Back to School Ideas

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The 16 A+ ideas in this special section will keep your
kids from playing hooky from church!

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Yellow school buses. Crisp backpacks. The smell of new school
supplies. The sound of school bells ringing.

It’s that time of the year! The summer recess is over, and kids
are heading back to school. Along with that, family vacations have
come to an end, and everyone is ready to get back into a
routine.

That’s why we’ve packed this special section with 16
back-to-school ideas to help you capture kids’ attention and keep
them coming back to church for more. You’ll find ideas for building
attendance and strengthening children’s faith in Christ. Use these
fun crafts, games, and bulletin board ideas to help kids score high
in their walk with God this fall.

Faith Builder: Prayer Huddles

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I have prayer huddles at the beginning of my class. I have two
helpers and two teachers each lead a prayer group. We pray for 10
to 15 minutes.

Because of these prayer huddles, the children each have an adult
who’s interested in them and prays with them about their requests.
We keep the same groups all year so the children feel secure
sharing with each other. The leader keeps a prayer journal to
record weekly requests and answers.

We also give each group its own missionary. The groups pray for
the missionary families and correspond with them by email and
letters.

Laurie Wright
Springfield, Illinois

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Review Scripture Scroll

To help children remember what they learn in class, I have them
make scrolls.

I give each child a yard of muslin with the edges zig-zag cut to
reduce raveling. I set out permanent markers, fabric paint, glue,
and fabric scraps at the start of each class.

The point of this project is for the children to express how
God’s Word strikes their heart. I allow five to 10 minutes at the
beginning of each class for children to express on their scrolls
what they learned from God’s Word the previous week. Children
eventually create 30 images on their scrolls.

At a year-end prayer service, I give each child his or her
scroll nicely folded with a gold ribbon around it.

Norma Kelly
Medina, Ohio

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Bible Buddies

For years our church has had a program called Bible Buddies. We
match caring adults with third-graders in our church. The adults
pay for Bibles for their buddies, participate in the presentation
of the Bibles, and commit to pray for their buddies throughout the
year. Often, the adult buddies each send a small gift and card to
their buddies to make them feel special.

This year I added a Bible study called How to Use My
Bible
. I invited third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders along with
anyone else who wanted to come. I expected approximately 15
children the first night and was pleasantly surprised to have more
than 25 children participate in the eight-week course. The kids are
excited about the idea of being able to use their Bibles just like
the adults.

Laura Matthai
Plantation, Florida

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Mug File

To get to know each of my fifth- and sixth-graders, I put
together what I call a Mug File on them. I created a form for each
person. At the start of each class, I had each child complete a
form. Along the way, each visitor would complete a form as well.
Then I would take a Polaroid picture of each of them and attach it
to the form.

The kids enjoy this and it gives us a good connection. The first
thing the kids tell newcomers is that they have to get a mug file
because Mrs. Mobley wants to know all about them. They even remind
me if I forget!

The questions on the form include:

  • Tell me about your family.
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What school do you go to?
  • What is your favorite music, TV show, movie, and book?
  • Do you collect anything? If so, what?
  • Do you have a Bible? If not, would you like to have one?

Marian Mobley
Monett, Missouri

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Friendship Sunday

We had a Friendship Sunday for everyone in our church. In Sunday
school, our children made friendship pins using tiny beads and
safety pins. To do this, place beads in a shallow pie pan and have
children put the beads on the safety pins by pushing the pin
through the bead on the pan.

We made double-sided business cards using clip-art and a
computer publishing program. On one side of the business card, we
wrote “What a friend we have in Jesus” and on the other side, “We
would love to be your friend, and Jesus is always your friend.
Welcome.” We pinned a friendship pin to each card.

During the children’s message in worship on Friendship Sunday,
we talked about what it means to be a friend of Jesus, and we
invited our friends who had joined us that day to be friends of
Jesus, too. Then the children handed out their friendship pins to
all the visitors.

Lisa Anderson
Concord, North Carolina

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Introduction Web

Play this fun game to learn children’s names.

Have children sit in chairs in a circle. Begin by saying your
name while holding on to the end of a ball of yarn. Then roll the
ball across the circle to someone else. Have the group respond by
saying “hello” to that person, using his or her name; for example,
“Hello, Kyle.”

As everyone holds on to his or her part of the string, the web
grows. After everyone has been introduced, the web is complete.
Afterward, discuss how we’re all connected to each other.

Variations:

  • Have children try to remember the names of everyone that was
    introduced before them.
  • Have children stand and hold the web in place. Instruct them to
    raise the web up high, bring it down low, and walk in a complete
    circle until they reach their chairs again.
  • Have everyone stand while holding the web. Then have each child
    take a turn crawling under the web to the person he or she chooses
    to pray a blessing over. The prayed-for person then goes back to
    where his or her prayer partner came from and chooses someone else
    to pray for.

Linda Carol Dalton
San Jose, California

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Bulletin Boards

Bulletin Board System

Our bulletin boards in our preschool and children’s areas were
empty, out-of-date, and unappealing. So I prepared a bulletin board
schedule for each month of the year. I assigned various children’s
ministries, such as Sunday school and choir, the responsibility for
a specific bulletin board. I gave them suggestions for topics and
display ideas. I also provided background paper and borders if they
wanted them. We sent them postcard reminders two weeks ahead of the
month their bulletin board needed to be created.

Annie Yelton
Charlotte, North Carolina

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Phone Catalog

I catalog effective bulletin boards that I see (mine and
others’) by taking Polaroid pictures of them. I date and label each
photo to be sure I don’t duplicate the idea too soon or use it with
the same group. I use an accordion folder to archive the photos and
the appropriate pattern or stencil that goes with it under
appropriate categories. This has been a great resource.

Lyn Wolfe
Watauga, Texas

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Hand-some Trees

Celebrate the seasons with this interactive bulletin board.

Trace the forearm and hand of each child on four different
sheets of blue construction paper. Label different papers “spring,”
“summer,” “winter,” or “fall.” Have children use finger prints or
dot stickers to create pictures for each season, such as the
following:

  • Spring — light green to make buds and leaves;
  • Summer — dark green to make a very green tree;
  • Fall — yellow, orange, green, red, and brown to make a
    colorful fall tree; and
  • Winter — white to make snow on the tree and on the ground and
    snowflakes in the air.

You can hang children’s seasonal trees when the season arrives.
Or if you have a small class, divide the bulletin board into four
seasons and place the trees in the appropriate season.

Kelley Dean
Clarksville, Arkansas

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Know Your Addresses

To help children learn Bible verses and their addresses (or
references), I created this interactive bulletin board. Children
can select a Bible verse from a bucket and match it to the
appropriate mailbox.

After creating the bulletin board background, follow the
directions for each element. Add a tree in one corner.

  • Mailboxes — Staple different-size mailbox posts cut out of
    construction paper to the background. Staple the long ends of a
    sheet of construction paper together, without putting a crease in
    the paper. To avoid smashing the mailbox, apply glue directly to
    the outside of one side of the mailbox, slide your hand inside the
    mailbox, and press the glued side to the bulletin board.
  • Verse Bucket — Cut out a large construction paper bucket and
    write “Verses” on it. Glue the bucket sides to the bulletin board
    background paper so there is an opening gap in the bucket to store
    the verses.
  • Addresses — Put a rolled piece of masking tape on each
    mailbox, and attach each Bible reference to a piece of tape.

Finish off your bulletin board with a border. Add slips of paper
with verses but no reference to the bucket. The references (or
addresses) should be on the mailboxes. Then let the kids enjoy the
board!

Kirsten Jones
Glendale, Arizona

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Chart Tree

Instead of using the traditional attendance chart for my Sunday
school class, I put up a large tree on the wall and allow the
children to attach seasonal things when they come in. This helps us
see how many kids are attending. In spring we put green leaves on
the tree. Toward the end of summer, we add apples. Around the end
of September, we harvest the apples and paste them in a paper
basket that’s displayed on a wall. Then we start putting yellow,
red, orange, green, and brown handprints for fall on the tree. At
the end of November, we “rake” the leaves and paste them on a
smaller tree. (I put the basket and trees aside to use in a
calendar for a parents’ Christmas present). In December we create a
Christmas tree out of green handprints and add ornaments to the
tree. We add snowflakes during January and February. March brings
flower blossoms and then we start the year over again with green
leaves.

This teaches children about the seasons and how God made each
time of year different. It makes a nice seasonal decoration for the
room while at the same time letting the kids participate in
attendance. My kids enjoy coming each Sunday and being able to put
something on the tree.

Peggy Klier
Willits, California

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Back To School Games

by Mary Davis

Pencil Sweep Relay

Form teams of four or more. Designate a goal area at one end of
the room. Have teams line up at the other end of the room. Then
give each team a pencil and a broom. The first person on each team
sweeps the pencil to the goal and back. The next person in line
does the same thing until everyone on the team has had a turn.

Teacher, May I?

Play this revised version of Mother, May I? with kids.
Have children line up at one end of the playing area while you
stand at the other end. Call each child and give that child a
command. The child must say, “Teacher, May I?” before obeying the
command. If the child forgets to ask the question, he or she must
return to the start of the game. The goal is to be the first child
to reach the teacher.

Use commands such as the following to keep the school theme:

  • Scissor walk — Cross legs as they take each step.
  • Eraser steps — Walk backward.
  • Hopscotch — Hop on one foot.
  • Recess race — Skip.
  • Kindergarten crawl — Move on all fours.
  • Graduation steps — Take giant steps.

School Bus Motion

Form groups of four. Have each group stand in a circle with
group members’ arms around each other’s shoulders. Each circle is
now called a wheel.

When you shout out driving commands, each wheel must do what you
say. For example, if you shout “Turn to the left,” each wheel
rotates to the left while trying to move across the floor. Other
commands could be to turn to the right, bounce, or make two turns
left and one turn right. The wheels must remain attached at the
shoulders at all times.

Crafts With A Purpose

Fisher Of Men Pin

This is a great craft for kids to make and wear to school to
remind them that they need to be “fishers of men.” The pins are
also great conversation-starters so kids can share their faith with
their friends at school. And you can make these cute pins for just
pennies a piece!

For each pin you’ll need:

  • 1×3½-inch strip of craft foam, any color
  • 2-inch square of white craft foam
  • 1 ½-inch jewelry pin attachment
  • extra-fine point black permanent marker
  • thick tacky or craft foam glue

Tell kids to:

  • Cut banners out of the colored craft foam and hook shapes out
    of the white craft foam.
  • Glue the hook on the pointed end of the banner shape.
  • Write the words “Fisher of Men” down the length of the
    banner.
  • Glue the pin to the back of the banner.
  • Allow the glue to dry before wearing.

Terri Quillen
Greenwood, Indiana

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Nursery Craft Sacks

To relieve the burden on our nursery craft coordinator, we had
our older kids help prepare a year’s worth of craft bags. To do
this, you’ll need gallon-sized resealable plastic bags, craft
instructions, and specific craft supplies. Form an assembly line
where kids can do the necessary cutting out, printing of Scripture
verses, gluing, or whatever is required.

Lynn Skilsky
Oro Valley, Arizona


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