Our Children’s Ministry Team is trying something new this summer. We have been meeting online for over a year (as most of you have been, too). We are going to start slowly restarting in-person worship and Sunday School. We are requiring reservations for worship, which means not everyone will be able to come each Sunday. This also means that the number of kids in Sunday School will be dramatically decreased, we will have a variety of ages (4-11) and we expect sporadic attendance. We thought – this is a great time to try something a little bit more relaxed and open-ended.
Our plan: (about 45 minutes)
- After the Children’s Message, the kids will be dismissed with leaders to the front lawn of the church. We will sit on foam squares, in the grass, in a circle.
- Open with prayer and a couple, fun, camp-style songs.
- Introduce the book with “See, Think, Wonder” questions: show the children the cover of the book, ask what do you see? What do you think this book is about? What do you wonder about?”
- Read the book.
- Ask a few “Wonder Questions”: Where can we find God in this story? What does God have to say to us through this story? How does Scripture tie-in to the story?
- End time together with something fun. Chalk drawing, parachute play, bubbles, nature walk, spray bottle (water) art, hopscotch, 4-square, etc.
I asked educators and pastors to share their “best reads”, “Top 10” or “recommended titles” for this post. I got a HUGE response. The whole list of suggestions loaded in the “Files” on the Hope4CE Facebook Group and found below as an attachment
A couple of websites to check out:
- Compassionate Christianity shares their new Children & Youth Books & Resources Database. It is a searchable database of progressive books and resources. These resources are great for ministry leaders, pastors, parents, and Sunday school teachers. They have been classified by theme, age range, type of resource, and scripture passage to help facilitate planning.
- Story Path from Union Presbyterian Seminary – you can search books by Revised Common Lectionary date, Scripture passage, or theme)
- Picture Book Theology -last post was 2019 – but you can search books, authors, themes — there is A LOT of great info on this site
Why use Story Books or Picture Books to teach Sunday School?
From Picture Book Theology: (author Hanna Schock) We all learn through making connections. This very human strategy never ends. Ideas have to have something to attach to. The more attachments we can muster, the stronger the learning. Likewise, the more varied a concept’s attachments, the broader our understanding will be and the more likely we’ll be able to generalize our learning to new situations. Repetition of ideas leads to deeper learning. Strong, broad, and deep learning occurs when concepts are easily and quickly accessed in a variety of situations.
Below you’ll see the attached file curated from a variety of sources:
Jenni Whitford is a Certified Christian Educator in the PC(USA) and Director for Children’s Ministry at Worthington Presbyterian Church (Columbus, Ohio). She is also a member of the Hope4CE Steering Committee.