The Hunt for Curriculum

I need how many volunteers???

The first time I was totally responsible for Children’s Ministry was in a small church in Northern Ontario that my husband and I pastored for six plus years. I was armed with a couple of binders of used curriculum generously loaned to me from the large church we were sent out from. The curriculum was meant for a team of at least 6 volunteers and there was just me.

Procrastinate? Who, me?

I was SUCH a procrastinator in those days!! Saturday would come around and I would open the binder only to find I needed supplies that I couldn’t get because of the limited amount of stores in our area…no dollar stores in those days, either.  As well, there would be a puppet skit of several characters! This was before you could do helpful Google searches to find things to supplement the lessons. (Yes, I’m THAT old.)
I learned not to procrastinate…well, it’s a work in progress… I learned to improvise. I’m still learning! And I’m very thankful for the internet and dollar stores!

At times, I have written my own curriculum, but I do prefer to use pre-made curriculum. It is easier for volunteers and I find it much less stressful.

The hunt for curriculum that works for small kid’s church:

When I search for curriculum, there are a few things I consider:

  1. Will it cause the children to grow in their walk with God? Or is it just filling time?
  2. Can it be implemented by one or (hopefully) two people?
  3. Does it include puppet skits that require more than 2 hands?
  4. Are there drama skits requiring several people memorizing pages of lines?
  5. Is there an extensive and expensive list of supplies needed?
  6. Is it affordable? (We do have a budget line for Children’s Ministry, but many times, the expenses are filed under my “groceries” and do not make it to the church financial statements. Those of you in a small church can totally relate! Especially if you are the pastor’s wife and are “in the know” of church finances.)

Pastor Hubster: You need to submit those receipts!

Me: Um…I counted the offering on Sunday night…

Pastor Hubster: It doesn’t matter! We need to track them!

Me: (chucks receipts in the garbage when Pastor leaves the room)

Well…ahem…

So many great curriculums available!

Some I’ve used:

  • Kid’s in Ministry International These ones have the option of purchasing “visual kits” which contain many of the items needed for the lessons. I was always glad we purchased them! The drama and puppet skits often needed to be adjusted because they required too many volunteers. I sometimes re-wrote them in a story form and just read them to the kids. Or I re-wrote them so the kids could act them out as I narrated. Some kids love to act! KIMI is not a “fluffy” curriculum but full of meat. Children will learn to hear God’s voice and be led by His Spirit.
  • Rocksolid Bible Story Curriculum These are formatted for teams of 2 or 4 people. Kids love the Bible stories included! They are in power point, but if we didn’t have a computer available, we just printed them and showed them to the kids as we read the stories. This is a very easy curriculum to use for 2 people. It is downloadable and very reasonable in price.  It’s one of my favourites!
  • Super Church I used their old curriculum before the age of technology, but I’m adding the link.
  • KICKRickulum I taught this one by myself and it was okay. I think I could’ve enjoyed it more if I had a helper who was responsible to teach part of the lesson.  The puppet skits were the puppet interacting with the teacher, so they were easy to do with a youth helper. If I remember right, it seemed like a lot of teaching points to make for every section. I dislike looking at a paper while I teach. To be fair, I started using this at a time when we came on staff at a church where it felt like I was starting at square one raising up a kid’s ministry team and getting to know everyone…bit of a challenge for an introvert. I think the stress affected my ability to memorize and organize.
  • Children’s Ministry Deals I’m so glad I found this company! Their stuff is downloadable and very reasonable in price. They offer lots of 50% off deals and free lessons and resources. Sometimes the craft ideas are a bit lame, but there are plenty of ideas on Pinterest. (Thank you, Jesus, for Pinterest! Amen!) The writers of these curriculums use movie themes and things like figitspinners and slime, that are popular with kids. For instance, we did a “How to Train your Attitude” series modeled after “How to Train your Dragon.” The kids loved that one! If your church is a Holy Ghost, charismatic, gifts of the Spirit kind of church, you will need to be creative to include those things.
  • Kidmo This is a media-driven curriculum that is done with excellence. I really enjoyed this as a “downtime” for myself and my volunteers. There’s not a lot of prep needed. The kids had mixed reactions to this curriculum: “Yay! We’re doing Kidmo!!” or “Are we doing Kidmo? Sigh.” I found it a bit pricey for our kid’s ministry budget. They sometimes offer deals, though.

Holy Spirit, our Helper!

I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit who is my Helper. When I’ve had challenges with a curriculum – either too many volunteers needed or I’ve not been able to get some of the supplies needed, etc, he’s helped me with creative ideas. I’ve even been in a church service listening to a message and suddenly he’s dropped an idea in my head for an object lesson that is totally unrelated to the message I’m listening to, but something that I would find useful later on in kid’s church.

How about you? What curriculum have you found worked well for your small kid’s church? Do you write your own?

Whatever curriculum you choose, it can be the best curriculum if you put in the time to pray and prepare.

Listen to God’s Spirit as you are teaching. He will be moving on the hearts of the children in the room regardless of what it looks like. The kids in the room might be standing on their heads in their chairs, but the Spirit of God is speaking to them! “We are careful not to judge people by what they seem to be…” 2Corinthians 5:16 CEV

Wendy

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Are we the only ones here?

Kid’s Church…two words that can strike fear into the hearts of the bravest of the brave. A room full of a mix of energetic, opinionated, tired, rambunctious, happy, not-so-happy, shy, out-going children isn’t a worship experience everyone enjoys!

For those of us that have been ministering to children for years, there is something more frightening than a roomful of children.

A room with one or two children. Sometimes with a huge age gap between them.

Small kid’s church. Very small.

And they ask, “Are we the only ones coming?”

And they say (because you need to be reminded), “There’s only 2 kids here!”

And they are discouraged.

And you are discouraged.

On those occasions, it’s important to remember:

  •  Jesus sometimes preferred a smaller group and took only Peter, James, and John with him.
  • This is only ONE really low attended day out of the MANY better attended days that you will experience.
  • You will have opportunity to really hear what is in the heart of these children without the clamouring voices of other children wanting your attention.
  • Jesus tells us that when 2 or 3 gather in his name, he is there with us.
  • You can trust the Holy Spirit to give you creative ideas in that moment!

Hey!! It’s Peter, James and John!!

On three occasions, Jesus took only Peter, James and John with him: when Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead, when he was transfigured on the mountaintop, and when he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before he was arrested. If you shift your mindset from the disappointment of “only having x number of children today” to “Peter, James and John are here today,” you can shift the atmosphere in your class.  Maybe you can take your “Peter, James and John” on a spontaneous prayer walk through your building? Maybe you can take them outside and find 10 amazing things that God made? You can’t always do stuff like that with a larger class and minimal helpers.

One day at a time!

Your ministry to the children doesn’t hinge on ONE day.  Don’t judge all your efforts by one day. There will be other, better days. ‘Nuff said.

Tell me all about it!

You know those times when you are teaching about something and EVERYBODY has a story to tell and time is ticking away and if you heard them all you’d never get to your lesson and you have to say, “this is the last story, then we need to get back to our lesson,” and at least 2 children still have things to tell you and they are so disappointed?

Example:

Me: One night, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. It really bothered him.

Kid 1: I had a dream last night that I was flying! I flew over McDonald’s and saw hamburgers all over the parking lot!

Me: Wow! That’s interesting!

Kid 2: One time, I had a dream that I was a hamburger!

Kid 3 & 4: (talking at the same time) And I had a dream that the blah blah blah…

Me: Well, you all certainly have strange dreams! So, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream…

Kid 2: When I dreamed I was a hamburger, my friends were french fries.

Kid 5 & 6: (at the same time and trying to be the loudest in order to be heard) One time…

Me: Okay, Kid 5 first and then Kid 6 and then we gotta get back to our lesson.

Kid 5 & 6: (share dreams)

Me: Alright! So, in his dream, Nebuchadnezzar…

Kid 7: Wait! I didn’t tell you about MY dream!!

Kid 8: Me neither! And mine was really funny! I dreamed we were on a tomato in the middle of the…

Me: Not right now! Maybe there’ll be time after we are finished our lesson.

All kids: AWWWWWW!!!

You know what I mean because you’ve been there.

Here is their chance to tell a complete story with no competition for the floor. And you can actually pay attention till the end because you don’t have to worry about how on earth you are going to reign everyone in and get back to your lesson. Children love to tell their experiences! Maybe you’ll have opportunity to pray for any underlying hurt, guilt or other emotion that comes across as they are talking or perhaps encourage them without having them feel embarassed at being the centre of attention like they would in a larger class setting.

Lo! I am with you!

Jesus does promise that when we gather in his name, he will be in our midst. He is in your small kid’s church class and wants nothing more than to reveal himself to you and the children. Be thankful and praise him that he is there! Praise him for the children that are there!

Holy Spirit, I need an idea!!

The Holy Spirit is our Helper. You can trust him to give you creative ideas. He’s full of great ideas! You know when you are teaching your lesson and suddenly you get a great idea to illustrate the point you are making? That’s the Holy Spirit! When you’ve got to scale back your orignal plans to fit 2 children instead of your usual number of children, he will help you.

A change in plans!

When you are faced with a v.e.r.y. small kid’s church class it can mean an immediate change in plans. The skit you were planning to recruit 7 children to act out? Not going to work. The game that involves 2 teams with 3 children on each? Not going to work. Suddenly, you feel like you have to speak 2 languages in order to teach your Bible lesson – the language of a 10-year old and the language of a 4-year old. One of the best articles I’ve read on this subject is 5 Strategies for Small Church Children’s Ministry by Greg Baird.

A final word:

Teaching God’s Word and his ways to children can be most wonderful, most not wonderful, most joyous, most not joyous, most delightful, most not delightful (you get the idea). It is such an important ministry with many rewards! Press on, press on, press on, press on! You are a blessing to the families in your church. You are a blessing to your pastor. You are a blessing to the children.

Wendy