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Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

For preschool classes using the He Established a Testimony or He Has Spoken by His Son curricula, we recommend using felt visuals with a flannel board for the presentation of the Bible lesson. One source of these visuals is through Betty Lukens.

With young children, it is very important to use visuals to hold their attention and help them visualize things that are unfamiliar. For example, showing a picture or felt figures of Abram on a camel in a caravan will help children understand the unusual mode of transportation and the barren conditions of the slow journey Abram faced.

Tips for Teaching with a Flannelgraph

Less is more when using a flannelgraph. Sometimes spiritual truths can get lost in the busyness of illustrating the story. For example, using enough male figures to show all of Joseph’s brothers takes more time than their role warrants. A single group of men can represent the “brothers,” even if it only shows a few. You may discover that you cannot show Pharaoh’s chariots following Israel into the Red Sea because the chariot faces the wrong direction and is four inches taller than the parted walls of water. But, you can use the chariot piece to show what a chariot is. (more…)

Celebrating the One Who Is Most Special

Jesus Is Most Special

One of the most special times of years is quickly approaching. How will you help your children be captivated by the joy and wonder of Christmas?

Jesus Is Most Special, by Sally Michael, is the perfect way to share the story of the birth of Jesus, along with its context in the Bible, with young children. Through reading this book over and over, even the youngest children will be motivated to retell this all-important story to others after they have learned if for themselves. Though the facts are important for children to remember, it is even more important for them to understand the message of the birth of Christ, God’s Son, the Savior of the world, the King of all Kings, who is most special of all.

Jesus Is Most SpecialEach right-hand page of the book tells a part of of the Christmas story, starting with God’s promise to send a Savior. Prompts indicate when key characters are introduced so children can act the story out using a nativity set as they share the story with others. The left-hand pages incorporate supporting Scripture and lyrics to Christmas carols to reinforce what children are learning, help them reflect on the meaning and stir their hearts to worship.

For churches or schools, the main text of the book provides a great base for the narration of a short skit as children act out the story. The accompanying verses can be interspersed as additional readings and the carols can be used to complete the christmas program.

Jesus Is Most Special is the perfect book to add to your Advent and Christmas traditions. You can look inside the book and order a copy today to receive it in time for the start of the Christmas season.

This Christmas, may you and your children worship Jesus, the Savior of the world, the King of Kings, who is most special of all.

The simplicity of this book mirror the plainness of the biblical story. Carol lyrics waft beside the brief, deep Scriptures that inspired them. In these pages the Savior is clearly worshiped—the story of his arrival touched me yet again.”
—Steve Estes, Author of A Better December

Small Group Leading 101

Small Group Leading 101

The first few weeks of a new Sunday school year can seem overwhelming, but I found several things that have helped me over the years to be well prepared and have a smooth running Sunday morning.

At the Beginning of the Year

I read the curriculum introduction and found very practical suggestions. I checked out the appendices that provided even more help. And I printed out the scope and sequence of the curriculum so that I could see where the curriculum was heading.

As I prepared for my role as small group leader it was good to remember that my job was not to re-teach the lesson that the teacher teaches but to:

  1. Guide the children
  2. Help them discover answers
  3. Bring them to application truths they have been taught
  4. Make connections with previous lessons’ themes or chronology
  5. Work on Scripture memory
  6. Pray for concerns on their hearts

…all for the purpose of their growth in Christ-likeness and the glory of God.

Small Group Leading 101

During the Week

It helps tremendously to read the Scripture text on Sunday night so my mind can mull over the next week’s lesson and ask the Lord for personal application. Reading it multiple times prior to actually looking at the lesson enables my heart to be impacted with the truth we hope to communicate to the students. Then I read the teaching material and the application section to know the content and possible applications I can help the children apply to their own lives. Looking at the student workbook (or journal) helps me know what we will work on during our small group time and how it connects with the application questions. Writing out the specific questions I want to ask the children keeps me on task. Finally, an essential part of preparation is praying for the volunteer team, students and their parents. After all, only God can change hearts and empower the ministry.

May the Lord bless your preparations and interactions with the students He has placed in your sphere of influence, for His glory and their good (and yours as well)!

Sunday Morning

I make a habit of getting to the classroom early which makes a huge difference. A great way to start the morning is to spend time in prayer as a team. Then I could look at the classroom space and think about how I might:

  1. Minimize distractions to help the kids focus
  2. Make sure all needed materials were easily accessible (Student Workbooks or Journals, crayons/markers, pencils/pens, a notebook to record prayer requests…)

This allows me to focus on the kids as soon as they show up BECAUSE…Sunday school begins when the first child arrives! Greet the children with a smile and use their names—it truly makes a difference and they notice. Engage in conversation as soon as they come in. Sit with your small group during the worship and teaching time. Model the behavior you expect. Be alert for distracting or inappropriate behavior and support the teacher by intervening if necessary. Take notes on the lesson as it is taught so you can adjust questions you have planned to line up with what has been shared.

In Your Small Group

  1. Open in prayer.
  2. Introduce new children.
  3. State your expectations (especially at the beginning of the year and as a periodic reminder).
  4. Try to involve each child as you work through what you have prepared.
  5. Work on Workbook/Journal pages. This is key to applying what they have learned.
  6. Practice the memory verse and teach age appropriate Bible skills (i.e., Books of the Bible), as time permits.
  7. Take time to pray with your group at the end of your time together and encourage children to pray aloud.
  8. Make sure to record the prayer requests and follow up later on possible answers.
  9. Thank God for His help and ask Him to work in the students’ hearts.
  10. Have students help clean up your area and be sure to send home the GIFT page for parents to review.

As a small group leader I love connecting with “my” children on a regular basis. I get to know them, hear their thoughts and learn what is important to them. I pray for them and with them about their understanding of God and the concerns on their hearts. It is a privilege and joy to be used by the Lord in their lives. May your experience be so!

 

Children Need a Robust Doctrine of God

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Imagine a preschool Sunday school curriculum that presents 64 chronological Bible stories from the Old Testament…all of them focusing on the character of God. Is there something wrong with this? Something missing? Doesn’t the whole Bible point to Jesus? Shouldn’t we make clear that every story points to Jesus?

Before you respond to these important and valid questions, I would ask you to carefully read and ponder this quote from J. Gresham Machen:

…when men say that we know God only as He is revealed in Jesus, they are denying all real knowledge of God whatever. For unless there be some idea of God independent of Jesus, the ascription of deity to Jesus has no meaning. To say, “Jesus is God,” is meaningless unless the word “God” has an antecedent meaning attached to it…We are not forgetting the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” But these words do not mean that if a man had never known what the word “God” means, he could come to attach an idea to that word merely by his knowledge of Jesus’ character. On the contrary, the disciples to whom Jesus was speaking had already a very definite conception of God: a knowledge of the one supreme Person was presupposed in all that Jesus said. But the disciples desired not only a knowledge of God but also intimate, personal contact. And that came through their intercourse with Jesus. Jesus revealed, in a wonderfully intimate way, the character of God, but such revelation obtained its true significance only on the basis both of the Old Testament heritage and of Jesus’ own teaching. Rational theism, the knowledge of one Supreme Person, Maker and active Ruler of the world, is at the very root of Christianity.

(“Christianity and Liberalism,” copyright©2009, pages 48-49)

Could it be that, especially for preschoolers, it is crucial that we first focus on giving them a concept of God as revealed in the Old Testament? By introducing them to key truths regarding who God is and what He is like, are we not preparing young children to better understand the significance of what it means that “Jesus is God”?

As much as it is truthful to say that the whole Bible points to Jesus and the Gospel, we must not dismiss or minimize Dr. Machen’s point. Our children need to be taught a robust doctrine of God. They need to see “God” as He has revealed Himself throughout the Old Testament—His power, love, mercy, sovereign rule, holiness, goodness, faithfulness, etc. These are the antecedents that give meaning to the New Testament’s assertion that “Jesus is God,” and they provide the necessary foundation for understanding the message of the Gospel.

Biblical Literacy for Preschoolers

ID-100275763The title might seem a misnomer…“literacy” for children who are non-readers??? Well, let’s start with a definition of what I mean by biblical literacy:

Biblical literacy is the ability to rightly read and understand the Bible, using the proper tools of study, thereby becoming well acquainted with the Bible’s character (innate qualities) and content.

Obviously the vast majority of preschoolers cannot read, but they can become increasingly acquainted with the Bible’s character and content. Here are some tips for teaching biblical literacy to preschoolers:

  • Use the Bible as you teach, even if you are not reading directly from the text—have your Bible open to the corresponding text. Show the children that the story is from the Bible by pointing to the text that you are going to read.
  •  Look for opportunities to read directly from the text—even if it is only one verse from the story. When you do this, emphasize that you are reading from the Bible,

“I am going to read from the Bible now. This is what God says…”

  •  Expand and continually review key biblical themes—repetition encourages memorization.

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Play Dates and Bible Lesson Dates

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Every mother knows about scheduling “play dates” for young children. My 3-year-old grandson, David, always looks forward to his play dates with his favorite neighborhood friend, Ava. But this summer my daughter Sarah and Ava’s mom decided to go beyond simply planning play dates for their children. Now they also schedule weekly Bible lesson dates. What a great idea—spending time with your neighborhood friends learning about God together! It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, formal event. It can be as simple as reading and acting out a Bible story together, singing a simple worship song, memorizing a verse together, etc.

My daughter and her friend chose to use our preschool curriculum He Established a Testimony. My hope and pray for them is that, over time, these “Bible lesson dates” will yield a treasure far beyond the joy of their play dates.