Articles From the May 1995 Unification News
Sunday School - Setting Up Your Classroom: Materials, Supplies & Equipment
by Vicki Henry-Minneapolis, MN
When I started teaching Sunday School eight years ago, the first big obstacle that I ran into was a lack of teaching materials. I would visit various religious bookstores but found only a few things of value on the Old Testament and even fewer things that were appropriate on the New Testament. Of course, anything I wanted to teach concerning Divine Principle, True Parents' lives or church history I had to create myself.
Organize your materials
It is difficult to foresee all the teaching aids and supplies you will need when you are starting out. Many times materials are amassed in a "lesson-to-lesson" manner. This is all right as long as you have an organized storage system to save all the work that you do. Depending on the size of your Sunday School, in most cases I would suggest the formation of a teachers' resource closet perhaps eventually graduating to a resource room/office. Things placed there would be available for use by all teachers on a check-out basis.
These materials would include: books, records/tapes, videos, reproducible worksheets, games, posters, audio/visual supplies (such as VCR's, monitors, slide projectors, record players, cassette recorders, etc.) Art and craft supplies I have found, work best if stored in the room they are being used in. If this is not possible then they should be organized in one place that allows everyone easy access. Again. depending on how many teachers you have, it is best that the resource area always be locked with keys given to only the teachers. The reason being that if the Sunday School rooms and supplies are in a building that is constantly in use during the rest of the week, it will prevent your supplies from getting messed up and/or permanently "borrowed."
Ideas for Teaching Materials
To have an effective Sunday School you need exciting lessons. To have exciting lessons you need to be thinking of Sunday School constantly. It should literally become an "obsession." Father has said that if you want to be a good lecturer of Divine Principle you need to prepare three hours for every hour of actual teaching. I would add that the same is true when teaching Sunday School. If you do this sincerely then ideas will begin to flow, for you will have tapped into that spirit world.
It is also important to remember your own past educational experiences (school, workshops, museums, libraries, witnessing, fundraising, your own children, etc.) For those of you with school-aged children, really look at their classroom and school hallways. What's on the walls, on the bulletin boards? How is the room arranged? What kinds of teaching aids are there for the teacher to use? For the children to use by themselves? Find some education supply catalogs. Visit school supply stores. Look at the kinds and formats of books, kits, posters, manipulatives, and so forth. How can these be adapted for religious education?
Recently I have been concentrating on creating teaching units. They each consist of all the necessary materials on a certain topic or theme (posters, worksheets, project directions, suggested videos or books/stories as well as a complete lesson plan so anyone could pick it up and go into a classroom and teach.) The units can be stored either in a folder or box (if there were 3-D items involved.) Then if a teacher wants to teach about Passover/The Last Supper all they need to do is check out the Passover Box from the teachers' resource closet/room and everything is there (a seder plate, matzah, Elijah's cup, text about the meaning of Passover, the symbolism of the food, project ideas, games, etc.). This way anyone can teach Sunday School.
I must tell you of some excellent Bible video tapes. They are produced by Rabbit Ears, a subsidiary of BMG Kids. Their videos are produced by a minister, rabbi and theologian working together. There are no interpretations. The story facts are all that is told. The art work and music are done by professionals in those fields. These videos have won numerous grammy and parent awards. If you can't find them in your area you can call 1-800-800-3277 M-F, 9:30am-5pm EST. The age range for these videos is 6-18 years.
All rooms should have good quality tables and chairs the appropriate size for your students. Used school furniture is fine, as long as it is not falling apart or has rough edges where children could get hurt. Little Tykes and children's furniture from toy stores are also an option if your Sunday School has only a few children.
You can also make your own bulletin boards out of corrugated cardboard from a large appliance box. Just cut a side out of the box evenly and cover it with white burlap (or even felt, to create a large flannel board as well.) Buy or create a colorful border for it and nail it into the wall. What might cost $80-$90 can be created for under $10!
Buying glue, scissors and crayons for every student can be taxing on a small budget, especially when just starting a Sunday School and so many other things are needed. One way to resolve this is to have each child bring their own box of supplies that will be kept in the room for them to use there. Public school teachers use this technique all the time.
Other basic necessities are: 12"x18" colored construction paper, 12"x18" heavy white drawing paper, any size newsprint, stapler, hole punch, brushes, tempera paint, masking and scotch tape, blackboard, colored chalk, sponges and pails for water. Once you have these then you can gradually expand into various specialty papers, clay supplies, fabric markers and paints, musical instruments, puppets, printmaking supplies, etc. Another resource for supplies include all kinds of recyclables around the house such as cereal and shoe boxes, cardboard tubes, paper plates and cups, scrap material and yarn, straws, newspaper for paper mache, and so forth.
Also, if you live in a large city, many industries will have various scraps of paper, cardboard, plastics, tile, wallpaper sample books, paint, carpet samples, etc. Call around. You'd be amazed at what some people give away.
Pre-schoolers and babies need toys. There are many outlets that sell used children's toys that are practically like new. Check around for these. It is also nice to have a few pieces of new equipment as well. Don't forget the big gross motor activities too when equipping these areas. Look for soft, stackable pillows and slides, play tunnels, parachute play, etc. If you ever leave your children at a child drop- off center for a few hours, look at how they've set up their various play areas.
Ideally your Sunday School place will have a yard that can be fenced so you can have professional playground equipment. One word of caution: Don't get equipment that only big kids can use, but get some that can be used by four-year olds easily. I would not recommend swings of any kind, as invariably little ones will end up getting hit and knocked down, perhaps being injured seriously. Stick with small climbing areas and slides of various kinds and heights. (Remember to always require children to be supervised at all times, especially when outdoors.)
Always be open to the contributions parents and single members can make So many in our church membership have special talents. Debra Sullivan, who is an artist, designed and painted a 10' wall mural for our Sunday School nursery room. It depicts various myths and legends from around the world to celebrate the international diversity of our church. It also really brightens up the room and makes the children feel the room is for them.
To be successful in establishing all of this, you must be determined to overcome barriers which might interfere with what you know to be so important, especially in getting the use of space to be used exclusively for Sunday School purposes. And be prepared that others, whose authority and assistance you are depending on, may have other goals which are foremost on their agendas and might not cooperate fully with you. Just press on for the changes you know are right but do not come easy and if necessary, be sure to solicit the active and solid support of families to be involved.
Next month - Effective Teaching and Teacher Training Vicki Henry is HSA-UWC Minneapolis, Sunday School Director
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