A Guide to Hybrid Sunday School for Early Childhood Children and Their Families (Preschool, Pre-K & K)

INTRODUCTION

Children’s ministry has never changed at a faster pace than it is changing right now. But what hasn’t changed—and will never change—is our goal to bring God’s Word to children and families.

This guide is designed to help you use the curriculum you know and trust as your children’s ministry adjusts to another new normal. We’ve provided tips and ideas to help you adapt the lessons for teaching and engaging with families—whether you’re meeting online, meeting in person, sending lessons home, or taking a hybrid approach.

CONTENTS

TEACHING—A HYBRID APPROACH
• Prepare to Teach
O EXPLORE HEARTSHAPER
O FOR EACH QUARTER
O FOR EACH LESSON
• Teach the Lesson
O BEFORE THE LESSON STARTS
O DURING THE LESSON

EQUIPPING FAMILIES
• Help Families Prepare for Virtual Ministry
• Create Activity Packs
• Engage Families at Home


TEACHING—A HYBRID APPROACH

When we use the term “hybrid teaching,” we’re referring to combining virtual tools—tools that enable you to communicate and interact online with students and families—with physical options.

Even when your ministry is ready to return to your church building, some of your families won’t feel comfortable coming back right away. Consider offering—or continuing to offer—an at-home Sunday school option. Providing lessons and resources for children at home is a great way to invest in and connect with the families you serve!

Prepare to Teach

EXPLORE HEARTSHAPER
Be sure to explore all of the resources available to you on the HeartShaper’s teaching resources CD. There are songs, Family Together Time activities, helps for Special Needs families, and other resources available. We encourage you to explore all the files on the CD to see what works best for your ministry.

HeartShaper Early Childhood Resources at a Glance

Preschool
• Preschool Teacher Guide
• Preschool Resources (storytelling visuals and posters, audio tracks, printable student and teacher helps, Scamper the squirrel puppet patterns)
• Preschool/Pre-K & K Teaching Pictures
• Preschool Make-n-Share activity pages
• Heart Tugs family resource

Pre-K & K
• Pre-K & K Teacher Guide
• Pre-K & K Resources (storytelling visuals and posters, audio tracks, printable student and teacher helps, Scout the dog puppet patterns)
• Preschool/Pre-K & K Teaching Pictures
• Pre-K & K Make-n-Share activity pages
• Heart Tugs family resource 

FOR EACH QUARTER

• Decide which portions of a lesson will work best for teaching in your current reality. We’ve provided suggestions below. Remember that activities that call for pairs or groups of children will be more difficult to use online.
• Preschool Teacher Guide and Pre-K & K Teacher Guide provide materials for an extra hour of teaching. Choose from any of the activities provided.
• Set a time limit for each lesson. Include time for socializing before and after the lesson.
• Organize the digital files you will be using.
• Be sure you have a way to display story figures. If you don’t have a story board, it’s easy to make one.
• Decide how you will get activity packs to families (physical pickup/drop-off, download links from the CD, or both).
• Let families know how to access the lessons and the activity packs.

Don’t forget to read the special-needs tips and helps provided in the teacher guide and Resources printable files. Plan activities that include and work for all children.

FOR EACH LESSON

• Prepare your heart with prayer and the teacher devotion in the lesson.
• Familiarize yourself with the lesson focus, Scripture passage, and Bible Memory.
• Read the Bible background information.
• Prepare and organize your materials and digital files so you can access them easily while you teach.
• Consider creating a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation for the lesson.
• Practice leading the Bible Time with props and visuals so you are comfortable presenting them on-screen. You might want to ask families to gather props to share at appropriate times during the lesson.
• Make samples of crafts so you can easily show and explain how to do them.
• Don’t forget your Scamper (Preschool)/Scout (Pre-K & K) puppet! If you don’t have a plush puppet, use the patterns in the Resources printable files to make a paper bag or stick puppet.
• Determine which materials you will provide to the children for use during the lesson.
• Let parents know ahead of time if there are additional materials their children will need (Bibles, crayons, etc.). 

Teach the Lesson

BEFORE THE LESSON STARTS

• Begin streaming your lesson 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled start time so kids can join in.
• If you know who is online, greet them by name. Scamper/Scout could help you.
• Show a countdown video or use PowerPoint or Google Slides to display a welcome message.
• Show a list of items that the children will need for the lesson. Remember that less might be more during this time!
• Choose a fun icebreaker video to share on-screen and capture kids’ attention. We’ve provided dozens of icebreaker videos in our bonus curriculum content (coming soon)!

DURING THE LESSON

Getting Started

Keep this part of your virtual lesson short so there’s plenty of time for the rest of the lesson.

• Do one of the Getting Started activities to introduce children to the Bible story or lesson focus.
• Choose an activity, game, or song that allows children to move. Or grab their attention by showing something interesting that relates to the day’s Bible story.

Bible Discovery

This part of the lesson can mostly be used as suggested in the teacher guide.

Sing and Pray

• Play and sing the unit songs suggested in the teacher guide. Audio tracks are included in the Resources digital files on the CD.
• Pray. Thank God for the Bible and what you and the children will be learning from His Word.
• Open your Bible and show where the Bible story is found. Invite parents to open a family Bible to the passage. 

Bible Time and Bible Review

• Use the Resources visuals and show the teaching picture that goes with the lesson. You can find digital copies of these pieces in the Resources printable files.
• As you tell the Bible story, include actions that involve the children whenever possible.
• When included in a lesson, do the Bible story music activity. The recorded stories and scripts with suggested motions can be found in the Resources digital files.
• Ask questions to help the children remember basic details of the Bible story.
• Play “I Spy” and describe someone or something shown in the teaching picture. Children can shout or show thumbs-up when they see what you are describing.

Bible Memory

• Open your Bible and show where to find the Bible Memory.
• Show the unit Bible Memory poster found in the Resources printable files.
• Say the verse and ask the children to repeat it with you.
• Play and sing the unit Bible Memory song. The audio tracks can be found in the Resources digital files.
• Teach the Bible Memory motions included in the Resources printable files.

Grow and Go

• Continue to reinforce the focus of the lesson and help children apply the Bible story to their young lives. You’ll find the Focus statement at the top of the page in each section of the lesson in the teacher guide.
• Show the Make-n-Share activity for the lesson and tell children what they will do to complete their activity at home. At the start of your next session, ask the children to show what they made. Or have parents send you videos or photos that show the child with the completed activity. Share these on-screen at the start of your next session.
• Using Scamper/Scout, tell the puppet story included in the Extra Hour More! Grow and Go. If families have both preschool and pre-K & K children, you can use both Scamper and Scout puppets. If you’d like to explore options for purchasing plush puppets or creating your own puppets for preschool worship, check out HeartShaper’s online resources.

Closing the Session

• Remind parents of any resources you have provided to them (Make-n-Share activity pages, Heart Tugs family resource, craft materials).
• Tell children when you will contact or see them again. (Example: “Ask your parents to watch their e-mails. I’m going to send you a surprise on Wednesday.”) Be sure to follow up on this!
• Sing another song. Let Scamper/Scout bounce along and then wave goodbye. 

EQUIPPING FAMILIES

Help Families Prepare for Virtual Ministry

If you’re teaching virtually using Zoom, Facebook Live, prerecorded videos, etc., be sure to let parents know what to expect and what you need from them.
• Where and when can they access the lessons?
• Do they need to be with their children during the lesson?
• How can they keep their child engaged spiritually even if they miss a week?

Create Activity Packs

Activity packs are bundles of resources for students and families that encourage them to interact with the lesson. You could send these packs home or provide them to kids attending a family worship service.

Here are some resources you might include in the packs:
• A personal note to the child
• Ministry announcements
• Make-n-Share activities and stickers, along with any special materials needed (paper fastener, length of yarn, etc.)
• Unit family letters, Bible Memory pages, Bible Memory motions, and coloring pages found in the Resources printable files
• Song tracks from the Resources digital files (Remember that these are reproducible!)
• Heart Tugs family resource
• Activities that correlate to the lesson—coloring pages, crafts, songs, rhymes—like those in our Big Books series (available in print or digital versions):
Big Book of Bible Story Coloring Pages (Early Childhood)
Big Book of Bible Story Coloring Activities (Early Childhood)
Big Book of Bible Activities, Songs, and Rhymes (Early Childhood)

Decide when and how you will provide the activity packs to families.
• Once per quarter? Once a month? Every week?
• Will they be physical or a digital download?
• Will families need to pick them up from the church?
• Can volunteers deliver them in person?
• Are you able to mail them to families?

These answers will be specific to the needs of your ministry and are likely to change as the needs of your ministry change. 

Engage Families at Home

• Encourage families to find and use a children’s Bible that will help their child grow in understanding God’s Word. The God’s Story for Me mini books make great gifts for families too! Here are some children’s Bibles we recommend:
o God’s Story for Me Bible
o HeartShaper Bible Storybook
o The Action Storybook Bible
o The Picture Bible
• Send parents quick tips and features pulled from the Heart Tugs family resource. The Read-to-Me Bible Story could become part of the family’s bedtime routine.
• Make the most of your Resources digital files. The Teacher Helps files include postcards and certificates you can print and mail to children. The audio files can be shared with families so they can sing the songs all week long!
• Don’t miss the online helps available for teachers and families:
o Family Connections: These quarterly letters keep parents informed about what their child is learning from God’s Word. Modifiable—just add your ministry name and information!
o Holiday Helps: Use these craft ideas in the classroom or send them to families to do at home.
o Family Together Time for Preschool, Pre-K & K: These weekly pages correlate to the lessons that children are learning in their HeartShaper class and can help parents continue faith conversations at home during the week.
o Puppet Patterns: Encourage families to make their own Scamper and Scout puppets. Their children can use the puppets to sing and wave hello and goodbye.

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