I like to use Play Floam to teach my K-5th graders bible lessons. Best of all, they LOVE it! I am often asked, “What is Floam and where do I get it?” I thought I’d take today to share the answers to these questions.
I get mine from Amazon for about $8 a set of 8. The kids like to mix it together. I don’t mind because I divide it back up and they all end up with the same multi color ball of Floam! Here’s a link for Educational Insights PlayFoam Combo 8 Pack.
Watch a video overview. It’s not fancy, but will give you an idea of what it is. You’ll see. It’s not messy at all!
How often do you find yourself going through the day not thinking about God? If we fall into this pattern at times, how do we get our kids thinking about God when they aren’t in bible class? Actually, this is probably one of the best times to start this habit. Starting when they are young, ingraining this into their regular thought pattern would be amazing! Now how do we do it?
I tend to think there a many, many ways to accomplish this. For me, we gave our K-5th graders “Bible Buddies” and a daily journal. Then we challenged them to share God with their Buddy every day of summer. Their squishy buddy has its very own pet carrier that lets kids easily take their buddy with them wherever they go. They can serve together, sing bible songs to their buddy, read their buddy a bible story, pray each evening with it…. The lists goes on and on.
Our kids were thrilled to decorate their pet carriers and even more thrilled when I told them there is a reward at the end of summer if they can show me in their journals what they did with their buddy each day. If you are interested, the squishy pets and treat boxes for carriers were inexpensive. Kids just add colors and stickers to the carrier. And you can print off the journal or make your own!
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Hello! Hola! Salut! Privet! Shalom! Ciao! God Dag!
Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language? I took French in high school against my mother’s urging to learn Spanish. Living in Texas I sure wish I had listened to Mom, but I don’t know that it would have made much difference. I can’t speak but a few words and phrases in French. I’m not sure how beneficial it is to know how to formally introduce myself in French, especially if someone happened to respond; I’d have no idea what they were saying! So where am I going with this?
When learning a foreign language, the teacher always begins by teaching vocabulary… and lots of it. After months of vocabulary we start asking the teacher, “When are we going to learn to speak the language?” And the teacher kindly encourages patience and explains that we have to start with a bank of words first. Before we can do anything else, we must have a set of words to pull from. And so it continues, more vocabulary.
Building on the foundation.
After building a strong vocabulary, the teacher finally begins helping us form sentences. Even then, we continue adding to our vocabulary. And years later, we might speak fairly fluently with lots of practice, but even my friends in Advanced Spanish III still weren’t there yet. However, when immersed in the language and around natural speakers, we learn more quickly and even better. Studies show that after six months to a year of full immersion, we can speak a foreign language rather fluently! That’s a long cry from three years in school and still not really speaking it. It’s part time verses full time usage.
What on earth does this have to do with God’s word and our children’s ministry?
Well, how often these days do you see families coming to bible class about once or twice a month on average? This seems to be the norm now whereas when I was a kid, my parents had our family there every time the doors were open. It frustrated me as a kid, but my parents were immersing me in God’s word and the Christian culture. (It was more than just attending, of course. God was in our home.) Immersing ourselves in God’s word and with other Christians is like immersing oneself in another culture and language. By being around other Christians frequently and consistently we gain a better understanding of God’s plans for us, what He desires for us and what He expects of us. We will better understand who God is, our king.
First we teach children the bible stories to give them a base. This is their “vocabulary.” Then we teach them how it applies to their lives. This is the “sentence forming” phase. Then they are prepared to pull from all of this when they need it in life. They need to continue practicing it regularly so it stays fresh and strong, so they are “fluent” in the language of Christianity.
If we could help parents see the value of Christian immersion, maybe this would change attendance and involvement. If parents saw bible class as teaching their children valuable information preparing them for their future, would it matter more? I feel like parents often look at their children’s classes teaching irrelevant bible stories that don’t really help their kids. And most times if there’s a sporting event, it takes priority. On vacation? It turns into a vacation from church too, not just worship service, but the body of believers. Where are our priorities and would they be different if we realized the difference part time verses full time Christian immersion makes?
Into the hands of parents
How do we get this message to parents? Share it and consistently reinforce it! Thankfully, we have the internet! We have email and social media. How do we get the message out?
- Teach it incorporating pieces into every lesson so if someone misses one week, they hear it the next. And if they forget from week to week, they hear it again.
- Email it Send a weekly email to the parents in your congregation reviewing the lesson from the week, suggestions for reinforcing God with their kids at home during the week and then, this message! (A free MailChimp account is good for this.)
- Social Media Sharing Share tidbits throughout every week. Maybe a verse on a colorful background and a quick blurb to reinforce Christian immersion.
- Print it making a flyer or even a brochure about children’s and family ministry with a section dedicated to Christian immersion. Don’t be too wordy or it won’t get read by most.
- Signage is a great reminder. Put the idea of a Christian lifestyle at the forefront of people’s minds as they drive by your congregation, or the front yards of kids in your children’s program. Use a catchy phrase such as “What do they learn from the world?” or “Grow confident kids here.”
Now that you’ve spread the message and parents are getting the idea, what can you offer them for keeping God in the home daily? Here are just a few ideas:
- Discuss what kids learned in bible class and how they can apply it to their lives over Sunday lunch
- Pray together before school to start the day off with the right mindset and/or at the dinner table reminding kids that we are thankful.
- When disciplining kids, remind them that you love them AND God loves them. God wants them to have a good life and gave us what we need for this, but we need to obey. Share with them that when we disobey God like (give biblical example), we often run into trouble (like the biblical example). Help them see our loving God’s plan for them.
- Help kids see the good in others the way Jesus did instead of being judgmental or upset at those around them for petty thing.
- Memorize a bible verse together as a family. Choose one verse a week or even a month to focus on really putting it to memory, understanding it and seeing how it can be active in their lives. You might get a poster board and markers. Print the verse on it and let the family decorate it to hang in an area you all see daily. Make a family calendar and print a new verse for each month. Craft stores have plenty of options for this (or Amazon, my go to resource). Check out this wall calendar kit your family can have fun decorating. (This would make a great family event where you teach the families the importance of this time together with God’s word. Provide the calendars, stickers, printed verses (Large so they can cut and paste them big enough to see), markers and whatever else you can think of. Charge a small fee to cover your cost and I bet you still have a great turn out! I plan on trying this before the busy school year starts up in the fall.
It won’t happen overnight, but we can help parents see the importance of the church as a BIG part of their family life. It will take consistency and dedication! Please share some of your ideas. A group of ideas is always better than just mine!
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What you believe by the time you are 13 is what you will die believing
“In essence,” the researcher noted, “what you believe by the time you are 13 is what you will die believing. Of course, there are many individuals who go through life-changing experiences in which their beliefs are altered, or instances in which a concentrated body of religious teaching changes one or more core beliefs. However, most people’s minds are made up and they believe they know what they need to know spiritually by age 13. Their focus in absorbing religious teaching after that age is to gain reassurance and confirmation of their existing beliefs rather than to glean new insights that will redefine their foundations.” (Barna Group)
Are they ready to move on?
I work with elementary students and LOVE it! These are the years when they are still cute, inquisitive, think you are super cool and are still acting like themselves. Typically, they haven’t reached the stage where they have to act a certain way or do certain things to fit in and be cool. Seeing my fifth graders leave my children’s ministry program to move up to the middle school is bittersweet. Are they ready? Did I positively impact their lives with Christ?
Wait just a minute! I have to remind myself that God is working through me to reach His children. Of course they are ready! God is with them and will continue to be with them. They will need encouraging Christian teachers and role models to surround them helping them mature in their spiritual walk, but God’s got this. I’d encourage each of you to find reassurance in this too. Of course, we will continue to pray for “our” kids, but we can find peace in the knowledge that we have been God’s ambassadors, water our little seeds, but God is the one who will help them grow.
Send them forward
We love to send our kids off with a gift to help them remember who their Savior is and to be obedient to Him. A very simple idea is a rubber wristband with an inspirational word or verse. Kids love these so they will actually wear them! I got some from Amazon.com: “Walking With Jesus” Bracelet (1 DOZEN) – BULK There are tons of options. I liked the reminder that Jesus is with them every day, at every step. (Oriental Trading has them too!) Send them away with a short devotional explaining what it means to “walk with Jesus” so they will remember this each time they see their bracelet. Plus, it’s a good way to get other kids to ask them about their bracelets giving the perfect opportunity for kids to share their faith with their peers.
Other suggestions are bible journals or teen devotional books. Encourage them to keep God in their daily lives. Take God to school with them. Take God to athletics. Take God everywhere! As teachers we do our very best to help our kids make wise choices and remember their Heavenly Father! I’d love to hear some of you ideas! I often find my readers have some of the best ideas!! Post them in the comments.
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