In my last few posts, I’ve talked about the wonderful children’s ministry program called VBS. If you are wondering why I’m discussing VBS in the middle of February, think again! It’s not too early to start planning your church’s VBS summer program. Already Christian bookstores are holding meetings to present the various VBS curriculum available this year.
I’d like to share with you about one curriculum, produced by the Salvation Army. that most likely won’t be featured at those meetings that is still worth considering. The Salvation Army designed the material to meet the unique needs of unchurched and high risk children. However, other denominational groups are discovering the material, and it is now being translated into several different languages. I had the privilege of writing the last book in a three year series.
Originally designed to be an extension curriculum for their regular 42 week curriculum, churches can easily adapt the material to a VBS program. However, it’s so flexible that a church could also use it for a backyard bible club, a summer youth group or for a Sunday School program during the summer months.
The first curriculum, entitled Life Signs, studies the Ten Commandments. I love the cute traffic sign motifs that come with this material! The second series, called Health Signs, looks at the Beatitudes and connects the lessons with a health theme. The third year, the one I wrote, is called Growth Signs and studies the Fruit of the Spirit. The stories look at the life of King Saul and King David and use the theme of growth of a fruit tree. Each lesson revolves around a different fruit. I had lots of fun coming up with ideas for snacks, crafts and games for each fruit.
What I like best about this material is the “More Ideas” section at the end of each lesson. Any teacher knows that sometimes the suggested ideas in a lesson don’t work for your group of kids. Also, a teacher might have more time than the lesson will take and wants something more that will augment the lesson. This extra page gives the teacher additional ideas to consider using in addition or in place of the ideas given in the written lesson.
I also enjoyed writing the “As You Prepare” section of each lesson. This is a concept I don’t see in many curriculum guides. I believe that preparation, both spiritually and physically, is the key to a successful lesson. In this section, I give specific suggestions of how the teacher can apply God’s word to his or her own life and how to pray for students regarding the principles the teacher will present in the coming lesson. Also, it’s good to have a brief summary of what you need to do to prepare for the lesson. This is what I tried to communicate in this particular section.
I’ll write more next time about other work I’ve done for the Salvation Army and about their philosophy behind their curriculum. It’s an exciting story. Meanwhile, check out their program at www.hopeshare.org. Also read more about Salvation Army’s SONday’SCOOL program here.