Before I had children of my own, I admit to underestimating what little ones could actually learn and accomplish. I never really expected toddlers or preschoolers to learn memory verses. Since then, I have realized how much of a disservice I was doing to the children I was teaching. I've had 2 and 3-year-olds memorize Psalm 23 and the books of the Old Testament! Little children are truly like sponges and will soak up so much if you just give them a chance and put a little effort into your teaching. The following are just some things that I've learned over the course of my years of teaching.
Laminators + Velcro!
You can make any worksheet interactive just by laminating it and using clear Velcro dots. You don't have to spend a fortune on a laminator either. I bought this Scotch Laminator several years ago and it's still going strong. I usually buy generic laminating pouches and they work well. Adding clear Velcro dots, instead of just having children glue things on a page, means that the students can do the worksheet over and over again, either at home or during worship services. Clear Velcro dots can also be used to make an ordinary bulletin board interactive. Also, use dry erase or wet erase markers on your laminated worksheets. Just use baby wipes or glass cleaner to wipe them off before reusing them.
I try to have a minimum of three "stations" or interactive activities when I teach the Toddler or Preschool classes. These interactive stations vary from bulletin boards to posterboards to memory verses. For example, I always do a monthly memory verse that is accompanied with pictures. The pictures attach to a posterboard with Velcro and the children each take a turn velcroing the pictures onto the posterboard in the correct order while we all say the verse
together. By the end of the month, each child is usually able to say the
memory verse without looking at the pictures!
I also have a posterboard with the Books of the Bible on them. I bought
these Books of the Bible Cards, and laminated and attached them with
Velcro. I take them off and the students take turns putting the cards up in
the correct order as we sing the songs for the Old Testament Books and the
New Testament Books. For more ideas on interactive bulletin boards, check
out my Bulletin Board and Activities page.
You might need to get approval from your elders, but consider painting or decorating your room appropriately. We are fortunate to have some artistic ladies at my local congregation who painted various scenes on different walls. One wall has water, which can be used for Creation, Noah, Jonah, Jesus walking on water, etc. For example, one lesson on Noah, the children had to "build" Noah's Ark by answering questions. Each plank (strip of brown paper) had a question on it. The students took turns answering questions and putting the planks on the ark. The next lesson, each raindrop had a question on it and the children had to answer a question about the lesson to make it "stop" raining for Noah.
Make use of your corners by painting a tree. You can use bulletin board paper or tissue paper to make the tree leaves more 3D. This tree can be used for Creation, Adam & Eve, Zacchaeus, etc. Put removable paper leaves or fruit in the tree with questions on the back of them and then let the children take turns picking one and answering the questions about the story.
If you don't wish to paint your walls, cover the wall with bulletin board paper and draw on it. Use an overhead projector to project an image onto the paper and then trace it. We have an art teacher at our church who used black bulletin board paper and sidewalk chalk to decorate the nursery classroom.
(Update: Unfortunately, the basement of our church building flooded in September 2016 and we no longer have our walls painted with murals.)
The church where I am a member came up with their own curriculum. It takes the children through the entire Bible in two years. All the teachers make up their own material.
(Update: I really enjoyed this curriculum especially for the younger children; however, we no longer do this. As of January 2016, we are currently using Discovering God's Way which you can buy from One Stone in Bowling Green, KY.)
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