‘Tis the Season to Teach Infants and Toddlers

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The first breath Jesus took on this earth was as a fragile newborn infant.  The One who would save the world had to have his nappies/diapers changed.  He learned to feed himself, crawl and walk.  He experienced the human senses of taste, touch, hearing, sight and smell.

“My Friend Jesus” is a series of lessons created especially for children under the age of three.  In this series infants and toddlers are introduced to Jesus and relate to him through various common experiences of childhood (celebration, helping, community, worship and growth).  Role-play and sensory activities are used to express a growing relationship and friendship with him.

 

Purpose of Class:

In these lessons teachers, parents and helpers will guide infants and toddlers to:

  • Know that Jesus is special.
  • Experience affinity with Jesus in a variety of situations through role-play and sensory activities.
  • Learn practices that express friendship, affection, obedience, respect and worship.

 And Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”.  John 15:15, CEV

“My Friend Jesus” Download Page

Downloads include:

My Friend Jesus_Theme Overview

Lesson 1: Cherished Baby (Click here to view or print lesson)
Expressing love through protection and tender care.

Lesson 2: Time to Celebrate
The joy of giving, receiving and celebrating.

Lesson 3: Helper at Home
Being part of a family by sharing responsibilities at home.

Lesson 4: Worship and Praise
Being part of a community of worshipers.

Lesson 5. Growing and Learning
The satisfaction of maturing and moving forward.

Lesson 6. My Friend, Jesus
Comfort, love and affection of a relationship with Jesus.

Infant and Toddler Teaching Instructions

 

 

Photo above by YouaremyWonderwall via Flickr.  Creative Commons  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

 

Yes, They are Listening

Sometimes we try our best and then wonder if children actually retain what we have taught them.  I thought you might enjoy watching this video of children sharing what they have learned.  I don’t know about you, but these children certainly encourage me to keep teaching!

Although we may sometimes view the Bible as a collection of stories it is actually one story.  It is God’s Story.  It is about how he has revealed himself to mankind throughout history.

Thank you to the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond, Oklahoma, USA for allowing me to post this video on www.missionbibleclass.org

Thank you to the children on the video who are willing to share The Story!

 

Bon Voyage

 

Ada Waving Goodbye

Those last few words can remain long in our memory.  They draw everything together and mark the people and event as unique and special to this particular place and time.  Imagine spending an evening with our friends in their home only to realise that they had gone to bed and left us on our own without saying goodbye.  This would probably make us feel awkward and abandoned.

 

One of Paul’s Goodbyes

As Paul traveled and shared the Gospel he had to say goodbye many times.  These were often emotional occasions with tears, encouragement and even words of warning or advice.  Here is one example:

We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. After saying goodbye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.  Acts 21:2-6  NIV

 

How do children feel when they leave our Bible Classes?

When a child leaves Bible Class is he or she a ship full of fresh provisions being warmly fare-welled from a safe and friendly port?  Or are the children drifting off toward open sea while the busy people back on shore seem to barely notice they have gone?

Take the time to draw everything together at the end of your teaching time.  Solidify what you have taught, let the children know you are glad they came and give them courage to go out and put into practice the things God has moved them to do.

 

Concluding Activities

 

Encouraging Last Words:

  • I’m glad you were here today.
  • You have blessed me today.
  • Today is a good day because we were together.
  • I’m going to remember today’s class for a long time.
  • I am so excited to see how you are going to be like Jesus this week.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing you next time.
  • I thank God for each of you.  He is good to me to allow me to teach you.
  • I have written your name down because I will be praying for you this week.

 

Individually, as They Walk Out the Door:

  • Shake each child’s hand
  • Give a hug to each child
  • Say “May God bless you” to each child by name.
  • Say each child’s name and a Spirit challenge.  For example:  “Suzy, may you be loving this week”  or “Jacob, may you show Christian joy to people you meet.”
  • Give a card or note to each child.  (This will require you to plan ahead, of course.) or
  • Give a paper with a Scripture written on it.

 

Photo “Ada Waving Goodbye” by Chad Orlikowski    Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Keep it Simple: Stick Figures

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There is something unassuming about a simple stick figure.  It is not a great work of art.  It does not have moving parts nor is it usually animated.

Yet, at a camp last week some student teachers used stick figures to illustrate a Bible story for kids.  The kids were enthralled.

Why was that?

Kids are constantly stimulated by all sorts of colourful graphics on T.V., laptops and tablets.  What was it that they found so interesting about these simple figures?

Personally, I think that the unassuming imperfection of a simple stick figure relays a certain genuineness that children can’t help but recognise.  By keeping the visual aid simple the teachers communicated the following to the children:

  1. I drew this for you.
  2. I don’t mind if you see me trying and making mistakes.  I’m willing to share the “real me” with you.
  3. This story is more important than my inadequacies so I want to share this with you.
  4. God uses me (and you) for good when we put our pride to the side.

 

Here’s an encouragement for today.  Strive to give your best effort when you teach children but remember God can use even our most humble gifts to advance His kingdom.

 

Supplies Used in this Story-telling Method:

 

Instructions:

  1. Read over the event in the Bible and outline the story.  In the example above the outline was:
    1. Paul heals the lame man in Lystra
    2. The people of Lystra begin to worship Paul and Barnabas like they were gods
    3. Paul tells them that only God should be worshipped.  He is the giver of all gifts.  He made everything around them.  But the people would not stop worshipping them.
    4. Some angry men from another town came and started saying bad things about Paul and Barnabas.  They made the crowd very angry.
    5. 2015-09-18 17.00.03The crowd became so angry that they threw stones at Paul until he fell down and they said he was dead.
    6. After the crowd left Paul got up.  He and Barnabas left Lystra and continued on to other cities to teach about Jesus.
  2. Divide the paper into sections.
  3. Draw the scenes of the story on each of the sections.
  4. Before class begins cover each of the scenes with paper.
  5. Remove the papers one at a time as you tell the story to the children.  (By waiting to reveal pictures one at a time you will help the children maintain a sense of anticipation.)

 

Adaptations:

  • Draw the pictures as you tell the story.  This will require planning ahead and a little practice.
  • Ask another person to draw as you tell the story.  Teenagers or adults could be the guest artist in your class.
  • Older children can read the story from the Bible together with you and outline it.  They could then plan out the scenes and draw them themselves.
  • Instead of a number of scenes choose one scene and draw it together as a group.
  • Use other mediums besides paper and markers:
    • Paints or chalk pastels
    • Sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk, footpath or concrete
    • Sharpie pens or any number of purchased products made to write temporarily on glass.  The teacher or children can write on a window pane.  (You will want to test this first to make sure it cleans up well with window cleaner).
    • (for outside) Use a stick and draw in the sand.

 

Extra Help for Drawing Stick Figures:

Here are a few helpful instructional videos I have found online.

Walking Down Memory Lane

Memory Lane Graphic

I so wanted to use the title “Loci Dokee” for this post but I didn’t know if anyone would read it.  I’ve also since learned that I was probably pronouncing it incorrectly.

The ancient Romans and Greeks used a mnemonic device called “loci” for memorising information.   Basically, they would mentally “walk through” buildings or streets and associate the various locations or items with something to remember.

It is sort of like tying a string around your finger to help you remember to put the rubbish by the curb.  As you leave for work and put your hands on the steering wheel you notice the string and say to yourself “oh yes, I need to put the rubbish out.”

Or remembering how many days in each month by using the the knuckles of your hand as a mnemonic device.

I’ve often used an adaptation of this same method called “Memory Lane” when helping children learn verses from the Bible.  Kids love it and it works particularly well when memorising a number of verses together.

 

How It Works

Children follow a “path” and stop along the way to say parts of the memory verse.  The words might be written out at each stop but once the children repeat the journey a number of times they learn to say the verse from memory without reading the words.

 

Supplies:

  • A Bible and chosen verse(s)
  • (outdoors) Sidewalk chalk and a surface such as sidewalk/footpath, asphalt, driveway or paved parking lot
    or
  • (indoors) Marker, pen or pencil and paper. Rope, string, masking tape to visually connect the papers and form a path
    or
  • (outdoors) A stick to “write” with and a surface such as sand or beach
  • or any combination of the above.

 

Instructions:

  1. Read over the verse(s) and divide it into phrases.
  2. Create a path using the method you have selected.
  3. Write the phrases on separate pieces of paper (or on the surface you have selected).
  4. Place them on the path in the order they will be said.
  5. Show the children how to follow the path. They will stop at each paper and read the phrase aloud before walking to the next phrase. (You might do it first to show them how it is done.)

 

Adaptations:

  • Older children can write out the phrases and set up the game for everyone else.
  • This activity can be done at a quiet and slow pace appropriate for smaller indoor spaces or fast and loud if you have a large outdoor area.
  • If you have plenty of help and space appoint helpers to stand at each stop and read the assigned phrase with the children. This personal touch aids in memorisation.  You will be amazed how quickly children learn long passages of Scripture with this method.

 

Memory Lane Example:

I’ve used the verses known as the Great Commission in the example at the top of the page.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)