Sunday School Articles & Ideas
"Annette's Notes"

This page contains Sunday school articles on a variety of helpful, practical, inspirational, and fun topics for teachers and children's ministry workers.

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BUBBLES!

“Now ye are clean through the word
which I have spoken unto you.”
John 15:3

What a great feeling to be CLEAN!

Well, kids may not agree, but they do agree with how fun this clean activity is! I first used it with my lesson:

I Love My Bible Lesson 9 CLEANSER

This is from my:

I Love My Bible curriculum


During the Bible Lesson, we talk about how reading your Bible and praying every day will cleanse your mind and help you think good thoughts. Later, we do this fun activity to tie into that thought.

Pour bubble solution into a bowl and demonstrate how to blow through a straw into the solution to make bubbles. Then give each student a bowl with bubble solution and let them have at it.

The kids absolutely love blowing bubbles this way!
(To continue reading this article, click here.)


TMI --> NEI

I’ve been experiencing “information overload” lately, along with a sad lack of inspiration:

  • What can we do to liven up this Sunday school lesson? (blank mind)

  • How can we get kids more excited about Bible memorization? (blank mind)

  • What can I write to encourage my fellow children’s ministers? (blank, blank mind)

I think information is good! Per dictionary.com:

INFORMATION:
knowledge gained through study,
communication, research, instruction, etc.;
factual data

You see, I live with my husband, three children, and a cat. We moved last year and then remodeled our kitchen. I spent a lot of time researching things: neighborhoods, houses, kitchens, flooring, cabinets, countertops, sinks, appliances, lighting, homeschool curriculum, driver’s ed, Sunday school lessons, vacation getaways (if only!)… Lots and lots of information!

As 2016 started, I realized I had not only filled my mind with a lot of information pertinent to my life, but also... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


BE A GOOD EXAMPLE

“...be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12

Last night during Bible study my pastor, Joel Urshan, said something to the effect of: You can have transparency (i.e., be authentic) and still be a good example. You don’t have to choose between the two.

He pointed out we shouldn’t revel in our faults; we should confess them! Our transparency can then be an example of how God is working in our lives.

I was thinking about how we children’s ministry workers are a transparent example, whether we want to be or not. The kids are always watching us.

Last night, being the first Wednesday of the month, it was Family Night when all classes are together in the sanctuary. I was in the Sunday school office taking care of some things, so I slipped into the sanctuary a little late and sat towards the back in a particular spot where I don’t believe I’ve ever sat before. I soon found out my students knew exactly where I was... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


GOT TEMPERANCE?

“Temperance” is a word we don't hear much nowadays. Even the more-modern equivalent, “self-control,” seems to make people uncomfortable.

In our Kids’ Power Hour class (6- to 10-year-olds), we recently completed a series on the Fruit of the Spirit, culminating with “Temperance.” I used parables to illustrate each fruit in this series, and for Temperance I used Paul’s comparison to athletes in competition:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,
but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly;
so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means,

when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

We discussed how Olympians are very familiar with temperance. They are willing to sacrifice sleep, favorite foods and drinks, and time with friends and family—for years... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


FEAR NOT

“And the angel answered
and said unto the women, Fear not ye:
for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said…”
Matthew 28:5-6

“Fear not.” These words suddenly popped into my head today as I was driving down the street. Nothing scary was happening at the moment. It was a sunny day. The road was clear. There was no impending threat. As I wasn’t feeling particularly fearful, the message felt like general admonition for my life right now. And a reminder of how far God has brought me.

Today I sometimes forget how debilitating fear used to be in my life, how many prayers I prayed for God to deliver me from FEAR... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


The Apple of His Eye

“Keep me as the apple of the eye,
hide me under the shadow of thy wings”
Psalm 17:8

While sitting at the ophthalmologist’s with my daughter the other day, she was pleasantly surprised to find a Gideon Bible on the side table. As she began reading, she ran across Zechariah 2:8:

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts;
After the glory hath he sent me
unto the nations which spoiled you:
for he that toucheth you
toucheth the apple of his eye.”

Which led to this question: What exactly is the apple of the eye? We knew the phrase was a term of endearment, referring to something uniquely precious, but how is that meaning conveyed by apples and eyes?

We decided to do some impromptu research... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


IT'S A NEW YEAR DAY

“It is of the Lord's mercies
that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

I finished an annual “reading through the Bible" yesterday, January 11, 2015. I try to read through the complete Bible most years. Sometimes I read straight through; sometimes I read chronologically; sometimes I read an Old Testament selection, New Testament selection, Psalm, and Proverb daily. I follow some kind of reading plan to keep me on track.

Actually, most of the time over the past year, I listened to the wonderful words as read to me via my Bible app, which is something I had never done before. I enjoy hearing the Word read. It is powerful!

You may think I finished late, a week and half into this New Year, but actually I started on January 12, 2014, so I finished right on time. Last year, for some reason, I was unable to start on January 1, but I decided not to write off the whole year (which may sound extreme, but has happened in the past). On January 12, I thought, Why not start today?... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


Was Jesus Overdue?

I imagine Mary walking along a dusty road, shoes biting into her swollen feet. Her puffy, tingling hands are pressed against the ache in the small of her back.

I imagine her sitting atop a bouncing donkey, shifting this way and that. She tries to find a position that will allow her to take a complete breath, one where the baby isn’t kicking her in the kidney.

I imagine her apologetically informing Joseph that yes, indeed, nature is calling again. She climbs awkwardly down from the donkey, and back up again.

I imagine this is why they are practically the last ones to Bethlehem. She is "great with child,” swollen, miserable, awkward, aching.

I imagine her thinking, Will this baby ever come?! It is past time for Him to make His arrival!... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


End-of-Year Presentation

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15

Last month we finished our Kids’ Power Hour "year." We usually mark this occasion with a presentation to our church congregation, highlighting what we have learned. We have typically done this in the sanctuary on a Sunday evening with the kids quoting Bible verses, singing songs, and answering review questions.

Our goals:

  • Give the audience a little taste of what goes on in Kids’ Power Hour
  • Remind them of the value of studying God’s Word on a regular basis
  • Encourage even more participation—students and volunteers...

(To continue reading this article, click here.)


Thanksgiving 2008

“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee
because of thy righteous judgments.”
Psalm 119:62

Something—muffled footsteps?—awakened me at 6 o’clock Thanksgiving morning. I had stumbled into bed a mere five hours earlier, well after praying with my children and sending them happily to bed.

In my foggy-sleepy condition, I headed downstairs to discover the source of the furtive noises. Halfway down it dawned on me that I probably should have awakened my husband or grabbed a baseball bat…or something. But as I hesitantly took another step, I was met by our two youngest children headed up the stairs with secretive looks on their faces. Ten-year-old Emily quickly ducked into her bedroom, but I caught Logan, age 8, and asked him what they were doing up so early. He said they were writing their “thankfuls” for the Mayflower.

Our Mayflower is a “ship” made from a paper-covered orange juice carton with bamboo skewer masts and white paper sails. Every Thanksgiving for the last several years we have filled our Mayflower with little slips of paper detailing things for which we are thankful... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


Thank God for Children

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying,

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

And Jesus called a little child unto him,

and set him in the midst of them…”

Matthew 18:1-2

Twenty years ago my mother was fighting for her life. Her cancer had been in remission for about five years when it returned with a vengeance in the fall of 1994. I lived in a neighboring state, and as she was in and out of the hospital, I was traveling back and forth, trying to balance the needs of my mom, children, husband, other family members, and myself. It was an unbelievably stressful time.

On Halloween, which is also Mom’s birthday, I drove the four hours to the hospital, wrestled my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son into costumes, took a deep breath, and walked them into the hospital. My only thought was to surprise Mom, and bring a smile to her face.

The kids immediately garnered attention, eliciting smiles and sweet comments. The attention increased when we reached the oncology floor... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


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Called to Faithfulness

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV

You may remember when you first felt God call you to minister to children. It may have been a specific moment in time, in a particular church service or time of prayer. Or you may have been called gradually as you assisted in various ministries, eventually realizing that working with young people fits the particular talents and abilities God has given you.

Whatever the circumstances of your calling, your enthusiasm may have waned at some point. You may not be seeing the results you expected. You may not be getting the support you anticipated. Teaching children week in and week out takes energy and inspiration. And some weeks those are in short supply... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


Making Good Use of "Extra" Time

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16

This past Wednesday “big church” went long, so we had some unexpected minutes to fill in Kids’ Power Hour. This could have been cause for frustration, or maybe even panic, but thankfully I have a few fun, easy activities to fall back on at times like this.

NOTE: I like to make the best possible use of the time I have with my students since it’s already limited to about 1½ hours a week. Therefore, I try to avoid just showing a DVD or letting the kids run around the room. I want to make the “extra” time we have together fun, interactive, and productive.

Here are some things we do to make good use of extended class time... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


Ordered Steps

This morning I was headed down the stairs to the basement to feed PT (Puddy Tat), who had been winding himself around my legs and informing me of his hunger, in very insistent tones. I had a cup in one hand, and I pulled my phone out of my pocket with the other, intending to quickly peruse Facebook. Unfortunately, I missed the last step on the first flight of stairs and fell in a noisy heap onto the landing. My left ankle immediately screamed in pain while PT stood at the bottom of the stairs and impatiently stared at me with his “Why have you not yet fed me?” look.

After a few moments, I tentatively tried standing. Enduring moderate pain, I was able to feed and water the cat. I then headed back upstairs to RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) my ankle, all the while thinking about missteps... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


Fun Review Ideas

“I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”
Psalm 119:16

We want our students to retain the valuable things we have invested our time in teaching. And there is nothing more valuable than God’s Word.

“The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”
Psalm 119:72

Here are some practical and fun ideas to help you review the Bible lessons you teach your students:

QUESTIONS

  • Come up with a list of five to ten review questions for each lesson you teach.
  • Make sure most questions do not have a “yes” or “no” answer.
  • Make some questions easy and some more difficult, taking into account the ages and abilities of your students.
  • Make your list of review questions cumulative, adding to it each week over the course of your quarter or year.

GAMES
Use your list of review questions to play fun games. Here are some I have used: (To continue reading this article, click here.)


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Sweet-Smelling Worship

I was singing a song with the congregation at church the other day. It was a song I learned years ago when I was part of a choir in another church in another state, and suddenly memories came pouring back in. I was reminded of God’s blessings in my life in that time and place, and the memory of those blessings deepened my grateful worship in the present moment.

I remember reading that smells can spark vivid memories, that one’s sense of smell and one’s emotional memories are intrinsically linked in some part of the brain... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


Building Positive Relationships
with Your Students

As a teacher, I want to make a lasting difference in the lives of my students. In order to have the privilege of really speaking into their lives, I need to build positive personal relationships. I may be teaching a classroom full of children, but I want to get to know each of them individually.

When I know each student personally, she/he:

  • Is more willing to participate in activities.
  • Shares thoughts and ideas more readily.
  • Is more engaged in learning.
  • Responds more positively to correction.
  • Is more willing to listen to counsel.

(To continue reading this article, click here.)


Sweeter than Honey

"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”
Proverbs 16:24

As I was reading this verse the other day, I considered my words. Are they pleasant? Kind? Sweet? Sometimes.

But what about when I have to deal with a misbehaving child? Or a rude adult? Or a long wait? Or things not working according to my carefully constructed plan?

The quickest way to change the flavor of an unpleasant situation is to inject some kind words. However, sometimes it’s hard to come up with those kind words in the middle of the unpleasantness. My words are not sweet enough. I need God’s words... (To continue reading, click here.)


Portable Classroom Decor

As teachers, we work hard to make our classrooms visually appealing to our students. I also like to make sure I am including lots of purposeful, visual reminders of what we are learning. I want the decor to be more than just fun and attention getting; I want it to help the kids remember what we have learned, even when we are not talking about it.

A few years ago I also began making my classroom decor more portable, mostly out of necessity and mainly due to two different situations... (To continue reading, click here.)


Reading Aloud

Reading aloud is an enjoyable activity to share not only with your students, but also your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or maybe even kids at a local library or school story hour. Reading aloud is an opportunity to introduce kids to wonderful books, encourage a love of good literature (including the Bible), and enhance your lessons with stories that reinforce your message.

I enjoy reading aloud; however, I know not everyone feels comfortable doing so. The following ideas can help you improve your read-aloud skills and increase your comfort level... (To continue reading this article click here.)


Student of the Week

Something I have used from time to time to encourage good classroom behavior is "Student of the Week."

I tried this again recently when we had some newer students who were a having a bit of difficulty adjusting to the structure of our particular class. This often happens when younger students are promoted into the class (they come from a class of 3- to 5-year-olds, where they are the oldest, to a class of 6- to 10-year-olds, where they are the youngest) or when students are totally new to Sunday school or when students have been in school all day and are a little antsy at an evening class, etc.

First, I try to make sure the kids know we are trying to create a classroom atmosphere where everyone can learn and have fun... (To continue reading this article, click here.)


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