior and Messiah. He would bring peace and goodwill to humankind.No wonder the shepherds were so excited to share this wonderful news with everyone they saw (Luke 2:17-20).

Encourage the children to follow your motions as you do the rhyme:

Shepherds watching, watching, watching(use hands as pretend binoculars),

Watching over their flocks by night.
(Fold hands under head as if sleeping.)

Comes an angel, angel, angel
(stand tall and strong with hands on hips),

And the sky shines big and bright.
(Spread arms and wiggle fingers.)

The angel says, "GOOD NEWS!"
(Use a loud voice for capitalized words.)

The angel says, "GOOD NEWS!"
(Cup hands around mouth.)

The Son of God is born! (Clap, clap.)
The Son of God is born! (Clap, clap.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Family Devotion for Christmas

Here’s a family Christmas devotion you can use at home or in your church services this week. Use an advent wreath (with greenery and a sprig of berries or red flowers or ribbon, if possible). Place four candles around the wreath with a fifth white candle in the middle (or place the candles as your wreath allows). If you use purple and pink candles, the pink one represents joy. Adjust the speaking part below depending on your wreath. Copy this devotion so each participant has a copy. (Do not leave lit candles unattended.)

This devotion is taken from A Church Family Christmas Celebration (Item #3031) © Christian Ed Warehouse, www.ChristianEdWarehouse.com. Reprinted with permission.

During this time before Christmas we are preparing for the arrival of God’s Son, Jesus. Because God loves us, He chose His Son to be born on earth.

The candlelight wreath is round. The circle reminds us of God. God has no beginning and no end; He is eternal. The evergreen part of the wreath stands for life and hope. Jesus is the hope of the world. Red berries or flowers remind us that Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood so that our sins could be forgiven. The white candle(s) reminds us that Jesus has forgiven (or cleansed) us of our sins so that we may have eternal life.

(To be read by an adult or older child)
Luke 2:11-13, 21; John 1:9, 12 — “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger . . . . And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb . . . . That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world . . . . As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

Candle Lighting:           
Gather around the candlelight wreath. Have one person light the first candle as another says: The first candle we light is the Promise candle. God promised to send His Son, Jesus, and that promise came true.

Have another person light the second candle while someone else says: The second candle is the Bethlehem candle. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, was born in a stable at Bethlehem. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.

Have someone light the third candle, while another says: The third candle is the Angels candle. The joy and praise of the angels should be our joy, too, during this Christmas season and all year long.
Have another person light the fourth candle while someone says: The fourth candle is the Shepherds candle. Just as the shepherds told others about Jesus, we, too, should share the Good News of Jesus’ birth with others.

Have someone light the fifth candle while someone says: Today we light the final candle, which represents Jesus. This candle reminds us that Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Light of the world. We celebrate the arrival of the long-awaited King, born as a Baby in Bethlehem.

Song:     Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
              The little Lord Jesus laid down
              His sweet head.
              The stars in the sky looked down
              Where he lay.
              The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

Reading:         (To be read by a leader, child, and adult or older child.)

The candle in the center of the wreath represents Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Even before He was born, the angel told Mary the Baby's name. When the days were accomplished, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem.

Child:            They presented Jesus to the Lord.

We thank God for His wonderful Christmas gift to us. We thank Him that Jesus Christ came to be the Light of the world. We can spread the light of His love to everyone we meet.

Song:   Silent night, holy night, all is calm,
             All is bright.
             Round yon virgin, mother and child.
             Holy infant so tender and mild,
             Sleep in heavenly peace.
             Sleep in heavenly peace.

Ask family members to share their thoughts and feelings about what the birth of Jesus means to them personally. Talk about Christ, who is God's Son, having to be born into our world of sin. Talk about His love for each of us.

(To be read or spoken from the heart by one or two family members)
Dear God, We thank You for Jesus, the Savior of the world, who was born as a Baby in Bethlehem. Thank You that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that You raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). Help us to spread the Light of Christ’s love wherever we go during this Christmas season. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

(Have a family member extinguish the candles. Never leave lighted candles unattended.)
For more Christmas devotion and outreach ideas, take a look at the Church Family Christmas Celebration program. Everything you need to easily plan and organize a community-wide Christmas celebration. Includes CD-ROM with lots of reproducible coloring sheets, invitations, bulletin inserts, planning sheets, recruiting ideas, thank-you notes, and lots more.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Christmas Lesson

Use this FREE Christmas lesson to help your elementary students act out the story of Jesus' birth. Printable activity sheets to go with the lesson are included as your Christmas gift from all of us at Christian Ed Warehouse. 

Have several children act out the parts. You will need an angel, Mary, shepherds, wise men, and King Herod. The children will act out the story as you read it. Simple costumes are optional. Hold your open Bible as you tell the story. Explain to the children that the Bible is God's Words and it is true. Click on the image below to download the complete lesson with activity sheets.

Scene 1: (Luke 1:26-35) Mary and the Angel 

At a special time, God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth, to a young woman planning to be married to a man named Joseph. The woman’s name was Mary. (Have the angel walk over to Mary, who lies down.) The angel appeared to her and said, “Greetings! You are a very special person to God! The Lord is with you.”

(Mary sits up in “bed,” looking up at her visitor.) Mary was afraid to suddenly see and hear an angel in her room. But the angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for God has chosen you for something wonderful. You will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will make Him a King whose kingdom will never end.”

“How can this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am not yet married?”

The angel answered, “God will be the Father of your special baby. Your Son will be called the Son of God.”

Scene 2: (Luke 2:8-12) Shepherds and the Angel 

When the time came for Mary’s baby to be born, there were shepherds out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (The angel stands in front of several shepherds who bow to the floor.) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, a bright light surrounded them, and they were frightened. (The shepherds sit on the floor, looking at the angel.) 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for everyone. Today in Bethlehem, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Scene 3: (Matthew 2:1-12) Wise Men and King Herod 

(Three wise men walk over to the king.) After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked King Herod, “Where is the One who has been born the King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” King Herod found out the exact time the star had appeared and sent the wise men to Bethlehem to find the child Jesus.

(Wise men leave the king and walk to the side of the room, pretending it is the house of Mary and Joseph.) The star they had seen in the east led them to Jesus’ house. On coming to the house, they saw the child Jesus with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him (wise men bow and kneel down). Then they presented Him with gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.

(Click on the image above to download 
the complete lesson.)

Also check out the other lessons for elementary children we've developed as part of our Online Bible Activity Lessons series. Each lesson is just $5.95. Save $1.00 per lesson when you order 10 or more lessons (use Coupon Code BACT10). Save even more when you order 25 lessons (with Coupon Code BACT25). You can print as many teacher's guides and activity sheets as you need so there's never any waste. 

We hope you enjoy sharing this lesson with your students. May God bless you and grant you a Christ-filled Christmas season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Five Steps to Creating a Stress-Free Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of celebration as we remember Jesus' birth and God's gift of love to us. However, the hectic pace can be overwhelming at times. With all the extra hassles and responsibilities for those of us involved in children's ministry, the Christmas season can seem like a flurry of activity. Here are few tips for creating a stress-free Christmas (or at least one that's not quite so stressFULL).
  1. Spend time with God. Don't give up your daily prayer and devotion time. Now's the time to fit in some extra moments with God, asking for His wisdom and guidance as the year comes to a close and you begin planning for next year. Your overflowing calendar combined with the hectic pace of the holidays can easily begin to encroach on your time the Lord. And Satan is more than pleased to see that happen. Instead, schedule extra time on your calendar for just you and God. Thank Him for sending His Son, Jesus and for all the blessings He has brought into your life.
  2. Plan time for family. During this busy season, when we're trying to fit in school, family, church, office, and neighborhood activities, it can be easy to go our separate ways as family members. So plan some family time—a weekly game night, dinners together, advent devotions, plus whatever additional activities your family enjoys doing together.
  3. Save time for yourself. As parents and ministry leaders, we can get in the habit of thinking and doing so much for others that we forget to take care of ourselves. Go for a walk or a run, enjoy a hot bath, read a short story, window shop, call a distant friend, sip a cup of peppermint green tea (or an espresso)—just take some time for you. Turn off your cell phone and place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your office door, if necessary. After a brief break, you'll be energized and refreshed to meet the tasks at hand.
  4. Enjoy the place where God has you planted. When we're tired and overworked (and dealing with broken microphones and torn costumes), it's easy to become grumpy and complaining. Ask God to help change your lousy attitude to one of gratitude. Thank the many volunteers and parents who work behind the scenes to help with the myriad of details that make your Christmas events possible. And be sure to thank your coworkers and church staff members (don't forget the custodians and pastors) who lend a hand all year long. 
  5. Thank God for each little one in your care. Cover each one in prayer during this Christmas season. And ask for prayer support from your coworkers and volunteers. Through the power of God's Holy Spirit working in you, enthusiasm and the love of Jesus will be felt by everyone you come into contact with this Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Safety First in Your Classroom

Safety Guidelines for Preschool Teachers

To ensure that each child’s experience in your class is a safe and happy one, each teacher and helper should know and practice these simple safety guidelines:
  • Beware of balloons. A piece of broken balloon or an uninflated balloon can easily be sucked into a child’s windpipe and cause suffocation.
  • Make sure all leaders and helpers know basic first-aid techniques and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, including rescue procedures for choking. Encourage them to learn CPR for children also.
  • Have an established way of summoning the parents out of their class or activity in case of an emergency or inconsolable crying. If the parents are not in the church at the time your class meets, know how to reach them.
  • Do not release children to anyone but the designated parent(s) at the close of the class, unless the parent has notifiedyou in advance. 
  • Do not ever let a child out of your sight. Do not allow a child to go to the bathroom or leave the room without an adult.
  • Latch the classroom door with a latch that is above the children’s reach but can be opened from both sides of the door.
  • Attach chimes or bells to the classroom door so you will hear when it is opened.
  • Keep all electrical plugs capped when not in use.
  • Keep all plastic bags high above children’s reach. When using plastic bags for dirty diapers, be sure to dispose of them out of reach.
  • Do not carry any medications into the classroom in your purse or pocket. Put your purse, including makeup, nail files, sharp objects, and the like, on a high shelf.
  • If you have plants in your classroom, be sure they are not poisonous.
  • Do not allow children to run with anything in their hands.
  • Do not give any medication to someone else’s child. Ask the parent to come back at the appointed time to give the medication. 
  • Do not have any glass bottles, drinking glasses, or other breakable objects in the room. 
  • Toys and supplies should be no smaller than 1½ inches in any dimension to prevent swallowing. If the object can fit through a cardboard toilet paper tube, it is too small.
  • If a child is injured, however minor, administer first aid and call the parent to the classroom immediately.
  • Wash a cut under running water, letting the cut bleed. Cover the cut with gauze and call the parent to apply antiseptic.
  • You should have a fully equipped, standard first-aid kit in your room.
  • For additional safety tips, including first-aid and playground safety, visit the National Safety Council website at nsc.org.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

FREE Elementary Thanksgiving Lesson

The Thanksgiving season is upon us. Stores have begun selling pumpkins, dried gourds, and cranberries. Leaves on trees are turning from green to red, gold, and brown. These colorful leaves are starting to fall, creating soft piles to jump into. This is a wonderful season to teach your students about giving thanks to God for the many blessings He's given us. Of course, we also want to emphasize that we should be thanking God every day of the year—not just on Thanksgiving!

Try this Thanksgiving lesson with your elementary students. It's completely reproducible and includes student sheets, visuals, and lots of creative ideas. Download your FREE elementary Thanksgiving lesson. Then check out the other 10 lessons for elementary children we've developed as part of our Online Bible Activity Lessons series. Each lesson is just $5.95. Save $1.00 per lesson when you order 10 or more lessons (use Coupon Code BACT10). Save even more when you order 25 lessons (with Coupon Code BACT25). You can print as many teacher's guides and activity sheets as you need so there's never any waste. Click on the image on the right to go to the free lesson page.

We hope you enjoy sharing this lesson with your students. May God bless you and grant you a memorable Thanksgiving season.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

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Your friends at Christian Ed Warehouse

Let Your Light Shine Bible Lesson

Help your students understand what it means to let their lights shine. Use these verses from Ephesians for a quick and easy Bible lesson. For more lessons similar to this one, take a look at Bible Foundations reproducible Bible lessons for Early Elementary.

Copy and cut apart the Ephesians verses from below. You will need a large round mirror, a strong flashlight, and a ball or round piece of cardboard. Brace the flashlight on a table or stool so that it is shining on the mirror. Hold the ball while you speak, moving it between the flashlight and the mirror.

Say, "We’ll pretend this flashlight is the sun and this mirror is the moon. This ball will be the earth. See what happens to the moon when the earth comes between it and the sun." Move the ball slowly, stopping a couple of times to make a half-moon, etc. Let several children try it.

"God’s Word (hold up your Bible) tells us that when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior, He becomes the light in our life. Jesus is like the sun shining on the moon. Jesus’ light shines on us. When we do kind and helpful things, other people can see the light of Jesus shining in our lives.Those who don’t have the Lord Jesus in their lives are living in darkness."

"God tells us to live as though we have His light in us. Do you have the Lord Jesus in your life? Are you living a life that obeys God and lets His light shine? When God’s light shines, then the kind things you do and say remind people of Jesus."

"The bad things we do and say cause a shadow to hide our light. When we do not obey God, the light of Jesus does not shine through us."

Give each Ephesians verse slip to a student to read in turn. Prompt the children at the appropriate time.

Dark Shadows Hide the Light 
(Ephesians 4:25-32; 5:1-2, 4, 6) 

God says we should have nothing to do with bad things that are done in darkness. Now we will take turns reading some verses from Ephesians 4 and 5, which are paraphrased (worded so you can better understand them). After each verse is read, I will ask if the things mentioned would shadow, or hide, the light of Jesus. (Explain that wrong actions hide the light of Jesus from shining in our lives. Good, kind, and helpful actions help Jesus’ light shine in our lives.) If the action is not good, the person who answers may move the earth (ball) to make a shadow on the moon. Listen carefully so you will know the correct answer.

Ephesians 4:25
“Therefore each of you must stop lying and speak truthfully to others, for we are all members of one body.”

Does lying hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 4:26
“If you are angry, do not let it become sin. Get over your anger before the day is finished.”

Does anger hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 4:27
“Do not let the devil start working in your life.”

When Satan works in your life does he hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 4:28
“Anyone who steals must steal no longer, but must work, doing something good with his own hands, that he may have something to give to those in need.”

Does stealing hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 4:29
“Do not let any bad words come out of your mouth, but only say things that help others grow as Christians.”

Do bad words hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 4:30 
“Do not make the Holy Spirit of God be sad about the way you live. The Holy Spirit has put a special mark on you for the day you will go to heaven.”

Does making God’s Holy Spirit sad hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 4:31
“Get rid of all bad feelings about other people, temper and anger, loud talk, and talk that hurts others.”

Do bad feelings toward others and mean words hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 4:32
“Be kind and nice to one another. Forgive other people, just as God forgave you because of Christ’s death on the cross.”

Does forgiving others hide your light? (No.)

Ephesians 5:1
“Do just as God would do, as God’s dearly loved children. Live a life that shows love to others.”

Does doing as God does hide your light? (No.)

Ephesians 5:2
“Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a gift on the altar to God.”

Does loving others hide your light? (No.)

Ephesians 5:4
“Do not tell bad stories or talk foolishly. These things are not for you to do. Instead, give thanks for what God has done for you.”

Does telling bad or mean stories hide your light? (Yes.)

Ephesians 5:6
“Do not let anyone lead you in the wrong way with foolish talk. The anger of God comes on such people because they choose to not obey Him.”

Does disobeying God hide your light? (Yes.)

Say, "In order to let our light shine for Jesus, we must not do many of the things we just read about. These are called “worldly” things, because people who do them love the things of the world more than the things of God. Maybe you only do one of those things. Would that hide your light? (Yes.) What can we do to let our light shine?" (Stop doing things that don’t please God. Confess your sins to God — let Him help you get rid of those sins.) 

Monday, October 31, 2011

All-Stars Accessories Overstock Sale This Week!

Save 15% on all All-Stars for Jesus Pennants, T-shirts, ball caps, award books, and more. Plus get FREE shipping on your All-Stars order. Use Coupon Code ASFJ15 in the coupon box when you order online or mention the code when you call.

Don't miss this chance to stock up on those fun items and incentives for  your Bible club. It's easy to start an affordable Bible Awards Program for your kids. Encourage Bible learning at home, no matter which curriculum you're using! The students learn important Bible verses and Biblical concepts while completing a variety of fun and creative activities and projects. The All-Stars for Jesus stand-alone awards program gives your leaders a chance to work one-on-one with kids and involve parents in your program.

The optional Awards Program is an important part of an All-Stars for Jesus Bible club. Completing a variety of activities in the award book (memorizing Scripture, at-home-projects, puzzles, etc.) reinforces what a child has been learning at All-Stars for Jesus, and gets the family involved, too. Children may earn colorful T-shirts, caps, pennants, and iron-on awards by working in their award books. Take advantage of this limited-time sale offer and order your accessories today. Visit ChristianEdWarehouse.com to view all of these great items.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Healthy Snacks

As you plan your Bible lesson, look for healthy snacks for your students. Make sure none of your students have allergies to any of the foods you serve. If someone does have an allergy, it's best not to bring that food into your classroom at all. Here are a few tasty and healthy snack suggestions to serve your students:

Fruit slices
Cheese and crackers
Yogurt and carrot sticks
Cucumber slices
Canteloup and watermelon
Pita bread quarters with turkey
Jicama sticks with hummus
Grapes and berries
Applesauce with pretzel sticks
Flavored gelatin
Granola bars
Blueberry or bran muffins
Fruit smoothies
Frozen fruit pops
Red and green sweet pepper slices
Snap peas with light ranch dip
Tortilla chips with guacamole or salsa
Olives, fig or date halves
Mango slices and strawberries or raspberries

Before eating, have your students thank God for providing such an abundance of flavors, colors, and textures for us to enjoy eating. Encourage the children to try just one bite of new and different foods. Have your older students take turns serving each other and saying "please" and "thank you." Even your youngest students can be encouraged to throw away their napkins and paper cups in the trash when they are finished. Compliment the children for being helpers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Alternatives

If you're looking for Halloween alternatives, harvest ideas, a Thanksgiving program, fall festival games, crafts, and outreach ideas, take a look at the Church Family Harvest Celebration outreach program with lots of reproducibles on CD-ROM. (Including the coloring pages shown below.)

This easy-to-use program guide with CD-ROM tells you all you need to know—whether you've been planning church events for 25 years or this is your first time! Includes promotion and programming ideas, recipes for refreshments, games, craft instruction sheets, recipes, and lots more. Take a look at the contents and view sample pages from the Church Family Harvest Celebration.

Here are just a few of the ways you can use this flexible program:

  • Fall Festival, Thanksgiving, or Halloween alternative suggestions
  • Harvest puppet show script
  • Christ-centered games and crafts
  • Pumpkin-carving ideas
  • Instant Harvest pageant on the story of Ruth
  • Step-by-step instructions for planning and set-up
  • Reproducible instruction sheets and patterns
  • Quick and easy decorations and centerpieces
  • Missions project ideas
Try out these FREE coloring pages from the Church Family Harvest Celebration. There are two separate coloring pages in this file. Each coloring page has a memory verse. There is a coloring page in the file for the New International Version and a separate page for the King James Version. If you use a different Bible version than the ones given, feel free to cut off or white out the verse and replace it with the version you prefer.

You can make as many copies of these coloring pages as you need for your children's program. Click on either image below to download the harvest coloring pages. Visit our Sunday school downloads store for more coloring pages, crafts, and puzzle downloads—many as low as $3.99 each! We even have coloring pages and crafts designed especially for your VBS program. Visit our VBS downloads store  for more inexpensive downloads especially for vacation Bible school. May God bless you as you prepare to teach children (and their families) about the harvest season and how much God loves them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Step by Step Memory Verse Learning

Psalm 37:23-24 — “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” (KJV) 

“If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

Give each of your students a sheet of construction paper and a marker. Help each child trace around his shoe with the marker and cut out the construction paper footprint. Help each child print one or two words of the memory verse on his footprint. Make sure each word of the verse is included on a footprint. If you have an extra footprint, include the reference, too. 

Have a student read the verse aloud from the Bible. Talk about the meaning of the verse. Then have the class repeat it several times. Take the footprints and mix them up. Have a volunteer put them in the right order. After he has, have the class say the verse. Mix up the footprints and have another volunteer do the same thing, followed by class recitation of the verse. Continue as long as interest continues.

Friday, October 7, 2011

SAVE on Classroom Decorations This Weekend Only!

Use Coupon Code WOW to save an extra 15% on bulletin board sets and classroom decorations this weekend only. You'll even save on those sets already marked down to 50% off. Simply type the code into the Coupon Code box when you check out or call us at 1-800-854-1531 first thing Monday and mention Coupon Code WOW (we open at 8:00 Pacific time). Some quantities are limited and may run out quickly. Bulletin boards are sold on a first come, first served basis.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jesus, the True Vine: Bible Lesson

Here's a Bible lesson you can use with your students to help them understand that God takes care of us just as a gardener takes care of his garden and Christians grow spiritually when they read the Bible and stay connected to Jesus.

Bring a bowl of raisins, a bowl of grapes, and some napkins. Print out the visuals below and cut them apart. Put a circle of tape on the back of each one and give each visual to a different child. Hold your open Bible on your lap. Explain that this is a true story from the Bible.


(Read John 15:1 and 5.) God says that He acts like a gardener. A gardener helps plants grow. God helps us live right and grow as Christians. In Bible times, many people grew grapes. A grape plant has several parts. First, there is the vine. (Have the child who has the Grape Vine place it on the wall.) Whose name is on the vine? (Jesus) The Bible calls Jesus the True Vine.

On the vine are many branches. (Have the children with the Side, Bottom, and Top Branches place them on the vine.) Good branches produce grapes. These grapes are called the fruit of the vine. (Pass around napkins and a bowl of grapes and let each child take a napkin and some grapes.)

God is the Gardener in the garden of life. Jesus is the Vine who grows good branches. Christians are those branches. If you have asked Jesus to be your Savior, you are like a branch on a vine in God’s garden.

What happens to a branch if it is cut off the vine? (It dies; it doesn’t grow anymore.) That’s what happens to anyone who isn’t a true follower of Jesus. The person may look like a Christian, and even act like one (by going to church and doing good things). But, if this person hasn’t invited Jesus into his life, he’s a fake Christian. He may fool other people, but he can’t fool God.

Branches need water and food to grow. How do the branches get these things? (through the roots) The vine sends food and water from the roots to the branches. Then the branches send food and water to the flowers that will produce grapes. (Pass around a bowl of raisins and let each child take some.)

Once the vine has been taken care of and well watered, it makes grapes. Some grapes are dried like these. We grow spiritually when we get food from the Bible (read the Bible and memorize what it says) and stay connected to Jesus. We don’t make grapes, but we do make good actions that remind people of the way Jesus acted. Our good actions are called spiritual fruit. Jesus gives a promise that helps us stay close to Him. (Read Matthew 28:20.)

This verse is part of the Great Commission, the last command Jesus gave before He went to heaven. Jesus promises to be with us always. Jesus will never leave us, just as a vine never leaves the branches.

(If you have children who are interested in becoming part of God's family and having Jesus as their Savior, talk with them individually after your lesson.)

Click on the image above for a larger view.

(This lesson is an excerpt from Elementary Bible Activity Lessons. Try a FREE sample and then choose your lesson by topic or Bible story. Each lesson is just $5.95 each and includes a teacher's lesson plus 4-6 student activity sheets. Copy as many as you need for your classes. Quantity discounts are available when you purchase ten or more lessons.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Art of Storytelling

Storytelling is an art. Everybody can do it and the only way to get better is to practice. So before telling your story, read it over and over so you can tell it with ease. Then feel free to improvise and personalize the story so it becomes your own. If you're telling a Bible story, hold an open Bible. Explain that the story is true and is from God's Word, the Bible. Don't deviate from the facts. Here are some additional tips to improve your storytelling:

1) Eye contact is vital — practice telling the story in your own words instead of reading it. 

2) Let your facial expressions convey the story. 

3) Tell the story facing a mirror; it will let you see what the children are seeing. 

4) Let your voice reflect the emotions in the story. 

5) Practice telling the story and have it recorded; it will let you hear what the children are hearing. 

6) Above all, don’t be discouraged. Like everything else, if you practice, you will get better and, more importantly, you will communicate your story lesson more effectively.

This blog post is taken from the eBook, 101 Hints, Tips & Great Ideas for Children's Ministry. Order it today for just $4.99 at ChristianEdWarehouse.com.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Giving Positive Feedback to Your Students

All students respond well to positive feedback. The key is to teach your point in a positive way, even when you feel like saying something negative. Following are a few tips for teachers:

• Positive feedback must be a result of student behavior. This tells students that you are aware of their performance individually and in a group. Students will begin to see that you give feedback to the best performance of every individual.

• Positive feedback should be given matter-of-factly. Flowery, emotional praise can embarrass students, especially preteens. Positive feedback should not imply that you are treating students any differently from the way you would treat an adult.

• Use descriptive statements that briefly tell students what was worthy of comment. Praise their accomplishments or their efforts, not their personalities.

• Positive feedback to individual students should be relatively private. Students can be embarrassed by comments that single them out as the “teacher’s pet.”

• Give feedback to student groups whenever possible. Frequent group praise helps establish a sense of cooperation and community among your student group.

• Eliminate pauses after giving positive feedback. For some students this can be very uncomfortable. Instead say, (Julie), good job on reading that Scripture, now let’s turn to…

• Be persistent. Some students feel uncomfortable with praise because they have had so little. But every student needs to learn that he or she has enough self-worth to accept recognition from someone else.

• Give students choices as much as possible. For example, "Would you like to do the craft first or the pencil puzzle?" Or, "You can turn in your project on time and I'll grade it this week or you can turn it in late and I'll grade it in a few months."

• After giving students lots of choices, you can ask them to do what you're asking as a favor to you. For example, say, "Now that I've let you choose the activities today, I'd like you to pick up these papers as a favor to me."

• When a student expresses anger, let him calm down before you respond. Let him know you're busy right now but you can talk tomorrow (or later). Show empathy toward the student. For example, you could say, "That's a bummer. Let's talk about it tomorrow. Don't worry about it." There is usually no need to take sides or make suggestions or give consequences on the spur of the moment. Often the students will come up with their own ideas after having a chance to think things through.

• Give negative feedback in private, and make sure it's constructive and the student has ownership of the situation. For example, "I'm sorry you decided to turn in the project late. What were the consequences for a late project? That's right, you won't get a grade for a few months. I'm sorry about that. But don't worry. You can decide when to turn in the next project. Conclude in prayer with the student.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Being Thankful in All Things

Being thankful is an important part of our Christian faith. The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 to pray with thanksgiving and let our requests be made known to God. I Chronicles 16:8 tells us to give thanks to God, call on His name, and make His deeds known to others.

The Bible is full of stories about people who gave thanks. In I Chronicles 16:4, King David appointed Levites to thank and praise God before the ark of the Lord. Daniel thanked God for wisdom in Daniel 2:23. In Matthew 16:36, Jesus thanked God for wisdom for the food before He broke seven loaves and a few fishes that fed a multitude.

Paul thanked the Thessalonians for their growing faith (II Thessalonians 1:3). The writer of I Corinthians 15:57 thanked God Who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ. God commands us to give thanks to Him in all things. What a great example we set for our students when they see us giving thanks in all circumstances!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Timeless Message

Children growing up today face a very different world than the one faced by their parents. It is a complex world with gadgets and gizmos that were never even imagined twenty years ago. And yet  it is still a world of people trying to relate to their God. 

Pray that even as your students’ minds are full of the complexities of learning to read and do math, of computers and cell phones, of YouTube and iPods, of entertainment and so much push-button technology, that they will understand the simplicity of the Gospel. Your lessons will help your students realize that God loves them and sent His Son to be their Redeemer and Guide. 

Pray that as they remember God’s faithfulness to believers in the past, they will be aware of His faithfulness in their lives today as they face problems and challenges. For lesson ideas to help your students grow closer to Jesus, check out our Bible Foundations Reproducible Sunday School Lessons. Try a free lesson for Preschool, Early Elementary or Upper Elementary.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

VBS Clearance Sale This Week

We're clearing out our warehouse and you'll save 30%-80% on leftover VBS items this week. Hurry! Quantities are extremely limited. We have Pandamania Sing and Play Music CDsPanda Pal's Bible Play PackGold Rush Super Starter Kits,   MegaSports Go the Distance Water Bottles with Gospel BallsSonSurf MagnetsHigh Seas Outdoor Banners, and lots more!

These items will sell out quickly so don't miss the chance to save big.  Visit our VBS Sale to see all the items on clearance. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis. We will notify you if anything you order is out of stock.

As our blog readers, we're giving you advance notice of the sale. For you, it begins today. Visit our VBS Sale now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Helping Young Children Feel Welcome at Church

Young children often cry when brought to church and left in the classroom because irregular attendance makes each week a new and strange experience. Others simply want to express their displeasure at being separated from their parents. To help alleviate the child's anxiety, be sure an adult devotes some personalized attention to each child as he arrives.

Stoop down to the child's level and welcome him by name. Help him say goodbye to mommy or daddy. Do not let his parent slip out unnoticed. Rather, say, "Mommy will be back later to pick you up. Say goodbye to Mommy. See you later, Mommy." Then help the child wave goodbye. Next, guide the child to place a sticker on an attendance chart.  Then gently lead the child into the selected learning center or to a free play area. Many children can become diverted by toys or a good book once their parents have left the room.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Memory Verse Craft: Let Your Light Shine

Here's a fun craft to help your students learn Matthew 5:16. Click on the NIV or the KJV craft below depending on which memory verse version you use.

Print a set of candles in the version you prefer and cut them out. Before the lesson, cut two empty bathroom tissue tubes into four sections so you have eight sections. (Or cut one paper towel tube into eight sections.) Glue one word strip around each tube section so the candles stand up. Glue the verse reference on the same tube as the words "in heaven." Copy the candle page for each child and bring two empty bathroom tissue tubes or one paper towel tube for each child..

During your lesson, read Matthew 5:15-16 aloud from your Bible (or have an older student read it). Choose non-reading students to hold the candle visuals in front of the group. Let the children help them stand in the correct verse order. Then, together with the children, read verse 16 from the visuals.

Ask, What does it mean to let your light shine? (To do good deeds so people see the love of Jesus through you.) Why should we let our light shine? (So people will see the good things we do and will want to know Jesus, too.) Can people see good things in us if we are doing bad things? (No.) When people see us do good things, then they will want to know Jesus and our heavenly Father.

Give each child a copy of the visuals. Hand out scissors, glue, and 2 empty bathroom tissue tubes for each child. If you have young students in your group, cut the empty tubes into four sections before the lesson, so each child has eight sections. (You may need to tape some of the sections to reinforce them.) Let the child glue one word strip around each tube section so the candle stands. Have him glue the verse reference around the same tube as "in heaven."

Say the verse together twice. Change your “candle holders” around, and have a volunteer  put them in the proper order. Read the verse again; then mix up the holders and repeat.

Matthew 5:16 — “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (KJV)

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (NIV)

Click on the image above to download the craft page.
NIV is on the left and KJV is on the right.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bible Lesson: Love One Another

Help your students learn the memory verse I John 4:7 — “Let us love one another.” Before your lesson, cut a big heart from red poster board and a small heart from red paper. Mark your Bible at the Bible Words with the small heart. Post the large heart on a wall or bulletin board at the children’s eye level. Bring blueberry muffins for each child. Make them from a mix or use the recipe below. (Make sure to have extra muffins for visitors and helpers.)

During class, point to the large heart. Ask, What word do you think of when you see a heart? Say, Here in the Bible it says, “Let us love.” Do you know whom the Bible tells us to love? Read the whole verse. Say, We can begin by loving everyone in the room.

Give each child a piece of paper and crayons or markers. Let the children draw self-portraits. Let each child tape her picture near the heart. As each child does this, say the Bible Words. Substitute the child’s name for “one another.” When all the pictures have been posted around the heart, have the children say the Bible Words together. During the lesson, compliment those children who use kind words and thoughtful actions toward the others.
Have the children wash their hands. Now bring out the muffins along with napkins and small paper plates. Serve water or juice to drink. Say a prayer of thanks for the snack. Also thank God for His love for each person. Let each child choose a muffin and hand it to the person on his right. Talk about how when we show respect and kindness to others, we are showing love to each other. Say the memory verse once more as the children finish eating.

For more lesson ideas, take a look at Bible Foundations Sunday School Curriculum, available for Preschool, Early Elementary, and Upper Elementary.

Blueberry Muffin Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix 8 ounces vanilla yogurt or sour cream with one egg (if you omit the egg, add 1/4 cup water), 1/4 cup orange juice, two tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, and one teaspoon vanilla flavoring. Mix well.

In another bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix well. Make a well in the center. Add wet ingredients and stir just until moist. Gently fold in one cup fresh or frozen blueberries.

Spoon batter evenly into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle sugar on top of each muffin. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit five minutes. Use a knife to loosen muffins from sides of pan. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack. Yield: one dozen muffins.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tips for Teaching the Bible with Crafts

When you turn your art projects and activities into learning experiences, you give the children worthwhile lessons that will be with them long after the project is gone. Here’s how: focus on what the children can learn rather than what they can make. As the children work, talk about the Bible lesson or theme of the day. Keep the focus on the Bible story or the memory verse. Tie the craft back into the day’s point.

Help the children have a fun time. Don’t let them get frustrated. If a craft becomes too difficult, switch gears and adapt the craft to the child. For example, if threading yarn becomes tedious, stop the threading. Chenille wire stems are much easier for a young child to thread than yarn. Let him try using chenille wire, if you have some on hand.  If not, let the child add stickers to the craft or decorate it with markers or jewels. Turn your time with the child back into a fun experience. If a child finishes early (or just gives up), let him move to a free play area or begin a coloring project.

Allow each child to be the creative being God intended. Encourage creativity 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 teaching them God's Word!