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.
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
• 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
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 Toddler Resources at a Glance
Toddlers & 2s
• Toddlers & 2s Teacher Guide
• Toddlers & 2s Teacher’s Convenience Kit (3 board books; posters; mobiles; photos; story figures; audio tracks; printable files, including Family Together Time family resource and Teddy the bear puppet patterns)
Teaching Toddlers and 2-Year-Olds
Toddlers and 2-year-olds learn by moving and exploring. They are captivated by music and colorful objects. With the help of parents and older siblings, virtual lessons (using Zoom, Facebook Live, prerecorded videos, etc.) can engage even the youngest child and begin to build faith concepts.
Teaching toddlers & 2s (either in the classroom or online) provides opportunities to check in with children and their families, play together, and tell a simple Bible story. Here are some ideas for getting started and teaching the lesson.
FOR EACH QUARTER
• Look through the unit pages and lessons in Toddlers & 2s Teacher Guide.
• Familiarize yourself with the Convenience Kit visuals, printable files, and audio tracks.
• Decide which materials and portions of a lesson will work best for teaching online. Remember that water-play activities or activities that call for finding hidden objects will be harder to do virtually, unless parents are willing to set up the activities at home.
• Unit mobiles can get the children jumping. Peekaboo Picture Boards will engage toddlers through an activity similar to peekaboo games they play at home. Specific lessons will include other activities that can translate well from the screen to the home.
• Toddlers & 2s Teacher Guide provides materials for an extra hour of teaching. You can choose from any of the activities provided.
• The Bible Time story can be told in two ways: (1) Use the shorter story printed in the weekly lessons. (2) Use the longer version (on the unit pages) and tell the story in its entirety each week during the unit.
• Set a time limit for the lesson. Include time for socializing with parents 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 parents (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 Convenience Kit 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 Words.
• 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.
• Create a special space for your sessions. Make it one that feels welcoming and fun for the children to see.
• Have a hand mirror, a Bible, the story figures, the Convenience Kit audio tracks, a media player, and other suggested props ready to use.
• Learn the simple rhymes and songs so you can lead them without reading from your teacher guide.
• Practice leading the Bible Time with props and visuals so you are comfortable presenting them on-screen.
• Don’t forget your Teddy the bear puppet! If you don’t have a plush puppet, use the patterns in the Convenience Kit printable files to make a paper bag or stick puppet.
• Let parents know ahead of time if there are any resources/materials their children will need so they can participate in the activities at home.
• Determine which materials you will provide to families for use during the lesson.
• Let parents know ahead of time if there are additional materials their children will need so they can participate in the activities at home.
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.
• Show a countdown video or use PowerPoint or Google Slides to display a welcome message.
• Play songs from the Convenience Kit audio tracks.
• Show a list of items that the children will need for the lesson. Remember that less might be more during this time!
• When it’s time to start the lesson, use your Teddy the bear puppet to welcome the children and their families. If you know who is online, greet them by name.
DURING THE LESSON
Lead an activity that allows toddlers to move. You could sing a song that includes actions. Or show the unit mobile and encourage children to jump as you move it up and down. Consider the time you have and lead other activities that involve movement and fun.
• Ask parents and siblings to sit at a low table or on the floor with their toddler.
• Lead the Bible Time story. Remember that you can tell either the shorter version found in each lesson or the longer version found on the unit pages.
• Encourage verbal children, their parents, and siblings to sing the songs with you as you move through the story.
• Use the Convenience Kit visuals as suggested for the story. You can either hold up the printed version or share your screen to show the digital file.
• Show and read the unit board book. If you have provided copies of the pages to parents, let the children show you their pages!
• If time allows and toddlers still seem to be engaged, do one more fun activity, such as the Peekaboo Picture Boards.
• The children will want to see what Teddy is doing each week. Do Puppet Fun from the Extra Hour Discovery Time.
Closing the Session
• Remind parents of any resources you have provided to them (Family Together Time pages, coloring pictures, etc.).
• Close your time with a short prayer and invite families to join you next week.
• Sing another song. Let Teddy bounce along and then wave goodbye.
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 children attending a family worship service.
Here are some resources you might include in the packs:
• A personal note to the child
• Ministry announcements
• Unit family letters, Family Together Time pages, and coloring pictures found in the Convenience Kit printable files
• Song tracks from the Convenience Kit digital files (Remember that these are reproducible!)
• Activities that correlate to the lessons—coloring pages, songs, rhymes—like those in our Big Books series (available in print or digital versions):
Big Book of Coloring Pages & Activities (Toddler)
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 The Toddler’s Bible
o The Baby Bible Storybook for Boys
o The Baby Bible Storybook for Girls
• Send parents quick tips and features pulled from the Family Together Time pages in the Convenience Kit digital files.
• 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 Family Together Time for Toddlers & 2s: 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 Teddy puppet. Their children can use the puppet to sing and wave hello and goodbye.