Making Sunday School Meaningful

Making Sunday School Meaningful

Making Sunday School fun and functional doesnt have to be difficult. Theres no magic "secret" or special formula. Even the best of programs can become dull and lifeless without a few simple factors - preparation, control and action.

Preparation

The prepared Sunday School Teacher is well on her way to a fun and meaningful class. Having to take time out to gather materials or to find your place in your book or whatever it is slows the class down. Children will tune you out in favor of chatting with each other, wondering whats for snack or any of a hundred other distractions. Make sure you have everything you and the children will need on hand and ready to use so that you can easily and quickly flow from one activity to the next.

Another part of preparation is the materials themselves. Do your research. Find the best lesson plans or materials that match your teaching style and class needs. There are many different types of products and programs available to choose from. You neednt suffer boring, lifeless classes for lack of something different. If your church provides you with a program or curriculum, make sure you use it to your best advantage. No lesson plan or outline is "one-size-fits-all" for either teacher or student. The teacher who isnt comfortable with the materials should find some way of making the materials more user-friendly. There are many ways to adapt canned programs. If theres a script but you dont like it, change it. If there are activities that you dont think will work with your students, find substitutes. If there are too many activities, instead of trying to cram it all in, cut some things out. Just be sure that you include activities that appeal to all types of learners - listening to stories for the auditory child, reading, worksheets or coloring pages for the visual learner, hands on activities for the kinesthetic kids. Nothing leads to bedlam and disorder in a class room full of children quicker than kids who cant relate to the material being presented.

Prepare your classroom for your students. If you can, create learning centers similar to the ones used in school settings. Sunday School centers can include story time, snack time, art or craft time, and game time. Rotating from one area of the room to another can add a bit of fun and excitement for your students. You neednt divide the class into small groups, either. You can simply move the entire group from one center to the next, flowing from one activity to the next seamlessly and effortlessly. Ensure students safety by removing or blocking any dangerous or potentially dangerous areas. A stack of folding chairs leaning against a wall may not seem like a big deal until a 4 year old tries climbing on them and they fall. Your classroom can act as a fun learning aid, too. Studying Jonah? Hide an open can of tuna in a corner. Theyll think they are inside a big fish, too! Teaching about the journey from Bethlehem to Egypt? Create a classroom map, complete with a chair or two to serve as an oasis, perhaps a cardboard box boat to travel down the Nile, and a nice, soft spot to end the journey. A bulletin board and decorations can help to set the scene for your lessons, too. Posters, signs and prints can change a plain white room into a fun, bright, colorful learning atmosphere.

The last part of preparation should be obvious to any Sunday School teacher, but as such, may be overlooked. Prepare yourself in prayer and study. Being spiritually prepared will add an extra layer of comfort and calm to your teaching, which will be seen and felt by the children. Cool, calm, collected teachers are better able to maintain control.

Control

Out-of-control classrooms are no place for fun. Learning cannot occur in situations where there is chaos and disorder. If discipline is a problem, perhaps you could try asking a parent to assist you in keeping order. If only one or two students are creating distractions for the other students, try sitting next to them. Usually being under Teachers watchful presence is enough to settle down any Willful Williams or Wandas. If the children are becoming behavior problems because they are bored or unengaged, try looking at how you are teaching, what you are teaching and what you are asking the children to do. Children who feel overwhelmed by what they are being taught will act out. Children who do not feel actively involved in the learning process will tune you out. Todays children, used to fast-paced computer games and television shows, are especially disinterested in read-the-story-fill-in-the-blank type lessons. They want action.

Action

Jesus didnt teach by simply talking or reading to His followers, and neither should you. Teach as Jesus taught, using concrete examples, relevant topics and engaging discussion. If you must read a story or Bible passage, stop every so often and ask a question, out of the blue, to keep the students attention focused on the reading. Asking students to retell the story when you are finished will keep their ears actively listening, too. Add active learning opportunities, such as games, activities and dramas, to your Sunday School readings. For example, you can read the passage and then ask the students to act out the story. Memorize the weeks Scripture by throwing a ball or other small object form one student to the next, each one having to add the next word in the passage or verse. Make up or find songs that reiterate the lessons theme, memory verse or story. Teaching about Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalems walls? Bring in a bucket of legos or a box of blocks and let the children build their own wall. Is this weeks lesson on Elisha and the widow? Have some flour, oil and water on hand and let each child make some unleavened bread. Covering the parable of the Widows Mite? Hide chocolate coins in a bucket of rice for the students to find. There are many simple, creative ways to bring the Bible teachings alive and fun for the children.

Pairing children or grouping children is another way to add some fun and variety to your Sunday School classroom. It affords you the opportunity to work with just one or two or three children at a time. It gives the children a chance to form and develop friendships. It usually means NOT working in their seats at the table, so it adds the novelty of being able to work together on the floor or while standing up. It gets the children actively involved in what they are doing and shows them that its OK to have fun with the Bible and its teachings.

Sunday School need not be a dull, lifeless place where you and a group of children are trapped together in a small room for an hour every Sabbath. With a little preparation and creativity, anyone can create a fun, active, healthy and meaningful learning environment.Concordia Supply has everything youre looking for to make vacation bible school and Sunday school a success with the kids. Visit online at http://www.concordiasupply.com/ for all your church supplies.

YOUR REACTION?