People from all over the world who have found my curriculum often contact me with questions. The following list covers most of the common questions, but if you don't find the answer your seeking, please contact me at ccuv-ChildrensMinistry@usa.net.
Why teach the Bible chronologically?
How did you get started writing your own curriculum?
What translation of the Bible do you use?
How many class divisions do you have?
How do you do your Sunday morning classes versus your Wednesday night classes?
How do you provide the lesson materials to the teachers?
How do you staff your classes?
How do you teach the whole Bible age appropriately?
I passionately believe children need to learn the context of the Bible stories they're taught in Sunday school. Too often children's ministry curricula are topical as they springboard from one familiar story to another — from Noah and the ark; then to Jesus feeding the 5000; then to Daniel in the lion's den and on to Jonah in the belly of the whale. The problem with teaching topically is that the children never really understand the context of the story and how it fits into God's big picture.
That's why I recommend teaching the Bible chronologically to all age groups.
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In the early 1980's, I started writing my own series on Creation because I could not find a commercial curriculum that taught the first 11 chapters of Genesis in a systematic way that was understandable to children. After attending a Back To Genesis conference (sponsored by Answers in Genesis), the Holy Spirit inspired me to write a curriculum that could bring what I learned from the conference to the Sunday school classroom. After that first series, I continued to march through the Bible chronologically.
We started our file system for this age based on a coloring book that we got from Gospel Light, called the Really Big Book of Bible Story Coloring Pages: (See www.gospellight.com). The pages in this book have an illustration to color on one side of the page and an easy, "kid-appropriate" Bible story written out on the other side. This makes a great take-home paper that helps keep the parents informed about what we are teaching and gives them a tool for reviewing the lessons after church with their child.
We pulled this book apart and made a file folder for each lesson. Then as each lesson was taught, the teachers added various songs, games, and craft ideas to the file. The internet has a wealth of ideas for games and crafts and other supporting lesson-reinforcement ideas. Just do a search for Pre-school Bible Stories.
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When I started doing Children's Ministry, I used the New King James version for all my lessons. I used to encourage the kids to bring their own Bibles to church but over time I saw that wasn't the best idea. Most of the kids were just learning how to read so having them read from different translations made it more difficult for them to follow along.
Then, I switched to using classroom bibles. I settled on large print bibles using the New Living Translation because it's much easier for children to read. I highly recommend the Hands-On Bible from Tyndale. By using classroom Bibles with a single translation, everyone is on the same page, literally — each child has the same text!
I have the children read a verse or two and then I explain it or ask questions about it. We dialog about the passage and we talk about what it means and what life lessons they can dig out of God's word. I give each child a chance to read, and they all want to join in. It's amazing. They really get excited about God's Word!
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I developed these lessons while part of a very small fellowship. We only had about 40 kids in all and the size of our building constrained us. We had only four classrooms. One room was for the "Little Blessings" (6 months old until potty trained). Another room was for the "Movers and Shakers" (Pre-school age). A third room was for the "Kid's World" class (1st through 6th grade), and the fourth room was for the Youth Group.
It can be challenging to have a wide age range in each class. It's like a one-room school house. Our kids got used to it and so did the teachers so it really worked well. The older ones helped the younger ones.
I usually try to teach to the middle age of the class. I know some of the younger ones will not get everything but I am very fun and very animated (the "drama queen"!) So, I know that the younger ones at least enjoy themselves. If I "dumb down" the lessons too much, I know that I will lose the interest of the older ones. And, it's the older ones that really help to carry the class. The younger ones like being included with the older ones. And the older ones can be a big help and good example to the younger ones.
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We always have a full house on Sunday mornings, so I consider that the main teaching time where I systematically teach through the Bible chronologically. Our mid-week serve is not as well attended and is usually our core families. I consider that the supplemental time where i can go deeper into a particular subject, so I teach topically during our mid-week services. For example, if I am teaching through the "Moses: Man of God" series on Sundays, then on Wednesday night I can teach the series on the Ten Commandments. Because our mid-week service is on a "school" night, I try to do more games and hands-on activities to keep it lively and fun.
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I have a physical file system for each lesson where I put a copy of the lesson, plus any game, craft, or activity ideas and samples. I file all the Lessons in green folders, Songs in blue folders, Crafts in red folders, and Games ideas in yellow folders. That way when a teacher is scheduled to teach a particular lesson, they can easily see if there's a game idea, etc. As time goes by, the files are enhanced with more ideas to inspire teachers in the future.
I make a spiral bound book for each teacher on the schedule of all the lessons in the current series. The book consisted of the Manual Cover along with the Forward, Schedule, and a copy of each lesson.
The two-column layout of these lessons is designed so that you can copy and cut the pages in half to fit into your Bible. When the children observe that you are teaching right out of the Bible, rather than from a curriculum book, it validates God's Word and gives your teaching more authority.
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I found that it's best to have at least three teachers doing each class so that they can rotate. I like a three-way rotation the best where a teacher is "off" one week, the "helper" the next, and the "teacher" the third week. This helps keep them refreshed and it assures the children will get continuity from one week to the next. When a teacher precedes "teaching" with "helping" she knows what was taught the previous week and can seamlessly dovetail into it.
Some people like having two teams of two that rotate one week "on" and the next week "off". Then, each pair of teachers can trade teaching/helping roles between them. If they do that, the teachers only have to teach once every 4th week. However, there is no "cross-pollination" between the teams; Team A never observes Team B (or vice versa) so neither team has first-hand experience with what was taught the week before. So, that is less "seamless" for the children between teachers. It's harder to review and reinforce what they learned the previous week.
Anyway you do it, it's nice to have several teachers doing a class, that gives them more flexibility for vacation or sick days and the teachers seem to last longer before getting burned out. Our teachers have faithfully served for years!!!
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The lessons I have developed are primarily for grade-school age children, although you can adapt them for other ages. See Teacher Training tab for ideas on adapting this curriculum for other age groups. (See also Set Goals for Teaching Sunday School for more information about achieving desired results for your Sunday school program.)
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