Imagination and discovery-these are elements of learning that
are hard to tap in elementary-age children when they're sitting
behind a desk. Play is an essential learning tool for this age,
laying the foundation for academic essentials such as reading,
writing, math, and science. Play also helps kids make their own
discoveries-a faith skill they'll use for a lifetime. Use these
play opportunities with kids to ignite their imaginations and
stimulate faith discoveries.
• Drama-Housekeeping stations stocked with Bible costumes
and props help kids imagine what it was like to live in Bible
• Building-Kids can use blocks or Lego toys to build the
walls of Jericho or Noah's ark. Let them construct forts out of
tables and chairs to pretend they're with lions in a den like
Daniel or serving a sentence in prison like Paul.
• Outdoors-As the weather warms, take kids outside to run
and discover God's creation. As they play hide-and-seek, challenge
kids to look for something they've never noticed before. Or use an
open field to race pretend chariots.
Kids can make these cute lamb cups and fill them with treats and an
invitation to your Easter services.
You'll need foam cups; cotton balls; scissors; black felt; google
eyes; small, black pom poms; glue; candy; and an invitation to your
church's Easter service with location and times.
Have kids cover a cup with cotton balls, leaving a small, uncovered
portion for the lamb's face. In this area, kids can glue google
eyes and a pom pom nose to form a face. Cut felt triangles for ears
and squares for feet and glue them to the cup.
Once dry, have kids fill the cups with Easter candy and an
invitation. Tell kids to give the lamb cup to a friend or neighbor
as a special treat and an invitation to church on Easter.
Snug As a Bug?
This early readers book by Amy Imbody helps kids discover there's
security in being a child of God. This rhyming story teaches that
while God cares for animals, his love for children is special.
$3.99; Zondervan; www.zondervan.com
Let kids be creative with this storytelling experience that'll give
them a goal to accomplish together.
You'll need a variety of photos or pictures from a magazine.
Bring in photos from home such as a vacation spot, landscape scene,
or family picture. Have kids sit in a circle, and then show one of
the photos. Begin a story about the picture, then pass the picture
around the circle, letting kids add to the story as they hold the
picture. Challenge kids to add a biblical truth to the story such
as God gives us courage or God is powerful. Kids will shine in
their creative storytelling efforts, and it's fun to see how they
can apply the Bible to everyday situations.
The top five sources of stress for elementary-age kids?
1. A parent having problems.
2. Fighting with a friend or sibling.
3. Taking a test.
4. Wondering whether others find them
5. Not having enough privacy.
Source: Mind/Body Medical Institute
Quick! Grab a pencil and fill in your answer to
this question: Which of the following statements about standardized
tests is true?
• They provide a method for comparing student performance among
kids in the same grade.
• They allow states to establish and measure standards for
• They cause teachers to lament that they're teaching to the test
rather than teaching what is best.
• They're part of a multibillion-dollar industry in the United
• All of the above.
The answer? All of the above. Standardized testing is a big
deal-and big business. But why should the anxieties and pressures
of testing make their way into kids' conversations at church?
Because preparing for these tests consumes elementary kids this
time of year. You can support kids by tuning into standardized
testing schedules at their schools. Ask parents, teachers, or local
district offices for times and dates. Then do these things to help
kids during this stressful time of their academic year.
• Show you care. Testing can affect kids in different
ways. Some children feel so anxious that they experience physical
symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches. For others, it barely
registers that they'll be shading in bubbles with a No. 2 pencil
for hours. Certain kids may struggle to meet minimum standards
while others score in the top percentiles. Let kids know you're
aware of their school's testing weeks, then follow their cues for
how much they want to talk about the approaching test time.
• Surround kids with prayer. Use class time to pray about
the upcoming tests. Thank God for schools, ask God for clear
thinking and good rest, and celebrate the abilities God gives to
each child. Ask your pastor to offer special prayers during worship
for the kids in your community who'll be taking tests during the
• Talk about grace. Emphasize how the stress of testing
standards, outcomes, and guessing at answers is immensely different
from our Christian faith. We may not remember all the Bible
stories. We may forget Bible verses we're trying to memorize. We
may feel like we'll never measure up to certain standards.
But God's answer for us is always Jesus! Following Jesus means we
know the certainty of God's love, forgiveness, and grace. That's an
answer worth sharing.
For more test-time ideas, go to www.childrensministry.com/test.
Dawn Rundman, Ph.D., is an editor for children's resources at
Augsburg Fortress Publishers in Minneapolis.