Sunday, November 4, 2012

Under the Tree: Large Group/Small Group Christmas Program Solution

Did you know that "large group/ small group" is the fastest growing format for Sunday school? Living Inside Out gives you the energy and impact of a top-notch large-group experience with the intimate, dig-deep exploration of small groups. It's the best of both worlds.

Under the Tree $109.99 Only $93.49

Under The Tree Module: Living Inside Out

Module Focus: Jesus’ Birth
Key Verse: “The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke2: 11)

In this 5-week module, kids explore Jesus' birth through these well-crafted Bible lessons: Prophets Foretell Jesus' Birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Micah 5:2), An Angel Appears to Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38), Jesus is Born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7), Shepherds Learn That Jesus Is Born (Luke 2:8-20) and Wise Men Visit Jesus (Matthew 2:1-23). Whether you use this around Christmas or anytime throughout the year, you’ll help kids to see the impact Jesus’ birth had on the world—and how his ministry gives hope and a promise of eternal life to those who believe.

Order now >

(Bible Memory Maker 5-packs sold separately.)

What is Group's Living Inside Out®? 
Living Inside Out is the cure for Sunday school boredom, immersing kids in fun, memorable experiences every week. Through life application challenges, kids learn to live out their faith in real ways. Multimedia is a key element for Living Inside Out, setting the stage for great lessons while small group interaction cements Bible learning.

Living Inside Out shares Bible truths in a large group setting (just one leader required!) with five easy-to-present activities to connect with your kids. Use one...two...or all the activities! In Living Inside Out's small groups, children learn how to practice their faith 24/7—while the relationships formed in small groups make your Sunday school a warm, welcoming place week after week. With Living Inside Out, kids move beyond applying faith to actually living it out. By providing Daily Challenges™, kids have the chance to practice faithful living before they leave class. Each week you'll check in on how God used each challenge to shape your kids...and their world!

Did you know that finding and keeping volunteers is the number one challenge for church leaders? With Living Inside Out, all you need is one "up-front" personality for large group and a handful of friendly, kid-loving adults for small groups. It’s the most volunteer-friendly Sunday school ever.

Did you know that kids remember up to 90% more of what they experience than what they merely hear or read? Living Inside Out is as experiential as it gets. With interactive worship, memorable games, instant skits, innovative experiments and more, your kids will spend their time doing the Bible lesson—not just listening to it.

Did you know that Living Inside Out costs only 46 cents per child (when you have at least 50 kids)? That's afforable Sunday School.


If this sounds like it could be the solution for you, then check out the Living Inside Out Planning Pak (PDF) and Music Sample.

Also be sure to check out all of the Living Inside Out options on our website, including the Quarterly Set and the Under the Tree module, available separately for you to use at Christmas or anytime throughout the year.

Winter Quarterly Set $299.99 $254.99

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hints & Tips for Teaching Children

Here are some helpful tips for those of you teaching age 2 through grade 6. For more teaching tips, visit the Teaching Tips section of our website.

Ages 2 & 3

"Me. Mine."
Twos and threes do not understand sharing. This is evident in the frequent use of the words "me" and "mine." This is not all bad. It is a necessary stage before sharing can take place. Before a child can learn to share something, he must learn to possess it. Sharing is voluntarily giving up what we possess.

Ages 4 & 5

Language Explosion
At ages four and five, a preschooler's vocabulary increases tenfold, from 150 words to 1500 words! You can help them manage this explosion of words by doing two things. First, teach preschoolers how to use their new words correctly by speaking to them in complete, literal sentences. Second, let them practice using their new words by asking them to retell a story.

Grades 1 & 2

Keep it concrete
Primaries are making tremendous intellectual progress. By this age they can manipulate data mentally, come to some logical conclusions, and define, compare, and contrast things. But they still do not understand symbolism. After touring the defense plant where her daddy worked, one first grader resisted when told it was time to go home. She cried, "But I haven't seen where Daddy makes the money yet!"
When teaching primaries, say what you mean and mean what you say. Always teach them in literal concrete terms. 

Grades 3 & 4

Bounce this idea around
Think of your words as tennis balls. Every idea or lesson point is one ball. When you teach using the lecture method, you are tossing several balls to the children and expecting them to catch and hold on to all of them. (How many balls do you think the children can handle before they start dropping some of them?) When you teach using a question/answer method, you toss out a ball (your question) and ask a child to hold it and then toss back a ball of his own (a stab at an answer). Is your teaching a singles match between you and one other child or do you see that everyone gets a chance to handle the ball? When you use group discussion, you toss out a ball and ask a child to toss it to another child, then to another and to another. How many balls can your children juggle at one time? By thinking of your words as tennis balls, you can visualize what you are expecting the children to do with the concepts you toss their way.

Grades 5 & 6

A Record of Faith
Even though God's work is incredible, we often forget about experiences not long after they happen. Keep spiral notebooks on hand and let your preteens write their names on the outside. Encourage them each week to keep journals of their faith journey. They might write prayers or record answered prayers, describe how they saw God at work in the previous week, jot down thanksgivings, or write what this week's Bible memory verse means in their life. Keep the journals in a special place and allow the children to write in them once they have finished any class projects.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

5 Tiny Training Tips

by Donna Lucas
Publishing Director
Gospel Light /Children’s Ministry Resources

It’s never easy to get all of your Children’s Ministry volunteers together in one place! You can advertise the most fabulous training event and party, and yet it’s nearly impossible to get every teacher to come.

If you’re passionate about Children’s Ministry, you know that these questions always haunt the back of your mind:

How can I help my volunteer teachers see the importance of what they are doing? 

How can I help my volunteer teachers grow in their abilities?

For imparting vision and helping them see the importance of what they are doing, here are five tiny training tips for any teacher!

1.    KNOW the Bible content. No matter how well you think you know it, read the story again from the Bible. (You’ll be surprised at what you’ve forgotten!) Read it again from the teachers’ guide. Mark your Bible ahead of time with sticky notes and a highlighter. Now you’re free to act out the story, tell it in “first person” mode or do whatever works in that class, that day—because you never know if what you planned to do will result in kids getting that “blank” look. With the content “in” you, you’re free to switch up your method to make the “lights go on” in their eyes!

2.    Write the Big Idea or main point somewhere where YOU can see it. This helps you repeat it whenever you need to—and it keeps you on track!

3.    Highlight the activities and ideas you want to use for this class. Then be sure you have all of the materials. With so little time, you don’t want to waste time rifling through the pages or looking for missing materials!

4.    Prepare them socially. We can all remember those horrifying discoveries we made as preteens—feet too big, nose the wrong shape, hair too curly, too straight, too many freckles, too dark, too pale—you name it, preteens are suddenly and deeply aware of themselves and can feel overwhelmed by their worries. Create an accepting environment in your class, liberally sprinkled with humor that is not judgmental or sarcastic. Your preteens will learn from your model of kindness and humor that it is possible to “accept one another…as Christ accepted you.” They’ll feel safe and learn that these kids are truly their friends. This kind of environment will support the bond with the other kids who follow Jesus—because in the chaos of middle school, they’ll need people who accept them and remind them it’s valuable to follow Him.

5.    Practically memorize the conclusion, so that you can say those two or three sentences looking kids in the eye. You want to be able to see by their faces if they understand!

6.    Have two methods of memorizing the Bible verse “in the bag”—again, if one way doesn’t seem to work or you have extra time, you’ve got something fun and meaningful to do!

Even though it can be hard to reach each and every volunteer with encouragement and training resources, the process of building up the skills of your volunteers is a significant part of an effective children’s ministry. Training is a process whereby your volunteers improve and gain confidence in the skills they use. Training allows for growth and development of additional new skills. Training ensures vitality and freshness of the entire staff. And training helps your volunteers most effectively reach kids for Jesus!
Serving Christ through you,

Donna Lucas
Publishing Director
Gospel Light /Children’s Ministry Resources

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Basketball and The Church. Did You Know?

The Americans defended their title in the gold-medal match that went down to the wire...what an exciting game! But here’s something you may not have know about the game. Basketball was invented more than 100 years ago by a Christian theologian as an evangelical outreach tool!

USA Basketball Wins Gold. Source.

As Breakpoint mentioned in a recent article, John Murray of The Wall Street Journal recalled the story of the game's founding. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, became convinced that he stood a better chance of exemplifying the Christian life through sports rather than through preaching. So he took a job as a physical education instructor at the YMCA's International Training School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismith's vision was "to win men for the Master through the gym."

In 1891, Naismith set out to invent a new indoor game that students could play during winter. He spent weeks testing various games, including versions of soccer, football, and lacrosse, to no avail. "Finally," Murray writes, "Naismith decided to draw from all of these sports: with a ball that could be easily handled, play that involved running and passing with no tackling, and a goal at each end of the floor." In short, he came up with basketball.

From the beginning, Naismith and his athletic director, Luther Gulick, held the players to a high standard. As Gulick wrote in 1897, "The game must be kept clean." A Christian college cannot tolerate "not merely ungentlemanly treatment of guests, but slugging and that which violates the elementary principles of morals."

He recommended that a coach should "excuse for the rest of the year any player who is not clean in his play."

Basketball served as an important evangelical tool during the next 50 years, Murray noted. In 1941, Naismith wrote that "whenever I witness games in a church league, I feel that my vision, almost half a century ago, of the time when the Christian people would recognize the true value of athletics, has become a reality."

In the last 100 years, we've seen no shortage of Christian athletes who use their skill, self-discipline, and sportsmanship as a witness to Christ-from Olympic runner Eric Liddel in the 1920s, to football player Tim Tebow in our own generation.

In fact, so many athletes give the glory to God after a game that sportswriters sometimes get irritated with them. To which I respond: Which would you prefer -- players known for their faith and good sportsmanship, or players who are arrested for assault or drug use?

If you have a young basketball fan in your family, tell him or her the story of how basketball was invented. And pray for Christian players who can use the public's love of sports the way Naismith envisioned when he invented basketball-as a witnessing tool to "win men for the Master through the gym."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Save 45% on Adventure Bibles for Kids

Now through the end of August, you'll save up to 45% on Adventure Bibles from Zondervan! This is America's best-selling Bible for kids!

The recently revised Adventure Bible is all about going on a safari exploration through God's Word with fun and interesting activities and study helps that kids are sure to love.

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Don’t miss this special opportunity to save big. These prices are only good through August 31, 2012!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fabulous Fall Sunday School Kickoff: Kick-Off Party Ideas

Earlier this week we shared some fundraising ideas so you and your kids can have a fabulous fall kickoff even on a budget! We also have some great Kickoff Party ideas to share with you!

WHEN: Host your party two to three weeks prior to your first Sunday school meeting so you can have a fairly accurate head-count before the meeting. By planning ahead, you can order additional student papers as needed so you have enough supplies on hand for all the children.

PROMOTION: Three to four weeks prior to your party, promote the event with posters. Send Kickoff Party Invitations to the children who attend your church and to neighborhood children. Be sure to include the date, time and location of your party. The invitations may be copied onto white or yellow card stock, then cut apart and mailed as postcards. (Add the person’s address and a stamp on the back.) Or the invitations may be copied onto colored paper (you can copy the party information onto the back), folded in half, and inserted in card-size envelopes to either
mail or hand out in person. Make extras for your church kids to use to invite their friends.

Advertise in your church newsletter and on your church website. Decorate a wall or bulletin board to look like the party invitations. Use balloons and streamers for a festive
touch. After the Kick-Off Party, have your leaders send a personal note of welcome to each family.

REGISTRATION: Have a registration table on Sunday mornings for parents to register their kids for Sunday school. You may want to have a free gift available at sign-up such as a pencil, bookmark, or wristband. Also, promote Sunday school donor opportunities during this time.

DECORATIONS: Decorate your party area with streamers, balloons and stars hanging from the ceiling or on the walls. Cut the stars out of construction paper or copy them onto colored card stock.

FOOD: Have a simple and inexpensive meal of hot dogs, chips, beans, and lemonade with cupcakes, brownies, or cookies for dessert. You can barbeque the hot dogs or put them in a large roaster or crock pot with water to cook them. If you prefer, hold a potluck to showcase the cooks in your church. You may want to bring unfrosted cookies or cupcakes and let everyone decorate their own dessert. Provide frosting, sprinkles, gumdrops, gummi bears, etc., as well as plastic knives for the decorating.

Sample Party Schedule

15 minutes: As children arrive, have them do a simple craft activity. Let each child (and any parents who wish to) decorate a large star cut-out with his/her name and/or favorite Bible verse using markers, puff paints, glitter, etc. Create the stars onto colored card stock and use them to decorate hallways and rooms. Hang them from the ceiling or tape them to the walls. As the children work, explain that all children are stars in Jesus’ eyes. They don’t have to excel at sports or music or schoolwork or anything else for Jesus to love them. Let them know that in Sunday school, they will be doing some of the fun things they’ll do today at the Kick-Off Party and they will also be learning more about Jesus.

20-25 minutes: Begin with a brief welcome, thanking families for coming. Have your pastor or Children’s Ministry Director say a prayer and then serve the meal.

10 minutes: Give a brief overview of the Sunday school program and what the children will be doing during the meeting time. You may want to help walk parents through a typical class, hand out a parent newsletter if you have one, and give parents a copy of the memory verses for the quarter.

5 minutes: Teach everyone the theme song for your program, if your program has one, or sing a familiar worship song.

15 minutes: Play some games (suggestions shown towards the end of this article) or try the following.

Who’s Got the Penny?
Have everyone sit in a circle with hands placed palms together, as if praying. Have a volunteer, the one who’s ‘It’,  hold a penny in his/her hands then walk around the circle and, in turn, insert his/her hands between the palms of the others, leaving the penny between the palms of one person. Explain that the person who is “It” should continue pretending to leave the penny with other people, even after the penny has been handed off, just to make it harder to tell who really has it. The ‘It’ person then points to someone in the circle and asks, “Who’s got the penny?” He/she then gets three guesses. If they guess correctly, they become the next one ‘It’. If they fail to guess who has the penny, the ‘It’ tells him and the child with the penny becomes the next ‘It’. After the game, explain that God is very different from ‘It’. God gives His good gifts to everyone who asks in His name, not just to one person. And we never have to guess whether He will hear and answer our prayers. God hears us no matter where we are!

10 minutes: Learn a Bible memory verse together. Before the party, print the memory verse on a white board or sheet of poster paper. During the party, talk about what it means then say it together a few times. Use one of these fun activities to help everyone learn the verse.

Memory Verse Mix-Up  
Whisper one word of the verse to each person until each word is taken. Whisper the Scripture reference to one person. Now let the people without an assigned word mix up the other people in the center of the room, guiding them around by their shoulders so they are standing side by side in a line. The “guiders” may now sit down and watch. Have the people say their assigned words when you point to them. This will be a mix-up jumble of words the children will find funny. Now, ask the people to arrange themselves in the correct verse order. They can refer to the verse on the board and the “guiders” may help non-readers. Repeat a few times so everyone has a turn to say part of the verse. Then say it all together once more.

Circle the Wagon
Have everyone stand in a circle. Start with one person and have him say the first word of the verse, then the next person will say the next word. After the verse is completed, the next person will say the verse reference then the person next to him will start again with the first word of the verse. Continue in this way until the verse is said in its entirety several times. If someone gets stuck on a word, one of the people next to him may say it for him and then have him repeat it. Try saying the verse faster and faster each time. Take down the words or erase the board after several rounds, and try saying the verse from memory, going around the circle. Then say it all together one final time.

5 minutes: Close by singing the Theme Song you learned earlier (if your program has one), or a worship song. Dismiss the group, thank everyone for coming, and encourage parents to meet the leaders and register their children, if they haven’t already. Have FUN! And remember, every child is a star in the eyes of Jesus.

More suggested kick-off games and activities

God Knows You
Hand out an index card and a pencil to each person. Say, Write your initials on one side of the card. On the other side of the card, write one fact about yourself that you think nobody else at the party knows. For example, one person may write that her uncle flew a mission in Afghanistan or that she’s lived in five different states. After each player writes his fact, have him turn the card in to the leader, who will mix them up and hand them out. (Anyone who gets his own card may trade it for another.) Each player tries to find the person who wrote the statement on the card he is holding. When he does, he has the writer autograph the card. After each writer has been identified say, Getting to know someone means that you may learn something new
about him or her. At our party today, we will be getting to know more about God and His Son, Jesus.

Football Relay
Use a football for each team. Mark a goal line about 15 feet away from the teams. The first player on each team runs with the ball between his knees to the goal line and back. The players may touch the ball with their hands only to pass it to the next player or to pick up a dropped ball. A player cannot move while he has his hands on the ball. The first team to make it back to the starting line wins. Point out that although this game had winners and losers, each person is a winner in Jesus’ eyes, no matter what his talents and abilities. No one is a loser in Jesus’ eyes. Jesus loves each person.

Under the Limbo Stick
Have two leaders hold one broom (or broom handle) about chest high, as a limbo stick. If you have a large group, set up several limbo areas. The first player goes under the stick, bending backward as necessary, so he doesn’t touch the stick, and goes to the end of the line. The next player does the same. Any player who touches the broom is out and may cheer on the remaining players. When the first player reaches the head of the line again, lower the broom. Continue lowering the limbo stick each round until only one player can wiggle under it without touching it. Explain that during this game the object was to not get too close to the limbo stick. In our lives, we want to stick close to God and His Son, Jesus. When we lean too much on things like money and popularity, it’s easy to fall away from God and do wrong things (sin). But when we stick close to Jesus and obey Him, He helps us get through tough times and keeps us from falling into sin.

If you choose not to have a full meal why not serve popcorn, pretzels, juice, and a variety of fruit chunks. Provide wooden skewers and let people make their own fruit kabobs. Decorate the table with goal posts, streamers, and other decorations. Explain that eating healthy food helps us keep our bodies healthy and strong so we can be our best for God.

If possible, have a college or high school football player who is a Christian come and talk about what it means to have Christ as his or her coach. Here’s a suggested devotion:

Just as players need a coach to help them play their best, we need a coach to help us do something that is much more important than playing a game—we need a coach to help us live our lives. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we are on Jesus’ team, and He is our coach.

The Bible is our playbook. As our Coach, Jesus helps us work together as a team. He helps us realize that everyone has different talents and plays different positions, and He loves each person. There is room for everyone on Jesus’ team. To get on His team, you just need to talk to Jesus. Read John 14:6. Then pray, thanking God for Jesus.

Some final thoughts

Remember this is a big job, so meet with your Christian education director, children’s pastor, or Sunday school superintendent. Begin with prayer, asking the Lord to direct you to the people whom He wants to teach your children. Ask Him to prepare the hearts of these people to be receptive to becoming Sunday school leaders or helpers.

Then make a list of qualified people who might be interested, and make an appointment to visit them in their homes. Explain the Sunday school program and the responsibilities of being a leader or helper. Ask him or her to pray about the decision, and if desired, leave any materials with him or her. It is good to involve a variety of people in working with children: fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, college  students, or adults with older children may all enjoy working with children. Make a concerted effort to get men involved in the program — particularly fathers. They will love it, and so will the kids. A man in the classroom often helps to reduce discipline problems, too.

Organize a list of “substitute” teachers from which to draw when a regular leader or helper is unable to attend. Be sure to fill each vacancy each week. There are most likely people in your church who aren’t available on a weekly basis or just don’t want to be tied to a schedule, but do like to help when presented with a special need. These are the people who can help you by preparing handcraft materials, cutting out visuals, or making or providing snacks. Senior citizens and singles are particularly receptive to this idea.

Always remember to show your appreciation for your leaders’ and other volunteers’ help! Here’s a tasty idea! Give each of your volunteers an individually wrapped bag of popcorn with the following note attached: We’re BURSTING with appreciation for you!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fabulous Fall Sunday School Kickoff: Fundraising Ideas

Don’t let a tight budget keep you from having an exciting and dynamic Sunday school program. We've got some great ways for you to have a fabulous and fun fall kickoff, including fundraising and Kickoff Party ideas.

First, here are some ideas for funding your program(s).

Sunday School Sponsors

Have your church members sponsor children for Sunday school. Most people would jump at the chance to support a child in a positive, Bible-based program. Decorate a wall or bulletin board in your church as the “Sunday School Hall of Fame.” Make a Sunday school poster to put in the middle of the wall or board. At a Sunday School Sponsor Table have people purchase stars for the amount they want to donate. Use a simple star pattern. Make two stars for each of your donors—one on paper and one on card stock. Write a brief note of thanks on the paper star (or have the child receiving a scholarship write the note) and give it to the donor. Cut out the card stock star, print the donor’s name in the middle and add glitter around the edges. Add the card stock stars to the “Hall of Fame,” taping them around the poster.

Special Offering

Have a special Sunday School Offering for five weeks and challenge your children and adults to a certain goal. Send a letter to your church members explaining how the offering will work. Let them know that the offering money will be used to help fund your Sunday school program. For each of the first four weeks, ask people to bring a different coin (see chart below). Of course, other coins and bills are welcome, as well! Have them bring bills the fifth and final week. Give an update following each week, letting everyone know how much was raised. You may want to have an artistic member of your congregation draw a thermometer with some benchmarks indicated at the quarter, half, and three-quarter points, and the goal at the top. Each week color the “mercury” on the thermometer red to show how the offering is progressing.

Week 1 – Pennies
Week 2 – Nickels
Week 3 – Dimes
Week 4 – Quarters
Week 5 – Bills

Yard or Rummage Sale

Encourage your congregation to clean out their closets and garages and bring the unneeded items to church for a giant rummage sale. Be sure to advertise that all proceeds will be used to fund the Sunday school programs at your church. Ask that items be brought in clean and in good and  saleable condition. Then have children and teens from your church set up an old fashioned  lemonade stand at which they can also sell donuts, muffins, coffee  and juice.  These things can be donated by members of your congregation.

Stuck on Sunday School

Make a list of items needed for your Sunday school and the cost of each item. Print each item needed and the price on a sticky note. Put the notes on a bulletin board or wall and have your congregation members “go shopping.” Each member can choose a sticky note and then pay for the items at the Sunday School Sponsor Table. Even kids can use their allowances to help out. Give each “shopper” a donor star on which to print his name and then add to your “Hall of Fame.”

You can build interest and excitement for your Sunday school program by hosting a Sunday School Kick-Off Party. This event will promote Sunday school and your children’s ministry to your congregation and community. Schedule time during the kick-off party to pre-register children, introduce leaders and teachers, and educate parents about the importance of Sunday school for their children. Some of your parents may want to donate money to benefit your program.

Stay tuned later this week for Kickoff Party ideas!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Introducing Answers in Genesis Sunday School Curriculum

Answers in Genesis logo
We're excited to share Answers in Genesis' new Sunday school curriculum with you! It will be available soon in our Sunday School store.

The idea behind Answers Bible Curriculum is that all age levels, from preschool through adult, will go through the Bible chronologically in 3 years. Each group covers Genesis through Revelation and learns the same material—but at different levels of depth—enabling exciting and easy discussion for the entire family!

Parents love that they learn the very same topics at the same time as their children—so the entire family can easily discuss the Bible more naturally throughout the week!

Scope and Sequence >


Exciting topics, a strong focus on Jesus our Savior, and faith-strengthening "apologetics" take your kids through the Bible in the order that things actually happened! Not only do kids get answers to their hard questions, they also get a big-picture overview of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation! This curriculum sets students on a life-long trek of exciting discovery of the truth of God’s Word.

Whether they’ve attended church for a few weeks or their entire lives, adults love the clear, easy-to-understand chronological overview of the Bible used in this unique Sunday school curriculum. Watch as men and women who have “heard it all before” make the connections that have been left out by sporadic and topical teaching approaches.

  Ordering Options

Full Teacher Kit: Each convenient kit includes everything you need for a single quarter: detailed Teacher Guide, Take Home Sheets, several colorful posters up to 17 x 22 inches each, and a Resource DVD-ROM with numerous ready-to-print extras.

Student Take-Home Sheets (preschool-grade 6): Kids (and parents) love these full-color weekly take-home sheets that reinforce the lesson content. Fun activities and daily Bible readings encourage family discussion during the week. 11x17 folded to 8 ½ x11.

Student Guide: (junior high-adult): A quarterly book for student participants. Features lesson background information, class notes, and personal application questions. (6" x 9" softcover)

Stay tuned for more information about Answers in Genesis Sunday School curriculum, coming soon to our Sunday School store!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sunday School Teacher’s Guide to How Middle Schoolers Learn

Junior High doesn't exactly fit under "Children's Ministry," but we wanted to share this information with you. Those of you who faithfully teach middle school/junior highers have a tough—and very important—task. You are working with students who are going through a multitude of changes, emotionally, physically, and environmentally, all while trying to figure out who they are.  

Here's a helpful excerpt from Faith Teaching, by Steve Wamberg and John Conaway, from Cook Communications Ministries:

Change is the definitive word for middle schoolers (sixth, seventh and eighth graders), who share these characteristics:
1. Dealing with change in school buildings, routines, and friends;
2. A profound emphasis on peer relationships;
3. Physical changes (both visible and internal);
4. A gradual shift from concrete to abstract thinking; and
5. The ability to reflect on one’s own thoughts and actions
What Works and What Doesn’t Work with Teaching Middle Schoolers

1. Allow for plenty of group interaction time, with partners, small groups, or with the whole group.
2. Create an atmosphere where every student is valued and included—encourage acceptance of all.
3. Set opportunities for active games and team activities.
4. Encourage the exchange of ideas and much discussion—find out what they’re thinking.
5. Allow students to make choices between activities; balance competitive and noncompetitive activities.
6. Pose challenging questions that expand the students’ thinking.
7. Help the students understand the symbolism and truths represented in proverbs and parables.
1. Don’t have students work only independently.
2. Don’t allow students to sit in cliques or always with the same peers; don’t embarrass students for any reason.
3. Don’t rely on seatwork for the entire class period.
4. Don’t do all the talking and expect students to listen.
5. Don’t have the students do the same thing the whole time.
6. Don’t give students all the answers.
7. Don’t expect every middle school student to fully understand figurative language.
8. Don’t dictate to students how to use what they have learned.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Safety for Your Children's Programs

Before your first day of VBS, Bible Club, or Sunday School, make sure you have Registration Cards for each of your classes. You can get Registration Cards for Honeybees, Cubby Bears, and All-Stars for Jesus here. Give a Registration Card to parents when they register their children and have them fill one out for each child. The card should contain emergency information and a place to list allergies and other medical conditions of your students. For any child with allergies, create a special, brightly colored name badge with the allergies listed so all leaders and helpers are aware of the allergies and don't inadvertently give the child something that might cause an allergic reaction.

Safety Guidelines for Preschoolers

To ensure that each child's experience in your class is a safe and happy one, each leader and helper should know and practice these simple safety guidelines. These are geared toward preschoolers, but many are applicable to all classes.

  • 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 class, unless the parent has notified you 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 1-1/2" 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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring & Easter Classroom Decorating Ideas

With spring just around the corner, now is a great time to think about sprucing up your classroom decorations. Bright colors and fun decorations may be just what you and your kids need to get through the end of the dreary winter.

It just so happens we have lots of inspirational decorations for all year round, including some that would be perfect for Easter.

Here are some of our favorites...

God's Promises Border

The Lord is My Shepherd Banner

The Lord is My Shepherd Border
A New Creation Banner

We also have some fun Easter stickers...because we know how much kids love stickers! These are a great way for them to bring the Easter story home with them.

He Is Risen Stickers

Easter Passion Stickers

Easter Dogwood Stickers

We have a huge selection of inspirational and seasonal classroom decorations. And even lots of decorations that match this year's VBS themes! To browse all decorations, click here >

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Helping Children with Transitions

Helping young children transition from active times to more quiet parts of your lesson can be a challenge. You can create activities especially designed to give them a chance to calm down and turn on their listening ears. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Give children a warning when moving from one activity to another. A couple of minutes before you want them to finish what they are doing, say, "This is your two-minute warning. We will start putting away the toys (or crayons) in two minutes." As adults, we get frustrated when someone interrupts what we're doing. Children often have the same frustration when we stop their activity abruptly instead of giving them time to finish what they're doing.
  • If you want your students to move from an active to a quiet activity, provide a transition activity to help them calm down and get the wiggles out. This can be an action rhyme, "The Wiggle Song," a march around the room (getting slower and quieter each time around), or an action song such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" (getting faster and faster; then getting slower with each round until everyone ends by sitting down).
  • Play a game such as "Follow the Leader" to get the wiggles out before your quiet time. Tell the children that in this game everyone must do what the leader does. Explain that everyone can have a turn at being the leader. Begin by having the children walk around the room following your motions. Then begin to hop, skip, or tiptoe and have the children imitate your actions. Give each child a turn to be the leader (do not force any child to do this). As the child leads say, "It's fun to follow a leader. [Kayla] is being a good leader. We learn by following good leaders." Conclude the game by having the children follow you one more time as you move slowly to the story rug and then sit down quietly for the Bible story.
  • Do a fun action rhyme before the Bible story time, to help your students calm down and begin to focus their attention on you, the teacher. 
    Here's a rhyme you can try with your class to help with the transition to your Bible story about Jesus dying and coming alive again. Before doing the rhyme together, hold your open Bible and explain that the Bible is God's Word and it is true. Show your students how to hold their hands together, palms up, to look like an open Bible. Now lead them in this rhyme (younger children will either say the words with you or do the motions but probably won't be able to do both, which is fine).

    The happy birds sing in the trees.
         (Flap arms like a bird.)
    The pretty flowers nod in the breeze.
         (Nod head and sway from side to side.)
    The kangaroos jump up with joy.
         (Jump and hop.)
    Why are they happy? Hear them say
         (cup hand behind ear and say together),
    "Our Jesus is alive today!"

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Adult Sunday School Curriculum for Your Church

    It's time to order your Spring quarterly Sunday school curriculum! The quarter begins in March and we have lots of curriculum to choose from for children and adults. You can shop our large selection (with the guaranteed lowest prices) here >

    There are a lot of churches that don't realize that there's some great curriculum available for your adult classes. This curriculum also works well for small group study. Here are just a few of our suggestions.

    Standard Lesson Quarterly
    Available in KJV or NIV, Standard Lesson Quarterly is a richly resourced adult curriculum based on the International Sunday School Lessons (ISSL)/Uniform Series. Reliable Scripture exposition, culturally relevant examples, and timely discussion questions engage students and give the Bible lesson meaning in their everyday lives. Students survey the Bible in a 6-year cycle.
    • Based on International Sunday School Lessons/Uniform Series
    • Provides a comprehensive overview of the Bible in six years
    • Biblically sound teaching
    • Everything you need to prepare quality lessons
    • Adaptable to different class sizes, large or small
    • Encourages students to apply what they are learning to daily life
    • Gets adults into the Bible
    • Culturally relevant examples and discussion questions that engage students
    We recommend ordering a Teacher's Convenience Kit for each class and additional student materials based on your class sizes. See all options >

    • 1 teacher book
    • 1 student book
    • 1 Adult Resources packet**
    • 1 Devotions®
    • 1 each of 13 issues of SEEK® take-home papers
    • 1 teacher book
    • 1 student book
    • 1 Adult Resources packet**
    • 1 Devotions®
    • 1 sample of The Lookout magazine

    David C. Cook Bible-in-Life

    Bible- in-Life, focuses on four basic goals: connect, teach, apply, motivate. No matter where students are in their walk with Jesus, Bible-in-Life communicates the gospel with life-changing clarity and motivates them toward life application. Bible-in-Life has two series...

    Comprehensive Bible Study
    Bible-in-Life's Comprehensive Bible Study also follows the International Sunday School Lectionary (ISSL). Each lesson inspires adults, promotes community among others, and challenges them to grow spiritually. Adults are equipped to build a deeper understanding of Bible principles and encouraged toward in-depth participation and life application. Bible-in-Life supports adults of all age ranges and throughout all stages of life.
    • Classroom model
    • Printed curriculum
    • Additional online resources
    • Six-year scope and sequence (ISSL)
    We recommend ordering a Teacher's Resource Kit for each class/group and additional student and teacher materials as needed. Shop now >

    Understanding the Bible
    David C. Cook also offers another series of Bible-in-Life: Understanding the Bible. This provides a quarterly, expositional study of each book of the Bible to build a deeper understanding of Scripture. The Understanding the Bible study series is perfect for small groups, Sunday school classes, or as an individual study. 

    • Classroom model
    • Printed curriculum
    • Eight-year scope and sequence
    We recommend ordering a Teacher's Guide for each class/group and additional student and teacher materials as needed. Shop now >

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Happy Birthday!

    Make a list of your students' birthdays. (This Jesus Loves the Children Incentive Chart can keep track of attendance or memory verses plus birth dates. Comes in a pack of two.) As new children join your class, keep track of their birthdays, too. If you have a large group of students, consider having a monthly birthday celebration. Include everyone with birthdays during that month as your guests of honor. If you have a dozen students or less, try celebrating each child near the date of his or her birthday.

    Decorate one wall or bulletin board with this Birthday Celebration mini bulletin board set. It includes twelve cake slices labeled with each month of the year, 32 candles (one for each of your students), plus decorative balloons and noisemakers to put on the bulletin board. You may also want to give the birthday child a large Birthday star sticker that says, "It's my birthday!" These large 3 x 3-inch stickers come 36 to a package.

    Let the birthday child stand in front of the class next to you. Consider providing a special "Birthday Hat" for the child to wear during class. Celebrate the child's special day by leading the class in the Happy Birthday song. After singing it once through, add a second verse:
        God's blessings to you,
    God's blessings to you,
         God's blessings to [Jamie],
    God's blessings to you.

    You might want to provide an inexpensive present for the birthday child, such as a sheet of stickers. Choose napkins and a snack with a birthday theme (cake, cupcakes, muffins, circus animal cookies, etc.). Conclude with a prayer of thanks for the birthday child.

    If the child's birthday occurs during a time when your class is on vacation, send a "Happy Birthday" postcard. Visit for birthday postcards. (Or send a card to each child the week before his or her birthday. Children love getting mail and they don't get it very often. How special to get a card from their teacher.)

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Thanking God for His World

    Help your students begin to appreciate God's creation. No matter the weather, you can use the outdoors as an opportunity for the children to thank God. (This is a photo of a hiking trail up Cowles Mountain in San Diego, California.)

    If it's too cold to actually take your class outside, have them look at the view from a window. Then open the window and let them feel the cold air (make sure the window has a screen). Talk about how God made the seasons for us to enjoy.

    If it's not too cold, bundle up your students and take them for a brief walk in the snow. Show them the different sizes of footprints as they walk. Observe the trees and bushes covered in snow (or peeking out from the snow). If it's snowing, have them stick out their tongues and catch snowflakes. Point out the each snowflake is unique or one-of-a-kind. Explain that God created each person to be special and unique (one-of-a-kind), too. Here's a picture of snow falling in Virginia:
    If you live a warmer climate, take your students outside to enjoy the warm weather. Stroll along the beach and let them collect seashells. Talk about the creatures that make the shells their homes. Explain that God gives people homes, too. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about God's love and care for each person. Here' a beach in Kona, Hawaii:

    You may live near hiking trails or woods. Point out the variety of leaves and trees as you take a walk with your students. Pick some berries or grapes and thank God for giving us good food. Here are some grapes growing in Napa Valley, California:

    Wherever you live, take advantage of your location to share God's creation with your students–even if it's through your photos. Take some time to thank God for His beautiful world each day.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    The Wise Man and the Foolish Man Action Song

    After telling the Bible story of the two builders from Matthew 7:24-27, read I Corinthians 10:4. Say, "Jesus said, 'People who hear what I say and obey Me are like the wise builder. When problems come, they will be safe. But people who hear me without obeying what I say are like the foolish man. When problems come, they will be in BIG trouble.'"

    "When we obey Jesus, we are like the wise builder. Many times in the Bible Jesus is called our Rock. This means that those who love and obey Jesus will be kept safe. He is our 'solid foundation.'"

    "Some people think they are as safe as a house built on a rock, just because they hear Jesus' words and study about Him in Sunday school or Bible club. But Jesus said that in order to be safe we must obey His Words as well as listen to them."

    Sing the following song with your students to the tune of THIS OLD MAN:
         This wise man, he built well (pretend to hammer)
    He built well upon a rock;
         When the rains came down
    And the floods came up (lower and then raise hands),
         This man's house stood firm and strong.

    Foolish man, he built wrong;
        He built strong upon the sand (pretend to hammer);
    When the rains came down

         And the floods came up (lower and then raise hands),

    This man's house came tumbling down (fall down).
    For another fun activity to reinforce this Bible story, try this action lesson, The Wise and Foolish Builders.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Why Worry?

    Matthew 6:25-34 is one of the most frequently quoted Scripture passages in discussions about money and work. Sadly, there are some who use this text to imply that Jesus was against earning money and that He considered work a distraction from things that really matter. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    A careful examination of these verses reveals that Jesus was condemning worry, not work. He called us to make God the object of our faith, for He is the one who ultimately supplies our physical, material, and spiritual needs. The following are seven reasons why we should not worry:

    • The same God who created life in us can be trusted with the details of our life (verse 25).
    • Worrying about the future impedes our efforts for today (verse 26).
    • Worrying is more harmful than helpful (verse 27)
    • God does not ignore those who depend on Him (verses 28-30)
    • Worrying shows a lack of faith in understanding of God and His love for us. (verses 31-32).
    • Worrying keeps us from real challenges God wants us to tackle (verse 33).
    • Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry (verse 34)

    These are concepts we can start to instill in our youngest students as they watch us live them out in our own lives. So when we're tempted to worry, we can turn to God's Word instead!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Think of Yourself As a Tour Guide

    Think of yourself as a tour guide instead of just a teacher. Now picture your students as your tour group. You are actually life's tour guide for the children in your care. Your task is to plan the itinerary, show the children the places of learning, and then let them explore and discover God's Word for themselves. As you open Biblical places, scenes, people, and adventures, you can remind them that these are true stories from God's Word, the Bible. Help your older students understand that God's Word is not a fairy tale.

    Hold your open Bible when you say a memory verse or tell a Bible story. Say, "This is a true story (or lesson or adventure) from God's Word, the Bible." Point out the rich history of the places you mention. Use maps, charts, and visuals to help your students picture the people, houses, clothing, food, climate, and landscape.

    Talk with your students like a tour guide. For example, while finger painting or sculpting clay, talk about the color and texture of the materials. Describe what you and the children are experiencing. Let your students share their own descriptions. Linking language with sight, sound, and activities teaches important pre-reading skills to your preschoolers and helps reach students of all ages who learn in different ways. In fact, the more senses students use to experience a lesson, the more likely they are to remember the lesson long after it's over.

    (If you're looking for Bible lesson ideas, visit ChristianEdWarehouse for suggestions.)