The Paper Cross

(By request, I am providing this creative storytelling device. It is found in my book 100 Ways to Teach Your Child about GodEnjoy! -Karyn)

TELL this story using a piece of plain white paper.

THERE was once wealthy man who had everything he could want. But he also had something he didn’t want. He had an empty feeling inside. So he thought about what could make him happy. He decided that if he bought a sailboat, he’d be happy.

Fold one of the top corners down, making a diagonal fold that looks like a sail. (The top of the page should line up with one side of the page.) So he bought a boat and went sailing. And he was really happy. For a little while. The empty feeling came back. He thought and thought and finally decided that if he had a new house, he’d be happy.

Fold the other top corner down to make a pointed roof. So he bought a new house. It was on a hillside. He could watch the sun set from his window. And he was really happy. For a little while. The empty feeling came back. He thought, ‘Staying at home is not good for me. I need to travel.’ So he bought an airplane.

Fold the figure in half vertically, turn it so that the fold is at the bottom, and fold down the top sections to make wings. He flew all around the world and saw so many wonderful things! He was really happy! For a little while. The empty feeling came back. He thought, “Flying around is for the birds. I need to do something unique. Something most people never get to do. I’ll take a rocket ship into space!”

Tear the wings off the airplane and open the center fold so that it looks like a rocket ship. So he took a rocket ship into outer space and saw the world very small below. He was very happy. For a while. The empty feeling came back. He looked and looked, and he finally found that there was only one thing that would make him happy.

Unfold the figure to see a cross. And how long did it last? Forever!
(Adapted from an unknown source)

Featured Folder: “God Made Animals”

What a wonderful variety of animals God made for us to enjoy! Huge elephants, tiny catepillars. Animals that snort or growl, chirp or bark, buzz or mew. Animals that fly or crawl, tunnel or swim, leap or creep. They are the other living creatures that inhabit the earth that God made for us.

Theme Scripture: “God made the . . . animals.” Genesis 1:25 (ICB) Help the children remember this verse by asking them to act like lions when they say it. Then say it again, acting like monkeys. Ask them to say it again, acting like frogs. Continue as long as they are interested.

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

Bible Stories
• Creation (Genesis 1:20-25) Focus: God Made Animals.
• Adam Names the Animals (Genesis 2:18-20) Focus: God made animals and let God name them.
• God Talks to Job (Job 38:1-3; 39; 42:1-3) Focus: God made animals.
• Solomon Knows About Animals (I Kings 4:26-34; 10:22-29) Focus: We can learn about the animals God made.

Art Activities:
-Paper Plate Fish
-Lollipop Giraffe
-Thumbprint birds
-Animal Prints

Science Activities:
-Animal Discovery
-Whose Ears?
-Animal Tracks
-Fast and Slow

-Animal Crackers
-Animal Cookies
-Cracker Duck

Music & Movement:
-Zoo Walk
-Monkeys at the Zoo
-The Keeper at the Zoo

-The Memory Game
-Duck, Duck, Goose
-Two by Two

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

BUY PDF DOWNLOAD of “God Made the Animals” $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

Ten Tips for Ages 8 through 11

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when teaching ages eight through eleven:

1. They want to be busy doing productive things. They enjoy projects. They learn best by touching and doing and seeing visual aids. Plan your lessons to include lots of activities.

2. They like to show their skills and abilities and want to feel like a valued member of the group. Delegate tasks to them when possible. Trust them to get the job done.

3. They are becoming spiritually sensitive and are beginning to see their need for God. Plan your content to address this need.

4. They want to see how God is real and how he relates to everyday life. They want to hear adults’ testimonies about how God is working in their lives, and they want to tell about what God is doing in their own lives. Invite adults to come in and share. Provide times for the children to share, too.

5. They continue to understand the flow of time. Even if your curriculum is topically oriented, explain the historical context of the Biblical passages used.

6. They easily feel inferior if they are put down or if they feel incapable. Use encouraging words as you coach them. Choose classroom activities that are age-appropriate.

7. They have a growing understanding of symbolism. They are increasingly able to understand deeper dimensions of faith, like lordship, stewardship and peacemaking.

8. They are able to sit still longer, but are still inclined to wiggle. Trust that they are listening even if they are not sitting still.

9. They are concerned about what’s fair and just and are more consistent about discerning right from wrong. Listen to them when they want to express their observations about justice in current events or in their personal lives. Be careful not to “correct” them, but accept their observations at face value. Honor their assessments.

10. They memorize more easily. Age nine is often called the “Golden Age of Memory”. These are the perfect years to ramp up the memory work. For scripture memory ideas see my Sword Fighting book.

May God bless your relationships with the 8 through 11 year olds in your life!

Happy teaching!



Originally posted 5/8/14

© Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

photo courtesy of

Seven Tips for Teaching Seven-Year-Olds

In my last post I talked about teaching six year olds. By the time those children turn seven they have changed a lot. Equipped with insights about this new stage you can continue to teach them with confidence and effectiveness. So let’s look at some basics about sevens:

1. Seven-year-olds understand the flow of time more accurately.
The second grader’s concept of historical events continues to develop into a more accurate understanding. A chronological overview of the New Testament, continuing from a first grade overview of the Old Testament, helps second graders see that the Bible is not simply a collection of stories told like Aesop’s fables, but is one whole meaningful story in itself.

2. Seven-year-olds are curious and want to discover.  They like codes.
Because of their inner desire to discover, try to include an element of discovery in each storytelling session, some sort of code, or puzzle. The children will listen to the story to discover the meaning of the codes.

3. Seven-year-olds need structure and rely on teachers.
Take time to plan and structure your sessions. Teachers play a key role in drawing children into activities as well as in guiding conversation toward an understanding of the theme of the session.

4. Seven-year-olds like to review.
Include brief reviews of previous lessons at the beginning and end of each session.  Create these yourself, or choose a curriculum that includes a review element.

5. Seven-year-olds like to be read to.
Sevens tend to be good listeners. It is a great age to read to them from the Bible, and other materials relevant to the lessons.

6.  Seven-year-olds often like to work by themselves or with a partner, but not often with a large group.
Sevens are more self-conscious so large-group activities may not be as interesting as working solo. Although they are hard workers, they can be moody and intense.

7. Most sevens write more clearly than they did when they were six.  
However, seven year olds still find it difficult to copy material from a white board.  And some, especially boys, don’t enjoy writing at all.  So it is a good idea to keep writing activities to a minimum.

Let me add more more general point about sixes and sevens: their emerging ability to comprehend the flow of time can be a huge advantage in teaching them the Bible chronologically. By giving children a broad look at biblical events in the order in which they happened, it sets the stage for future study of the Bible in its traditional out-of-sequence order. It is important for children to see the Bible as a whole story so that when they learn the books of the Bible and study the traditionally ordered Bible, they can know, for example, how the events of Jesus’ life fit together and how Paul sent letters to different churches and people as he traveled. They will begin to see how Jesus was and is at the center of God’s plan for bringing the world back to Himself.

Happy teaching,


6 Tips for Teaching Six-Year-Olds

Understanding the developmental characteristics of children at different ages is an important component of effective teaching. Here are six things to keep in mind about 6 year olds:

1. Six year-olds are beginning to understand the flow of time.
Sixes have a newly developing awareness that events progress from beginning to middle to end.  It is the perfect age to begin teaching the Bible in chronological order. Giving them a chronological overview of the Old Testament helps first graders understand that the Bible is not simply a collection of stories told like Aesop’s fables, but is one whole meaningful story in itself.

2. Six year-olds can distinguish between fantasy and reality.
Unlike preschool children who confuse fantasy and reality, six year olds can separate what’s real and what’s pretend.  While they still enjoy pretend stories, they enjoy real-life themes as well.  They are fascinated by the amazing and miraculous.  You can take advantage of this interest by emphasizing the amazing and miraculous real-life attributes and deeds of God as told in the Bible.

3.  Six year-olds want to have friends and to be active and productive.
Six year olds need to continue to have a variety of hands-on experiences to help them learn and remember.  They enjoy games and artistic expression. You can incorporate groups, activities, and productivity so that first-graders can take an active part in discovering biblical truths.

4.  Six year-olds have limited writing and reading abilities.
Boys of this age usually have more difficulty with writing than girls.  So make sure any reading is simple, and is either optional or done as a group so that children who have difficulty reading do not have to feel embarrassed.

5. Six year-olds like surprises.
Because six year olds enjoy being surprised, try to incorporate an element of surprise in each storytelling session.  Let the children take turns discovering the surprise element and then listen for how it applies to the story.

6.  Six year-olds are imaginative, curious, and enthusiastic.
They tend to be busy and noisy, and their enthusiasm often finds its way into competition.  Six year olds may be more interested in the process of an activity than in the finished product.  This often translates into speed and sloppiness.  Six year olds are usually in a hurry.  When planning lessons it helps to have a large variety of activites to accomodate the needs and interests of your sixes.

Whether you teach in home, church or school, this tips will help you be more effective in communicating with six year-olds. Happy teaching!




© Karyn Henley. All rights reserved

Featured Folder: “Jesus Is Alive!”


For young children, Easter is a time of joy and wonder as they see the people around them celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. It’s hard for a child to understand death, and there may be some fear associated with the concept of death. So for a young child, the story of Jesus’ death is best told gently and sensitively, quickly followed by the story of his resurrection. See page 3 for a suggestion on telling about the meaning of Jesus’ death.

Theme Scripture: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son.” John 3:16 (ICB) Help the children remember this verse by singing it to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Unit Goals: By the end of this unit, the child should:
• Know that Jesus died for our sins and came back to life again.
• Feel happy that Jesus is alive and will live forever.
• Praise and worship God as part of celebrating his Son’s resurrection.

Bible Stories
• Jesus Rides into Jerusalem on a Donkey (Matthew 21:1-11) Focus: The people praised Jesus.
• Jesus Eats the Last Supper with the Disciples (Matthew 26:17-30, I Corinthians 11:23-26) Focus: The juice and the flat bread help us remember Jesus.
• Jesus Dies and Comes Back to Life (Matthew 27:32-28:10) Focus: Jesus was killed on a cross but came back to life.
• Jesus Meets Friends on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) Focus: The sad men were happy when they saw Jesus alive.

Art Activities:
-Palm Leaves
-Communion Cup Print
-Sponge-Painted Cross
-Foil Footprints

Science Activities:
-Looking at Leaves
-Memory Bag
-Who Is It?

-Happy Face Biscuits
-Unleavened Bread
-Bread Stick Crosses
-Cinnamon Hearts

Music & Movement:
-See the Little Donkey
-Going to Town
-Everyone is Glad!
-Early in the Morning

-Tiptoe Praise
-What’s New? What’s Missing?
-Down the Road

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 of “Jesus Is Alive” $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

Six Tips for Teaching Five Year-Olds

crayons-coloring400x400-159579If you have been following my series of posts about the characteristics of different ages, you may have noticed many similarities in the various preschool ages, and yet, each has unique differences that must be taken into account when teaching them. In today’s post I am going to talk about teaching five year-olds.

•  Fives don’t understand that time is a continuous flow.
While five year olds understand that events happen in succession, they still don’t understand the duration of time.  They do understand that incidents happened before they were born, but when you say, “A long time ago, there was a man named Abraham,” five year olds know only that this happened before they were alive.  And although they know that events happen one after the other, they still don’t yet mentally sequence the Bible stories told from week to week.  Therefore, as with the younger ages, it is still best, in my opinion, to teach Bible stories according to themes, rather than in Biblical order.

•  Fives want to learn.
Five year olds are explorers in God’s world, excited about learning and discovering.  They are realizing that there is a purpose for their curiosity and questions.  As they find out more about God and His world, they come to see that there is a purpose for all that God created.  Ultimately, these children should come to understand that God has a purpose for them.  Fives are perfectly suited for themes that focus on discovering God’s purpose for all He created, from the sun, sea, and land to friends and family to children themselves.

•  Fives usually try to cooperate, but are still drawn toward getting their way.
Some people call this a “golden age” of childhood, because fives are usually fairly calm, friendly, and eager to please.  However, fives are also still very self-focused.  They can be very adamant about getting their own way.

•  Fives learn by action and repetition.
Fives are less outwardly enthusiastic than fours, but fives still like to be active.  They still learn by hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching and doing.  As with younger preschoolers, if fives hear words, rhymes, and songs repeated over and over again, they will repeat these words, rhymes, and songs themselves.

•  Fives 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.

•  Fives still need supervision and (sometimes) help.
Fives 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 seven to ten five-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!



BT13 Spread Drop_150PS- See my curriculum for teaching five year-olds :