Monday, April 19, 2010

"Sunday School" overseas

The same friend as the previous post recently (no, really, it was recently this time) asked whether I had any suggestions for doing "Sunday School" with her daughter. Living overseas with no convenient access to an English-speaking church, you have to be creative about these things. Even when you have a group of ex-pat friends that you fellowship with (which we do), you've most likely got a wider age range than you're going to be dealing with in the average church children's program.

Here's the answer I gave my friend:

My suggestion for "Sunday School" activities is to pick a Bible story book and work your way through it (a story a week, one a day, a few a week, whatever works for you). In preparation for each story, google, for example, "Noah sunday school lesson," "Noah coloring pages," "Noah craft," etc. This will give you plenty of activities to choose from, from dress-up to paper crafts to songs. You can pick and choose what's at P's level (and what uses supplies you have access to/you can get people to mail you :-).

Some Bible story books we have (in no particular order):
- The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers (I notice this is a younger version of the Rhyme Bible Storybook. Haven't seen it, but it might be worth checking into.)
- The Picture Bible: particularly good for older children (and younger children who long to be/seem older :-); done in a "graphic novel"-type format (that's geek speak for "comic book," and it actually more accurately represents the book itself; it is not "childish" at all); very engaging
- My First Bible in Pictures: very simple (a few sentence each) stories with an easy question at the end; the first story Bible we used with MS and similar to one ML grew up with
- Read and Learn Bible: we haven't had this one long, and the illustrations aren't my favorite (a little too cartoonish), but it looks like a good option for an 2nd grade-ish level reader to read independently or to be read to a younger child
- The Early Reader's Bible: kind of like a study Bible for 1st graders; lots of questions and application scenarios; would also be perfect to read to older preschoolers/kindergarteners
- The Right Choices Bible: out of print, which is a shame, because it presents Bible stories in light of the (right or wrong) choices they make; would be worth looking for used
- Egermeier's Bible Story Book: one of the most in depth story Bibles you'll find; the stories are often several pages in length (small type) with detailed illustrations; good for reading aloud to a very interested K or 1st-grader or an older child; the read-alone level is probably 3rd grade or above
- The Jesus Storybook Bible: we don't actually have this book, a friend brought it with her when she moved here recently; it tells all of the stories of the Bible as they point to Jesus, and I'm very intrigued to check it out further
- One-Year Children's Bible: another that we don't have, but piqued my interest as I was searching for links for the others; we may have to get this one; because, obviously, our motto is "never can have too many story Bibles"

I also love using scripture songs for verse memorization. We like GodRocks! and Seeds Family Worship. I like to type up the verse and put pictures above major words (from Google images searches) to help with memorization (I repeat the pictures from verse to verse for the same concept). And we use sign language for major words when we're singing the songs. I have a bit of a background with sign language vocabulary, but a good online dictionary is really all you need (ASLUniversity and Michigan State's ASL Browser are the two that I use).

Now, this was written to someone just looking for something to use with a two-and-a-half-year-old, but it really can apply up through upper elementary age, at least. At that point, you can include children in your own gathering, start them on independent studies, etc.

Hopefully, this will spark some ideas for those living in similar circumstances.

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