Well, I survived. Today was my try at teaching my 3–year-old daughter’s Sunday school class. Every summer, church members have the opportunity to serve in our church’s Kids’ Kingdom in order to give the regular teachers a much deserved summer break. Instead of requesting a specific age group where I might have been comfortable (last summer my husband and I taught 4th grade boys, and I’m used to teaching 5th and 7th grade girls from my youth group teaching experience), I decided to let the Kids’ Kingdom coordinator put me where I would be needed the most – so the 3-year-old room it was. And lucky for me (cough cough), there aren’t very many 2-year-olds at our church at this time, so they were just combined with the 3-year-olds, putting me in charge of fourteen 2 and 3-year-olds for over an hour. But it was SO much fun!!!
Not something I’d like to do every week (just because of my responsibilities at home with 4 of my own kids 24/7), but definitely worth a shot, especially since I was helping out. I might even sign up for another Sunday with the 2/3-year-olds; they were so cute!! In anticipating my teaching experience today, one challenge I did not foresee were the kids who cried when their parents left. We had about 4 of those – their world was blown apart when this strange lady (me) was in their classroom in place of their regular teacher. 3 of them got over the shock right away; one little girl did an actual 180º turn in personality. She began the class by crying and clinging to the wall, only to come out of her shell later and insisting she sit by me at story time as well as wanting my constant attention. The 4th little boy held out a little longer; he was a cute little guy who clung to the wall for most of the class. He stopped crying for his parents within the first few minutes, but I couldn’t get him to participate in any of the activities. I kept asking though, I didn’t let him fade into the background, and I think that helped. Also helping was my teenage helper, without whom I surely would have lost track of all those kids.
Upon arriving, I was given a packet of papers detailing my lesson plan and ideas for activities related to the lesson which I will share:
Basic Truth: God Made Me
Key Question: Who can help you?
Bottom Line: God made people who help me.
Memory Verse: “Be kind and loving to each other.” Ephesians 4:32, NCV
Bible Story Focus: God wants families to help each other.
Boaz cares for Ruth and Naomi • Ruth 2:1-23
As kids were arriving (and some were bawling into the doorframe), I had them sit at the table and draw their favorite foods in the pre-printed basket they were given on cardstock. I got a big kick out of one little girl who drew chocolate fudgicles, chocolate soy milk (?), and chocolate pancakes. I attempted to draw my own basket (filled with spaghetti; I didn’t think I could draw Greek food nor did I feel like explaining saganaki or kafta to 2 and 3-year-olds), but there was too much to do for me to finish my artwork. Soon, we ran out of table space to color, so I moved on to this activity:
Get Up and Go
What You Need: Blue painters’ tape, masking tape and different forms of transportation toys such as cars, horses, trucks, trains, buses, boats and airplanes.
What You Do: Make “roads” on the floor with the masking tape. Make “waterways” on the floor with the blue tape. Pretend you are traveling on the roads with the trucks, horses and cars and in the water with the boats. Fly the airplanes around the room. Make up places to go and let your imagination take you on a fun trip.
What You Say:
During the activity: “Who wants to go on a trip with me? These cars and trucks can take us places. These boats can take us places. Oh! And look! We have horses and an airplane too! We can use these to go all kinds of places. This white tape can be our road and this blue tape can be water. Come on! Let’s get up and go!”
At the end of the activity: “Cars and trucks and boats can take us to all kinds of places. There’s one more way to get somewhere that we haven’t talked about…our feet! We can WALK to places too! In our Bible story today, two ladies named Ruth and Naomi have to use their feet to get to a new place.”
So as you can see, the instructions were laid out pretty well for me. After the kids laid out their “roads” (and had a BLAST doing so, I must say! Gives me a great idea for an inexpensive, non-messy fun activity to do at home this summer with my own kids!), it was time to go down the hall for story time. Here we met up with the 4-year-old group and the 5-year-old group (of which my other daughter belongs; she was happy to see me!), and the kids listened to a Bible story. During the story, my teenage helper stayed behind to set out the snack, so it was soley up to me to keep our group of 14 quiet and listening to the story – yeah right. I did the best I could, and I even got to dance with the kids.
We returned to our classroom, had snack, and then we tried the Foil Food activity:
What You Need: Aluminum foil.
What You Do: Give each child a piece of aluminum foil. Show them how to shape the foil into different food shapes like a hot dog, banana, apple, small grapes, chicken fingers, French fries and carrot sticks or anything a child could easily shape with foil.
What You Say: “Watch what I can do with this foil. (Shape the foil into a food item.) Look! It’s a (name of food). I have some foil for you too. You can shape it into all kinds of foods like a banana or several small grapes or even an apple. Ruth and Naomi were very happy to find food to eat when they got back to Bethlehem. God gave them Boaz to help take care of them. God gives you people to help take care of you too. Who can help you? [Bottom Line] God made people who help me.”
The kids had a ball with the foil activity too, even though some of them misunderstood – my little friend the chocolate lover, requested that I make her a butterfly out of the foil… oh, and there was one little guy who completely misunderstood and began to EAT the foil 🙂
When the kids grew tired of that activity, there was still about 15 minutes left, so we did some free play with the toys and puzzles in the room as I did not feel prepared for the other activities on the list. One little girl kept putting a cow toy on my shoe, and she and about 5 others were loving it when I would react every time – OH, there’s a COW on my shoe! Am I going to have to take this cow home with me?!? That lasted about 10 minutes; imagine if I had tried that one with my 7th graders – they’d be gossipping about me being bi-polar as they do about one of their teachers, gossip which I try to stop, of course.
My teen helper had to take about half the kids to the bathroom at some point, so I decided it was a good time to try this activity – I didn’t want to try it with all the kids there since we were only given about 6 pieces of fake food. Having 4 kids of my own, I’m well-versed in kid-fight-prevention, so I knew doing the following activity with only 6 pieces of food and 14 kids was a recipe for disaster. But with about 8 in the room, I thought it was worth a try… until the bathroom group came back in the middle of the activity…
What You Need: Toy food items, a large basket like a laundry basket and a stopwatch.
What You Do: Spread the toy food items all over the room. Place the laundry basket in the middle of the room. Challenge the children to see how fast they can get all of the food into the basket. Time them and be ready to tell them how fast they do it each time. Continue doing the activity as long as the children are interested.
What You Say:
At the start of the activity: “A girl named Ruth has to look for food to go in her basket in our Bible story today. Our basket needs some food in it too. Do you see some food that we can put in it? (Pause for response.) OK. When I say “go,” I want you to put the food in our basket as fast as you can. On your mark…get set…go!”
At the end of the activity: “You got faster and faster each time you put the food in the basket. I wonder how long it took Ruth to put food in her basket? I can’t wait to hear her story.”
Ok, I wasn’t given a stopwatch, so I just had half the kids hide food items and the other half find them… but then the bathroom group came back and we had too many kids and too little room and too few food items to hide. My little friend threw a not-so-little tantrum because she wanted to be the one to hold the basket – and she was going to have her turn as I said, but first she had to wait, which wasn’t cool with her (ADHD diagnosis, anyone? It’s sad, but they seem to be slapping that one on kids left and right these days). But oh, great, now I had a kid screaming just as parents are starting to arrive. Luckily she got over it quickly, and the parents came a few minutes earlier than I had expected – good thing too, since I was out of activities for which I had supplies.
Overall, a GREAT experience – I’m so proud of my own little 3-year-old who was not only one of the best behaved in the group (of course), but who was surprisingly not very clingy to mom and let me be a teacher to her peers. I think the kids had trouble remembering my name, so by the end of the hour, I was known as ‘Teacher, Teacher’ complete with pant-leg-tugging – hence the name of this blog post.
Next up – in August I’m scheduled to help with my 5-year-old’s class, and I’m excited to see the differences in behavior between the two groups. But after today, I’m quite tempted to volunteer for another Sunday in the 3-year-old room… they are fun kids who are quite sweet. My only regret is that there were so many of them, which impeded my ability to get to have more fun with them on a one-on-one basis. Plus there were a few that were handfuls (well, just my little friend and then another little boy who started all kinds of trouble all morning!), but it was still hard to give attention to the kids who were being good, and that should never be the case. Too bad I know in my heart that I’d be spreading myself way too thin if I volunteered to be a Sunday school teacher. I need to stick with the youth group kids I committed to, and both groups plus my own kids at home would be way too much… something to think about when my kids get older and my youth group kids graduate though!!
For those of you looking for ideas for Christian fun at home, for your small Bible study groups, or a Christian daycare, here are the rest of the activities I was given and didn’t have the time / materials to do:
Looking for Food
What You Need: A clear plastic soda bottle or a large clean peanut butter jar, uncooked white rice, several pieces of Runts® candy and a hot glue gun.
Tip: Runts® candy comes in a mix of green, red, yellow, purple and orange. You can pretend these are little green apples, red cherries or red apples, yellow bananas, purple grapes and orange oranges
What You Do:
At the start of the activity: Fill the plastic container no more than 2/3 full with the rice. Put in several pieces of the Runts® candy pieces. Put the lid on tight and hot glue it.
Tip: Make one bottle for every three children to share.
During the activity: Show the bottle to the children. Point out that there are different kinds of “food” inside the bottle. Their job is to roll the bottle around in their hands until they see a piece of “food.”
What You Say: “Come and sit with me. I have something to show you. Watch the white rice while I turn this bottle. Tell me if you see anything. (Wait for a child to respond.) Yes! There are little pieces of food hiding in the white rice. There are little green apples, red apples or red cherries, yellow bananas, orange oranges and purple grapes. Here. You can hold the bottle. Keep turning it and see what you can find. Two women named Ruth and Naomi have to go and look for food in today’s Bible story.”
Make a Match
What You Need: “Food Items” (from the Activity Pages on the Web site), scissors and white cardstock.
What You Do:
At the start of the activity: Make two copies of “Food Items” on white cardstock and cut the cards apart along the perforated lines. This will give you one set of cards to play a game of memory match. To play the memory game, place all of the cards facedown. A child will turn over two cards at a time and try to make a match. If a match is not made the next person has a turn. If a match is made the player can go again.
Tip: Make more than one set of cards so more than one group of children can play at a time. You can pair children up or put as many as four children with each set of cards.
During the activity: Show the picture cards to the children. Ask them to help you identify each food picture. Next, place all of the cards face down and play a game of memory match.
What You Say: “Boaz helped Ruth and Naomi in our Bible story because they were in his family. God wants families to help each other. God gave you a family to help you too. Who can help you? [Bottom Line] God made people to help me. That’s right! In our story Ruth and Naomi had to look for food, right? Well, I have a game for us to play and we’re going to have to look for food too!”
My Favorite Food
What You Need: No supplies needed.
What You Do: Sit in a circle with the children and play a food memory game. Begin the game by saying. “My favorite food is an apple.” The child next to you will say, “My favorite food is an apple and (their food choice).” The next child will repeat, “My favorite food is an apple, (name of food) and (their food choice).” Assist the children in remembering when the list gets long.
What You Say:
At the end of the activity: “Raise your hand if you like food. (Raise your hand really high.) Me too! We all like food and we all NEED food. Ruth and Naomi needed food in our Bible story today. They also needed help to find food. God gave them Boaz to help them find food. God gives you people to help you too. Who can help you? [Bottom Line] God made people to help me.”
(Ok, so this activity didn’t require any materials, but I found it way too daunting to attempt for a group of 14 2-3-year-olds…)