Higher Learning

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Step into school with these 11 excellent ideas for the
new school year

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School bells across the nation are ringing!

As summer winds to a close, the air is punctuated by kids’
anticipation of the coming school year. Many are thrilled and
excited to join new classes and make new friends, while others may
face the year with anxiety.

You too may feel a quiver in your stomach as you try to think of
great new ways to get to know the children in your class or as you
wonder how fruitful the year will be.

Tap into kids’ natural excitement this time of year and give
them practical faith lessons they can use in their everyday lives
with the ideas, activities, and tips in this special back-to-school
section. You’ll find ways to transform the everyday curriculum of
life into higher learning!
Lifelong Bookmarks

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Start the school year with this new way to build community in
your congregation. Have kids create bookmarks using 2×6-inch pieces
of card stock. Attach one child’s photograph and write the child’s
first name on one side of each bookmark. Have kids each decorate
their bookmarks and write the following poem on the side opposite
their photo:

Pray for me in what I’ve sown.
Pray for me until I’m grown.

In what I do, in what I say,
Please pray for me every day.

Laminate the bookmarks so they’ll last for years.

Ask your congregation members to become a lifelong prayer
sponsor of a child in your ministry by choosing a bookmark.
Instruct them to keep the bookmark in a Bible or devotion book and
to pray for the child they’ve chosen every day until the child
reaches adulthood. This is a great way to support the children in
your ministry and keep them in the hearts and minds of your
congregation.

Deborah Harless
Canton, Ohio


Lion Locker Magnets

Starting the school year can be scary for kids, but you can help
them learn to rely on God for strength and confidence by having
them make reminders that God protected Daniel in the lion’s
den.

You’ll need felt, scissors, fine-tipped permanent markers, glue,
magnets, and a Bible.

Have kids cut out a sun-shaped piece of yellow or tan felt for
the lion’s mane. Then have them cut out a face shape from a
lighter-colored piece of felt. Glue the face shape onto the center
of the mane and allow to dry. Then have kids draw eyes, a nose,
mouth, and whiskers on the face shape. Finish the lions by gluing
magnets to the back of the felt.

Read aloud Daniel 6:16-23 and 1 John 4:4. Ask kids to brainstorm
times they’ll rely on God to protect them.

Kids can use their magnets inside their lockers at school or as
refrigerator magnets at home.


Top 10 Field Trip Destinations

Field trips are a wonderful way to give kids a firsthand view of
how God works in our everyday lives. Consider these top 10 choices
for awesome field trip destinations the kids in your class will
love.

  • Farm — Learn about the amazing creatures God created and how
    we care for them.
  • Police Station — Help kids ap­­preciate the work police do in
    our neighborhoods to keep us safe.
  • School for the Deaf or Blind — This gives kids a chance to see
    how different — and how alike — their learn­ing is. It also helps
    demystify people with differences.
  • Veterinary Clinic — Find out what it takes to care for
    pets.
  • Fire Station — Give kids the chance to see behind the scenes
    — a visit they’ll never forget. Meet real-life heroes and hear
    fire-prevention techniques.
  • Newspaper Office — Get the word out! Communication is
    im­­portant, and it’s one of the most amazing gifts God gave us.
    Kids can see how stories are selected, researched, and
    reported.
  • Courtroom — How do we judge others’ crimes? Kids can see the
    seriousness and impact that crime, disputes, and justice have in
    our society.
  • Local Park or Nature Center — God’s creativity is everywhere.
    Take a tour to acknowledge God’s beautiful handiwork.
  • Animal Shelter — See how homeless animals live. This is a
    great opportunity to examine our re­­sponsibility to animals.
  • Cemetery — What better opportunity to talk about God’s amazing
    gift of everlasting life? Cemeteries are quiet places, but they’re
    also a reminder to celebrate God’s presence.

Joan Boer
Oskaloosa, Iowa


Noah’s Ark Pencil Toppers

You’ll need small wooden animal-shaped cutouts, tempera paint,
paintbrushes, glue, chenille craft wires, fine-tipped markers, tiny
wiggle eyes, and new pencils.

Have kids decorate two matching wooden cutouts using tempera
paint. They can attach wiggle eyes with glue. Have kids glue their
two decorated wooden animals together at the feet so they appear to
stand side by side. Allow the glue to dry.

Have kids coil chenille craft wire around the pencil, leaving a
¹/?-inch section at the eraser. Glue the ¹/?-inch section of wire
to the backs of the wooden animals, and allow the glue to dry.

Read aloud Genesis 7. Have kids take their pencils to school and
share the story of Noah and the great Flood with classmates.


Labor Day Sunday

A couple weeks prior to Labor Day, ask everyone — kids and
adults — to wear the clothing they’d normally wear to work or
school on the previous Sunday.

Encourage conversations about careers and education by hanging
posters with question prompts such as, “What’s your career? What
school do you attend? What do you want to do when you grow up? How
do you like your job? How does God use you in your job or at
school?”

Coordinate with your senior pastor to incorporate lessons about
being a laborer for God in the sermon and in the children’s
message. After church, have your children’s ministry sponsor a
special greeting and snack time with the Labor Day Sunday
theme.

Joanne Sheriff
Rising Sun, Maryland


Do-It-Yourself Choice Maker

Here’s a great way to help young children, or kids with special
needs, choose self-directed activities. You’ll need a large poster
board, card stock, markers, clear self-adhesive vinyl covering,
self-adhesive Velcro strips, a large resealable plastic bag, and
scissors.

Cut 8×8-inch pieces of card stock. On each piece of card stock,
use markers to draw a simple drawing of an activity kids can
choose, such as puppets, beanbag toss, music, blocks, crafts,
reading, or puzzles. Cover the cards with clear, self-

adhesive vinyl covering. Place 1-inch self-adhesive Velcro
strips 10 inches apart on the poster board in rows. Place the
corresponding 1-inch self-adhesive Velcro strips in the center back
of each activity card. Attach the cards to the poster board.

Give kids the option of choosing one or two of the activities.
You can use the large resealable plastic bag to store choices that
aren’t available on certain days.

Dorothy Theodore
North Royalton, Ohio


Ministry Teams for Kids

Tap into kids’ spiritual gifts and interests by setting up kid
ministry teams. Begin by creating a master list of teams kids can
serve on, such as song leaders, Bible verse, drama, audiovisual,
prayer leaders, read-aloud, welcoming, leading song actions,
postcard mailing, supplies, and more. Mail the list home to kids so
they and their parents can go through the teams and their
responsibilities together. Allow kids to sign up for more than one
team if they wish.

Meghan Ross
Georgetown, Illinois


Time Capsule

Create time capsules for children to mark their growth through
the coming year. Have kids each bring an aluminum cookie or popcorn
tin from home. Ask them to bring mementos they’d like to include in
their time capsule that describe who they are at this moment, such
as a favorite candy, recording of their favorite song, a favorite
movie advertisement, and so on. Also have kids bring mementos that
represent things such as their greatest accomplishment, the most
influential person in their life, and what they want to be when
they grow up.

Before class, print a Personal Stats sheet for each child to
complete, including the following information.

  • Likes and Dislikes (food, classes, movies)
  • Favorites (colors, songs, famous people, Bible verses)
  • Statistics (height, weight, hair color and length, shoe
    size)
  • God’s Impact in My Life (statement)
  • Note to My Future Self (what they want to learn, do, and
    accomplish in the coming year)

Have kids place their mementos and Personal Stats sheets inside
their tins. Take a Polaroid photograph of each child to put in the
tin. Have kids seal their tins and tape a label to the top that
reads, “Child’s name’s Time Capsule: to be opened at the end of
school.”

Store the time capsules in your classroom, and keep extra tins
for new children who join your class. Kids will be thrilled to open
their time capsules at the end of the school year and review how
they’ve changed and grown.


Desktop Treasures

This fun project will keep kids busy building treasure boxes for
their desks at school. For each child, you’ll need 60 to 100
popsicle sticks and several wooden tongue depressors. You’ll also
need regular glue, hot glue sticks and hot glue guns, large beads,
marbles, newspapers, and scissors.

Spread newspapers on a work surface to prevent any messes with
glue. Have kids decide what shape treasure box they’d like to make
and then begin building it by stacking popsicle sticks
log-cabin-style, gluing as they go. To make the bottom of the
treasure box, have kids cut the wooden tongue depressors to fit the
bottom of the box and then glue them in place. Make lids by gluing
popsicle sticks side by side on top of wooden tongue depressors.
Finish the boxes by adding large beads for feet and a handle to the
lid. Adults may help kids glue decorations to the boxes and lids
using hot glue. Kids can use their treasure boxes to store anything
from memory verses to candy to mementos.

RoseAnne Sather
Greeley, Colorado


Early Bird Prayer Journals

Begin a new tradition in your classroom that encourages kids to
arrive early and to share their prayer requests in a nonthreatening
environment. Prior to the start of your class, decorate a spiral
notebook or binder. This will serve as your class prayer journal.
Attach a pen to the journal with yarn. Write an entry in the
journal yourself.

During the first class, introduce the journal and encourage kids
to arrive a few minutes early to write their prayer requests and
praises in the journal. Give kids the option to leave their prayer
requests anonymously, and include a prayer for the unspoken and
unrecorded prayer requests among children as well.

Use the prayer journal to lead your class in prayer. You’ll find
kids arrive a few minutes early to jot their thoughts in the
journal.

Elaine Gosney
Falmouth, Kentucky


Back-to-School Blessings

Here’s a quick and easy way to help children in your
neighborhood start the school year right with a tasty treat and
prayer.

Invite your church neighbors to gather on the afternoon before
school begins for a short time of prayer and popsicles. Personalize
invitations for the families in your neighborhood and deliver them
one week before the event. (See the sample invitation below.)

Purchase enough popsicles for everyone, and include disposable
towelettes for cleanup. You’ll also need plenty of cooler space to
prevent the popsicles from melting. Recruit your senior pastor or a
parent to lead a prayer for the kids and for the new school
year.

On the day of the event, welcome families and offer them
popsicles. Keep the disposable towelettes handy. Allow time for
families to visit, and then ask everyone to meet together. Have
kids stand in the center of the gathering, then have your prayer
leader ask for God’s blessing on the children, their teachers, and
the school year.

Cheryl Bowen
Jackson, Mississippi


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