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Kahoot: A free and easy platform with lots of fun uses for learning

kahootI attended a community event a few weeks ago at a local theater. Before the event started, a quiz game was running on the big screen. And anyone could join in and play if they had a personal electronic device and the game code entered into their web browser on the device. The game code was posted on the big screen before the game started. Lots of people in the theater played. The game kept score of the players based on correct answers and the speed in which they answered. At the end of the game, the winner was posted on the screen and the young man came forward to receive a prize.

The online platform used was called Kahoot. It is an app, but it also has an old-fashioned website so that players can play without having to download the app or even register with an email and password (which I love).

I had an event at which I was speaking a few days later, and I dove into Kahoot to find out how to use it myself at this event. I was so glad I did, because I found out how much fun it is for both the teacher and the learners.

So here is how it works. First of all, it is free (for now…currently they make money by offering it to large corporate clients who use it for various purposes). While you do not need to register an email and password in order to play, do you have to register if you want to administer Kahoot games. Once you sign up for an account, you can write your own trivia games or select one from the thousands that have been uploaded by different users. You can browse by keyword, and you can pre-scan the questions and answers of each uploaded game so you can see if it is one you want to use or not.

This event I spoke at was a family retreat for a church in Texas, so we did trivia games in three different categories: Bible, Texas facts, and Disney. The crowd loved it. Since the event was for families, we played the option of one device per team (per family) and everyone gathered around the device and tapped the multiple choice selection on their device. You can also set up the game to be every-person-for-themselves, but that only works if everyone has their own device.

Apparently, there are many more uses for Kahoot than just trivia games. That is nice because trivia can sometimes be merely that: trivial. You can use it for crowd-sourcing, opinion gathering, voting/polling, testing, and real-time feedback and input on public speaking presentations. Basically, if you need to gather information from a crowd, whether in a fun game or in something more serious, this app lets you do that in a simple and user-friendly way.

Check it out and discover all the great uses here: kahoot.it

Cutting Down Old Trees

woods-1072819_1920I went on a camping trip with some friends this past weekend at a local state park. We went on a hike through the woods and at one point we came into a clearing where about five acres of large-growth pines and other trees had been bulldozed – on state park property. It was quite an eyesore on such a tranquil hike, so one of my friends asked the park ranger about the clearing.

He said that every so often, the trees can grow so old and tall that they suffocate any new and fresh growth that is needed for a diverse and healthy ecosystem. So there comes a time where it is better to get rid of the old in order to make space for the new, fresh, and diverse growth.

And here is the profound point here: the new, fresh growth cannot come unless the old growth is torn down. You can’t have both.

That got me thinking about life and even the show that I perform. Are there things in my life or in my show that are “old growth”? Maybe something that I have worked on for years and am very proud of, but I over-value it and thus prevent myself from growing in new and exciting areas of my life and my show.

At one of my shows several years ago, I flew into Mississippi and my luggage (with all my show props) did not arrive in time for my show. That was only the second time it has ever happened to me in over a decade of full-time traveling and performing. What did I do? I had to get creative and perform for my waiting audience with whatever I could find nearby in the town of the event or at the venue. I grabbed chairs and ladders from the local church, fruit from the local grocery store (after paying for it, of course :). When I did my show, people loved it and nobody knew that I had performed without my “old growth” props. That show taught me something: that I do not NEED those tride and true items that I think are so necessary. In fact, it got me out of my box and forced me to get creative and come up with new tricks and ideas on the spot for a waiting audience. I have taken that attitude ever since – and my show has been more diverse and evolving than it has ever been before.

The old adage, “necessity is the mother of invention” is so true here. But in order for us to find new and exiting paths in our lives, we need to place ourselves in situations that force necessity upon us. I know that requires taking risks, but that is the only way we can grow. That might mean traveling, spending time with people you normally don’t spend time with, or removing a particular “sacred cow” in your life. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Are the Sciences Better Than the Arts?

Mega-bank Wells Fargo recently put out an advertisement for their upcoming “Teen Day.” In it, the wording appears to suggest that the sciences are a higher calling in life than the arts. Many celebrities in the arts took to Twitter to make the case that we should not send a message to teens that makes them think STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is necessarily superior to the arts.

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The ad could be perceived to be saying that the young woman and man were once artists (ballerina and actor, respectively), but then chose a more meaningful path in life such as one of an engineer or botanist. Celebrity Donna Lynn Champlin pointed out that the highest salary of an actor for 2016 is $64,000,000 versus the highest-paid botanist: just over $165,000. She asked Wells Fargo, “u sure ur a bank?”

In their defense, Wells Fargo apologized for the misunderstanding and removed the ad campaign.

As someone whose full-time vocation is in the arts and humanities (juggling, entertainment, and education), I have to say that I have no regrets in life for choosing the arts over the sciences. Do I think that one is more important than the other? No. In fact, I don’t think we should create such a dichotomy between the two. Life is both an art and a science. Have you ever seen great architecture? That is the blending of the arts and the sciences. In fact, what I do (juggling), is taking the physics of motion and materializing it in the form of a movement art.

But if someone (especially an aspiring teen) is dreaming of a life in the arts, we do them a disservice by trying to make them think that being a botanist is a better use of their life. The same can be said in the opposite direction. If a child wants to grow up and be a chemist, by all means we should not tell them that it would be better for them to join the circus.

I’ve been studying philosophy for a class recently and read that Aristotle made the case that though many vocations in life are clearly useful for a productive society (such as the sciences), there are other disciplines that seem less utilitarian but are just as important and “should be valued for their own sake,” such as music (the arts). Why? He said that “leisure” was a vital part of the human existence and argued that it was “noble” and contributed to the wholeness of life. He said, “To be always seeking after the useful does not become free and exalted souls” (Ozmon, Howard A. and Samuel M. Craver. Philosophical foundations of education. Eighth edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. 2008, pp. 73-74).

I’m not anti-STEM. I am simply bothered when people think that STEM is all there is in life and education (or that it is inherently better than the arts and humanities). Life is both STEM and Art. We need both. And we should expose our children towards both and communicate to them the importance of both. And as they grow, they will each discover the unique blend of science and art that may exist in their life calling and career.

 

His Name Endures Forever: An Object Lesson

I’d like to share a worship response object lesson we organized at summer camp last month. It was a little risky because we had about 300 campers and it could have gotten chaotic, but the kids did great and the end result was very moving.

First of all, when I say, “worship response,” I’m referring to something we do after the sermon/teaching time in a worship service. The band played soft worship music while the kids rotated around the room at various stations that helped them respond to God’s Word in a variety of ways. I go into more depth about this general idea in another post.

One of the stations this particular evening of camp invited the kids to write things down at two different tables. The theme of the camp was “I Am” and we looked at some of the “I Am” statements made by God in Scripture.

Table number one had poster boards, permanent markers, and a basket of cards wherein each card listed a name of God found in Scripture (“Counselor”, “Redeemer”, “Alpha and Omega”, “Good Shepherd”, etc.). The kids would come to this table, grab a card, and write what they saw on the card onto the poster (using a permanent marker).

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On table number two, we had a large white dry erase board and some dry erase markers. The children were invited (if they chose to do so) to come forward and anonymously write a sin or struggle on the white board using the dry eraser (see where we’re going with this?).

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When all the campers had written what they wanted at the two tables, we brought the posters and white board on stage. I instructed the band to play What Can Wash Away My Sins? Nothing But the Blood of Jesus while a child wiped away the sins and struggles from the dry erase board. It was a beautiful moment.

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Then, as you can probably guess, we brought up the posters with the names of God all over them. I told the same child to try erasing it with the dry eraser. You should have seen the look on his face! He thought I was crazy for telling him to do so. But I wanted to make the point clear: as he attempted to erase the poster with God’s names, nothing was coming off. It was all permanent! And that is exactly the point of this illustration: Jesus wipes away our sins, but His name endures forever!

Your name, LORD, endures forever, your renown, LORD, through all generations. -Psalm 135:13

Want more creative ideas for Children’s Ministry? Sign up for my free monthly newsletter here.

Photo Credits to Christopher Seay of Next Level Kids Camp in Texas (all except the last photo).

Juggling While in Motion

Last month I successfully juggled while flying down a zip line. I had tried the feat three or four times previously and I always dropped about halfway down the line. This most recent time, though, I made it the whole way (about 100 yards). Here is the video evidence, followed by some thoughts on the science behind it….

Between doing this zip line juggle and juggling while running (“joggling”), people often make comments to me that imply their confusion over the science of how it works. Many people think I need to throw the balls ahead of me in order to juggle while in forward motion.

The answer is, no, I do not. The balls are already in forward motion with me as I’m running or flying on a zip line. They are traveling the same speed as me, so when I toss them upward, they fly both up and forward without any extra forward effort on my part. If you were to stand in the back of a moving pick-up truck (do not attempt) and toss a basketball straight up, it would not fly behind you but rather in front of you as if you were standing still (as long as you are not going so incredibly fast that there is crazy wind resistance).

The problem with the zip line, though, is not the forward motion, but rather the spinning motion. That is what has always messed me up in the past. When I spin while juggling, I do need to overcompensate my throws in a particular direction to make up for the spin. When I successfully juggled down the zip line, I just happened to get the throws right based on my spins. It was tough, but certainly possible.

Scripture Memory for Kids

I have an acronym for scripture memory that I use at camps: MVOTW. It stands for “Memory Verse of the Week.” You pronounce it, “muh-vah-twuh.” Kids love saying it and we put motions to the words to help us remember whatever verse we are working on. Most camps and vacation Bible schools have a theme verse or main verse for the week. So I review that verse multiple times a day with the kids. I have found it to be a very effective way to teach kids how to memorize Scripture. One year, some girls recited a MVOTW to me that they had learned two or three years prior. They still remembered the words and the motions.

So if you lead your kids in a MVOTW, put some motions to each word or phrase (try to put in some or all American Sign Language if you can). Then quote the scripture reference, and finish it off with a hearty, “muh-vah-twuh!” It works. Trust me.

Here is a video of a group doing the MVOTW at Highland Lakes Camp in Texas last summer:

 

Faith Development Resources: Recommended Websites

  1. Center for Children and Theology (resource for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) – https://cctheo.org/
  2. Hillsong Kids (music and curriculum) – https://hillsong.com/kids/
  3. Go Fish (music and curriculum) – http://gofishresources.com/
  4. For HIS Kidz (speakers and entertainers for evangelistic events) – http://forhiskidz.com/
  5. MinistryToChildren.com (free resources) – http://ministry-to-children.com/
  6. Kidology (ministry resources) – http://kidology.org/welcome.asp
  7. Group Publishing (“big box” curriculum) – https://www.group.com/
  8. Kidz Matter (ministry resources and KidzMatter magazine) – http://kidzmatter.com/
  9. Orange (curriculum and philosophy of family ministry) – http://thinkorange.com/
  10. International Network of Children’s Ministry (global network and host of annual Children’s Pastors’ Conference) – http://incm.org/

Faith Development Resources: Pre-Teen

ELEVEN TO TWELVE YEARS

617bWSrj45L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Biblezines series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, various dates.

Thomas Nelson publishers has created a series of whole-text Old and New Testaments printed in the style of a modern magazine. They call them “Biblezines.” There are different versions for different genders and age groups. There is Revolve for girls and Refuel for boys. There are also other age levels represented. This can be helpful for young preteens who enjoy this medium of literature (http://www.amazon.com/Revolve-2007-New-Testament-Biblezine/dp/0718016483/ref=pd_sim_14_5?ie=UTF8&dpID=61ZTKT9DGTL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR118%2C160_&refRID=01JN82W1F1RWMSR58N18).

9137tmTnVOL._SL1500_ 51Np+0r5ISL._SX300_Clementoni Biblical Scene Jigsaw Puzzles – Tower of Babel and The Last Supper.

These two puzzles are more difficult than the one mentioned previously because of the number of pieces. That is why they are listed in this older age group. Like already stated, puzzles are a great way for families to come together and share a positive experience away from electronic devices. Both of these puzzles feature images of Biblical scenes that are also masterpieces in art history.

    1. Clementoni 1500 Piece Bruegel The Tower of Babel Puzzle (http://www.clementoni.com/en/31985-bruegel-the-tower-of-babel-1500-pieces-museum-collection/).
    2. Clementoni 1000 Piece The Last Supper Leonardo da Vinci Jigsaw Puzzle (http://www.clementoni.com/en/31447-leonardo-the-last-supper-1000-pieces-museum-collection/).

Commission on Children at Risk. “Hardwired to connect: The new scientific case for authoritative communities.” A report by the Institute for American Values, 2003.

This report is the result of a large study done by leaders from various fields who work with children and who are stakeholders in the conversation of how to improve the lives of youth. The study found that children need “authoritative communities” in order to thrive. Children are made for relationships and find meaning when there is a strong moral and spiritual foundation around them in the form of community. Leaders can use this to better understand children from all types of communities and explore how to better nurture their spiritual development (http://www.americanvalues.org/search/item.php?id=17) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2a-W183l04).

dredsandcompany2Dreds and Company.

Dawna Duke is a musician who has written worship songs geared towards the preteen age group. Most songs are upbeat Scripture lyrics so the kids can learn Scripture while they sing. She goes by the name of “Dreds” and usually brings other team members to help with the singing and leading the motions (“Company”). They travel to churches and camps leading worship for kids and family ministry events (http://www.dredsandcompany.com/).

The Family Prayer Corner.

Inspired by an idea from my daughter’s school (which uses the Atrium and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), I created a family prayer corner which has since turned into a creative space in which our entire family connects with God and with one another. Here is my blog post about it from February 26th, 2016: (http://jessejoyner.com/the-family-prayer-corner/)

Yesterday, I worked together with my five-year old daughter to set up a little prayer station in our house. My wife and I got the idea from her school, which uses a lot of hands-on activities that teach kids about spirituality.

I’ve always been a little skeptical of creating ritualistic prayer spaces because I want kids to know that they can pray anywhere, anytime, all the time.

But, I went ahead and tried this prayer corner idea and I was amazed at how excited my daughter got about it. There was something tangible she could do and touch while she did something that is very deep, abstract, and invisible. Truth be told, my wife and I got excited about praying at the prayer station too. As adults, we often treat prayer as a perfunctory chore. But this prayer station helps touch the human senses in ways that provides concrete metaphors for unseen realities.

So far, it has done wonders for us in terms of reminding us to pray and as a gathering point for our family to joyfully pray together.

Here’s what we did:

 

  • We got a glass plate and a miniature clear glass jar (like a small Mason jar).
  • We found some smooth decorative rocks that we had in a drawer. For you, these could be any kind of rocks. We call them the “prayer rocks.”
  • We placed the prayer rocks around the jar on the plate.
  • We found a battery-powered votive candle (that you can get at any hobby/craft store) and placed it on one end of the plate.
  • We explained the idea to our daughter and allowed her to to choose a spot in the house to put the prayer station.

 

Here’s the way to use it:

 

  • Whenever anyone wants to, they can go to the prayer station for as long or as short of a time they like. You can go alone or with someone else. It is always voluntary. And it should never be something we “show off” to look spiritual (Matthew 6:5-6).
  • Light the votive candle.
  • Grab a rock and say a prayer. There is nothing magical or spiritual in the rock. But it can help us focus and act as reminder that God hears our every little prayer. The rock can also be a symbol that God is our rock and our foundation. The prayer can be either silent or out loud. You can take whatever posture you like.
  • Drop the prayer rock in the jar and stay as long as you like. There’s something about the sound of the glass bead rocks in the glass jar that adds a sort of song to the prayer.
  • Turn off the votive candle.
  • When the jar is full or the all the rocks are used up, reset the rocks to the original position of being spread around the empty jar. Before you reset it, take in the sight of the full jar as a reminder of all the prayers that God has heard and His faithfulness to answer.

 

If you try this, I would encourage you to put your own spin or family personality on this station. Also, though we haven’t added the following yet, I think it would be helpful to have some prayers on hand nearby in a drawer if someone wants to pray a pre-written prayer (either from Scripture or a good prayer book). You could also frame the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and place it at the prayer station.

This could also easily be turned into a Worship Response Station for large groups at church or at camp. You could set up tables with small rocks all over them. Have the kids say a prayer and then place (not throw) the rocks in a wooden bowl or a similar type of container.

I still firmly believe in prayer as something we can do anywhere and anytime (John 4:21-24). But even Jesus spoke of the prayer closet (Matthew 6:6) and he himself had the Garden of Gethsemane (“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives” – Luke 22:39). So why not create a Gethsemane in our homes for our families, the very foundational place of spiritual growth for our children?

NarniaLewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia. New York: Harper Collins. 2002.

This classic seven-volume set of 20th Century fantasy literature by British author C.S. Lewis is accepted in both religious and secular arenas as excellent children’s literature. The series follows the story of four siblings caught up in a parallel universe called Narnia – home to fawns, witches, centaurs, nymphs, talking beavers, and the good lion Aslan. Lewis was an outspoken Christian with a gift for apologetics. He was also gifted in telling the story of redemption without coming across “preachy,” which is exactly what he accomplished with the Chronicles of Narnia. The story is clearly an allegory of God’s works of sacrificial love and consummate redemption through Christ, even though Lewis neither forces nor explicitly states this connection. It is a perfect series for parents to read to young children or children of ten or older to read on their own. Ideally, natural conversations about the similarities between Aslan and Christ and other connections can be had between parents and children (https://www.narnia.com/us).

12734106_1056251354441618_7039911769376766518_n (1)Local “Western Wall.”

A praying wall with bricks and slats for placing prayers on folded pieces of paper can be constructed as a prayer station in church. This can be easily transferred to use with children in church or in the home. Waverly United Methodist Church in Waverly, PA is credited for this idea and here is there picture and description: “Today we began our Lenten series, “Watch and Pray.” The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is the last remaining structure of the temple. A sacred place of the Jewish faith, local Jews and pilgrims of both the Jewish and Christian traditions tuck written prayers into the crevices between the rocks. This Lent, we will leave our prayers for God in our own wall.” Thanks to the Gilpins who happened to have a stash of bricks for us to borrow and John K who delivered them to church so we could build our prayer wall this morning! Stop in anytime to leave a prayer and join us Sunday at 9am as we continue to “watch and pray” (from the ‘Waverly Umc’ facebook page, posted 2/14/2016, accessed 2/17/2016).

IMG_0638.JPGMosaic Tile Art Installation at The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel.

This is a series of mosaic tile portraits of the madonna and child (Mary and Jesus) from dozens of countries around the world. People can walk the courtyard of the church and appreciate the way different cultures around the world depict Mary and Jesus. In each one, the figures reflect the dominant skin tones, clothing, and symbols of the respective culture. It is a helpful way for kids and parents to learn about the various ways cultures around the world view Jesus and that Jesus should not be restricted to a bearded Western affluent white figure as he typically is in America (cf. May, Stonehouse, Posterski, Cannell, Children Matter, p. 124). If you cannot visit in person, you can view the mosaics here: (http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/AnnunciationMosaics.html).

bible_memory_scripture_typerScriptureTyper App.

This is an app for devices that is specifically designed to aid in Scripture memorization. It has ten of the most popular English Bible translations and has a three step process that teaches the user to memorize a verse of their choice or one selected from a number of categories. It also tracks your progress and saves your memorized verses (https://scripturetyper.com/).

null.jpg_8945Strobel, Lee and Christopher D. Hudson. The Case for Christ for kids curriculum. DVD set. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013.

From well-known Christian apologist Lee Strobel comes his version of The Case for Christ geared towards kids. Preteens are struggling with the tough issues surrounding the reliability of Scripture, the existence of God, and the reason for the life and work of Jesus Christ. Ministry leaders can use this video-based curriculum to facilitate the six-lessons that are a part of the curriculum (http://www.zondervan.com/the-case-for-christ-for-kids-curriculum#).

*This list comes directly from a paper I wrote for a class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL in March 2016. The class was ES 7524 (Education and Ministry Experiences for Children) taught by Dr. Magdalene Larson.

Faith Development Resources: Late Elementary

EIGHT TO TEN YEARS

adventures-in-odyssey-640x360Adventures in Odyssey.

Produced by Focus on the Family, Adventures in Odyssey is a long-running radio program that is set in the fictional mid-American town of Odyssey. Whit is the wise elder statesman of the community who helps kids figure out solutions to life’s problems through a Christian and Biblical perspective. This often happens at his soda fountain shop called “Whit’s End.” He also has a time machine called the “Imagination Station,” which allows characters to travel back in time – whether to the battle of Fort McHenry at Baltimore or to the stables in Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph. Originally in cassette tape format and then compact disc (CD), Adventures in Odyssey episodes can be downloaded online nowadays (http://www.whitsend.org/).

The Bible App for Kids (https://www.bible.com/kids).

81c4uvghm5LAn app for devices that allows children to interact with Bible stories through animated visuals. Thiscan be helpful in allowing kids to engage with Scripture through the technology of their generation. Like all electronic devices, parents and leaders should monitor the amount of time spent on the device.

Hastings, Selina. Illustrated by Eric Thomas. The Children’s Illustrated Bible. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1994.

516R7JFHJ4L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_A very comprehensive collection of Bible stories with colorful and detailed visuals aids such as pictures, maps, diagrams, and artwork. It includes introductions to the Bible as a whole, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. It also has a glossary of names and a useful index oftopics. Each Bible story is retold in a way that a parent could read to their child while the child looks at the pictures. Many of the visual aids provide the cultural and historical background information relevant to each particular story (http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Illustrated-Bible-Selina-Hastings/dp/1564584720).

Jacob’s Ladder (Toy).

1372_JacobsLadder_1C_1This traditional wooden toy is a set of small wooden squares linked by a ribbon. The ribbon weaves in and out of the blocks so that when you hold the toy a certain way, the blocks fold down on one another and givethe illusion of a falling ladder. The toy can also be configured into various positions to imitate everything from a table to a dog. The name of the toy (Jacob’s Ladder) opens up a conversation the parent or ministry leader can have with the child(ren) about Jacob’s dream at Bethel (Genesis 28:10-19). In the same way that the toy has a mesmerizing appeal to it, so also God mesmerized Jacob in a dream about a ladder. That ladder represented a portal to heaven (as angels went up and down on it). It was through this gate/portal that God spoke to Jacob and declared the covenant promise that had been given to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham (Gen 28:13-15). Later, in the New Testament, Jesus alluded to this ladder when he told Nathaniel that he would see “the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). This was Jesus’ declaration that he himself was the ladder (the portal between heaven and earth) to God the Father. Here are someinstructions on how to make an oversized version (http://www.sermons4kids.com/instructions-ladder-toy.pdf). It can also be purchased here: (http://www.amazon.com/Toysmith-6195-Jacobs-Ladder/dp/ B000RAEBL2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454428925&sr=8-2&keywords=jacob%27s+ladder).

Johnson, Andy. Lantern Music. Multiple music albums (http://www.lanternmusic.org/).

a4030392961_10Andy Johnson serves as a worship leader for the Children’s Ministry program at Valley Church in West Des Moines, IA. He has compiled three albums of original worship songs where the lyrics are Scripture verses. Johnson uses simple sounds from the guitar, keyboard, and drums. The musical style could be considered modern folk pop (like Jason Mraz). The tunes are catchy and memorable so that the kids can memorize Scripture in a way that is engaging on their level.

The Lads (http://www.theladsband.com/).

This is a music band of young men who hail from New Zealand. They have since based themselves in the Nashville, TN area and they tour the country performing shows that communicate Biblical truths through upbeat kid-friendly music styles. They have CD’s of their music as well as a few television show episodes that feature their music and storytelling with a Christian message.

Mauss, Doug ed. Illustrated by Sergio Cariello. The Action Bible. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook. 2010.

9780781444996This is another comic-book style Bible (similar to the The Picture Bible mentioned above). This one has a lot of bright colors and high-energy action depictions. It is drawn to resemble an action-packed graphic novel or superhero comic series. It is very visually stimulating. Parents and teachers could read through stories with the children and appreciate the artistic medium. I would suggest balancing something like this with time and space for quiet reflection and prayer away from the images. See more at the home website for the product: (http://www.theactionbible.com/).

Meiklejohn, Julie ed. Amazing Science Devotions for Children’s Ministry. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing. 1999.

This book is a collection of 41 science-based object lessons that teach Biblical truths. For example, there is a lesson that teaches kids how to make a rainbow using everyday household supplies (a cup of water, tape, scissors, a piece of paper, and sunlight). The teacher or parent can lead the child in the science project and then discuss the Biblical connection (in this case, the beauty of God’s creation and the promise he gave Noah never to judge the earth again with a global flood). Children learn the God-authored beauty of science as well as a particular Biblical truth alongside the science. There is an introduction and an index of Scriptures and topics (https://www.group.com/product/9780764421051-amazing-science-devotions-for-children-s-ministry.do).

Noah’s Ark 504-piece puzzle: Christian Brands RC717 Noah’s Ark Jigsaw Puzzle by Gifts of Faith, 2013.

Puzzles are a great way for a family to come together around an “unplugged” activity that helps people slow down in this media-driven society. When the subject matter of the jigsaw puzzle is a Biblical scene, it allows the family to discuss the Bible story in organic and meaningful ways. Certain details that may be missed in a quick glance at a picture suddenly become relevant as everyone looks for a certain piece of the puzzle. Aside from the subject matter of the puzzle, there is a valuable payout in terms of family togetherness, cooperation, patience, and working together towards a goal. This 504-piece puzzle is appropriate for older elementary children through adults.

Worship Response Stations.

10339573_10201689918724434_8519116368611174061_n 10409409_10201689918484428_3276895270255792122_nFor centuries, Christians have developed creative ways to respond to God. From the sacrament of communion to the lighting of prayer candles, Christians throughout history have practiced a wide variety of worship response methods. While many liturgical churches have response experiences and stations often built into their liturgy or curriculum, non-liturgical contemporary churches often lack the same variety and scope of response opportunities. For example, many churches today view the “altar call” as their definition of a response to a worship service. I like to challenge that thinking and attempt to create what I call “worship response stations” in order to expand our perspectives on how we can creatively respond to God in worship. I have found this idea to be especially helpful in children’s ministry because children enjoy variety and interactive experiences. Here is my pinterest board with worship response station ideas from many different people: (https://www.pinterest.com/jessejoyner/worship-response-stations/).

Here is an exceprt from my blog post about worship response stations from August 7th, 2014 (http://jessejoyner.com/worship-response-stations/):

I speak at many camps each summer, but this one stuck out because of the format they asked me to follow. First of all, there were two chapel services each day for the kids – one in the morning and one in the evening. The morning service was designed to be the “main” service of the day (in terms of worship music and teaching time) with the evening service being more of a “review and respond” service.

So in the evenings, I taught for about 10 minutes, just reviewing the points we learned about in the morning. Then, for the remainder of the service (another 45 minutes to an hour), we spent responding to God’s Word through the format of worship stations.The camp told me this ahead of time. So I wrote up some station ideas that went along with my lessons each day. The leadership at the camp then took all my ideas and turned them into reality by getting the supplies, setting up the stations, and manning them each night.

The results were amazing. We realized that kids learn and respond in a variety of ways, depending on their learning languages. Some kids respond well with hands-on and interactive activities while others are fine being still or reading. Most kids have a variety of learning styles inside of them anyway, so it’s good to have the different stations so they can move around freely as they like. I’d like to take a few posts to share the ideas and pictures from the worship response stations.

Here is a quick rundown of the stations. I will go into more details with each one in subsequent posts.

  • Prayer Counseling – This is the traditional idea of having prayer counselors on hand if a kid or adult needs prayer for anything. This is usually the only “station” people offer as a way of response at camp or in church. We still used it, but it was only one of many ways to respond.
  • Question Cards – If the kids had a question about God or the Bible, they wrote them down on a 3×5 card and handed it to an adult. The adult would then attempt to find the answer in the Bible and answer the question. If they couldn’t find it, then they would say “I don’t know” or “I’ll look it up later and get back with you.” This was a surprisingly popular station for the kids.
  • World Prayer Map – There was a map on the wall and the kids would go up and place a sticker star on a country, city, or location of a people group and pray for them.
  • Slime Buckets – One night, we taught about Jonah. In order to explore the idea of what it may have felt like to be inside the belly of a great fish, the kids put their hands in slime. This was obviously very popular.
  • Blindfolded Prayer – Also along the story of Jonah (who prayed in pitch darkness inside the belly of the fish), we had the kids put on a blindfold and then sit or kneel and pray. One leader said this station was the first time he had seen one of his boys pray. Sometimes it takes some creative way that really connects with a particular kid to open them up to things like prayer and worship.
  • Kids Pray for Adults – I will devote an entire post to this station, as it was my favorite of all the stations. Kids were on hand to pray for adults who wanted prayer. It was humbling for adults and exciting for kids. More on this one later.
  • The Wooden Cross – This is another traditional station that many groups have used for years. I believe it is still very powerful in form and function. The large wooden cross reminds us of what Jesus did for us and we have the chance to lay prayers and confessions at the cross by writing them on a piece of paper and nailing them to the cross.
  • Prayer Journaling/Drawing – This was also a very popular one. We had stacks of paper and boxes of crayons, markers, and pencils on hand. The kids would simply grab some paper and something to write/draw with and freely journal or draw pictures as prayers, thanksgivings to God, and other worship thoughts on their minds.
  • Finger Painting – On the day when we learned about Creation, the kids got to draw pictures of things that God made on a large white poster using finger paints. This was extremely popular and looked very pretty when it was all done.
  • Other Stations – There were also stations with bead bracelets, mouse traps, clay and play-do, bowls of fruit, a white board with a dry erase marker, and Scripture reading. I will discuss each one in subsequent posts.

*This list comes directly from a paper I wrote for a class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL in March 2016. The class was ES 7524 (Education and Ministry Experiences for Children) taught by Dr. Magdalene Larson.

Faith Development Resources: Early Elementary

FIVE TO SEVEN YEARS

51g94ru3P-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Lucado, Max, Randy Frazee, and Karen Davis Hill. Illustrated by Josee Masse. God’s messages for little ones: the story of God’s enormous love. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2012.

Well-known pastor and author Max Lucado leads a qualified team to present this devotional for children. With 31 devotions, the book can be consumed in a month with reading one a day. Parents can read it to their children but most six and seven year olds should have little trouble reading it on their own. Each devotional comes with an illustration of a Bible story and three textual components. The first component is a brief paraphrase of a scripture verse with a reference to the Bible story. The second component is a short three-line poem that summarizes some practical theological points from the story. The third component is a section called “God says to me.” This final part is a blessing/prayer/promise over the child spoken from the perspective of God towards the reader (http://www.familychristian.com/gods-messages-for-little-ones-31-devotions.html).

617vYV9yWrL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Lloyd-Jones, Sally and Jago. Thoughts to make your heart sing. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2014.

From the author and illustrator of The Jesus Storybook Bible comes a book of 101 devotions with Scripture references that can be used by children and adults (http://www.zondervan.com/thoughts-to-make-your-heart-sing-deluxe-edition).

Wilhelm, Hans. Waldo, tell me about God. Norwalk, CT: C.R. Gibson Company, no date.

This short book is about a conversation between a boy and his talking dog named Waldo. The book begins with Waldo mentioning the handiwork of God and then the boy saying, “Who is God?” What follows is a series of answers from Waldo about the character and nature of God. The illustrations are appealing and the theology is Biblically sound. The main thrust of the story is about God’s enduring and ever-present love. A PDF version of the book is available online here: (http://www.childrensbooksforever.com/Childrenpics/WALDO%20TELL%20ME%20ABOUT%20GOD.pdf).

 IMG_7079Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

This is an excellent program developed originally by Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi with influence from Maria Montessori. It essentially takes the Montessori method of teaching children and transfers it to religious education. The “atrium” is the setting, which is kind of “halfway house” between the classroom and the sanctuary. Children both learn and worship in a way that is attentive both to God’s spirit as well as the needs, interests, and learning styles of the children. Lessons allow children to explore the stories of the Bible and the traditions of the church through interactive group experiences facilitated by a teacher (http://www.cgsusa.org/).

Berenstain, Jan and Mike. The Berenstain Bears: Show God’s Love. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz. 2010.

This single volume is a compilation of five Berenstain Bears stories. Each story teaches a Biblical concept. For example, the first of the five stories, Love Thy Neighbors, is a modern re-telling of The Good Samaritan story set in bear country. In this story, the bear family is surrounded by many neighbors in their town, most of whom appear to be all-around good people. Then there are the Bogg brothers. They live in a run-down shack, drive a beat-up car, raise dirty pigs, and spit in people’s properties when they drive by. But then the bear family’s car runs down on the way to the town festival. Both the mayor and the wealthy squire (who appear to be good people) whisk by the bear family on the road. Then come the Bogg brothers, who end up helping the bear family on their way and covering the costs for their car to get fixed at Uncle Zeke’s rusty repair shop. Each story opens with the corresponding Scripture reference so parents can discuss the Biblical basis for each story with their children (http://www.amazon.com/Berenstain-Bears-Show-Living-Lights/dp/0310720109).

Berryman, Jerome. The complete guide to Godly play. Vols 1-8. Denver, CO: Living the Good News/Morehouse Education Resources, 2002-2012.

Similar to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd mentioned above, Godly Play is a model/method of helping children experience God and the stories of God in a Montessori-like setting. Berryman has developed a series of lessons using simple wooden figures and other tactile materials that allow children to interact with and explore the stories of the Bible. The overall mood is reverent and reflective as the teacher leads the children in an attitude of wonder towards the stories of God. Below are some online links that explain more and show examples of Godly Play in action:

  1. The main website – http://www.godlyplayfoundation.org/
  2. A good summary of Godly Play – http://www.buildfaith.org/2013/07/01/godly-play-for-all-ages-all-abilities/
  3. Godly Play in Germany – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=360&v=py6vzIs_NcM
  4. My personal reflections on Godly Play from my blog – http://jessejoyner.com/godlyplay-a-model-for-ministry-with-children/

51gvnp4XnTL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_Hoth, Iva. The Picture Bible. Andre Le Blanc illustrator. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook. 1998.

This is a comic-book styled Bible. The stories are illustrated with bubble texts coming from the mouths of the characters. With over two hundred stories from the Bible along with maps and “Did You Know?” excerpts, this book helps children (especially those familiar with comic book literature) engage with the stories of the Bible.

Vischer, Phil. Buck Denver asks…What’s in the Bible? Church edition. Jellyfish Labs, 2014.

This is a 52-week curriculum for use in children’s ministry settings. Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, has headed up this project that teaches kids deep spiritual truths through puppetry, songs, and storytelling. I personally like the emphasis on Biblical theology taught by Vischer. The Veggie Tales franchise was very successful, but it seemed a little shallow on Biblical “meat” (which may have been the intent in order to reach a wider audience). This curriculum is unashamedly Bible-focused and Vischer speaks directly to the audience through the camera in a pastoral teaching role. Here is the link to the curriculum resource: (http://whatsinthebible.com/). I also wrote my own blog post reviewing it: (http://jessejoyner.com/whats-bible-curriculum-review/).

IMG_2272Memory Verse of the Week.

MVOTW – This acronym stands for “Memory Verse of the Week.” I speak at summer camps every year and several years ago I gave the memory verse of the week at one of the camps this nickname and the kids loved saying it (pronounced “muh-vah-twah”). We also added a dramatic motion to go with it (slowly raising one’s arms above the head to form the letter “M” over the head while emphatically saying “MVOTW!”). The boys then do a muscle-man pose while the girls jump like cheerleaders and kick one leg back. I, of course, give them the option to do either motion at the end so as not to reinforce any potentially negative gender stereotypes (such as ‘girls can’t be strong’ or ‘boys can’t be cheerleaders’). But nobody has ever had a problem with it because it is all done in jest. The MVOTW consists of the memory verse itself put to motions (some sign language mixed with made-up silly motions) and then the dramatic MVOTW pose at the end. For several years now, the MVOTW has been a huge hit with kids, especially preteens. My own five-year old daughter found this method to be helpful in memorizing Scripture. Here is a YouTube video of eight hundred kids and leaders reciting 1 John 4:4 using the MVOTW model: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PIV-v86qe0).

IMG_7057Tabernacle Diagram Canvas – Alpha Artistic Evangelism.

This unique wall canvas at my daughter’s Christian Montessori school depicts the Israelite Tabernacle when they were wandering through the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land. It shows the tent city, the tabernacle, and close-ups of the Ark of the Covenant and what it all may have looked like during this period before the construction of the permanent temple in Jerusalem. It’s large size allows teachers and parents to show children a visual of the worship practices of God’s people in the Old Testament. I cannot find a solid reference for the work, so let it be an inspiration to create large images as aids for children to better understand the cultural and historical settings of the Bible. Below is a picture with a child to give proportion:

Family Fun Puzzle: Hosanna in the Highest! Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

This 100-piece jigsaw puzzle depicts Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey at what is called his “triumphal entry.” This is a great family activity for Palm Sunday weekend. The parents and children can assemble the puzzle as they talk about the meaning of Palm Sunday and how Jesus is the humble King who has come to save.

*This list comes directly from a paper I wrote for a class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL in March 2016. The class was ES 7524 (Education and Ministry Experiences for Children) taught by Dr. Magdalene Larson.