6 Things You Need to Know About Teaching Preschoolers

thomasTeaching preschoolers is THE BEST! No, seriously. It really is! There’s something incredibly rewarding about rooting spiritual truths in the minds and hearts of young children and then watching the ways they so naturally apply them to their every day lives. If you’re gearing up to teach babies, 1s, 2s, 3s, Pre-K, or kindergartners this summer in VBS, here are 6 things you need to know about teaching preschoolers.

 

  1. If you don’t have a plan, THEY will! Preschoolers are hands-on, experiential learners. In other words, they LEARN as they DO. Every preschool (Babies–Kindergarten) leader guide is filled with ideas and activities you can use to teach preschoolers in the ways God made them to learn. Get together with the other teachers in your room before VBS, go through the leader guide, and divvy up responsibilities. This will keep any one teacher from bearing the full weight AND will help create an environment where both learning and fun can take place!

  2. Teaching begins when the first child arrives. Preschoolers need routine, boundaries, and clearly defined expectations. If they walk into a room where teachers are waiting with fun things planned for them to do the moment they walk into the room, they will be less inclined to run wild. You’ll be able to head off a lot of behavioral challenges simply by being ready to go as soon as kids are in the room.

  3. Attention spans are SHORT! A child’s attention span is roughly equal to one minute for every year of age. Be prepared for kids to tire quickly and be ready to move on to something else. The good news is that preschoolers also love repetition… so even if they move to another activity before you feel like they’re done, they’ll likely be back before too long to finish up or take another turn.  This is the reason many preschool teachers like to set up activities in “learning spots” around the room and let kids move freely from activity to activity.

  4. The teacher is “the lesson.”  As a teacher, you use a variety of tools (music, games, play, activities, even Bible stories) to teach preschoolers Bible truths. Children are ALWAYS watching and listening… even when you think they are not. They will learn more from your actions than your words. Remember that everything you do (or don’t do) and everything you say (or don’t say) is teaching something.

  5. The process is often more important than the end result. Preschoolers are still developing their motor skills and are still in the discovery phase for many things. It may be more important to them to simply enjoying the experience of cutting or coloring or painting or stacking blocks than actually “making” something. Don’t stress if a craft project ends up less than Pinterest worthy. If kids enjoyed doing it, then it was a success!

  6. YOU are their example of what God is like. As you talk with and listen to them, play alongside them, hug them, protect them, help them work through challenges, and meet their basic needs, you are demonstrating God’s love in practical, tangible ways. So pour everything you’ve got into your kids during VBS!

Agency D3 for Preschoolers & Kindergartners

thomasFoundational Bible teaching is always the goal with LifeWay’s preschool VBS, and this year is no exception. Agency D3’s Bible content sets up a firm foundation for preschoolers and kindergartners to build upon for the rest of their lives. As you teach them who Jesus is and what He did, kids will learn the basics about why we want to love and follow Jesus.

Every single day of VBS, kids will discover that Jesus is who He says He is (God’s Son) through an example from His life. Day 1 uses the story of Jesus’ baptism to show kids that God, in dramatic fashion, declared audibly to everyone present that Jesus is His Son. John told people the same thing everywhere He went for the rest of his life! On Day 2 kids will discover that Jesus is unlike anyone else who ever lived. He is God’s Son so He can do things no one else can do! On Days 3-4 preschoolers will hear how much Jesus loves people as they hear about His death & resurrection. (Younger Preschoolers will use the Bible stories of Jesus’ last supper with His helpers and His post-resurrection meeting with two men on the road to Emmaus.) On Day 5 kids will learn that they can tell others the things they know about Jesus, just like Peter did in the Bible.

In other words, the entire week for preschoolers answers one singular question: Who Is Jesus? This is the perfect Bible content for preschoolers coming to VBS who may have never even heard of God, much less of His Son. It’s all about Jesus… and that’s a great reason to be excited about Agency D3!

The Power of Preschool VBS

photo-2The following post was written by Ronette Burnett, preschool VBS leader at Hilton Terrace Baptist Church in Columbus, GA. Wife to pastor John Burnett, and mom to eight year old Jack and ten year old Meg, Ronette says, “Each year, the VBS theme tends to consume our whole family which is why we still have a ring toss game and juggling balls in the foyer!”  

Preschool VBS takes a lot. It takes more workers; each of the activities requires a heavy amount of adult to child interaction. It takes more supplies.

During my non-VBS life, I teach language arts to sixth graders, and if I had to, I could teach my whole first unit with a couple of Post-Its and a dry erase marker. However, I would not dare enter my VBS classroom without most of the items listed in the front of my Preschool VBS Leader Guide. I do get a few strange looks when I roll my supplies in on my handy Radio Flyer wagon, and I try not to compare myself to the school-age teachers who have packed stylish totes with all of their supplies.

Preschoolers also have their own unique crafts, music, missions, and recreation. Yes, Preschool VBS can be quite an effort, but I can truthfully say, no problem is too big and no price is too high for such a powerful way to touch families with young children.

As I plan for VBS, I try to think about ways to send children home so excited about what we have done that they will ask their parents to please, please, PLEASE take them back. When we are closing out each day, I often take my dollar store microphone in hand and I ask children to answer the question all parents ask, “So what did you do today?” They love to talk into the “mic” and we get lots of conversation starters going that I hope they will use on the ride home. (Can’t wait for the Takin’ It Home CD in VBS 2014!)

I also try to have what I call a “moment with mom” when children are picked up each day. I try to talk to each parent about something I’ve noticed about the child like “Matthew is so persistent when working puzzles,” or “Lauren always takes such good care of our baby dolls.” Parents love to talk about their children, and I love to tell parents all the positive things I see in their little ones. My prayer is that these short conversations are words of blessing over the lives of these families, and that the quality of our Preschool VBS tells families that our church loves and celebrates young children. When you need to build relationships with families who need to find faith or re-connect with church life, look no further than the power of Preschool VBS.

Read why Ronette “Always Says Yes to Preschool VBS” on her personal blog, From Baptist Mom.

Why do YOU think preschool VBS is important? 

Top 10 Ways to Use the Kid’s Activity Pak Books

ruth smallYou just never know what you are going to learn at our VBS Preview Events! This past January, I got to hear Kelli McAnally share some creative ways to use the kid’s activity paks with preschoolers. Kelli wrote the 15-page storybooks for the VBS 2013 Kid’s Activity Pak: Babies–2s and the VBS 2013 Kid’s Activity Pak: 3s–Kindergarten.

vbs13-3-k-act-pak-cover

 

 

  1. Act out the book—kids choose colored craft sticks to determine which character they will be.
  2. Match colors in the book—kids draw pieces of colored paper out of the VBS 2014 Inflatable Coaster Car.
  3. Match letters and words—match foam letters, clothespins with letters, or tiles with letters to those in the book. Easy words (such as “God”) also can be matched.
  4. Listen for a word—kids clap or raise hands when they hear the word.
  5. Make up a finger play or hand motions.
  6. Create cards with review questions on one side and answers on the back. Use with a flip chute.
  7. Record the book on your phone—Play the tape while kids follow along in the book.
  8. Put the story in order—talk about what happened first, next, and so on.
  9. Make a flap book using sticky notes.
  10. Count items—use craft sticks to tally.

Kelli also gave us some great tips for reading with preschoolers.

  1. If preschoolers are on the floor, you should sit on the floor.
  2. Hold the book so kids can see it as you read.
  3. Encourage children to talk about the pictures during the reading.
  4. Allow a child to turn the pages.
  5. Guide children to ask questions about the book.
  6. Respect the child who chooses to look at the book alone.
  7. Provide time after a book is read for kids to respond to the plot and characters of the book.
  8. Read a book many times for kids to connect with the characters.
  9. Encourage children to play out the story from a book.
  10. Allow a younger child to skip around in the book if he wants.

Thanks, Kelli, for the books you’ve written and for teaching us how to use them!

Happy reading with your kids at Colossal Coaster World!

The Big Apple in the Mule Capital of the World!

Hey y’all, It was definitely a big city adventure last week! My church is located in Columbia, Tennessee—home of the Mule Day celebrations! Yep, it’s a city that celebrates its mules! (But, I’ll save those stories for another time!)

We had about 140 super-neat preschoolers and I got to teach missions! From teaching them about Proof and Andrew to learning about the Zoe Church in Sao Paulo to hearing about the Fusion kids in New Orleans, it was definitely all about the big city!

Entering Proof’s Dog House (and our room)!

Playing a game with our dog ears!

My favorite experiences?

1. Listening to kids’ laughter and hearing them chat with their friends about the fun things they were doing at VBS!

2. Hearing kids verbalize places and ways that they can tell others about Jesus. Missions begins at home, right?

3. Watching the kids bring in school supplies for kindergartners in Joplin, Missouri. By the end of the week, we had tons of scissors, crayons, glue, notebooks, and erasers! Hands-on missions helps preschoolers think beyond themselves and about others (a sometimes hard concept for young kids).

4. Working with some of the best preschool VBS teachers in the world! They created an atmosphere of love and acceptance that made it easy for kids to hear about Jesus and His incredible love for them.

5. Knowing that when it was all over, some important truths had been planted in the hearts and minds of the boys and girls.

I can’t wait for next year!



http://blog.lifeway.com/vbs/2011/06/29/2350/

Whew!

Is anybody else tired after completing a full week of VBS? I had 30 kindergartners in my room last week (and only 12 were from my church)! That’s enough to wear you out just thinking about it! Seriously, we had such a wonderful week! Everything went smoothly, kids were happy, teachers were happy, nobody broke any bones… what more could you ask for? This…

 

While telling the Bible story on the very first day, a child said matter-of-factly, “My dad says Jesus isn’t real.” It wasn’t a challenge… it was simply a response stemming from the worldview being taught to him at home.  I was reminded in that moment that THIS is why my teachers and I had planned for weeks and weeks. This is why we took off work to teach. Here, in one brief moment, was a God-ordained opportunity to introduce a child (and a family) to Jesus.

 

Each day of VBS, this child learned more and more about a very real Jesus—who did things no one else could do because He is God’s Son; who loved people and cared for them; and who loves me and cares for me! This child met people who showed Him what Jesus’ love is like… people who loved him unconditionally, who helped guide his behavior, who played and talked with him, who taught him. This is what it’s all about. When the decorations come down and the supplies are packed away and the fun is over, one thing remains… the impact we had on a child’s life for time and eternity.

 

One of my favorite memories of the week was what one child said to his teachers: “Thank you for teaching me about Jesus!” My pleasure! My privilege! How about you?

A favorite game of the week was inspired by "Twister."

 

These boys built hospitals, roads, and helipads on Day 5 when we talked about the four friends who brought their friend to Jesus.

VBS 2012 Preschool Bible Content

Hey y’all!

We are so excited about the preschool biblical content for VBS 2012! We want kids to learn about God, His amazing power, and His great love for us! Check out Amazing Wonders Aviation for Babies–Kindergartners!

 

Day 1: Amazing! God Can Do Anything

Bible Story: God Stopped the River Water Joshua 3:1-5,12-17; 4:1-11,16-17

Bible Verse:

(Babies–2s) God made the world. Jeremiah 32:17

(3s–Kindergarten) God made the world. God can do anything! Jeremiah 32:17

Life Application:                 

(Babies–2s) I can hear that God can do anything.

(3s–Kindergarten) I can hear that God has the power to do anything.

Day 2: Amazing! God Takes Care of People

Bible Story: God Took Care of Joshua and the People Joshua 6:1-16,20

Bible Verse:

(Babies–2s) God is with you. Joshua 1:9

(3s–Kindergarten) Be strong. Do not be afraid. God is with you. Joshua 1:9

Life Application:                 

(Babies–2s) I can hear that God is with me.

(3s–Kindergarten) I can know that God is with me everywhere I go.

Day 3: Amazing! God Loves Everyone

Bible Story: (Babies–2s) God Sent Jesus Luke 2:1-38

Bible Story: (3s–Kindergarten) God Sent His Son, Jesus Luke 2:1-38

Bible Verse:                 

(Babies–2s) God sent Jesus. 1 John 4:9

(3s–Kindergarten) God loved us and sent His Son, Jesus. 1 John 4:9

Life Application:                 

(Babies–2s) I can thank God for Jesus.

(3s–Kindergarten) I can thank God for sending His only Son, Jesus.

Day 4: Amazing! God Has a Plan for Everyone

Bible Story: (Babies–2s) Timothy Learned About God 2 Timothy 1:1-5, 3:14-17

Bible Story: (3s–Kindergarten) God’s Plan: Jesus Is Alive! John 20:1-18

Bible Verse:                 

(Babies–2s) Learn about God. Deuteronomy 31:13

(3s–Kindergarten) Jesus is alive! John 20:18

Life Application:                 

(Babies–2s) I can learn about God.

(3s–Kindergarten) I can be glad that Jesus is alive!

Day 5: Amazing! God Helps Me Show Love to Others

Bible Story: Jesus Taught How to Show Love Luke 10:25-37

Bible Verse: (Babies–Kindergarten) Love God and love others. Luke 10:27

Life Application:                 

(Babies–2s) I can love others.

(3s–Kindergarten) I can show my love for God by loving others.

“In a car, Honk! Honk! In a train, Choo! Choo! In a car, in a train, in a plane. Zoom! Zoom!

Hey y’all!

I’ve been listening to these words as I’m getting ready to teach at my church’s VBS in a few weeks. Our preschoolers will be singing “Everywhere I Go” each day at the Big Apple!

You can find this song (and other great ones like it) on the VBS 2011 Music for Preschoolers CD and on the CDs located in the leader packs (VBS 2011 Babies–2 Leader Pack, VBS 2011 3s–Pre-K Leader Pack, and VBS 2011 Kindergarten Leader Pack).

And, did you know that this preschool song has been illustrated into two super cute books? Kids can follow along in the book as they sing the song and make some of the fun sounds of New York City. Check these out: VBS 2011 Kid’s Activity Pak: Babies–2s and VBS 2011 Kid’s Activity Pak: 3s–Kindergarten. Both paks also contain five daily activity cards that are designed to be used in learning activities and then later at home.  What a great NYC souvenir for preschoolers!

I am so thankful for the great composers who write songs that preschoolers love to sing. It’s going to be a fun year for preschoolers at VBS!

“Everywhere I travel, everywhere I go, Jesus loves me, this I know.”

Song words and music by Lynn Shaw Bailey. Arranged by Barny Robertson.
© Copyright 2008 and this arrangement © copyright 2010 Van Ness Press, Inc. (ASCAP) (admin. by LifeWay Worship). All rights reserved.

Guest Blog Post: Mark Jones

Let me tell you about my friend, Mark Jones. Mark loves Jesus, loves to have fun, and absolutely loves kids! Whether it’s his own kids, the kids in his church, or the kids in his state, Mark is always coming up with fun ways to share Jesus with them. Take a look at this article from Mark published in the VBS 2011 B–2s Leader Guide, VBS 2011 3s–Pre-K Leader Guide, and the VBS 2011 Kindergarten Leader Guide.

You check out Mark’s ministry to kids and their leaders in Oklahoma at www.bgco.org/toptentips. And, if you need a chuckle today, click on #8 under his Top Ten Tips for March!

___________________________________________

 

Gracie’s Story

Gracie, my third grader, is always inviting neighborhood kids to church. And according to her, my job is to drive the car. That’s how Nathan and Nicholas entered our lives one afternoon last fall. As they rode with us to church for Bible Drill that first Wednesday, these twin boys quickly informed me that they liked to go to church and that their dad was in jail. It was a little more information than I expected right off the bat, but it didn’t change my mind about them.

The boys were new to the church scene, so I gave them Bibles, and we practiced Bible verses during our drive. Gracie, the “theologian,” often told them Bible stories, and I would jump in when corrections were needed.

One day, Nathan asked me, “Who is God?” As I began to tell him, he quickly replied, “I know He don’t like me.” I told him, “God loves you, Nathan,” and explained why and how. That’s when I began to pray in earnest for these two neighbor boys. The next day, Nathan knocked on our door. In his hand was a sandwich leftover from his school lunch. Nathan handed the sandwich to my daughter with these words, “Give this to your dad, he’s the best dad I know.” Wow! Truth is caught more than taught.

After Christmas, I asked Gracie if Nathan and Nicholas would be riding to church with us only to hear the words, “They moved. Their mom broke up with her boyfriend.” I went into the next room and thought, Oh no!  We needed more time together. They’ll have more questions about Jesus. I prayed they would remember our conversations in the car and the love we tried to show them.

It’s spring, and the boys are back for now. Nathan told Gracie on the bus that he prayed and asked Jesus to wash away his sins. “You can’t!” Gracie said. “You have to have an explainer!” I tried not to laugh as I told her, “Gracie, you are the explainer.” She looked at me with wide eyes and denied that she could do anything like that. I reminded her of John 3:16, a verse she had learned in Bible Drill, and assured her that she was more than able to help Nathan know about Jesus. Now she is a full-fledged explainer of Jesus!

Gracie and I are learning a lot from our relationships with Nathan and Nicholas. Gracie continues to tell her friends about Jesus. She loves Him and wants her friends to know and love Him, too. I will forever be touched and changed by her zeal for Jesus.

And me? Gracie’s story has become a lesson for me. Even in the midst of a busy family and work schedule, there are kids who cross my path who need to know about Jesus. I want my actions to consistently shape their lives to value Jesus and the wonderful life He gives. I may be the only opportunity others have to hear about Him.

Who will you invest your life this year? Will you look around your neighborhood for kids who need to come to VBS? Will the kids you teach know that you love them? Will they know that Jesus loves them? Get busy! You may not have much time! Every child needs an explainer of Jesus!

_______

Mark Jones and his family live in Tuttle, Oklahoma, and attend First Baptist Church, Blanchard. When he is not driving Gracie and her friends to church, he serves as the childhood ministry specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.