Six Tips for Teaching Four Year-Olds

four-asian-glasses-400x400Four year-olds are my favorite age to teach. Here are six things I have learned about 4 year-olds that will help you better communicate with them:

1. Fours don’t understand the flow of time.
As with all preschool ages, they don’t string together, in time order, the Bible stories told from week to week. To them, yesterday was a long time ago. Therefore I prefer to tell simple Bible stories which support age-appropriate themes. The four year old, for the first time, realizes that he is growing and will not always be little. Fours will often come to class every week and announce their age. So themes focusing on growing: growing up knowing God is with me, growing up praying, growing up helping, and so on, are excellent choices.

2. Fours interact more cooperatively with classmates.
Unlike three year olds (who play side by side with others, yet not really together), four year olds are usually ready to play with a friend or classmate. They are learning how to cooperate. They are better able to control themselves than they were at three. However, fours are still quite focused on their own wishes, and they are usually very active and assertive in pursuing their interests. You can take advantage of these changes, encouraging children to include God in their everyday exploits, helping them learn that God is in control of life and that even growing children can choose to honor Him.

3. Fours learn by action and repetition.
Fours are active and learn by hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching and doing. As with younger preschoolers, if fours hear words, rhymes, and songs repeated over and over again, they will repeat these words, rhymes, and songs themselves. So it’s a good idea to utilize a variety of sensory activities and repetition in your lessons. You can model and repeat the important themes of the lessons and guide the children into experiences that enrich their understanding of how to grow up knowing God.

4. Fours are sensitive to music: melody and rhythm.
A preschooler’s short attention span can often be held and strengthened by songs when the child seems oblivious to spoken words. The simple melodies and rhythms repeated in childhood stay in the heart and mind for a lifetime. So when possible present key truths, themes, and verses not only in spoken words, but also in song.

5. Fours are attracted to sensory experiences and action.
The attention span of a four year old may be noticeably longer than it was at three. But fours are exuberant and often have trouble sitting still and focusing on an activity. They are more likely to stick with an activity or story if it’s interesting, active, musical, colorful, tasty, and fun. Occasionally children need someone to draw their attention to these activities. Teachers may find that when they themselves engage in the desired activity and have fun doing it, the children will be drawn in naturally.

6. Fours need supervision and (sometimes) help.
Fours enjoy doing as much as possible for themselves. However, they still need help and/or supervision as they learn. A teacher-child ratio of one teacher for every six to eight four-year-olds is very important for quality care-giving. When recruiting helpers and teachers, remember that grandparents and teenagers are often overlooked, but can be valuable members of a teaching team.

Happy teaching!

59

 

PS- See my Bible Time curriculum for FOURS

Featured Bible Learning Folder: “I Help”

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Young children want to try doing grown-up things. They are eager to help. It makes them feel significant and useful. It helps them feel like an important part of the family or class. Teach young children that they can help do many things, and God is happy when we help each other.

Theme Scripture: “Help those who are weak.” I Thessalonians 5:14 (ICB) Help the children remember this verse by asking them to repeat it after you with simple hand motions. (shown on first page)

Unit Goals: By the end of this unit, the child should:
• Know that God is happy when children help.
• Want to help.
• Help in class and at home.

Bible Stories
• The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) Focus: The Samaritan man helped the hurt man.
• Building the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:30-36:2) Focus: People used their different God-given skills to help build the worship house.
• Peter and John Heal a Lame Man (Acts 3:1-11) Focus: Peter and John stopped to help a lame man.
• Filing the Oil Jars (2 Kings 4:1-7) Focus: Two boys helped their mother.

Art Activities:
-Penny Banks
-Money Prints
-Bow Necklace
-Wrapping Paper

Science Activities:
-Mixing Colors
-Matching Patterns
-Sorting Coins
-Big and Little, Heavy and Light

Cooking:
-Bean Soup Mix
-Crunchy Oat Cookies
-Cinnamon Crescents
-Coin Cookies

Music & Movement:
-Give a Little
-Jonathan Gave
-One Penny, Two
-We Are Cheerful Givers

Games:
-Pass the Gift
-Who’s Got the Penny?
-What’s in My Gift Basket?
-What Do They Need?

This folder is designed to give you the ideas you need to teach a unit about helping. Mix and match the activities you want with the stories suggested, and enjoy!

BUY PDF DOWNLOAD FOR “I Help”  $2.99
(sold as downloads only, print not available) Your purchase includes permission to reproduce the pages for ministry purposes at a single location, not for distribution to non-purchasers.

LEARN MORE about the Bible Learning Series

DOWNLOAD the Scope and Sequence for the whole series

“The Hot, Hot Furnace” Re-packaged!

Bible Time Perfect Cover

We are pleased to announce that our preschool musical, The Hot, Hot Furnace, has received a new cover design and is now available for purchase. This title was the first preschool musical we published in 2000, followed in subsequent years by 9 more titles, to comprise our PLAYSONGS Musicals for Preschoolers Series. We admit that the covers of the first editions of our musicals are a little light on design value, and even though that fact has not deterred innovative teachers from using them, we recently made the commitment to redesign each cover to make our musicals even more appealing. We are working our way through the series, with this retelling of The Firey Furnace from Daniel 2:46 – 4:3 being the fifth to be redesigned.

The concept for our preschool musicals was conceived by Karyn Henley’s creative assistant at the time, Sheri Smith Bertolini. Then, in collaboration with Karyn, the series was refined and expanded, with The Hot, Hot Furnace being the first release, followed by L-O-V-E, an Easter musical, and To Bethlehem, for Christmas. Additional titles in the series were created by either Sheri, or our long time office manager, Kristi West, and all co-written with Karyn over the next 9 years to bring the total in the series to 10.

Our strength as a publisher has been our understanding of age-appropriateness, and our PLAYSONGS Musicals for Preschoolers is no exception. Age-appropriate features include:

  • Multi-sensory experiences, because preschoolers learn best by doing and using all their senses
  • Short duration for their short attention spans
  • Simple lines, songs and actions to insure that all the children can participate successfully
  • Minimal props, sets and costumes that can be created easily from materials normally found in school supplies (optional)
  • Preparation time that can be accomplished during normal class time without special rehearsals
  • Enrichment activities, to reinforce the Bible story, making it an adaptable mini-curriculum

Plus, the design of our musicals gives the greater share of the storytelling responsibility to the teacher or adult volunteer who tells or reads the story as the narrator, giving vocal cues to the children throughout the play.  The children learn short responses to these cues, so that the musical is performed in a responsive reading fashion.  Many of the cues are repeated throughout the story, which helps the children learn and remember their lines more easily.  Actions and movement enhance the children’s spoken parts.

Ideal for church and school programs, and VBS.

Bible Time Perfect CoverThe Hot, Hot, Furnace
A creative retelling of the story of three brave men from the Old Testament– Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Includes CD with accompaniment tracks and sample performance.

View Sample Pages Online

Listen

Buy Physical Copy $20 (booklet and CD COMBO)

Buy Downloadable Files $16.99 (PDF booklet and mp3 audio combo)

Buy Physical CD ONLY for Hot Hot Furnace $12.99 

Buy mp3 DOWNLOAD ONLY of music tracks $9.99

 

plm1_150CLEARANCE: Original Spiral Bound First-Edition The Hot, Hot Furnace, NEW w/CD $9.99. Four copies available

BUY Original Spiral Bound First-Edition w/CD. NON-RETURNABLE $9.99, plus flat-rate shipping

Tips for Teaching Three-Year-Olds

teachingthrees2017-3001.  Threes don’t understand the flow of time.
For a three year old, the time from one Sunday to the next seems like an eternity. This age child doesn’t string together, in time order, the Bible stories told from week to week. When you say, “A long time ago, there was a man named Abraham,” the preschool mind interprets it as yesterday. To them, yesterday was a long time ago. So I suggest you tell very simple Bible stories which support a weekly age-appropriate theme. The three year old wrestles with his will versus God’s will (most often in the form of parent or teacher authority), so themes focus on God’s ways: obeying, helping, sharing, and making wise choices.

2.  Threes are self-focused and independent.
Threes are usually somewhat more compliant than twos, and many threes have a desire to please.  However, threes are still quite self-focused. They still assert their independence.  So threes may have a hard time relating with others.

3. Threes learn by doing, imitating, and repeating.
Threes often imitate the significant adults in their lives. If they see parents and caregivers pray and read their Bibles, they will usually imitate them.  If they hear words, rhymes, and songs over and over again, threes often will repeat these words, rhymes, and songs themselves. Threes also learn by touching and doing. So lots of teacher interaction is good. Teachers can model and repeat the important themes of the lessons and guide the children into experiences that enrich their understanding of God’s ways.

4.  Threes are sensitive to music:  melody and rhythm.
A preschooler’s short attention span can often be held and strengthened by songs when the child seems oblivious to spoken words. The simple melodies and rhythms repeated in childhood stay in the heart and mind for a lifetime. So key truths, themes, and verses can be presented not only in spoken words, but also in song.

5. Threes are attracted to sensory experiences and action.
Threes will gravitate toward any place where there is something going on that’s interesting, active, musical, colorful, tasty, or fun to touch or hold.  But occasionally they need someone to draw their attention to these activities. Teachers may find that when they themselves engage in the desired activity and have fun doing it, threes will be drawn in naturally.

6. Threes need supervision and help.
Threes need help and/or close supervision as they learn. A teacher-child ratio of one teacher for every five or six three year olds is very important for quality care-giving. When recruiting helpers and teachers, remember that grandparents and teenagers are often overlooked, but can be valuable members of a teaching team.

7.  Threes have a very short attention span.
While some children are more distractible than others, most threes move quickly from one interest to another. They live in the immediate present and will pursue whatever catches their attention. In order to present and guide activities and stories to young children, teachers must catch and hold their attention. Teachers must also be ready to move to a new activity when the children are ready to move on.

Happy Teaching!

59

PS- See my Bible Time Curriculum for Threes

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Text © Karyn Henley. Photo by DTL courtesy of morguefile.com. All rights reserved.

Tips for Teaching Toddlers and Twos

toddler-lightfoot-300Let’s look at some basics about toddlers and two year-olds (18 months to 2 1/2):

•  Toddler-Twos don’t understand the flow of time.
For a toddler-two, the time from one Sunday to the next seems like an eternity. This age child doesn’t string together, in time order, the Bible stories told from week to week. When you say, “A long time ago, there was a man named Abraham,” the preschool mind interprets it as yesterday. To them, that was a long time ago. So it is not a priority to tell the Bible stories  in biblical order. In my curriculum I like to incorporate very simple Bible stories which support age-appropriate themes, like God’s love, God’s care, and the toddler-two’s response of thankfulness.

•  Toddler-Twos are self-focused and independent.
At the beginning of the toddler-two stage, children are still very self-focused. They are becoming aware that they are individuals in their own right, separate and apart from parents and caregivers. So they assert their independence.  However, at about age 2 1/2, preschoolers begin “perspective taking.” That means they begin to realize that others have rights, feelings, opinions, and possessions. The self-focus is still there, but a sensitivity to others begins.

•  Toddler-Twos learn by imitation and repetition.
Toddler-twos often imitate the significant adults in their lives. If they see parents and caregivers pray and read their Bibles, they will usually imitate them.  If they hear words, rhymes, and songs over and over again, toddler-twos will begin repeating these words, rhymes, and songs themselves. Toddler-twos also learn by touching and doing. So I like curriculum that relies heavily on teacher interaction with the children. Teachers model and repeat the important themes of the lessons and guide the children into experiences that enrich their understanding of God’s creativity, love, and care.

•  Toddler-Twos are sensitive to music:  melody and rhythm.
A preschooler’s short attention span can often be held and strengthened by songs when the child seems oblivious to spoken words. The simple melodies and rhythms repeated in childhood stay in the heart and mind for a lifetime. So key truths, themes, and verses in your classroom can be presented not only in spoken words, but also in song.

•  Toddler-Twos are attracted to sensory experiences and action.
Toddler-twos will gravitate toward any place where there is something going on that’s interesting, active, musical, colorful, tasty, or fun to touch or hold. But occasionally they need someone to draw their attention to these activities. Teachers must sometimes bring activities to toddler-twos. At other times, teachers will have to help toddler-twos go to where the activities are.

•  Toddler-Twos need supervision and help.
Toddler-twos need help and/or close supervision as they learn. A teacher-child ratio of one teacher for every six toddler-twos is very important for quality care-giving. When recruiting helpers and teachers, remember that grandparents and teenagers are often overlooked, but can be valuable members of a teaching team.

•  Toddler-Twos have a very short attention span.
While some children are more distractable than others, most toddler-twos move quickly from one interest to another. They live in the immediate present and will pursue whatever catches their attention. In order to present and guide activities and stories to young children, teachers must catch and hold their attention. Teachers must also be ready to move to a new activity when the children are ready to move on. So choose a curriculum with many activity choices which can expand and contract to fit children’s needs.

God does equip you for everything good!

Happy teaching,

59

 

BT01_Spread Drop_150PS- Here is my Bible Time curriculum for TODDLERS and TWOS:

 

 

Text © Karyn Henley.  Photo: lightfoot at morguefile.com. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.

Why Study Childhood?

why-study-childhood-picPart of being child-sensitive is trying to see what the world feels like from the child’s perspective. That information is valuable to us, because it helps us see the child’s needs more clearly. It helps us respect the child. It helps us communicate more effectively.

As we’ve seen, one way to know the child’s viewpoint is to remember what it was like to be a child. Another way is to watch children and listen to them. A third way is to learn from people who have studied children.

One of these experts is Robert Coles, a professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Coles received a Pulitzer prize for his five-volume Children of Crisis series. He has spent over thirty years listening to children. In an interview about children, he said, “They offer us a chance to see a good part of what we are: human beings struggling to figure out what this world means.” Coles urges us to “regard children as fellow human beings yet to be constricted and constrained the way that some of us have been as we have made the various compromises that are called growing up.” He says, “The point is not to romanticize children but to understand the… perspective they have… They are new on the block, so to speak. As a consequence they have a certain kind of openness of mind and heart.”*

There’s another reason for trying to see the world from a child’s viewpoint. Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). If for no other reason than this, childhood is worth a good, long look.

In God’s Kingdom, we are all children of the Father. So, as it happens, we are children teaching children. We can all rejoice to hear him say, “Let the little children come to me… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14)

*Robert Coles, “The Man Who Listens to Children,” Storytelling, Fall 1992

-from Child Sensitive Teaching. ©Karyn Henley. All rights reserved

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-Photo by psymily at morguefile.com

Featured Folder: “God Made Land, Sea and Sky”

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A young child’s interests center around things that are familiar to him. Exploring God’s creation uses the child’s natural curiosity about his world to help him learn more about God. Teach the children that God made the land, sea, and sky.

Theme Scripture: “in the begining, God made the sky and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (ICB) Help the children remember this vers by asking them to repeat it after with simple hand motions. (shown on first page)

Unit Goals: By the end of this unit, the child should:
• Know that God made the land, sea, and sky
• Feel thankful and joyful
• Thank God for making the earth, sea, and sky.

Bible Stories
• Creation (Genesis 1:1-10) Focus: God made the land, sea, and sky
• Lot Chooses Land (Genesis 13:5-18) Focus: God made the different kinds of land from which Lot chose.
• The Sun Stands Still (Joshua 10:6-14) Focus: God made the sun, and it obeys him.
• Catching Lots of Fish (Luke 5:1-11) Focus: God made the lake where Jesus’ friends caught fish.

Art Activities:
-Soap Flake Sea
-Watercolor Sky with Cotton Ball Clouds
-Play Dough Mountains
-Beach Picture

Science Activities:
-Where Do They Go?
-Digging
-Making Waves
-Cloud Shapes

Cooking:
-Cloud Crackers
-Mountain Rolls
-Cloud Gelatin
-Dirt Pudding

Music & Movement:
-In the Beginning
-God Made Land
-March Across the Land

Games:
-Over Land, Over Sea
-Catch a Falling Star
-I Spy

This folder is designed to give you the ideas you need to teach a unit about God’s creation of land, sea, and sky. Mix and match the activities you want with the stories suggested, and enjoy!

BUY PDF DOWNLOAD FOR “God Made Land, Sea and Sky”  $2.99
(sold as downloads only, print not available) Your purchase includes permission to reproduce the pages for ministry purposes at a single location, not for distribution to non-purchasers.

LEARN MORE about the Bible Learning Series

DOWNLOAD the Scope and Sequence for the whole series