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Learning from a Little One

Use this devotion at a volunteer training meeting to help volunteer teachers get in touch with the fun of being a child and to challenge them to be learners as well as teachers in their classrooms. Allow approximately fifteen minutes.

Prepare for This Session

· Read Matthew 18:2-5, and think about what it means to be like a little child.

· Gather your supplies: one Bible, one piece of paper, one pencil, and one pair of children's scissors for each participant.

· Arrange to hold this session in a preschool classroom with smaller tables and chairs (or move smaller furniture into your meeting room) to help your volunteer teachers "become like little children." Keep some larger chairs handy for people who need them. Have chairs pre-set around the tables to automatically form groups of four or five as everyone arrives and finds a seat.

· Decorate your room by hanging large pictures of children on the walls. Consider investing in pictures of children from around the world that can be used later in a missions education program. Place stuffed animals and children's toys throughout the room.

· For a snack, place bowls of Hershey's Hugs and Kisses chocolate candies on each table, and allow everyone to help themselves. Serve fresh-baked cookies and glasses of ice-cold milk. You might even have a milk-mustache contest!

A Biblical Challenge


Say: To get started, I'd like everyone to look up Matthew 18:2-5 and read it silently to yourselves.

After all the volunteers have done this, say: As you came in, you all sat down in groups of four or five. Now I will give you two to three minutes to decide how your group will silently act out these verses as I read them aloud. You can mime the verses or do whatever you want to do to demonstrate the words.

After two or three minutes, have two groups at a time come forward-one on your right and one on your left-to act out their scenes while you read the verses. Repeat this until every group has had a turn.

Say: The Scripture you've just acted out makes an important point. Jesus wants us to become like a child…a child of God!

Paper Dolls

Give each volunteer teacher or helper a piece of paper, a pencil, and a pair of child-sized scissors. Say: Do you remember making paper doll chains when you were a child? Let's do it now. Fold your paper at least four times accordion-style, then draw a simple outline of half of a doll, with the middle of the doll on one side with the folds and the hand and foot reaching to the other fold. Then cut it out, making sure you don't cut through the fold!

After teachers and helpers have finished cutting, have them open their chains and appreciate their work. Then have them turn to their partners and discuss their answers to these questions (a person without a partner can join another pair):

· How did it feel being a little child again-making paper dolls and using small scissors?

· How is this like or unlike what Jesus meant about becoming like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven?

· What qualities have you seen in your students (or your kids at home) that you can incorporate into your life and walk with God?

Say: Become like a child…a child of God!

The Student Becomes the Teacher


Say: One thing that always seems to surprise us as teachers is how much we can learn from our students. Sometimes kids have profound insight into God's Word that we miss if we're not paying attention.

Read this story:
A church in southern Arizona sent its fifth- and sixth-grade students on a missions trip to Mexico. Thirty kids and six adults spent the day at an orphanage washing lice out of the children's hair, making dinner with flies buzzing everywhere, and continually smelling the raw sewage backed up in the buildings that housed 120 children from birth to 17.

Later, the leaders asked the kids to tell why they thought God had allowed the people in the orphanage to be so poor.

One girl answered: "Maybe we are the ones who are poor because of all we have and that we take it for granted."

There was a long silence as the adults, as much as the kids, tried to process the depth of what this fifth-grader had shared.

Say: Learning can be a two-way street. Think back to a time when you were a child and you learned something from a teacher. Write what you learned on one side of your paper doll chain. Pause for a minute as they do this.

Say: Now think about something you, as an adult, learned from a child. Write that on the other side of your dolls.

After a minute, ask teachers to turn back to their partners and share their answers to these questions:

· How did it make you feel to learn something from that teacher? from that child?

· Which experience was more humbling to you? Why?

· How can we make sure that our children know that we value and welcome their suggestions,
opinions, and questions in our classrooms? (By allowing them to talk; by listening; by incorporating their ideas when possible.)

Say: Become like a child…a child of God!

Talking With `Dad'


Say: We're going to play a game of Simon Says. Simon says, "Stand up." Everyone should rise.

Say: Simon says, "Put your hands on your heads." Simon says, "Pray silently for your own faith-not for big theological ideas, but for simple, childlike faith in your own mind." Give time for everyone to pray.

Say: Simon says, "Stretch your hands out to your sides." Simon says, "Pray that you can welcome all the children into your classroom, even the ones who may give you trouble sometimes."

After a moment, say: Simon says, "Put your hands over your hearts." Simon says, "Pray that God will help you love each child in your classroom unconditionally, just as he loves us."

After another pause, say: Simon says, "Kneel," or if that's too uncomfortable, Simon says, "Sit down in your chair." Simon says, "Pray for humility in your life-that you can bow before God and serve his children." Pause; then say: Amen.

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