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Back On Track

26 teacher tips, 10 plagues, and 8 ideas to help kids build a lasting relationship with Jesus this school year!

Back to school is a critical time for your Sunday school class. You're taking kids on a journey that begins in your classroom and leads to eternity. How will you begin the year with them? How will you establish a loving, Christian relationship with the children you teach? How will you cultivate a yearning for more?

As kids head back to the basics at school, take them back to faith basics, too. In this special section, you'll find ways to help kids overcome fear, serve others, develop character, pray for others, and much more.

As kids begin to develop friendships with one another and you, give them the tools to grow the most important relationship of all-the unique and eternal one they share with Jesus.

Theme: The Great Commission
Scripture: Matthew 28:19-20
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: None
Activity Time: 20 minutes
Materials: Bible, masking tape, large activity area

This is a high-energy game you can use to teach kids how important it is for us to reach others for Jesus.

Using the masking tape, make two "x" shapes on the floor 20 feet apart. Form two teams, and have each team form a line 20 feet away from its "x" -- home base -- on the floor. Select one "disciplemaker" from each team, and have that person stand on home base, facing his or her team.

Read aloud the Scripture. Say, "Making disciples for Jesus is the first and most important job God has given us. When we give people who don't know about Jesus the chance to know him, we please God. This game is a fun way to remember this very important job. Disciplemakers, on 'go,' you'll run to your team and make disciples of your teammates. They're all captives of our world and they don't know Jesus. You must rescue them!"

On "go," the disciplemakers run to their teammates, the "captives." When they reach the captives, they'll grab the hand of the first person in line and cry out, "Be Jesus' disciple!"

Then they'll lead the captive by the hand and run back to home base. Once a captive is safe on home base, the disciplemaker runs back to the captives and rescues another until all the kids have become disciples. The team that finishes first wins the game.

Say, "That was hard work, wasn't it? Making disciples out of the world's captives is hard work! How did it feel to be a disciplemaker, running back and forth while you were rescuing captives? How did it feel to be a captive? How can we work in our lives to carry out the Great Commission?"

Stoyan Georgiew
Sofia, Bulgaria

Theme: Changing seasons
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Age Level: 10 to 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Materials: Bible, 10 small or medium pinecones per child, dried or artificial fall leaves, ribbon, craft wire, cardboard, scissors, a hot glue gun, and craft glue

Have kids make a harvest cross to mark the changing seasons and remind them of this Scripture.

Read aloud the Scripture. Ask, "Why do you think God made seasons? How do our lives change like the seasons? To celebrate this season, we're going to make a harvest cross."

Cut out a cardboard cross for each child to use as backing.

Adults will need to help with this step. Using a hot glue gun, glue the pinecones to the cardboard cross backing with the pointed ends up.

Allow the glue to cool. Then have kids use craft glue to affix the dried or artificial leaves to the crux of the cross. Have kids tie a ribbon bow and glue it on top of the leaf arrangement. Finally, kids can make a wire loop for a hanger. Have adults affix the hangers with hot glue.

Terri Quillen
Greenwood, Indiana

Theme: God looks at the heart
Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:7
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Materials: Bible, an opaque container with candy or treats inside, cylinder-shaped cardboard containers (oatmeal or cornmeal), construction paper, markers, 12-inch pieces of rope or yarn, large wooden beads, empty wooden spools, pompons, glue or tape, and a hole punch

Have kids each bring a cylinder-shaped cardboard container (such as an oatmeal or cornmeal container) to class.

Read aloud the Scripture. Ask, "Why do we often judge people by the way they look on the outside? When you only look at someone's outward appearance, what do you really know about the person? What does God look at? What's important to God-the way we look on the outside or the way we are in our hearts? Explain."

Hold up the container with treats inside. Say, "Would you rather have this container or what's inside it? Explain. Let's open the container and see what's inside."

Show the class what's inside the container. Say, "Containers are important, but they're not as important as what they hold inside. How is that like or unlike us? Have you ever judged a person by how he or she looked on the outside? Explain. How can we learn to see a person's heart and not just the outside? How can God help us see the good in others?"

Say, "We're going to make a fun storage container that'll help us remember this Scripture. It doesn't matter what it looks like on the outside, but we'll store things inside that are important."

Give each child a cardboard container. Have children wrap their containers with construction paper. Have them make a fun face with markers, construction paper, and pompons for noses. To make the legs, help each child punch two small holes about ¾ inch from the bottom edge and about 2½ inches apart under the face. Thread a 12-inch piece of rope or twine in one hole and out the other, pull it through until equal amounts of rope hang out of each hole. Tape the rope on the inside of the container to secure it. Tie a large wooden bead or wooden spool at each end of the rope for feet.

RoseAnne Sather
Greeley, Colorado

Theme: Facing fear
Scripture: Daniel 6
Age Level: 3 to 5
Prep Time: None
Activity Time: 10 minutes
Materials: Children's Bible

Help younger children overcome their first-day fears with the story of Daniel and a song.

Say, "Sometimes I get scared. If I go to a new place or see people I don't know, it can be scary. Let's listen to the story of Daniel. He knew what it felt like to be afraid!"

Read the Scripture.

Say, "Daniel had a scary slumber party with lions, but God protected him and he wasn't hurt. That shows us that God wants us to pray when we're scared and that God will help us get through scary times."

Sing this song with your class to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

If you're scared and you know it, pray for help.
If you're scared and you know it, pray for help.
If you're scared and you know it, pray for God to help you through it.
If you're scared and you know it, pray for help!

Sandy Spooner
O'Fallon, Missouri

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