);

Oriental Trading

Cleaning Up the Classroom

Cleaning Up the Classroom

I walked down the hallways and into the classrooms as an overwhelming feeling came over me. It all needs so much attention! The artwork down the hallway is pictures of students, which I like except that the pictures are of students that moved on to middle school a few years ago! The bulletin boards are falling down. The supplies on the shelves are in disarray. One classroom has a broken lamp while another has a vacuum in a corner. This isn’t good for anyone; not the kids that come every week or the visitors here for the first time. We need a classroom clean up and organization overhaul soon.

Yep! It is definitely time for a thorough cleaning and some updating! Being back to school season works out great since everything’s on sale. I may not be able to paint the rooms right this second and do a major complete overhaul, but I can certainly clean up, get organized and give the rooms a fresh look with some simple decorating. I made a checklist for myself that you may find helpful too. Click here to download and print for free.

Start downloading and cutting coupons, find the sales and go shopping! Your classrooms probably need fresh crayons (use the old ones in a melting project down the road to make shaped multi-color crayons), pencils, glue and more. For mine, we do hands on lessons every week so I noticed my Play-Doh drying out and Play Foam was not sticking together so well anymore. Add some colorful organizers for take home papers, folder games and more. This is a FUN part of the job; it’s just a matter of making the time (which I find myself running out of these days). When you do this, please send me pictures! I want to see the before and after’s!!

If you found this helpful, subscribe to stay in the loop! When you subscribe, you immediately receive an email with a link to download printable “Cootie Catchers” to use in your bible classes. Each week, you’ll receive an email with articles and resources to help Raise Kids For Christ.

Sermon Notes Pages to Engage Children in the Pulpit Lesson

Sermon Notes Pages to Engage Children in the Pulpit Lesson

It’s a new school year and a great time to develop new good habits. At my congregation, everyone is together for the first half of services. We sing and pray together, then take communion. Following this, our K-3rd graders are dismissed to Children’s Church. But what about my fourth and fifth graders, or even the middle school kids? I looked around the auditorium disappointed. Kids galore were playing on digital devices, some wearing headphones and others simply had the volume muted. They were not learning about God nor were they learning how to behave properly in a worship service during a sermon. Granted, the sermon is above their little heads, but it still a great time to learn how to listen. What to do about it…

Not everyone is on board yet, but I will keep working on it with both the kids and their parents. I saw a number of “sermon notes” options for kids but none that hit all the areas I really wanted to zoom in on. I want kids to listen for scriptures, for things they don’t understand and things they think are interesting. I developed sermon notes pages just for them that I’m happy to share with you. Each week I print out new copies for them to pick up before services. I’ve even got a 3-hole punch next to the forms in case they would like to keep these notes in a binder. I plan on asking our preacher to remind them to pull these out when it’s time to pay attention. By directly talking to them from the pulpit, they are included and will feel important. I’m hoping this helps get them involved.

Now for the part that is required to get participating in something they really don’t want to- incentive! Honestly, I don’t like this part, but it’s important. Think about it. You are starting a new diet. You want to lose weight or get fit but it’s never easy in the beginning. By incentivizing yourself with a small treat at certain points, you work hard to meet that goal. It’s part of being human… we will chase the carrot if we want it badly enough. Back to the kids. After the sermon, we have an invitation song. During that song, kids who have completed their sermon notes form can be the first to exit to the foyer where they find me with prizes. They can choose from pencils, trinkets, gum and more. I keep these things very inexpensive. (Another thought is playground time. They would have 5 minutes on the playground with friends while services wrapped up and parents pick them up.)

I would love to hear ideas of how you get kids listening and learning how to worship. Comment hear or feel free to send me an email at courtney@raisekidsforchrist.com

Arm Kids with God As They Go Back to School

Arm Kids with God As They Go Back to School

It’s that time of year again! Some kids are excited, others nervous and some are definitely not looking forward to the end of summer vacation. As a parent, I always have mixed emotions. This year, take some time to set the focus of on Christ with this simple back-to-school “Armor of God” activity.

Download and print the “Armor of God” play-dough mat, then read Ephesians 6:14-18 as you discuss and create the armor of God. Your kids will be prepared for whatever comes their way this year! Remind them that with God, they can do great things! God will be with them.

14 So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living. 15 On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. 16 And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows that come from the Evil One. 17 Accept God’s salvation as your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God’s people.

Sign up to download now! Print and use as many copies as you like; there’s no limit! Combine with a party sized play-doh to send home for families to study together. 

Dry Erase Stories On a Budget

Dry Erase Stories On a Budget

If you’ve been following me long, you know how much I use hands on throughout a story to teach kids God’s story. I stumbled across these dry erase flash cards and voilà, dry erase stories on a budget! The kids loved them and they are inexpensive and reusable. (Assuming kids don’t bend them and toss them around like paper airplanes.)

I bought a pack of 48 4×6 dry erase cards for $6.99 (July/2019) and the dry erase markers with erasers on top were less than $10 for a set of 24. As kids gathered in the room, they all saw these items in their packages on my table. Nearly every one of them asked what they were for and would they get to use them. Of course!

Lesson time! Each child receives one dry erase flash card and one marker. Now, these are multi colored markers so if you are afraid of fighting for the blue one, search for a set of black. Break your bible story into small chunks, about eight to ten is a good number to cover a 30 minute time period. I often read straight out of the easy reader children’s bible. Read your first chunk, typically two to four sentences. It should be just long enough to make a point but not lose their attention. After reading, either instruct them on what to draw or let them be creative and draw something simple from what you just read. Remind them it doesn’t have to look perfect. If you can’t come up with anything, go with a letter (name of person reading about, city, etc). I like to set a timer for 30 seconds to keep things moving and add some fun. Kids do fantastic and love this.

Engaging children in God’s word can be fun and simple. Just a few little supplies to use from week to week and you’re set! If this sounds like something you may try in your bible class, you may also like Play Through Bible andTeaching with play-dough mats.

This One Event Grew Bible Class by Over 300%

This One Event Grew Bible Class by Over 300%

Bible Science is my favorite time of the year because it is so much fun, kids beg for it and it brings children to church that might not have come otherwise. We saw an increase in mid-week attendance of over 300% on our first night! Sounds really cool when I put it like that! We typically have about a half dozen kindergarten through fifth graders on Wednesday nights during the school year. The first night of Bible Science brought in 20 kids.

Wednesday nights during the school year are hard for parents of elementary children.  By the time evening rolls around, they are worn out! Then there’s dinner to prepare. Did the kids finish their homework? Project? Did one of the kids just say they have a project due tomorrow? Then there’s bath time and bedtime. Whew! And that’s if there aren’t any sports practices or games that night too. Needless to say, getting kids to bible class during the week is not high on the list of things to do.

But that’s during the school year. Summer is a whole other story! They will come, but only if there’s something compelling them. For me, it’s Bible Science.  Every summer I host an 8-week series, one and half hours a night on Wednesday nights. We start with sugar free snow cones on the playground followed up with a hands-on science experiment, applicable bible lesson and a game. Kids beg for it all year long! This gives parents enough time to run an errand, relax, or attend a class for them.

Bible Science is easy. Just pick an age appropriate experiment; Pinterest is full of them. Make sure to test if first. Tie it to a bible lesson and you are ready to go! I have a Bible Science Creation series that I put into a course and it will be available July 1, 2019. You can download the curriculum, watch the experiments, get ideas for how to structure your program for your size and budget, and learn ways to promote your program. Run an 8-week series like me, set up a day camp, or more. Link to purchase coming soon.

This is not part of the Creation curriculum, but it’s one you can try with your kids to see what you think. I have one student that asks all the time if we can do this one again!

Sparkling Wool: “Spread the Word” (Acts 13:49; Luke 6:12-16 – 12)

NOTE: This experiment should be done outdoors on solid ground such as a parking lot or sidewalks (not grass). Also, you may want to have a fire extinguisher on hand (although we have never come close to needing it).

Supplies:  Steel Wool , Aluminum Foil, 9V Battery (Kids may share)

  • STEP 1: Make sure everyone has their supplies: Steel Wool and Foil (Don’t pass out batteries until you are ready for them to use them.)
  • STEP 2: Begin splitting apart the steel wool, loosen it up, spread it out.
  • STEP 3: Now, wrap it up into a loose ball
  • STEP 4: Place in the center of your aluminum foil. STEP 5: Now, pass out batteries. Touch the end of the battery to the steel wool in a few places. It will begin to spark. (Pass the battery to the next person for use.)
  • STEP 5: Stand back and watch the sparks spread all over the wool. What just happened? We transferred the energy from the battery to the steel wool. This created sparks that kept traveling all throughout the steel wool.

 BIBLE LESSON: In Acts 13:49, we read, “The word of the Lord spread through the whole area.” What spread? God’s word!

Now we will learn about some very special people who made it their mission to spread God’s word. We are learning from the New Testament book of Luke. Luke is one of the four gospels that teaches us about the life of Jesus.

At about that same time Jesus climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God. The next day he summoned his disciples; from them he selected twelve he designated as apostles: How many did he choose as his apostles? 12

Jesus gathered his disciples together and from those, he picked 12 for a special job. After Jesus had died and risen from the dead, this was the mission he gave them (Mark 16:15-16): 15He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. What was their mission? To tell the whole world about Jesus.

The names of the first 12 apostles were: Simon, whom he named Peter, Andrew, his brother, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon, called the Zealot, Judas, son of James, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

BIBLE APPLICATION In our experiment, the steel wool is all the people in the world around us. The battery is us. When we touch one person with the word of God, it starts a chain reaction. That spark creates another and another and another. This is just like when we share God’s love with someone. They get excited and share it with someone else and that person shares it with another and it just keeps going. Who can you share God’s love with? (Family, friends, neighbors….)

If you try this, I would love to hear how it went!

Does Sunday School Really Matter?

Does Sunday School Really Matter?

Is Bible Class really all that important? For us, bible class is about bible study, a deep dive into God’s message.  Have you ever noticed that the more time you spend in scripture, the easier it is to behave like a Christian? It becomes second nature. Ever noticed that you gain a better understanding of who God is and find that those tough questions aren’t as tough to answer anymore? Bible classes help get us to these understandings.

For my elementary children, the goal is to teach them the biblical accounts, or stories, so they develop a better understanding of who God is, His character and His plan for us. After elementary, we want to stress the principles from these stories and later see that these stories teach us how to live. The bible holds the answers to life’s tough stuff, and let’s face it, these days, our kids are dealing with a lot of tough stuff from cyberbulling and social media fame to sexual identity and suicide! Bible class is one area where the church can partner with parents to help build this solid foundation in Christ. 

So, is bible class really important? Absolutely! There is nothing, and I mean nothing more important that our souls, than our children’s souls. If nothing is more important, than we should be taking every opportunity available to build our spiritual walks, our relationship with God. Sure sleep, sports and education matter, but they have their place. Always stay focused on what is truly important.

I will leave you with a few words from the wisest of all…

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” (NIV) 

2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV)