Curriculum Time Challenges

Time Fillers, Time Killers and Time Redeemers:

As children’s ministry workers we need to be good stewards of the time God has given us to work with our students.  We need to impact our students for God in the very short amount of time we are allotted. We need to make the most of every moment we have with our students. We need to saturate their minds with God’s word. With God’s power, we can excite and encourage our students to dig deeply into the mysteries of God.  If we spend the time we have in the wrong way, we won’t be able to get it back. If we don’t concentrate on sharing God with the class, some of the students may miss out on the few opportunities they have to learn about Him.

As we examine our use of the time God has given us to spread His gospel to others, lets look at some examples of Time Fillers, Time Killers and Time Redeemers.  Hopefully you will be able to understand the difference between these three types of classroom teaching materials.

Time Fillers:

Time fillers are activities or lessons that come within Bible curriculums that, though they may be Bible oriented, are not remotely related to the lesson being presented. These activities simply provide students with “things to do” and do not add a jot or tittle to the lesson.  For example, if a teacher teaches about Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, what good would it do to have an activity such as a coloring page about Joseph and his coat of many colors? Though the topic of the coloring page is good, it adds confusion and causes the student to wonder “What does this have to do with Moses?” or “What is this story about?” and the student is distracted away from the original lesson and on to some other tangent.

Time Fillers are designed just to keep the students occupied in class. At times you will even find time fillers with no Biblical content at all. These are simply a waste of our valuable time because they have no value in the kingdom of God.

Time Killers:

On some occasions, Time Fillers can turn into Time Killers. If these little activities distract the students away from the lesson and drag them off on some completely unrelated or worldly topic, the Time Fillers turn into Time Killers.  It’s even possible for our students to leave class remembering more about the worldly activity than they do about the lesson we just taught them. At this point our Time Filler has become a Time Killer, and destroys much of what we’ve worked so hard to try to teach the students.

For example, let’s pretend we are teaching a lesson about the birth of Jesus to a class of preschool aged children. After the lesson, we decide to bring a clown into class to occupy the students. These preschoolers may become extremely excited about the clown and his or her activities and forget what they are supposed to be learning in class. Consequently, the clown activity just undermined us and robbed us of much that was just taught in class.

A clown, if done in a way that encourages students to learn their lesson, may be an excellent means of teaching Bible concepts.  The clown could make a game out of asking the students questions about their lesson for the day.  The clown could give out small prizes to the students who answered correctly.  In this way, a clown would encourage and help the students learn.  The important thing is to keep your class focused on the Bible lesson and not get distracted by other things. A well-organized teacher can instruct the clown-actor before class to make sure he or she helps keep the students focused on the lesson.

Time Redeemers:

Time Redeemers are little activities or lessons that create a “memorable moment” in the minds of our students.  These little activities or object lessons demonstrate a fact or principle from the daily lesson. These activities can help illustrate hard-to-grasp concepts to the students and help them understand better.  By having an activity of object lesson, the students will probably remember the lesson better and the activity will provide more variety and visual interest in the classroom.

One example of a Time Redeemer was given to me a former pastor’s wife.  She mentioned that she and her husband taught a lesson on creation to a class of children.  For their activity, she brought in a bowl of pre-made cookie dough and the children made little man-shaped cookies from it and decorated them.  This activity would teach children about the idea of creating something.  It would enhance a Bible lesson on creation by giving the children an enjoyable activity, experience and snack during class time.

Several concepts about the creation of man could be demonstrated by having the children make and decorate these cookies.  You could demonstrate how big God was in comparison to man, how carefully God created man, how God made each man different and special, and how God came to love His created man. What a wonderful idea for planting the creation principle into the minds of children. This was definitely a Time Redeemer.  How many of the children in that class do you think remembered this lesson on creation?  I would say probably most of them!

In conclusion, I hope you can see the importance of watching over the activities and presentations you give in your class.  We all need to try to do the very best with the time God gives to us! It can really make a difference.

Start…Sing…Stop…Rewind:

Music audio tapes can be a wonderful tool for teaching new songs and for accompanying old familiar ones.  However, sometimes working with audio tapes can be rather awkward.

One challenge I’ve encountered is that audio tapes usually only play a song through one time before they go on to the next song.  This is great if you are just listening to the music, but it doesn’t work well when you’re trying to teach a new song.

When children are learning new songs the songs need to be repeated many times for them to grasp the words and the tune. The challenge comes when you end up wasting a bunch of class time rewinding the tape and/or trying to find the song on the tape. (start…sing…stop…rewind…) While you’re fumbling around with the tape player, your students are waiting on you, getting bored, forgetting the words you just taught them, and possibly pestering the child next to them.

This problem could be improved by copying the songs to another audio tape, repeating them two or three times so that you could reduce the times you would have to stop, rewind and search for the exact place on the tape where your chosen song begins. However, many of the audio tapes are copyrighted so they cannot be copied.

Many curriculums also come with sheet music and/or the words to the songs typed out on paper.  These can be great tools if they aren’t copyrighted to the point where you can’t even make an overhead for your classroom to help the students learn the words of the song.

As I mentioned in another testimony, I purchased a beautiful song book full of children’s Christian songs.  Yet because of the copyright wording, it was so rigid that I couldn’t even legally copy a transparency to show in Children’s church.  Needless to say, my beautiful teaching tool turned out to be a big let down!  Now I read the copyright information before I even buy new books.  If the copyrights are too rigid—I leave them on the shelf in the store!

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