Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year & Update

I savor the promise of renewal and expectation of that comes with each new year!  One year ago today, I launched this blog, and I am so blessed and overwhelmed by the way God is using the lessons I post here to help teachers and reach children all over the globe.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you all in this way.

In my class, my team of teachers and I follow the same basic scope and sequence each year, with a few adjustments.  Since the preschool class at my church is for children ages three and four, most children are in our class for two years.  The first year the lessons are mostly brand new to them.  The second year they are able to grasp a little more, and gain a greater command of the truths that we are teaching them.

Here on the blog, I've nearly documented a whole year of lessons for preschoolers, and we're ready to start back at the beginning of our lesson cycle!  This year I will fill in the lessons that I missed last year, and will also post more teaching helps and videos, so there will be lots of fresh content for you to access and use in your classrooms.

I've made a few updates to the blog that I'd like to point out to you.
  1. At the top of the page there is a scope & sequence tab.  There you will be always be able to quickly access the lesson schedule for the current theme.
  2. In the sidebar, just to the right, you'll notice a new section called Featured Post. ---->  ----> ---->
    Here I will feature the post that corresponds to the lesson for the week, according to the scope and sequence, so that you will be able to easily find it.  Many of these will be repeat posts from 2015 with some updates.
  3. There is also a new lesson index tab at the top of the page.  Under this tab is an index of all the lessons that can be found on the blog, organized by theme.  This is the easiest way to find a particular lesson that you may be looking for other than the featured post.
Please let me know if you come across any technical difficulties or glitches so that I can do my part to fix them.  I look forward with expectancy to 2016, and pray that you all will be blessed and strengthened as you teach and minister to your little ones.  Have a joyous New Year!

                                                          ~Miss Susanna




Saturday, December 26, 2015

Wise Men Worship

We are here, at the last lesson of our Christmas unit, and the last lesson of the year, in a posture of worship to Jesus our King!

Bible Truth: Worship Jesus our King.
Bible Story: Wise men traveled from far away to worship Jesus.
Bible Study: Matthew 2:1-12


teach


story-in-a-gift


The final characters that I will pull out of my gift box are the wise men, along with a toddler Jesus.  In order to present the Biblical account of the story accurately, I am sure to not show the children any pictures of the wise men at the stable the night that He was born, since Jesus was probably about two years old when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to worship Jesus, and present Him with their exquisite gifts.





dramatized reading


If you are simply reading the story of the wise men from a children's Bible, make the story more memorable by wearing a crown from Burger King as you read, or bring a few crowns for the children to wear and act out the story as you read.




show and smell


Three small gift boxes filled with plastic gold coins (or other golden objects), and nice smelling perfumes and/or oils, can help you tell the story as you describe the gifts that the wise men brought for Jesus. Explain that these were expensive gifts that were given to kings.  The wise men brought them to Jesus because He is the King of all kings!


sing


  • We Fall Down is a simple and beautiful worship song to teach the kids to sing to Jesus.
  • Run, Jesus Run is a great, fun action song by the Donut Man that corresponds with this story. I explain that the wise man were good kings who came to worship Jesus, but there was a wicked king who wanted to kill Jesus.  God was watching over Joseph, Mary and Jesus.  He sent an angel to tell Joseph to get up in the middle of the night, and go quickly to Egypt where they would be safe from the wicked king.  That's about all the detail that I go into for this portion of the story.  There is no MP3 download of this song that is available anywhere that I can find.  The only way that I know to get this song is to purchase the Shout Hosanna CD from donutman.com.  The CD is definitely worth purchasing in my opinion!

play


follow the star


For this game you will need a star to hold, or use a flashlight as suggested here to shine the star around the room.  Tell the children that the wise men traveled for many, many days, and had to sleep out in the desert while they were traveling.  Invite them to pretend to be the wise man and go to sleep.  Move to a different part of the room, or shine the star to a different part of the room.  Then say, "Wake up wise men, it's time to find the star!"  The children get up and run to wherever you holding or shining the star.  Sing "Follow, Follow the Bright Star", then tell the children that it's time for the wise men to go back to sleep.  Continue playing the game as long as time allows,or as long as the children are interested!


craft


star decoration


Cut out stars, or purchase foam stars from the Dollar Store.  Provide star stickers, glitter, and/or sequins for the children to decorate their stars.  Print out these tags with "Follow, Follow the Bright Star" for the children to sing with their parents and home as they discuss today's lesson.  Punch a hole in the top of the stars the tags and tie a piece ribbon to complete the decoration.



shining star


Michael's craft store has these  glittery foam star stickers for 60% off right now in the children's Christmas craft section.  I like to stock up on them to use throughout the year.  For this lesson, the children could simply add them to a coloring sheet like this one.




Saturday, December 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Birthdays are a major highlight in the life of a preschooler, so what better way to convey the glory of Christmas to them than to have a birthday party for Jesus?!  This birthday party has become a cherished Christmas tradition in my classroom, and I'd like to share that tradition with you and your little ones.

Bible Truth: Christmas is Jesus' Birthday.
Bible Story: Jesus our Savior is born.
Bible Study: Luke 2:17-20; John 3:16


I've learned over years to keep this very simple by following our same service schedule/routine, with some extra special touches.



decorate


The first step is to decorate the classroom with lights, a Happy Birthday Jesus Banner, balloons, garland, and whatever else you may have on hand.  I also like to have Christmas music praising Jesus as the kids are signing in and engaging in free play, which will include a child-friendly nativity set for them to play with. When they walk into the classroom, I want them to know that this is an extra special day to set the tone for our birthday party.  They typically have lots of questions about what the banner says, why I put up Christmas lights, etc.  All perfect opportunities to explain that it is a special day to celebrate Jesus' birthday!




sing


Through the Christmas unit we've taught the children several songs and rhymes that correspond to different parts of the Christmas story.  For our worship time, I like to repeat these  sing these songs as we also review the lessons.


teach & play


Fun parties include fun games, and this party is no exception!  This is a game that also teaches the kiddos John 3:16a, which is the very heart of Christmas.  So instead of our typical lesson time, we will be playing a game.  (Shh, don't tell the kids, but the game is actually a lesson in itself!)

john 3:16 scripture pass


For this game you will need:
  • a bible
  • a heart pillow (or other heart shaped object)
  • an inflatable globe (or another type of globe)
  • a nice gift box
  • a baby Jesus figurine
  • Christmas music


Gather the children into a circle.  Explain that the Bible has a very special verse about Jesus that they are going to learn.  As you hold your Bible open, invite the children to repeat after you, "John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son."  Then, show them each of the objects as you briefly talk about the verse and what it means to them.  Keep the baby Jesus figurine in the gift box to bring out at the right time.
  • heart - For God so loved
  • globe - the world
  • gift - that he gave
  • Jesus - His only Son
Now to play the game, give the heart, globe and gift (with Jesus inside) each to a different child to hold. Play the music that you have selected.  When the music starts, the children begin passing the objects around the circle.  Randomly stop the music.  When the music stops, whoever is holding one of the objects stands up.  Repeat the verse with all the children, pointing to the corresponding objects.  "John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave," pause to ask, "What did God give?"  The child holding the gift can open the gift and take out baby Jesus as everyone says, "His only Son!"  Ask the children to sit back down, put Jesus back inside the gift box, and get ready to pass.  Start the music, and continue to play the game as time allows.  I guarantee that your little ones will want to keep playing this again and again!

cake


The hallmark event at a birthday party is singing Happy Birthday and eating cake!  I've found cupcakes to be the easiest way to serve cake to preschoolers.  I top our cupcakes with Happy Birthday Jesus toppers from Hobby Lobby.  We sing the traditional Happy Birthday song to Jesus, and then enjoy our cupcake treats!  Since there are little candles on the cupcake picks, they can even pretend to blow out the candle on their cupcake when we finish singing.



craft


birthday card


To top it all off, here is a sweet little birthday card for the kids to decorate for Jesus, and display in their home as a reminder of the greatest gift that we celebrate at Christmas.  You will need:
  • this printable (print double-sided and fold into a card)
  • card stock
  • crayons
  • various crafting items
  • glue



Decorating the card is very open ended, depending on the materials that you have available to you.  Be creative with whatever you have on hand.  Here is what I used:
  • heart - red glitter Foamie
  • circle - blue paper with green sequins
  • square - wrapping paper and ribbon
  • baby Jesus - white cloth, and paper shreds




Saturday, December 12, 2015

Going to Bethlehem Rhyme (Video!)

This is a first for me here on the blog.  I am sharing a video with you of the Going to Bethlehem rhyme that was part of last week's lesson!  This is a favorite for the kiddos, so we will continue to sing it throughout the Christmas season.  It helps them remember the people and circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus, and reminds them of God's loving, watchful care.

This is by no means fancy cinematography, or presentation, but I know its often helpful to see something like this in action so that you can use it just as effectively in your own classroom.  Although I'm not crazy about the idea of seeing myself on film, I plan to do more video like this in the coming year, so stay tuned!


Angels Appear to Shepherds

As we continue to discover the Good News of Christmas, we'll spend some time with shepherds, and the glorious sight that they saw in the fields on the night that Jesus was born.

Bible Truth: Praise God for the Good News of Christmas.
Bible Story: Angels appeared to shepherds to tell them a Savior was born!
Bible Study: Luke 2:8-16

teach


story-in-a-gift


Shepherds and angels are the special characters that will be found in my Christmas gift box this week.






dramatic play


To make this story visual and interactive, have the children help you act it out with some simple, home-made props and costumes.  Assign each child to either be a shepherd, sheep or angel.

For the shepherds, make head-dresses using hand towels or pillow cases, tied with bandannas.

Make simple sheep masks by cutting out eye holes on a paper plate, Draw a simple nose and mouth.  Add some cotton balls around the plate, and attach yarn to each side of the mask for tying around the child's head.

If your church has child-size angel costumes used for children's Christmas plays, perhaps you can borrow those for this lesson.  If not, make golden garland halos, and drape a longer piece of garland around the shoulders of your little angels.

Read Luke 2:8-16 directly from your Bible, and direct the children to act out each of the verses that you read.  To set the scene a little more, dimly light the classroom, and shine a bright light on the angels when they appear to the shepherds.

sing


Go Tell It On The Mountain  is a traditional upbeat Christmas song, with a chorus that is easy for little ones to learn and sing!  It also perfectly reinforces this week's Bible story.  Download a great kid's version of the song here.

Here are the actions that I teach my kiddos for this song.  There are a lot of words in the verses, and I don't expect the kids to learn all of them, so I keep the actions very minimal and simple.  You could also show Bible story pictures that depict the verses as you are singing the song.




craft


heavenly host


I like to use this craft to also illustrate our story and decorate our classroom for Christmas!  Each child decorates their own angel to fill the sky with a multitude of heavenly host praising God.  For this craft you will need:
  • card stock
  • scissors
  • paint
  • glitter
  • coffee filters
  • tape
To prepare cut large triangle shapes, and circles out of card stock. 

In class, provide paint for the children to each decorate a triangle.  When they are finished painting, sprinkle glitter over the paint for extra shine.

After the paint has dried, assemble the angels by taping the circle heads to the triangle bodies. Fold coffee filters in half and tape them to the back of the bodies as wings.  Staple a large sheet of a dark blue designed wrapping paper to the wall of your classroom, and attach the angels to create a beautiful Christmas display!



angels & shepherds


Print the activity sheet below.  Follow the angel pattern directions to create angel prints in the sky.  For a little more interest, you could also add pieces of fabric to the shepherds cloaks, and cotton balls to the sheep.  You will need:
  • this activity sheet
  • sponges
  • scissors
  • gold paint
  • small paper plates (to hold paint)
  • fabric pieces
  • cotton balls 
  • glue 


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Going to Bethlehem

God's care for Mary and Joseph shows us how God cares for us as His children.

Bible Truth: God takes care of Mary and Joseph.
Bible Story: Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to be counted.
Bible Study: Luke 2:1-7

Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem is simply stated in scripture, but a little research into history, culture and geography lends a little more insight into what the journey was like.  It was approximately 70 miles from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem.  The most common mode of transportation in those days for such a trip was walking and riding a donkey.  Parts of the terrain were rocky and mountainous, and rainy weather was likely.  Robbers often took advantage of vulnerable travelers who were making such a journey.  It would not have been a comfortable journey for a pregnant woman to make.

Though we don't know all the details of this journey, one thing is certain, God was watching over, and protecting Mary and Joseph.  Throughout the unfolding of events surrounding the birth of our Savior, we witness God's provision for the fulfillment of His promises.  In telling this story, I want the children to know that there were dangers and fears, but God took care of Mary and Joseph.  Preschoolers relate to feelings of fear and uncertainty, and through this story we can assure them that God is also watching over them and caring for them.


teach


good news review


Review the good news that the angel Gabriel brought to Mary and Joseph in the story last week.


story-in-a-gift


This week Mary, Joseph and the donkey that Mary likely rode are the special characters that I keep tucked in my little gift box and bring out for story time.





going to bethlehem


This is a fun, playful story chant that I created a few years ago.  It's inspired by the classic children's story chant "Going on a Bear Hunt."  You can watch me do the rhyme with my class here!  This is something different that always captures the kids' attention.  It helps them understand that that Mary and Joseph faced some difficulties, but God was watching over them, and helping them every step of the way.




sing


Watching Over You is a great upbeat song produced by Group Music about how God is always watching over us.  It's a favorite throughout the year in my classroom, and goes very well with our lesson this week. You can download the song here, and watch a video to see the actions here.

play


Pin Mary on the Donkey is just like the traditional game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  Print out a large picture of a donkey, and a picture of Mary.  Post the picture of the donkey on the wall.  Blindfold a child, and hand them a cut-out of Mary with tape rolled to the back.  Spin them around a couple times, face them towards the donkey to try to place Mary on the donkey's back.  You could also do this with felt figures if you have them available to you. With young children, I don't make games like this a competition. The fun for them is having a turn to try, and watching others try.

craft


journey to bethlehem


For this craft you will need:

  • this printable activity sheet
  • Mary & Joseph graphic (not provided, I purchased mine here)
  • card stock 
  • a hole punch
  • yarn
  • scissors
  • crayons
  • tape
To prepare, print the activity sheet onto card stock.  Search the web for a graphic of Mary and Joseph that will work for this craft.  Cut pieces of yarn approximately 20" long.  Punch a hole in the middle of each activity page, at the top and the bottom.  Thread a piece of yarn through each hole.  Tie it in the back, and move the knot to the bottom of the activity page. 



In class, provide crayons for children to color the activity page.  Help them tape the graphic of Mary and Joseph to the yarn at the top of the page.  Children will be able to move Mary and Joseph through the different terrains and weather conditions from Nazareth to Bethlehem, as they tell the story of God's care for Mary and Joseph.