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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Great sites for FREE Christian Education resources!

Here is a compilation of all the suggestions given by other educators on a facebook group!  Great ideas.  I'd heard of some but not all.  Can't wait to check them all out!!

1. - Wonderful printable resources.  I actually got to write a few of the children's messages.  My only "dislike" of this site is that there are a LOT of object lessons and I'm not a least not for preschool and young elementary age children.

2. - Of course we have to include this one!  If you haven't joined this site...well, you HAVE to :) Get on it!

3. - Haven't used this site before but by just browsing, it seems to have a good collection of children's sermons and printables...and pictures.

4. - I hadn't heard of this one either and after 5 minutes on their site I feel like I only touched the surface! lol  They seem to have a LOT of different kinds of materials/lessons for all ages...however, I didn't see any for real young children...please correct me if I'm wrong!  It seems like a wonderful resource for older children, youth and adults.

5. - this site goes along with the app that I referred to in my other post about "great apps for kids ministry".  It has resources that go along with the stories on the app...this is such a good resource for young children and I want to explore it more.  This and sermons4kids were the most recommended sites :)

6. - looks like a good site for resources and ideas/articles for your ministry in general


8. - This site has an actual curriculum for free for ages 3 years to 6th grade.  When you are using a particular church's curriculum like this one, I suggest that you look at their statement of faith to make sure your church is in agreement with what it teaches.  (Not that this one is bad by any means, just something you should think of when looking at curriculum)

9. - from the site, "features one of the Internet's largest collections of ideas, tools, and interaction around the world of children's ministry. This includes a searchable knowledge base of ideas, discussion forums, online store packed with resources, online training, job center, and an online garage sale for selling your used children's ministry items."

10. - This one you have to pay for - $39 for the year. From the site, 
"We are committed to helping dedicated teachers like you share the Good News of Jesus with kids by creating meaningful and fun filled Sunday school materials. We provide complete lesson plans along with ideas for bulletin boards, crafts, object talks, games, skits, stories, songs, teaching tips, and much more. We also offer our unique Topical Index, which allows you to quickly find ideas for specific subjects and themes..."

11. - a few educators recommended this site and one in particular said that it has good small and large activities and great music videos her kids love :)

12. - I use this site a lot and there is some religious stuff on it (I actually have my own store and have a few things...including a year long curriculum I just posted for $20 for church mother's morning out and preschool programs :)

13. - this is a magazine and they have activities and lessons for free as well.

14. - This is one I've used a LOT in the past because I was at a church that used the workshop rotation model.  It has tons of lesson ideas for all different kinds of activities and stories.

15. - This site is a bit different.  It offers curriculum at a "bundled" price and then has some free downloads as well.  According to the educator that recommended it, "Childrens ministry deals has a lot of free lessons and they have games, PowerPoint, lesson, ice breakers, object lessons. It's all digital download."

16. - I've used this site before.  She's got some good ideas and printables.

17. - This site looks pretty cool.  Some of these sites that I've never been to haven't been real easy to navigate.  This is simple and the resources look pretty good...of course I just glanced at a few of them, but those looked good :)  Also has lots of ways you can teach Bible verses.

18. - a few people recommended this church - evidently they put up their own curriculum.  However, I had trouble finding it on the website.  I saw some resources for youth/adults though.  Ok, another educator posted a direct link to the children's ministry, but I still don't see the resources...I'm sure I'm reading right over it!  I did find this thanks to another recommendation and it has resources for multiple VBS themes!

19. - from the website: 
  1. We provide curriculum that delivers extraordinary discipleship learning experiences. For both children and their families. We call it high impact discipleship! It is not your ordinary Sunday school. It is not family ministry that leaves parents unchanged. It is life transforming. To raise the value of children’s ministry, let’s do those learning and shaping activities that raise kids in Christ!
  2. We equip the equippers. We provide lots of training tools. Over a hundred online training videos. Handbooks. Build-it-yourself improvements. Even personal consultations. And more!
  3. It is all FREE! No kidding. No gimmicks. What used to cost thousands of dollars is now free.
20. - This seems to have a lot of articles and ideas for us as educators.  They also have lessons and curricula but it would take me a while to go through and figure out how to navigate the site.  A lot going on :)

21. - This site is a little different :)  It has themes and lesson plans that go with the theme (like "time-machine", "western") and it also has skits and puppet show skits.

22. - you can click on "search resources" and look for the story, idea or book you need.  I searched "Jonah" just for fun and a lesson came up which specified what ages it is for and activities and a plan that goes with it.

23. - "Kids Sunday School Place is your online source for fresh, creative Children's Ministry resources for Grade school and Preschool. We feature complete Sunday school lessons, Bible crafts, Christian activities, object lessons, stories, skits, games, songs, and much more. Teaching Sunday school is now easy, fun, and rewarding!"

- "Free Sunday School resources. Children's Church ideas. Children's Ministry training and guidelines. Free crafts, activity sheets, book downloads, and more."

25. - it looks as if this site is under construction, but this is what it 
says, " is about to become the online hub for all things church education.  It's where teachers andd leaders can find and share leadership resources, teaching tips, and creative classroom ideas for both kids and adults." 

26. - Ever wanted to borrow a VBS from another church or have you ever looked for someplace to donate your old one?  Here ya go! :)

27. -  The pastor at one of the churches I worked in used this site every week to get ideas for the lectionary.  He loved referencing movies and this site has a movie suggestion for every text!

28. - Science activities that teach Biblical lessons!  Very neat...and different!

Well, there ya go.  You guys are awesome.  So many great ideas!  Now I'm trying to figure out why any church would ever spend money on curricula! lol :)

Thanks everyone!  God bless!

In Christ,


Monday, February 23, 2015

Tired of winter? A little laugh to get you through :) Thank you Bill Waterson...

SEE!!  Snow can be fun :)  Just gotta be as creative as Calvin and Hobbes (the best comic strip ever). Hope it makes you smile as you shovel your walk, drive slowly on the ice, or if you're in Canada - dig your way out of your house...and maybe you'll even get an idea to do at home :)  Hope this helps you make it til spring!

 I could've kept going and going (there are 100s out there!) but this is a start :)

Calvin and Hobbes snow forts

Calvin and Hobbes - Modern Craftsmen

Calvin and Hobbes - X-Chromosomes

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Apps in church?...

YES!!  Times have changed...schools have changed, church has changed, worship has changed, technology in church has why is Sunday school STILL the SAME?!?!  I don't get it and I won't stand for it :)  I love to write and I'm trying to write my own curriculum that is different from anything else out there that is not read word for word (kids don't like that and neither do I) and simpler.  This is my new mantra...simplify, simplify, simplify!!  There is no reason that Sunday school teachers should have to plan for 1-2 hours per week to teach their class about God.  It can be easier and still be meaningful!  While I'm working on that however, I am enjoying learning about different ways to use technology in our sunday school rooms and I love the idea of using tablets and apps...maybe every Sunday during some part of our class or maybe a special rotation once a month.  Like I said, I'm still working out exactly how this will work, but thought I'd go ahead and start compiling cool apps that I have heard about or used.  I've joined a facebook group called children's pastors only and there have been some really good suggestions.  So this is my "running" list that I will hopefully keep adding to as I find more :)

     Of course we have our well-known "givens" - facebook, pandora, pinterest, the Bible app and dropbox has become popular (and useful).  So I'll start my list with others you may not have heard of (I hadn't heard of many of these!).  After some reading I've divided my list into 3 parts - games/education appsorganizational and classroom tool apps (including check in) and creative/media apps for things like making flyers.

GAMES/EDUCATIONAL APPS to use in church, Sunday school, at home, mid-week activities, etc.

1.  Bible App for kids by Youversion - from the website - "Through interactive adventures and beautiful animations, kids explore the big stories of the Bible. The Bible App for Kids is a delight-filled experience designed to encourage kids to return again and again. It’s the beginning of a lifelong love of God’s Word.
* Easy, kid-friendly navigation
* Colorful illustrations
* Touch-activated animations
* Engaging, interactive content that brings the Bible to life
* Fun facts and activities designed to help kids remember what they learn
* Special challenges that let kids earn rewards
The app is free and available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Brazilian Portuguese.  It is available for Apple products, Kindle and Android!  Why don't I already have this for my kids on their ipad?!

And I just found out that there is a new FREE curriculum (two year plan) that goes along with this app!  Here's the link.

2. NIV Adventure Bible Game App - I got this for my kids and it is awesome!!  It has games like jeopardy and who wants to be a millionaire and also has games that help you learn places in the Bible (maps), the books of the Bible and memory verses. Says for ages 6-8 but you could go older.  It's free (!) but I think it's only available for Apple products.
iPad Screenshot 1

3.  Kidblog - I love the idea of kids blogging.  I know not all of them want to do something like this, but those that want to, should be given the chance.  I haven't used this app, but it looks pretty self-explanatory.  I have a second grader and his class blogs every other week or so and it's really neat to see what they have written - even if it's just a paragraph :) They can comment on an activity they did in class, a story they learned, or anything that's on their minds.  What a great way for parents to know what they are learning!  It's free but only for iphone/ipad.
iPhone Screenshot 1             iPhone Screenshot 2

4.  Bible Trivia.  (link goes to itunes, go here for Android) There are a lot of Bible trivia apps out there but this is by FAR the most popular and is ranked 5 stars.  It's free and available on ipad, iphone and a similar one by the same company on Android.  Seems like a no brainer :)  Gotta get it!
iPhone Screenshot 1

5.  Have you seen the American Bible Challenge Game Show on the GSN?  It's a pretty neat show and they also have an App!  It's free, in all different languages and available for apple and Android products.  The only thing I'm not sure of is the difficulty.  It does say it has levels but I don't know what age level it is recommended for.  It's free so you can always try it out :)
iPhone Screenshot 1

6.  The Superbook Bible App is a fun app with games for preschoolers and older.  It's available for kindle, android and apple plus it's free!  
Superbook Bible, Videos and Games App

7.  Show Me - My second grader's teacher also uses this free app and finds it very helpful.  She says that it serves as a recordable, interactive whiteboard. Her words, "I can display the iPad screen through the projector and either work through a problem for the students, or pass the iPad and have the students work through a problem. I've also used this to record students as they explain how they are working through a math problem. I post these videos on our blog as helpful “how to” videos for parents.  I've also emailed the recorded videos to the students’ parents to show off how well they’re doing!"  I can already picture how we could use this in our Sunday school rooms!!  I think it is only available for apple products.
iPad Screenshot 1
8.  My story for Ipad/iphone and Storymaker for Android.  My story description ($4.99):     "* Create and share ebooks and stories by adding drawings, photos, and stickers. 
* Record your voice on every page and share your story with friends, family and classmates!
* Choose from dozens of fun stickers already included in the app, no extra downloads needed.
* No in-app purchases, hidden ads, or additional costs.
* Share your storybooks to the web, on Facebook and Twitter, and standard ePub format to be viewed in 3rd party apps or edited in iBooks Author. Or export as a movie to Mp4 format straight to YouTube!
* Teacher friendly: allows for multiple authors and syncing across multiple iPhones and iPads through Dropbox!

Sounds great - I'd definitely make this a "must have" app for Sunday school!

Organizational and classroom tool apps (including child check-in)

1.  Remind - This is a very popular App and I have it on my phone and want to use it with my Sunday school class as well as the entire children's ed department!  You can keep in touch with parents about class activities, upcoming events, etc. without them having to know your phone number or vice versa.

2.  Classdojo - My child's teacher uses this in the public school.  It's mainly a behavior tool to let parents know how your child is doing in the classroom, but you can also communicate with everyone as a whole group, individually...even send pictures and links.  I'm thinking this would be a great tool for classes at church, and remind would be great for the entire children's department...

3.  If you lead a small group, this app was recommended - Leadsmall.  From the website: "It helps Small Group Leaders stay in touch with their group by keeping everyone's photos, info and prayer requests all in one place. You can also send group texts, too!  It is packed with daily tips and ideas to help Small Group Leaders be more awesome at it.  And, small Group Leaders get a guide for their weekly conversation, and a devotional for themselves delivered straight to their phones every week!"  It's free and available for Apple and Android.
4.  Pages:  From the webpage - "Pages is the most beautiful word processor you’ve ever seen on a mobile device. This powerful word processor helps you create gorgeous reports, resumes, and documents in minutes. Pages has been designed exclusively for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch with support for Multi-Touch gestures and Smart Zoom."  It's $9.99.

5.  Bitstrips for schools: This is a fun alternative to do in response to a story or lesson instead of blogging :)  Basically, you create your own comic strip...and you can star in it! The opportunities for this are endless and the kids would love it...however, it is $10 a month. Unless you plan on using this alot it may not be worth it. Be careful that you don't get the Bitstrips is for 12 years and older and has inappropriate content.  Available for Apple and Android.  

6.  Quite a few educators recommended Edutecher.  I downloaded it on my phone but it has frozen on me a number of times.  Not sure why.  It's a free app availbable for iphone/ipad and android and helps you search through all the apps according to subject or functionality.  It's just a great way to find and learn about other apps that are out there.

7.  Vittle is a good app for story-telling.  This would be fun to use when telling or retelling a story that you can illustrate as you tell...or the children can illustrate :)  Click on the link and check out the video.  It's free but you can only get one page and one minute recordings with the free version.  You can upgrade to get more for $8.99.  It is only compatible with ipad.  

8.  Explain Everything sounds like a really neat app if you have the equipment in your classrooms to show presentations, videos, etc.  I would love to get to this point in Sunday School!  I'm already picturing all the cool things we could do :)  On the app store for the iphone it says it costs $2.99 and on the website it says it is also available for Android devices.

9.  Whiteboard.  I'm not sure how this is different than Explain Everything.  It seems like this wouldn't be necessary if you had the Explain Everything app.  The reviews say that it is "ok" but that it has too many ads.  It's made for apple products and is free.

There are a lot of apps out there for check in - for Sunday school or nursery.  I'll list them, but here's my two cents.  For something this important I wouldn't rely on technology.  Way too many things could go wrong.  Some of these rely on wireless and we all know how often that stops working.  Parents could forget their phones, have them on mute, your system could be down, etc.  Another person commented that they spent $800 on a check in system and the internet tended to run slow because the server was being flooded with all the churches that were using the system at the same time.  The church I just started with has a sign in sheet for the nursery and the restaurant type buzzers.  We have the cell phone numbers just in case.  I'm not completely happy with it because there needs to be name tags for visitors and their belongings...but I like the check in process.  Simple!  But, if you are looking for something different, here are some apps that were recommended...

10.  nursery alert - available for android and apple. Apple has it listed as $3.99.
11.  Check in easy - Android and Apple.  Free to check in up to 50 people.
12.  Kidddo Kiosk - Android, Apple and Kindle.  Free up to 20 people then $10 a month.
13.  Lambslist - this is a $50 a month program or $500 a year to check in, acquire data,           keep track of volunteers, members, etc.  I didn't see anything on the website about an app.
14.  Planning Center is also an online program that oversees check in, registration and many other things.  It also has an app.  It's more expensive than Lambslist at $126 a month for a medium church.  
15.  Real Time can be used for your entire church as well as ministries and check in.  For a 300 person church it is $50 a month.  It also has an app for Apple.
16.  Sonblest Technologies is another program for the entire church to use.

Creative/media apps and websites

1.  Glogster - I had no idea what this was...or what a glog was, so I watched a video on youtube :) Basically, it's a way to create an interactive poster.  Pretty cool actually.  I could see using this in our children's ministry.  Pricing can be found here.  Elementary schools cost $39 a year...

2.  Print Artist - $38 on amazon...but read the reviews - the majority are not good.

3. - collages, touch ups, editing...

4.  publisher - links takes you to amazon.  by far this is the most recommended from the facebook group on how to edit pics, make posters, etc.  However, if you have a tight budget $100 may be too much to spend...

5.  Phoster - $1.99 - that price sounds more doable, right? :) This app creates posters and invitations.  Available on apple products.  But Android has a similar one called Photo Editor pro that has great reviews and is free.

6.  Canva - free.  There may be a catch but it looks like a great website and the ipad app is free. 

7.  Smilebox - another website that creates slides, invites, collages and more supposedly for free.  

Well that's it!  So many good ideas out there - this is just a start!  If you have any great apps or websites you want to share that make your kid ministry better than please share!  It's fun too keep up with the latest apps and programs but also very difficult without sharing!  So share away! :)

In Christ,

Thursday, February 5, 2015

10 Fun ways to Celebrate Children's birthdays in the Church...(that don't include food)!

I've joined this really neat facebook group for Children Christian Educators.  There are thousands of members from all over the world.  Every hour (or less) someone posts another question or request for ideas.  Some are obviously more helpful to me than others - we all have specific issues, events, ideas that occur at our own churches - but I found myself having a hard time figuring out how to remember all the great things I was reading!  So, I decided that when one question/request catches my attention, I'd turn it into a blog.  Then I'd have the info forever :)  Of course, this is based on the idea that I would also have time to write the blog :)  The first one I'm going to write about is
  "How do you celebrate the kids' birthdays in your church?"  
Great question!  At my current church we do it during Sunday school and we just have a birthday bulletin board and they get to add their names when it's their month.  At one church I worked in the Sunday school teacher sent cards.  After reading some of these ideas I'm ready to try something different! (just to reiterate, the 10 ideas below are NOT my ideas...)

As you may already know from previous posts, I'm not a fan of having food in the classroom - at school or church - unless absolutely necessary.  Too many issues surrounding food and not worth it.  Plus, we are trying to teach children to eat healthy and giving them junk food every Sunday (or even once a month) isn't something I want to do...but to each his own.  I'm not judging!  Just my opinion. Too many allergies and special needs to think about.  Anyway, some of the suggestions and ideas (that didn't center around food) really caught my eye, so I wanted to write them down.  Here they are!!

First off, you have to decide WHEN you are going to celebrate the birthdays - there are many options out there...the Sunday after their birthday, once a month or once a quarter.  One suggestion was one birthday bash for everyone just one time a year and then send a little something in the mail ON their birthday.  Once you have the WHEN taken care of, then you can decide on the WHAT :)

1.  Send/give child a card with a $5 gift certificate to the Dollar tree or Five Below.  I love this idea...but with a lot of children it would be expensive.

2.  Give them a fun yet simple gift - this is a really cute idea.  Even my 8 year-old loves the straws at Friendly's that bend every which way!
3.  I love this idea!  One teacher bought a big inflatable that she brings out on birthdays and the children take their picture with it!  I went to oriental trading to see if there are any biblical ones and only one popped up...
Giant Inflatable Whale
click image to go to link
...but I see so many possibilities with this :) Like a speech bubble, party hat, bling...very cute idea.  Of course, they also have a giant flamingo which is not Biblical but so darn cute :)

4.  One person shared how her youth took it upon themselves to find a way to celebrate people's birthdays in the church by handing out balloons on their special day!
5.  Use your office supplies!  Give out church pencils, balloons, pens, etc.  We buy these in bulk anyway - Good time to use them! :)  You could even make a goodie bag!

6.  This idea is very clever.  I read the description and didn't quite understand so I went to pinterest.  Pinterest to the rescue :)  I learned the correct term for this - whipple cream...or the more common term - puffy paint!  You make it out of glue and shaving cream to make a "pretend cake" that will last you a very long time.  The educator that suggested this said she puts real candles on the "cake" (she covered a cake pan with whipple cream) and lets them blow them out - which is the best part!  Here are a few on the pink cake to see the recipe and instructions.  The cake with 5 candles is whipple cream on a sponge!  so cute!  I really like this idea...somebody make me a whipple cake :)
Whipple Cream Tutorial For Decoden      Doll Cake made from a sponge.  The scale for this one is too small for AG dolls, so I cut it about 3 inches in diameter, cut from a pack of 3 pink and yellow sponges from Dollar Tree.  I made puffy paint with shaving cream and white glue and frosted it once, let it dry and added another coat.   Birthday Cake ~ in honor of my birthday later this week.  This is shaving cream and I think we'll make something like this Messy Class this week!  Fun :-)

7.  Simple but effective - if you have a group gathering of all the children on Sundays (children's church, worship...) call up children that had birthdays that week, sing to them and give them a birthday sticker.  Hey, if it works for Disneyworld it can work in church ;)  Give them a little extra special attention - that's all they really want, right? :)

8.  Cool...and hot idea :) If your church has a cafe, mail them a birthday card and give them a coupon for a free smoothie or hot chocolate inside!  Even if you don't, we all know how great Chick Fil a is and they sell $1 ice cream cones!  I bet they would give you a deal if you ask them for $1 coupons to hand out to the children at your church on their birthdays!  And maybe hot chocolate in winter...

9.  Mail a card during their birthday month and then on the Sunday after their birthday they get to pick from the "birthday treasure box".  I'm sure oriental trading could help with this well as parents.  Neat idea, and lots of non-candy things you could put in it :) 
10.  I think a consensus was made with everyone that an old fashioned card works best...especially since now a days it's so rare!  If you slip a little something personal in it as well, that makes it even better :) 

Have fun celebrating those birthdays!!  Now I just have to decide which one(s) I want to do... :)

In Christ,