My name is ***************** and I have been teaching the younger children of ************(a church in Atlanta). The part of Atlanta that we minister to is in an area which is noted for the drug and sex trades. It’s very difficult to get the children comfortable enough to talk about their own struggles…but there are occasional moments where they let their guard down: the four year old who misses her incarcerated father, the prayer request for a friend who is grieving after witnessing a shooting, or the man who used to attend church was fatally stabbed in the neck. These kids are very much aware that life is going to be rough. At the same time, they are some of the most courageous individuals I’ve ever met.
My first experience with the area/ministry was in June ’13, when I arrived to help with a short term RP missions team. Hearing that I was an education major, the pastor asked if I would help with the Sunday School while Amy, their children’s teacher, was out-of-state. Of course, I said I would love to, and asked for Amy’s info so I could ask about what ages and ability levels to expect. I asked about the craft closet/curriculum also. Her response was that I could expect every age from 5-15…some would be on grade level, some below grade level, and some remarkably bright. Every student she described was followed by a brief note that they “may or may not show up.” There was no craft closet, and she had to plan her own curriculum. To further complicate things, this was my first exposure to inner-city students. It was a challenging experience to say the least.
I moved to the greater Atlanta area in September ’13. I had missed my younger friends in Atlanta and quickly approached the group to help. By this time, we were expecting 6-12 students an evening. Amy and I kept the students together in one class, she would teach the lesson and I would try to provide (often designing by myself) differentiated worksheets/activities. Previously, Amy had them color while discussing what she read; but we both agreed that we wanted something that would challenge both the older and middle groups. I was very glad to find your blog. We use a book called Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland for our lessons. I always seem to be able to find some kind of activity on Aunties Bible Lessons that coincides with the lesson. However, the activities on the website would usually add a little to the lesson. For example, we would be given a Bible verse to copy (for middle students) or glue (for younger students) and we would have the students discuss the verse and why/how it relates to the lesson. In April ’14, we decided to split the class into two, with myself teaching the younger ones and Amy leading the older ones in a reading/discussion group. I continue to regularly use your blog for my lessons and activities (as in, three out of four lessons).
Free lesson printouts would be very helpful for a number of reasons. I have experienced difficulty with the word search on your website…usually I need to opt for google instead. Once I find the lesson which I want to use, I generally need to return to it later (ex. When I am actually in the Bluff) and I may or may not have a computer handy. I don’t own a printer so I have to haggle with the people I live with to do printouts (on a tight budget). Finally, when I do print things out, sometimes the cut-outs don’t match the size they should (and I am almost positive that it’s the printer’s fault). Finally, I’m sure there are lessons that I am missing simply because I haven’t googled the right key phrase. I am sure that Amy and I would enjoy planning a “deviate from the book we’ve been using” for a week.
On a personal note, thank you so much for all the effort you put into designing these. My artistic skills are not my forte, and I’ve received nothing but positive feedback after utilizing yours. I never could have thought of such appropriate and well-designed activities on my own.