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!

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Originally posted 5/8/14

© Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

photo courtesy of pexels.com

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,

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Read through the Bible in One Year, 7 Minutes a Day

dbd_150_largeSeveral years ago Karyn Henley created a unique tool to help children establish Bible-reading habits for a lifetime―with an investment of just seven minutes per day, which has become a perennial best-seller: The Day by Day Kids Bible. She paraphrased the entire Bible at a second-grade reading level, deleted redundant and overly graphic passages, and set the stories in chronological order to give children (and adults) the big picture of God’s story. Features include dated Bible readings for every day of the year, two-color interior, and a full-color pictorial time line of events.

With The Day by Day Kids Bible, you can easily make 2017 the year that your family, or class, or church reads through the Bible! And to make it as easy as possible, we are reducing the price of all ebook versions to $3.99 (regularly $5.99) starting today, through January 15, 2017.

DAY BY DAY KID’S BIBLE,  for KINDLE E-readers

DAY BY DAY KID’S BIBLE, for NOOK E-readers

DAY BY DAY KID’S BIBLE, for KOBO E-readers

SINGLE PRINTED COPIES are available on Amazon.com

CASE QUANTITIES up to 60 copies, for Sunday School classes, schools and churches, are available at this page on our website.

For CASE QUANTITIES greater than 60 units, please contact us for a quote.

CLICK TO SEE SAMPLE PAGES

CLICK TO SEE SAMPLE PAGES

Ten Tips for Teaching Ages 8 – 11

Age8to11-300x300Here 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!

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(Originally posted 5/8/14. photo courtesy morguefile.com)

Three Reasons for Historical Context

RomanWall-200If you have followed my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I am often emphasizing the teaching of Bible stories to elementary age kids in chronological order. Likewise, I would encourage you, when possible, to include the historical context of the stories. That is exactly what I did when I prepared my Jesus Curriculum. Why would I do that?

1) Because too often, Jesus seems like a cardboard character to kids.  You might think that going back into history would make Him even more distant.  Ironically, the reverse is true.  Placing Him in the setting of ancient Palestine brings His teachings to life.  It helps us better understand what He said and did, and why.

2)  Because the Bible is telling a real story.  Real stories always have settings and supporting characters and subplots.  Without that, the story lacks depth, reality, and meaning.

3)  Because it’s fascinating.  It’s fun to find out why the Pharisees were so upset over Jesus healing on the Sabbath.  (You weren’t allowed to carry anything that weighed more than two dried figs on the Sabbath – much less a mat.)  It’s fun to wash hands like they did.

Several years ago, I spoke at Children’s Pastors Conference on teaching about Jesus in the context of His times. Afterward, someone asked if I had the historical information in a reference book for teachers.  I didn’t, but the wheels began turning.  The result is the Day by Day Devotions with Jesus in Ancient Palestine, a book of 180 kids’ devotions for the school year.

Now, the attendee actually asked for a book where teachers could find background material for preparing lessons.  So why a book of devotions?  Well. . . for teachers, I wanted to place relevant historical information alongside Bible passages for ease of finding the contextual background.  But I realized that kids could read these passages too, discovering the same fascinating information for themselves.  So I ended up writing a book of devotions for kids that doubles as a reference book for teacher preparation.

Teachers can start using Day by Day Devotions with Jesus in Ancient Palestine right away.  For kids, it will be a perfect devo to start using in the fall, as it will take them through the school year.  And when summer vacation rolls around they can continue their historical devotions with,  A Summer of Psalms. When paired with Day by Day Devotions with Jesus, the Psalms book, with fun facts about life around the time of King David, will help kids complete a full year of devotions.

Without a doubt, I can say I’ve been tremendously inspired by these fascinating historical studies, and I’m excited to be able to communicate them to kids.  I expect them to give you and your kids a depth of insight into the Bible that you’ll treasure forever.

Happy Teaching,

Karyn

Are You Teaching the Children, or the Material?

Child:Teacher:trainLife really is all about relationships, and our primary responsibility with children is to give them the skills they need to establish and maintain healthy relationships with God and people, growing “in favor with God and man.” But in order to give those skills, we must live those skills. Which means that those of us in the classroom must place a high priority on building relationships with the children we serve. I have often asked teachers, “Do you go into the classroom to teach the material or to teach the children?” There’s a big difference.  Sometimes in our efforts to cover the material, we neglect the children.

What is “age-appropriate”?
My hope is that the curricula I write will encourage teachers to build a positive relationship with children. To help teachers do this, I try to write material that is age-appropriate. For example, I know that preschoolers don’t understand the flow of time, so I don’t present the Bible stories in order. Preschoolers are very interested in preschool concepts – mommy and daddy, pets, colors, nature, food, houses and rooms, transportation. So I take preschoolers through Bible stories by using themes to drive the train.

When children start into first and second grade, they better understand “first this happened, then that.” Sequence. Time order. Chronology. So I go through the Bible stories in order.  There are still themes that relate to daily life, but the story or scripture drives the train. With older children, I do a mixture of both. I’m convinced that they need an in-depth study of Jesus’ life, the most important chronological component for upper elementary grades. But they also need thematic studies – on prayer, worship, other religions, and apologetics (why believe in Jesus).

But other factors make a curriculum age-appropriate, and those factors bring us back to relationship:

1) age-appropriate activities, and
2) the conversation or discussion that goes along with the activities.

I wrote in my last letter that I hope after teaching each quarter of my curriculum, a teacher will be better trained to teach again. That’s because as a teacher does the activities with the children and engages in the discussion included in the activities, she or he learns how to relate to children at that age level, how to talk with children, how to listen to children, and how to enjoy the company of children.

We’ll discuss talking with children in the next newsletter.  ‘Til then:  Have a happy Summer!

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Getting the Big Picture of the Bible

The Christmas of 1960, my parents gave me my first grown-up Bible, a big, black, full-text, red-letter edition King James. I was eight. I found my King James to be a strange, but intriguing book, full of begets and begots and thus-saith’s and tongue-twisting names. But it was all mine, and I read it. Yes, by two years later, I had read it completely through.

Fast-forward thirty-some-odd years. I had a degree in education, and I was well along in a career of writing for children. It dawned on me that when children “graduated” from the preschool or easy-reader picture-book story-Bible, we adults presented them with a full-text Bible in traditional order. Most children would carry this Bible proudly and begin to read it. But when they got to the hard parts, they closed the book. Even if they read it, it seemed to be mostly a collection of unrelated passages. Their first impression of the “real” Bible was that it’s hard to read and understand. Sadly, that’s often not only their first impression, but their last.

DBD_Solo_150I realized that children needed an intermediate step, a bridge, an overview of the complete Bible arranged in chronological order, that is, in the order the events most likely happened.  That’s what the Day By Day Kid’s Bible is. It’s written in words understandable to a young reader, who will find in it every book of the Bible, abridged, but in an order that makes sense and reads like the ongoing story of God and His people. Prophets are in their historical settings. Jesus’ life is told in order from His birth through His ascension.

What’s more, the Day By Day Kid’s Bible is designed in a format that encourages kids to read seven minutes a day so they can read through this Bible in one year. It is not a look-up-chapter-and-verse study Bible. It is a paraphrase, arranged in chronological order, in second-grade language, created for the purpose of helping a child to enjoy reading the Bible, at an age when he or she is ready to comprehend it. It is my hope that the Day by Day Kids Bible will help a child establish a lifetime of Bible reading.

By His grace, to His glory,

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