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Age Level Insights: 6-9 (1)

Imagination and discovery-these are elements of learning that are hard to tap in elementary-age children when they're sitting behind a desk. Play is an essential learning tool for this age, laying the foundation for academic essentials such as reading, writing, math, and science. Play also helps kids make their own discoveries-a faith skill they'll use for a lifetime. Use these play opportunities with kids to ignite their imaginations and stimulate faith discoveries.

• Drama-
Housekeeping stations stocked with Bible costumes and props help kids imagine what it was like to live in Bible times.

• Building-
Kids can use blocks or Lego toys to build the walls of Jericho or Noah's ark. Let them construct forts out of tables and chairs to pretend they're with lions in a den like Daniel or serving a sentence in prison like Paul.

• Outdoors-
As the weather warms, take kids outside to run and discover God's creation. As they play hide-and-seek, challenge kids to look for something they've never noticed before. Or use an open field to race pretend chariots.

Lamb Cups
Kids can make these cute lamb cups and fill them with treats and an invitation to your Easter services.

You'll need foam cups; cotton balls; scissors; black felt; google eyes; small, black pom poms; glue; candy; and an invitation to your church's Easter service with location and times.

Have kids cover a cup with cotton balls, leaving a small, uncovered portion for the lamb's face. In this area, kids can glue google eyes and a pom pom nose to form a face. Cut felt triangles for ears and squares for feet and glue them to the cup.

Once dry, have kids fill the cups with Easter candy and an invitation. Tell kids to give the lamb cup to a friend or neighbor as a special treat and an invitation to church on Easter.

Snug As a Bug?
This early readers book by Amy Imbody helps kids discover there's security in being a child of God. This rhyming story teaches that while God cares for animals, his love for children is special. $3.99; Zondervan; www.zondervan.com

Progressive Stories
Let kids be creative with this storytelling experience that'll give them a goal to accomplish together.

You'll need a variety of photos or pictures from a magazine.

Bring in photos from home such as a vacation spot, landscape scene, or family picture. Have kids sit in a circle, and then show one of the photos. Begin a story about the picture, then pass the picture around the circle, letting kids add to the story as they hold the picture. Challenge kids to add a biblical truth to the story such as God gives us courage or God is powerful. Kids will shine in their creative storytelling efforts, and it's fun to see how they can apply the Bible to everyday situations.
MariLee Parrish
Loveland, Colorado


Stressed Out
The top five sources of stress for elementary-age kids?
1. A parent having problems.
2. Fighting with a friend or sibling.
3. Taking a test.
4. Wondering whether others find them attractive.
5. Not having enough privacy.
Source: Mind/Body Medical Institute

Testing, Testing
Quick! Grab a pencil and fill in your answer to this question: Which of the following statements about standardized tests is true?

• They provide a method for comparing student performance among kids in the same grade.

• They allow states to establish and measure standards for learning.

• They cause teachers to lament that they're teaching to the test rather than teaching what is best.

• They're part of a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States.

• All of the above.

The answer? All of the above. Standardized testing is a big deal-and big business. But why should the anxieties and pressures of testing make their way into kids' conversations at church? Because preparing for these tests consumes elementary kids this time of year. You can support kids by tuning into standardized testing schedules at their schools. Ask parents, teachers, or local district offices for times and dates. Then do these things to help kids during this stressful time of their academic year.

• Show you care.
Testing can affect kids in different ways. Some children feel so anxious that they experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches. For others, it barely registers that they'll be shading in bubbles with a No. 2 pencil for hours. Certain kids may struggle to meet minimum standards while others score in the top percentiles. Let kids know you're aware of their school's testing weeks, then follow their cues for how much they want to talk about the approaching test time.

• Surround kids with prayer.
Use class time to pray about the upcoming tests. Thank God for schools, ask God for clear thinking and good rest, and celebrate the abilities God gives to each child. Ask your pastor to offer special prayers during worship for the kids in your community who'll be taking tests during the coming week.

• Talk about grace.
Emphasize how the stress of testing standards, outcomes, and guessing at answers is immensely different from our Christian faith. We may not remember all the Bible stories. We may forget Bible verses we're trying to memorize. We may feel like we'll never measure up to certain standards. But God's answer for us is always Jesus! Following Jesus means we know the certainty of God's love, forgiveness, and grace. That's an answer worth sharing.

For more test-time ideas, go to www.childrensministry.com/test.

Dawn Rundman, Ph.D., is an editor for children's resources at Augsburg Fortress Publishers in Minneapolis.

 

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