Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall Break Church Class

This post is very different from my usual posts.  It's a bit of a reflection and a bit of a lesson plan in format.  But last week was fall break on the island and I had ran a three day church class for the kids in our church.  There was art and laughter and singing and sharing. There was refusal to participate and then there was modeling and inclusion.  It has been such a long time since I have been able to teach and it was so wonderful to be able to start again.

When I was on Oahu, I taught the older girls Sunday school class.  It was a very joyful time, preparing lessons and materials for the girls, learning about them and spending time with them.  There is something so special about listening to their stories.  Encouraging their questions. My church on Oahu also hosted a church camp every summer, inviting all of the sister churches to bring themselves and their children.  There were games and singing and beach swims and so many other fun things for all children and adults that came.

The church that I attend now doesn't have a children's class, and my  heart has been so heavy to be able to reach out to the children that do attend.  To provide for them the opportunity to learn age appropriate material and to be amongst their peers.  To encourage and learn from one another.  So I asked the moms if they would be interested in a two hours a day for three days children's church class during fall break.  They were very excited about it and planned on being there.

I knew I wanted to incorporate a lot of new things that have inspired me since Liam.  Things that I have had in the back of my mind for when he was older.  The purpose of this post is to share with you some of those activities and the sources that I pulled them from.

Here is what our schedule looked like during those three days

8:00-8:30 Circle Time
        Circle time included singing and story telling. I had put together song books for each child. Just a simple word document stapled together.  In it included songs that could be sung with motions like 'The wise man and the foolish man', others included songs to be sung with the guitar like "All in All".

For story time, I told the story of Abraham using story stones.  The ages for the class ranged from 10 to 2 years old so I knew that reading large texts would be difficult for the younger ones. A story would be told every day, while each day new details to the story were added. The children made a set of story tokens, similar to story stones but instead of stones they used circular disks of card stock.  They drew pictures  and then used them to retell their stories to each other.  Homework was given to use their story tokens to retell their stories every night to their parents.  The older ones were able to really develop their stories with several details while the youngest ones were able to play with my set of stones.  We worked on vocabulary items while the older ones retold to each other, learning words like daddy, mommy, baby, and also proper nouns like Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac.

Story stones were inspired from this book. 

8:30-9:00 Art 
We had an art activity every day. When I taught before, I didn't press art or a handcraft during my classes.  I have been doing a lot of reading about early child development and most of them stress the importance of art and craft.  From my teaching days in the language classroom I understood the importance of students creating an artifact of their learning experience.  So that is what I set out to do.  I pulled inspiration from this book, and this blog  for ideas that we could do.

The first day they created their story tokens, another activity taken from this book.   To modify for the younger ones, the youngest ones were given a picture of the same content to color while the older ones work.

The second day was the creation of their puppets for a puppet show of the final chapter that we would go over.  Simple brown paper bags, markers, glue, and construction paper were placed on the table and the children created their puppets for their preassigned characters.

The third day was the creation of the backdrop for the puppet show.  A large cardboard box acted as our canvas and we created a mountain tree scene.  Tree trunks were pre-drawn on the box and each child was given a box of markers to color in their trunks. Once they were done they were given large stamp pads to use their handprints to create the leaves for their trees.  These stamp pads are amazing! We have been using them to document Liam's growing feet! My sister gifted our set to us but you can find something similar here.  A lot of the moms loved these stamp pads and told me they were going to order them for their own children.

9:00-9:15 Snack 
Each mom brought a healthy snack for her child and the children were able to visit and play trivia games ran by the parents while I set up for the after snack game.

9:15-9:45 Interactive Game 
We played a game a day and on the third day we ran a rehearsal for our puppet show.

The first game was a trust game to teach the children about what it means to have faith in a person.  Toys were scattered on the floor and represented 'mines'.  Children were given partners and a blindfold. One person would be blindfolded and the other person would have to lead them out of the mines to safety.  If a child stepped on a 'mine' then they would have to wait for five seconds before continuing on.  When their partner was safely across then the children traded places.  A follow up discussion took place after the activity about the children's experiences.

The second game was a musical chair game.  The intent on this game was to learn a song that we would be singing after our puppet show.  The children really liked this one.  I didn't have small chairs that would work for the smaller children so I took pieces of paper and taped them down in a circle.  Children walked around the circle and then would have to sit down cross legged when the music stopped.  Those that were out became a part of the music group that sang our song for the game.

The third day was used as a rehearsal for our show. The children did a reading twice at the table and then with the stage.

9:45-10:00 Closing Circle 
Songs from our song books were sung and then we closed in prayer.

Sunday Sharing 
We had the children share what we learned during our Church Class with the whole church.  The sharing was comprised of singing and movements, a sharing of something they learned this week, retelling using their story tokens, a puppet show, and a final song.

This is one of the children retelling to some of our members using his story tokens

It was such an amazing week and all of the children enjoyed themselves so much.  It was a blessing for me and all of the moms were asking if maybe this could be done every school break.  I asked Ross, who was solely responsible for Liam during this time and he took a deep breath and nodded his head and agreed that it would be a good thing.  So many ideas are racing through my mind for winter break.  It is good to teach again. To learn and to modify and to grow.  But most importantly to be able to share about God, who has been so good to me and has given me so much.

Blessing everybody.


  1. It sounds as though it was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. I hope that you can repeat it in the future. xx

    1. Thank you Amy! It was a wonderful experience!