And whoever welcomes a child like this in My name welcomes me. Matthew 18:5

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Time's A Comin'...In 365 Days

Well, that lovely, snow filled, glittered, and sugared up time of year has came and gone yet again. That's right folks...Christmas!
Now, as a Children's Minister (here forward known as a "CM" cause I'm getting really tired of typing in Children's Minster in every post) I know just how hectic Christmas can be. So, here is few tips from me to you.

1. Christmas gifts can be crazy expensive. So, shop  for presents and crafts early...or LATE!

 If you're like me and you like to do something special for your kids, be it gifts or a special craft, I recommend buying things early in the year or just after Christmas.

So, what do I mean by shopping early/late? Well, I'm glad you asked.

I recommend shopping early...aka the early fall. Granted, at this time you won't find much Christmas related stuff, but you can get some awesome things like pencils and bubbles at a reasonable price.
Or you can follow my second recommendation and shop late.
Usually all major retailers/websites will have an after Christmas sale. The only drawback with this is that things tend to be picked over, but if you get in the action early you can have some great things set aside in the cabinet for next year...just be sure to remember where you put it all!

 Our church buys all the kids toys for Christmas, usually around $10 a child, if you're inclined toward larger gifts. However, I like to give each kid a goody bag just from me. I usually fill it with things like candy, pencils, and stickers...all of which are inexpensive. Particularly when you buy late/early and in bulk.
Speaking of bulk always try to buy a few extras since everyone and their aunt, uncle, sister, and brother seems to show up at Christmas.
I recommend using websites like Oriental Trading where you can order in large quantities. However, if you do ignore my advice, and shop in season instead of out, please bear in mind that shipping may take longer due to the Christmas rush. So, as I said, ORDER EARLY! Or else you will be in a panic that you won't have the gift bags for your class Christmas party, and you will then receive your stuff around 7:00 the night before you needed them. Save yourself the stress and shop smart people. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. lol


2. If you plan on doing a Christmas party...pageant...play...concert...basically anything that involves other church leaders...please make sure everyone is clear on the plan and the scheduling.

Ok, this is a short one.
We have inadvertently caused unneeded stress by simply not making sure everyone knew what we were doing for Christmas. We've had Christmas play practices scheduled on Christmas party days...and Christmas pageants  Scheduled when the worship leaders had no clue what we were doing, or how He need to direct the service. Just take it from me, make sure everyone who needs to be aware of the goings on is aware. It will save everyone from some unnecessary  holiday stress.

3.Speaking of Christmas plays/pageants...

I love performing. I grew up being on stage every time I could...if it was a church play or a ballet recital I was absolutely there. So, naturally I got unwillingly drafted into being the director of the Children's Christmas Pageant. haha Weeeellllll....let's just say I learned a LOT those first two years. But to condense all of my hard learned wisdom down into as small of segment as possible I will give you four basic tips.

A. Make sure to get an early start. There is a lot more to a Christmas pageant thanhaha
running a few lines on a stage. You...YOURSELF...need to know the material better than your surly shepherds and sulking angels. Otherwise you will have NO clue what to do...and you will end up with surly shepherds and sulking angels.
Speaking of misbehaving biblical characters...in one play we did my niece and nephew played the artistically challenging roles of donkey and cow. Basically their job was to sit for 10 minutes...well that just wasn't enough for them. My niece, who was 5 then, was apparently a narcoleptic cow, because she fell asleep while sitting on all fours...but she stayed in that position the entire time. Well, as if that wasn't funny enough my nephew, who was four at the time, stood up and started dancing...he then began throwing hay at Mary as she sang. HAHA Needless to say that video will be used as blackmail for many years to come.
So, back on topic.
B. Make sure allllll of your fellow Children's Ministers, stage moms, costume & set designers...etc. know what the plan is. No matter if it's a big or small production it can't be a one person show.
C. Try to play to your kids strengths. If they're bad public speakers a 10 page play is probably not going to be doing their talent any justice. Maybe a short concert or a dance would be more suited to them.
The same goes to assigning parts. If a child wants to play The Virgin Mary "Sooooo bad!" Yet, can't work up the nerve to read a Bible verse aloud in class...well you get the idea. You'll be saving their feelings and your sanity in the long run.
AND FINALLY
D. Have fun. Who cares if someone forgets their lines or your angel choir sounds a bit like a flock of seagulls? Kids are adorable people with love your performance even more with it's flaws. So, have fun with it! Don't get so caught up in the show that you forget your tiny performers who are putting their heart into this. Cause that's where the magic truly happens. People will be more touched by an innocent heart than a perfect performance anyway.

And finally I will finish with this last tip.

4. Don't forget to have fun!

Christmas can be a hectic time for everyone between church stuff and home stuff it can be too much for the best of us, but give yourself grace...as well as the others around you. Christmas is meant to be a time where our faith shines the brightest, not burns the weakest. Do your best, and leave the rest up to God. If that means that a present goes unwrapped just remember that they made bags for a reason. :)

Merry "After" Christmas And A Happy New Year! From my classroom to yours!

Oops, I Did It Again...

I know the first rule of blogging is to never state how long it's been since you last blogged, but since it's been nearly four months since I've written I feel the need to say this...sorry, again ,everyone! Things have been very busy on the home front as of late. However, during my time away I've learned some awesome things that I can't wait to share with all of you! I'm so excited to get back to writing again!
So, now that I've made my apologies...and excuses. ;) Keep a watch for new posts soon!
Thank you to all my faithful followers! Your support means the world. We Sunday School teachers have to stick together, right?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trivia Day!

 We all know no kid likes tests. But they are, however, really great ways to find out if your kids are learning. So, what's the easiest way to test them without them knowing they're being tested? 
QUIZ DAY!!!!
My kids love quiz day! It is such a great way to learn just what your kids know and what you still need to teach them.

All you need are, 
(I added the links for the items below.)

Sound Effects App. (If you have a smart phone...)
Note:
If you are more of the DIY type you can make your own game show buzzers and trivia questions.
DIY Game Show Buzzers

The concept is simple. The kids split into two teams, you ask them trivia questions, and they get one points for ever correct answer.
Note:
This is a lot of fun when you team up boys vs. girls style. It's a big hit with the kids.

 This is such a fun easy way to break up the same old same old Sunday School routine. I like to do Quiz Days at least every couple of months as a review for Sunday School lessons. Also, if you have a weekend when you are running short on time and can't get a lesson plan together this is a fun quick way to teach without all the paperwork. Or, it can even work as a time filler.

I hope this helps!

Blessings,
Faith



Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Heart Hat

 As most of you know our class has been doing a unit on love this month. Well, my class kiddos are older so we don't do crafts very often, but they really enjoyed this one. Even my twelve year olds were running to show there parents what they made after church.

~All You Need Is~
Note:I recommend buying the super cheep flimsy plates, because they're easier to cut.

This is a suuuuuper simple craft. All you have to do is,
1. Fold the plate and cut a heart in the center. Then fold it forward so the heart stands up.
2. Let the kids decorate it. 
Note: I recommend writing a verse on it first just to tie it in with a lesson.

And then....TA DA! It's a heart hat!

It's really that simple. This is a such a super fun and easy craft. I hope it goes over as well in your class as it did in mine! 
On a side note...I  found this heart hat idea from alphamom.com...it's a neat website for all you parents out there.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

God Is Love Example

We've just recently started a teaching unit on love, particularly the Love of God, in my class. I used an awesome example that I found in one of my curriculums. It's super inexpensive, but it will make a big impact. 

All you need is,
And,
Note:
Be sure to get the plastic bottle of honey and not the glass, 
since this example involves breaking the bottle.

 Holding the bottle of honey in your hand ask your class what it is, and what comes out of it. Most everyone will know it is ,of course, honey comes out of a honey bottle. 
 Throwing the bottle on the ground again ask them what the bottle is. Call the bottle a mean name, and ask again what the bottle is. Finally, taking the scissors cut gashes in the bottle. Ask the class again what this bottle is. Then ask them what comes out of the bottle.
 Finish off by saying, "Today we have kicked, been mean to, and hurt this little bottle of honey, but despite all that what still comes out of it?", the answer if you haven't guessed is honey lol, "God is the same we can call Him names, break His rules, and even turn our back on Him, but He loves us anyway. His love for us is unconditional. Meaning, there is nothing we can do to make God love us. He has always loved us, because God is love. He may not love the choices we make, but He still loves us. So, just like this bottle, even though we've hurt it, honey still comes out. The same is true with God, even though we try to hurt Him, love still comes out."

 Well, I hope this example will be useful to you! 

Love and Blessings,
Faith


Monday, June 17, 2013

The Road to 2,000

 I just wanted to let everyone know that we are well on our way to 2,000 viewers. I am so beyond blessed and humbled. Thank you to all of my readers and fans! You guys are the best!
 When I started this blog a little less than a year ago I wasn't even sure if there were other Sunday School Teachers out there online. I didn't think anyone would even want to read something I wrote. But this blog has proven me wrong, it has reached everywhere from the United Kingdom, to India, and France. And that is because of all of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'm so happy to be able to help and connect with Children's Ministers from all over the world.
So, here a virtual hug from me to all of you. lol
24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

Love and Blessings,
Faith <3

The Waiting Game

 Class is ending, you're passing out snack, everyone is settling in, you check the time....you've ended early! WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ALL THESE KIDS FOR 10, 15, OR, LORD FORBID, 30 MINUTES?! 
 Not to fear my fellow teachers, I've been there...almost every Sunday. lol.  
 So, how do we occupy kids for a significant amount of time? Well, if you're like me, and attend a small or average size church, then we don't usually have the luxury of an indoor play area. So, I recommend games. Believe it or not it's that simple. Most of the time I let the kids pick what they want to do that day. If it's nice out and I've had a well behaved class that day I don't mind letting them go outside and play for a while. But, since that's only an option for about four months out of the year here are some ideas for the other 8 months.
Option 1.

 If you're dealing with a younger group, play dough is a quick and simple crowd pleaser. Just be prepared for a bit of a mess. It's also a good idea to have hand sanitizer for after so you don't send kids home smelling like play dough.

Note.
This is also a really good one if you're teaching about creation. Let the kids create something like God did.




Option 2.
 These little beauties are...excuse the pun...a ball in class. These are Throw and Tell balls from group.com. The kids toss the ball around hot potato style, you call time, and whoever has the ball has to answer the question under his or her left thumb. Throw and Tell balls come in lots of different themes, and they're also great for lesson review. If it isn't in your church budget to purchase one you can go to the dollar store, get a beach ball and a sharpie, and achieve the same thing for less money. 

Note. 
These are also great for getting a new class to learn 
about each other. 
Option 3.
 If you have a significant amount of time on your hands, and a white board or chalk board in your room, I let the kids play Pictionary. For those of you who don't know what Pictionary is, it is a game like charades, but with drawing. The kids, without using words, draw pictures while the other kids try and guess what they're trying to say.


Note.
 If you're a "prepare ahead type of person", you could even write out ideas that correspond with your lesson for the kids to draw. 






Option 4.
 I can't believe I'm saying this, but the kids ask to play musical chairs allll of the time. Now, even though is an oldie it is still a goody. If you don't know what musical chairs is, then clearly you never went to an elementary school birthday party. Basically, you line up chairs based on the number of kids in your class, if you have 10 kids put out 9 chairs, turn on music, the kids will begin walking in a line around the chairs, they will keep doing this until you stop the music, whoever isn't sitting in a chair when the music stops is out, you then take 1 chair away. You will keep doing this until there is only one chair left. Pretty simple, and great if you only have a few minutes of free time. 

Note.
This is a great way to introduce Christian music to 
your class, since most won't hear it very much
outside of church.
Option 5.
If you're looking for a cute, silly, quick game, that requires few supplies then this is for you. The Why/Because game. This game has the potential for some laughs with your students. You will give each student two small pieces of paper and a pen or pencil. On one card, each person should write a question that begins with the word ‘why’. Then on the second piece of paper, each person should answer his or her question starting with the word ‘because’. You will collect all the why’s in one pile and all the because’s in another. Mix up each pile and then read one why card with one because card. You will get some crazy and silly combinations that are sure to have you and your classroom laughing all the way to the parking lot.

Note. 
This is also a great icebreaker, perfect for 
a new class to get talking.

Well, these are just a few ideas, and I'm sure you will come up with your own. In time you will find exactly what time fillers best fit you and your class. If you have anymore time filler ideas please leave a comment below. I would love to hear about them!

Thanks and God Bless, 
Faith

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Dry Spell

 I think we've all, unfortunately, hit the proverbial wall at least once in our teaching careers. When we find ourselves feeling tired, dry, exasperated, and frankly questioning if this is all worth it or not. It is a time that more often than not is due to us simply not taking care of ourselves spiritually. 
 As children's ministers we can often overlook our own spiritual need for those of our students. Which is a never a good thing since it usually leaves us spiritually dehydrated. Contrary to the popular belief you should always think of yourself first...at least when it comes to spiritual needs anyway. lol 
 Think of it like this, what if you tried to feed all the hungry in the world by giving up all of your food. Well, if you look at it naturally it looks really great, you've helped tons of people, but eventually you start starving yourself. By doing so you can no longer help any of the hungry. You end up losing your health doing something that looked right. 
 Well, it's the same way spiritually. We can end up getting so caught up giving out our time and talents that we forget to give God any of our time. Slowly but surely we spiritually starve to death. Which in turn renders us useless to our class. It's like trying to feed the homeless while you starve to death. 
 So, is it possible to bounce back from something like that? Yes, of course! 
 It's so simple to do too. Get in God's Word first and foremost! My dream is to be like a spiritual sponge for my students...I want to soak up God's Word all week and then just ring it out all over them on Sundays. Curriculums are great, but if you're not teaching them the Bible then you're really not teaching them anything are you?
 Also, pray....pray...what was that other thing? Oh yeah...PRAY! 
Prayer is key. It's literally communicating with God. It's not some hokey religious tradition, it is a God given blessing so we can keep in constant communication with our Heavenly Father. You will get your most valuable teaching guidance that way, I think. I am a strong believer when it comes to the power of prayer. I think the majority of any problems you have can be answered through prayer. No I don't necessarily mean a great audible voice echoing from a golden beam shot down from Heaven as doves fly out...hey if God ministers to you that way then great. But He tends not to be so in your face when it comes to me. Often times He may not even say a word, but a few days later someone may pop up with just the answer I was looking for, or when confronted with the situation I may just know what I need to do or say. It's really that simple. 
  Lastly, if you are really concerned with this dry spell you're dealing with consult your pastor. Don't do it to complain, but do it to explain your situation and seek some guidance. Sometimes God will use other people to communicate what He wants us to know. Because sometimes we just DON'T SHUT UP long enough for Him to get a word in edge wise...not that I've ever done that...ha yeah...not me...ok maybe once...or twice...ok three times tops.
 So, to finish off my main advice is, never neglect your relationship with God. It's great to want to do tons of stuff for God, but never to the point that you lose your relationship with God because of it. I think this advice applies to anyone in ministry no matter what your station. Our relationship with God has to be strong so that we can help strengthen others. 

God Bless,
Faith

Belated Post


 I'm sorry guys I know I've been away for waaaay too long. Between working, getting a new business off the ground, and obviously children's church I've been really busy. But I promise to update more often from now on.
 While we're on the topic of new blogs, what do you guys want to hear about? I would love to have your input. But for now, stay tuned to more Confessions Of A Sunday School Teacher by yours truly.

God Bless,
Faith

Monday, March 4, 2013

How to Handle "The Problem Child"

Ok, you know every class has one... 
That kid who is consistently causing trouble. You've pulled your hair out daily just trying to keep them in their seat, much less make them pay attention in class. So, what do you  do?

Spotting A Problem Child

 These kids tend to be instigators. No matter who they're sitting with or what they're doing they often manage to not only cause trouble for themselves, but they usually involve those around them. 
 They are consistent through every class when it comes to causing trouble, be it talking, not staying in their seat, being disrespectful, or whatever. 
 Also, they tend to be popular with the other kids. A leader, a show off, a class clown, or maybe just an all around good kid...as long as they're not sitting in a classroom. lol

What To Do About Your Problem Child

First, 
 Know that every child is different. Some require more attention than others, and some things that work with the majority of the class may not work with a problem child. So, think carefully about how to handle the situation.

 Second, 
 Don't let your temper get away from you. It can be soooo exasperating correcting a child again...and again...and again for exactly the same thing. So, take care of yourself first, get your emotions under control before confronting the child. We have to correct out of love not anger. We're correcting these kids to help them. Someone once told me that behavior begins character. So, don't think of yourself as the big bad disciplinarian, but think of yourself instead as a mentor helping mold your kid's character. 

 Third, 
 Really consider the child's situation. As teachers we see and hear A LOT when it comes to our kids lives...sometimes more than we'd ever want to know. So, consider their family life and situations. Are there issues at home that could be causing the child to act out? Does the child come from a big family where maybe they don't get as much attention? Do they deal with a type of disorder? Has there been a death of a pet or family member? Have they been having issues in school? Has the child been out of routine because of vacation or sickness? All these things can cause drastic changes in kid's moods and behaviors. Now if any of these things are true for your problem child then some leniency is ok...for a while. But you aren't doing them any favors by letting them run wild either. In these cases if you feel the child is unhappy or troubled I recommend first talking with your pastor and second talking with the child's parent or guardian. But most importantly I recommend you pray.

 Fourth, when issues consistently arise chances are you have a problem child on your hands. Don't mistake the term problem child for bad child...in my experience the kids I've had the most trouble with in class are usually the sweetest most helpful kids outside of class. So, take this into consideration when you're trying to discipline them. 
 There are three main types of problem children. Below I will list the type and my recommended forms of discipline.

The Bouncing Ball of Energy
 This one tends to be allover the place...they talk...dance...jump...all at really inappropriate times. Now, these types of children may deal with disorders like ADD or ADHD so it's very important to have your children's medical info.

How To Help
 For the Bouncing Ball of Energy Type I recommend class participation which is really broad and can include whatever you want. Let them help pass out Bibles, get snack together, whatever works for your class. But keeping active in class will help channel a lot of that energy positively.


The Class Clown
 This one tends to be cracking jokes like they're Bill Cosby. Usually the class clowns deal with acceptance issues with other kids or family. It could be a number of things, but either way they crave the attention. 

How To Help
 Love and attention is a huge help for this one. But mostly straight forward correction will help the most. With the class clown never ever harshly correct them in front of the class. Because, it gives them even more attention which adds fuel to the fire. So, correct them in the hallway away from the class. Just point out what they're doing, and how it disrupts the class. But finish off by saying something like, "But I know you're a good kid. And I'm so happy I get to be your teacher." Giving them positive attention will not only help them personally, but it will help your relationship with them.

The Little Box of Sarcasm
 This one is the eye roller, sarcastic comment maker, and the trouble maker. Usually the little box of sarcasm is a big box of anger underneath. A common theme with these kids is divorce or death in the family. But it can, again, be a number of things but it can usually be traced back to the home.

How To Help
 This is my least favorite one to deal with, because often times you know this kid is hurting. There is a fine line you have to walk between loving and correcting. You have to mash those two things together and make it work. The best thing with this is to pray...pray for help for this family and for the child. 
 In class you will usually have to be pretty firm with correction, and the child will usually pout. But after class make an effort to communicate with your little box of sarcasm. The truth is they're just looking for love and acceptance. So, give it to them. You will see a lot of change...often slowly over time...but showing them love will make all the difference.



 My best tip for this is know that it's not you. You're not a horrible teacher. These things aren't put in the job description, but it does come with the territory. These are the kids that often need us the most. They're usually the ones dealing with things only God can heal. So, look at it as an opportunity to show God's love. I hope this helps you!

God Bless,
Faith

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Popcorn Game

 This is an easy, fun, and inexpensive game for a lesson about hearing God, being close to God, or the importance of prayer. It's called, simply, the popcorn game.
All you need for this game is,
  1. Popcorn (Obviously)
  2. An Even Number Of Kids (If you don't have an even number feel free to stand in yourself.)
  3. A Big Open Space
  4. A Broom (To clean up after.)

Instructions
 To start off have the kids stand in two straight lines, facing each other. The kids will be paired up in teams of two. Once they're in position hand one piece of popcorn to each team. Standing ten feet or so apart have the kids toss their piece of popcorn to their partner. 
 Now obviously they wont be able to catch it. So, when this happens tell them that they may take one small step toward their partner. Have them keep doing this until their partner catches the popcorn. 
 Also, tell them that anyone who eats their popcorn piece loses. I didn't think to make this rule the first time we played this game, and needless to say we ran through a lot of popcorn that day...Boys...*rolls eyes*. lol
Tie In
 For my lesson I talked about hearing God. If you're doing that or something similar here is a little excerpt from some pieces of notes I used.
 Our relationship with God is similar to the game we played. It's really hard to hear God when you're far away from him. But in James chapter 4 verse 8 it says to draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you. 

How do we draw nigh unto God?
  • Read Our Bible
  • Pray
  • Go To Church Regularly
  • Be Faithful In Tithes and Offerings
  • Praise and Worship God
  • Obey His Commandments
  • Have A Daily Time Set Aside For God

 Now, this game is super versatile, and can be used as a just for fun game or a lesson game. It's totally up to you, but be prepared to clean up a bit of a mess after. It's totally worth it though. Hope you have as much fun with it as we did!

God Bless,
Faith <3





Monday, February 25, 2013

Student Participation

 Student participation is HUGE to the success of a Sunday School program. I've had serious problem students over my time, and simply letting them participate in class helped tons. 
 The best way to start with student participation is incorporating them into your lessons, like a game where everyone can get involved or even a skit. 
Example, if you're doing a skit or using puppets you may ask some of your older students to help out. This always goes over really well. The older kids love the grown up responsibility, and the younger kids love seeing their friends be goofy.
 My favorite way to get kids to participate in class is to give them daily duties, like passing out Bibles, praying over snack, taking up tithes and offering, passing out craft supplies, and so on. Not only will this help you out each Sunday, but you won't believe how much the kids enjoy it. They fall all over each trying to get their hand up first when I ask for volunteers. Again, kids love feeling like they are doing a grown up job. It makes them feel like a "big kid."
 My kids started getting so involved that they would voluntarily stay after to class to help me sweep, clean the white board, straighten the chairs, take out the trash, and generally pick up the place. 
 Also, praise it key with student participation. Kid's love your approval. You don't have to gush about them in class, but a general, "Thank you (insert name of kid here lol)", will do when they are helping out. But after class I really recommend thanking them one on one. You can say something like, "Thanks so much for helping pick up Bibles after class it helps me out a lot!" Simple right? Kids will respond so well to little things like that. 
 When you bring participation and praise into your classroom you will see better behavior, a closer relationship with your students, and probably a cleaner classroom. haha 
 I believe in teaching our lessons through action, which is why I use so many games, skits, and object lessons in class. But, I also believe things like work ethic and responsibility are learned through action as well. It seems to stick with the kids better this way. They don't just have words to hold onto, but they have a fun memory as well, and that will stick with them for a lifetime. 
 At the end of the day know that your students want your love and approval. Maybe thats something you have difficulty showing. Obviously you love these kids or you wouldn't be back here doing this job. But for whatever reason maybe you have trouble showing it to your kids. So do me a favor, think of this as a homework assignment not to just to teach the kids, but to teach you as well. Show them love and approval, and they will do the same for you.

Thanks,
Faith

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Curriculum VS. Self Made Lesson Plans

 A major debate among Sunday School teachers is the use of a curriculum versus self made lesson plans. Some argue that curriculums provide more structure for class and they save time. While others say making a lesson plan yourself gives you the opportunity to build a lesson around your class' needs. But we can't seem to break down exactly which one is better. So, I'm here today to give you my take. 





Curriculum 

Pros:
  1. It provides consistent structure to class since most curriculums follow the same basic patterns every class. (Prayer, Lesson, Game, Craft, Snack, ETC.)
  2. If you're not a full time Children's Minister then it can sometimes be difficult to find the time get an entire lesson complete with games, snacks, and crafts every Sunday. In this respect a curriculum is definitely a pro since all of your material is there and waiting.  
  3. They often have really good ideas that we haven't thought of. These people have spent months putting together dozens of lessons before these curriculums are published. So, chances are they've had more time to come up with awesome ideas, versus your often mad rush to get a lesson plan together 2 hours before church because the weekend suddenly got away from you, come on we've all done it. 
  4. They can be reused when kids change in class. Kids grow up and come an go in Sunday Schools. So, I think it's totally acceptable to repeat a Curriculum after some time has passed. 
  5. If you have a sick day, are on vacation, or have an emergency and need someone else to teach your class having someone takeover for a Sunday is as easy as handing them a binder. And you don't have to worry about what the sub will teach or how the kids will react.
  6. Finally, a big perk to curriculums is that they're just easier to use. Everything is always right there when you need it. If you can read you're set. 
Cons:

  1. Sometimes faster isn't always better. Every Sunday School Class is different. They all have different needs, likes and dislikes, and time frames even. So, with you curriculum you are a little more constrained as to what you can and can't do.
  2. Sometimes curriculums call for you to buy odds and end things, anywhere from a beach ball to clown costume. Which is cool...if your church budget can stretch it. So, be sure before selecting a curriculum to check out what it calls for.
  3. Sometimes curriculums may have been written by people of different denominations than your church. So, things may not always line up with what you like to teach. But don't panic, just grab a pen write a few notes in the margins, and you'll be fine.
Self Made Lesson Plans

Pros:
  1. With self made lessons you get a more personal feel. You can make it much more one on one with your class.
  2. You get the chance to always minister on what A. God ministers to you and B. What you see the kids needing or dealing with.
  3. You're more flexible with your time frames and your schedules. Curriculums often start their first lesson at the beginning of the school year so lessons will fall right on holidays like Christmas and Easter. With self made lesson you're more flexible.
  4. You always know exactly word for word what you're ministering because, Hello you're the one that wrote it. This makes you more prepared and confident when entering the classroom.
  5. It gives you the opportunity to be creative, and learn some yourself through studying God's Word.
  6. Kids can tell when you're just going through the motions. Often times with curriculums you get the feeling that you don't have to try because it's all spelled out in black and white for you. But with self made lessons you take your time, blood (Paper cuts hurt.), sweat (It's tough carrying all those papers around every weekend.), and tears (Yeah, I'm a waterworks kind of girl when God ministers to me.) to get done every week. Which in all honestly does give you an awesome sense of accomplishment.
Cons:
  1. It often takes a lot of time out of your week to get a full lesson together, between studying (which honestly we should all be doing every day anyway), searching online for ideas, coming up with games, getting snack and trying out crafts. 
  2. If you have a substitute in your class they usually have to come up with their own lesson unless you have one prepared. So, Note: Pick a sub you really trust if they will be the ones preparing the lesson. If the sub says or does something wrong you will have some angry parents.
  3. It's often more difficult to cater to a larger class if you use a self made lesson plan. Simply because you're the only one getting all the material together, and if you're running 30+ students every week self made plans can not only be expensive, but they can be time consuming. We don't get a dress rehearsal for our classes if a game or craft takes longer than expected then you will have parents tapping their foot at the door and a lesson left unfinished.
  4. Chances are if you are as unorganized with your self made lesson plans as I am you won't be able to reuse them years later because they could be anywhere between your house, church, and the road you took on that spontaneous after church trip to the beach. 

 So, to finish this debate on a personal note...I often use both a curriculum and self made lesson plans. It really depends on my time that week. I'm not a full time Children's Minister so between work, keeping up the house, running errands, and the general craziness some weeks throw at me I'm just glad to get to eat some days much less prepare a full Sunday School lesson so I'm a big curriculum fan. 

 However, sometimes God will minister to me about doing a certain topic in class. And frankly no matter my time constraints, I would rather do what God says. Sometimes I even like to do special days if we've had exceptionally well behaved classes for a few weeks. I will use a self made lesson plan with a few extra games or activities that week.
 Sometimes, I even combine self made lesson plans and a curriculum. Or, I take parts of two or three curriculum lessons and mix them together to make a semi self made lesson plan. 
 In all honesty, the main thing is to follow how God is leading you. We only see these kids on Sunday mornings, but God sees them all week. He knows what they deal with at school, at home, and even in their minds. So, if I can give you one piece of advice it's this, don't listen to cynics and the critics, listen to God. And you will see more growth and joy in your classes than you ever would with just a curriculum or just a self made lesson. No matter what you use, at the end of the day, let it be a God made lesson.

What curriculum is your favorite? Leave your answers in the comments section below.

God Bless,
Faith

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prayer Reminder Poster

 I think teaching our kids to pray is one of the greatest favors we can do for them.. Recently I've done a whole series on prayer, and one of the learning tools/crafts I liked was the prayer reminder poster.
 I hate wasting time, money, and supplies on crafts that kids either leave in the classroom or will throw away when they get home. So, I try to do things that they can use, wear, hang in their rooms, that are very thought provoking, or present a challenge. Like this...

The Prayer Reminder Poster

Supplies

  1. Praying Hands Coloring Page
  2. Construction Paper
  3. Glue
  4. Markers
  5. Crayons
  6. Scissors
  7. Stuff To Decorate (Glitter, Stickers, Foam Cut Outs, etc.)
Here is a link to the praying hands coloring page I used.

Step 1.
Color praying hands using markers, crayons, or colored pencils

Step 2.
Cut out praying hands. You can let the kids do this or you can do it yourself.
Step 3.
Glue hands to the piece of construction paper...the praying hands...not the kids hands though I have had that happen before. Note: Always keep baby wipes and a first aid kit ready at a moments notice. lol
Step 4.
Have the kids write "Pray" at the top of their poster.
Then have them write a thing to pray for on each finger. Give them 5 fields to choose from, one for each finger.
1. A Ministry Or Group (Police, Church, Military, Missionaries, etc.)
2. A Person In Their Life (Parent, Grandparent, Friend, Aunt Uncle, etc.)
3. A Country (America, Africa, Japan, China, etc.)
4. A Spiritual Thing (Peace, Joy, Wisdom, Help Witnessing, etc.) 
5. A Material Thing They Want (Xbox, Dog, Dress, Movie, Bikes, etc.)

Step 5.
Let the kids go crazy with glitter, stickers, foam cut outs, and whatever else you have on hand. Just let it be fun. Remember this is something they will hang in their room, so the crazier the better usually.


The Finished Product!!

 This is a very simple craft, but it is very impacting. Tell your kids to think of it as a homework assignment for the week. They will hang the poster in their room to remind them to pray for their 5 things every day. By next week's class you should be able to discuss how things went. 
Was it hard to pray every day?
Did they see anything thing happen due to their prayers?
Will they continue to pray every day?
Why is it important for them to pray every day?
Did praying help them feel closer to God?

I hope this craft will help you minister the power of prayer to your class!

Is there another theme you need a craft for? If so leave them in the comments below, and I will try to work up something in a new blog.

Good Luck,
Faith






Sunday, February 17, 2013

In the Begining

The hardest part of teaching Sunday School is the beginning. So, I want to share with you, through my experience, the keys to starting off right. Please learn from my mistakes. haha


Key 1.
Having the courage to try.

 I've been at the same church since I was 5, and things never seemed to change a lot. Growing up I had the most amazing Sunday School teachers, and up until last year they were still hard at it. When they decided to step down it was a tough blow to the program. They'd been teaching for about 13 years, and the kids adored them. Needless to say there were big shoes to fill. When the position fell open I was recommended for reasons unknown to me at the time. When I was officially offered the position I didn't know how to react. I'd never thought of myself as an authority figure much less a Sunday School teacher. Now, looking back I think I was crazy, but I said no. I was absolutely terrified by the responsibility of it all. I'm a 20 something with no children...what did I know about taking care of kids? However, as a favor to my pastors I said I would fill in until they could find a replacement. Well, that lasted for about two months before I finally knew it was God's will for me. When I finally accepted the job my pastors just laughed and said, "I knew God was going to do that to you." Believe it or not I kept getting those comments for months after I became the new Sunday School teacher. Apparently everyone knew it was my calling except for me. 

So, my first key is this. 
Don't be motivated by fear. If God is dealing with you to step into Children's Ministry the first thing I would do is pray...also pray...and then pray some more. Chances are you already know the answer in your heart. The answer may scare you...like run and stick your head into a hole kind of scare you...but have the courage to try. Because I can promise you this, you will never feel easy until you say yes. I spent two months tossing and turning, thinking surely it was just me wanting to do it...not God telling me to. Why would God trust me with kids? But when I had the courage to try I never looked back, and I've never felt more settled in what I'm doing.

Note: I still had no clue what I was doing...lol

Key 2.
Establishing Rules

 In my experience, I went in thinking, "Oh I'll just play a few games, read a few verses, and we'll have snack. The kids will sit nice an quietly, and we will all have an awesome time!" Well, little did I know that kids don't always take well to change, they will test you're authority to see just how far you'll let them go. I had to send kids out of class it got so crazy at times. But I had no real rules and consequence  system. I hated having to play the bad guy. So, I often tried not to throw rules in too much. Which was a huge mistake. And that brings me to key number 2.

 Rules are one of the most important things in my classroom. It's what often separates Sunday School from Circus. I know people often take the "It's just Sunday School though..." stance, but for me I always like to stress the word S-C-H-O-O-L. Yes, we want kids to have fun and be silly, but at the end of the day we want them to walk away having learned something. So, rules are a big part of making that possible. I can't stress how important it is to start a rules and consequences system EARLY ON. Write the rules out hang them in your classroom so they are clearly visible. You don't need 50, just four or five will do usually. 
Ours are written out as,


1. Listen when someone is speaking. 
2. Raise your hand to speak.
3. Follow directions quickly.
4. Be a caring friend. 
5. Always do your best work.

Here is a link to printable versions of my rules: Class Rules

And when a rule is broken correct it only so many times before there HAVE to be consequences. If kids think you will let one by with it...then the whole class will think they can get by with it. So, it is best to nip it in the bud right at the beginning otherwise the whole class gets out of control and extremely difficult to reel back in. When you say there will be consequences don't go back on your word...follow through no matter what. The kids will respect you for it. 
Some of the consequences I use are,

Switching seats...This is usually if they're talking to a friend a lot.
Sitting by a Helper 
Sitting At the Front of the Class
A Good Old Fashioned One On One Correction...Do this one away from the rest of the class so as not to embarrass the child.
And finally, the one I absolutely hate using...
Sending them out of class to sit in service with their parents.

Being the disciplinarian is never fun, but as strange as it sounds when I did this my kids started to communicate with me more...behave better in class...participate more...and dare I say even like me more? Even though it's hard, and sometimes may even make you feel bad it will be worth it. The main thing is to not embarrass the child, and not to loose your temper.

Key 3.
Preparation 

 It took me a while to learn that being prepared for anything and everything is HUUUUGE when teaching. I could cover so many things with this topic, but I'll shorten it down to 3. 

1. Have your lesson (including coloring pages, lesson plan, games, snacks, etc) ready at least my Wednesday of every week. Otherwise you will be scrambling every Saturday night running to the store to get snack, printing out coloring pages like a mad woman, and going through post it notes like it's no tomorrow just trying to remember what else needs to be done. Then by Sunday you're exhausted because you've totally lost your weekend. 

2. Make sure your room is stocked with everything you need. 
Like,


First Aid Kit
Clorox
Glue
Paint
Paper Towels
Scissors
Crayons
Markers
Yarn
ETC.

Every Sunday arrive a few minutes early to get all your supplies laid out. This make things so much easier every class when you're not banging around your cabinet trying to find a glue stick that isn't dried out.

3. Make sure you have a helper lined up each week. 
This tip has been one of the most valuable ever for me. I admire teachers who go it alone, but I am so not one of them. I feel like I'm doing a poor example of a juggling act trying to teach, correct, make snack, walk kids to the bathroom, all while communicating whatever the lesson is that week. When you have a helper scheduled and ready to work every Sunday your class will go so much easier. You can focus on teaching while the helper fixes snack, walks kids to the bathroom, and makes your day go a lot smoother.
 Talk to your pastors about who would be a good helper, get the word out in your church. I'm sure you will be amazed at how many people want to serve. For me a good helper is someone who loves kids, understands your vision for the ministry, is helpful and not lazy, is fun, and most importantly someone who is trustworthy. Find a person like that, and you are on your way to an awesome Sunday School experience.

Key 4.
Have Fun

When I started out I took everything so seriously. If any little thing went amiss I would be crying by the time I got home. Never take it too seriously. As long as you're doing your best let the rest just roll of your back. Play with your kids...don't just be that person standing in the corner barking out rules during a class activity. Sunday school should be taken seriously, you are accountable to God for what goes on in your class, but I don't believe Sunday School should be serious. One is respectful and one is just boring. Sunday School is huge task, but at it's core it's simple...Teach kids about the amazing Savior that loves them. As long as you're doing that you will do just fine.

Any other Sunday School Teachers have some advice to share? Leave your's in the comments section below. 

God Bless,
Faith <3

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sunday School Teachers

 Sunday school teachers, our job isn't glamorous...it doesn't usually pay well (if it pays at all)...it's messy and loud...and it's probably one of the hardest things you will ever do. But you will also find that it is one of the most rewarding and fun things you will ever do.
 Every Sunday we cram dozens screaming children into our classrooms, and attempt to teach them something of value...The Bible. Now, chances are if you've been in this game long enough you've discovered that Sunday School doesn't always look like those pictures you've seen on Google of kids sitting quietly with hands folded in laps listening to an aging Sunday School teacher read from God's Word...those times happen once in a blue moon if you're lucky. The truth is Sunday  School is usually somewhere between the juggling act at the circus, the monkey exhibit at the zoo, and a church service. And you know who the ring master/animal keeper/pastor is? Yup, that's right...you and me. 
However, there are a lot of golden moments that make up for the craziness we take on each week. 

Examples?
When you see that connection in their eyes, that they really get what you're teaching them.

On Sunday morning when they can't wait to tell you how something you taught them helped that week. 

When you're out in the store and one of your kids runs clear across the building screaming your name to give you a big hug. 

When they trust you with their problems, and aren't afraid to ask for your prayers and advice.

When you watch them playing a game or making a craft, and you see that smile on their face...you suddenly know you have the coolest job in the world.


Being a Sunday School teacher isn't easy, but it is by far the best thing I've ever devoted my time to. 
 If you open your heart to these kids, you'll find that you may learn just as much from them as they do from you.  You've never seen faith until you've observed the faith of child first hand, it's a beautiful thing. I consider it my privilege to be able to help cultivate that faith. Too often we forget as Sunday School teachers that we aren't just telling Bible stories. If we're doing our job right we are helping to lay the foundation of our kids Christian walk. And that is a very fulfilling line of work. :) 

 So, that is what this Blog is for, to encourage all of my fellow Children's Ministers out there, to provide you with lessons, crafts, classroom managements tips, and anything else that I've found to be useful. 
 To conclude...here's to the golden moments...the sticky moments...the funny moments...the loud moments...the silly moments...the crazy moments...the happy moments...the messy moments...and every other moment we would never change. But most importantly here's to our kids who make the whole thing worth it.

Signed,
Faith
C.O.G. 
Sunday School Teacher 
Grade 3-6