Few Children Great Opportunities
Exploring of the character of God with very small groups
by Ruth Alliston; Sue Price
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‘Few Children, Great Opportunities’ is a treasure trove of ideas and resourcesf for all children’s leaders who struggle to provide meaningful times of creativity and worship for small and varying groups. It is a very practical, flexible concept where any or all of the 12 sessions provided can be done in any order - or no order at all, and still be relevant and fun for both children and leaders.
The sessions are designed for small groups of children of mixed ages between 3 and 11, but the material is readily suited to larger groups too, or groups of a single age. There are no assumptions about the levels of physical, mental or emotional maturity that the children must have reached, and there are no team games or activities that require large numbers.
The 12 sessions concentrate on the character of God as revealed in the Bible and help children to discover more of his wonderful character and nature. Each session is built in the same way with a story, an activity and a take-home sheet to encourage follow-up with families at home during the week.
A unique feature of this series is use of ‘wondering’ and ‘open-ended questions’ which help to make it appropriate for a wide age range and encourage children to respond at their own level of understanding.
Few Children Great Opportunities by Ruth Alliston; Sue Price was published by BARNABAS FOR CHILDREN in October 2012 and is our 646th best seller. The ISBN for Few Children Great Opportunities is 9781841018805.
Few Children, Great Opportunities contains 12 ready-to-use thematic sessions exploring the character of God through the model we see in Jesus.
The programme is ideal for church-based children's work where there are small numbers of children and an age range from 3 to 11 years. Because a small number of children with a mixed age range also defines many families, the material can be adapted for home use by families who want to spend time growing in faith together.
The sessions are non-sequential and can be used in any order whilst still building on each other. The material seeks to engage head, heart and hands by giving several ways to tell a Bible story using different learning styles; offering a variety of activities that help children to engage with the story; and including original songs, rhymes and chants as well as non-musical ways to worship God.
The format has the flexibility to be used in church-based groups lasting between 20 and 60 minutes or within a midweek club. Each session is structured in the same way and includes a story book activity to provide continuity, cohesion and recall, and a family follow-up sheet with ideas to encourage families to think about each characteristic at home together during the week.
The 12 characters of God explored in the programme include: love; faithfulness; patience; power; goodness; self-control; peace; trustworthiness; kindness; truthful; gentleness and joy. Ideal for small church-based children's groups.
--- ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue Price ---
Sue Price is the Director of the Children's and Family Ministry Conference. She has written a number of books including Guide to Tailored Teaching for 5-9s (Children Ministry, 2002) and contributed to curriculum programmes for 3-12s. Ruth Alliston has taught Sunday school in Salvation Army house churches and organised holiday clubs and camps. She is author of Children's Ministry Guide to Storytelling (Children Ministry, 2002) and has contributed to curriculum programmes for 3-9s.
--- ABOUT THE PUBLISHERS: Barnabas/BRF ---
BRF (The Bible Reading Fellowship) is a Christian charity started in January 1922 in a Brixton Anglican church. The vicar wanted to help his congregation to, in his words, 'get a move on spiritually'. He began to offer a monthly leaflet of daily Bible readings, linked to a midweek discussion group and encouraged them to pray for the parish. This so transformed the spiritual life of St Matthew's Church that, before long, other churches were asking for copies of the leaflets for their own congregations.
90 years later, Bible reading, prayer, spirituality and discipleship are still the three core strands of BRF's ministry, summarised in their statement of purpose: 'resourcing your spiritual journey'. At the heart of BRF's ministry is the desire to help children, adults and families explore Christianity and to grow in faith.
Getting the best out of the material
God is love - Theme: We can spread Jesus' love
God is faithful - Theme: We can keep faithful to God's word
God is patient - Theme: Learning to be patient, like Jesus
God is powerful - Theme: Discovering God's power at work in us
God is good - Theme: Showing God's goodness to those who are unwell
God is self-controlled - Theme: Managing our lives in God's best ways
God is peace - Theme: Being a peacemaker, like Jesus
God is trustworthy - Theme: Trusting God with everything in life
God is kind - Theme: We can show God's kindness to those in need
God is truth - Theme: Living a truthful life with God
God is gentle - Theme: Showing God's gentleness
God is joyful - Theme: Sharing God's joy
“Few Children Great Opportunities” is what the leaders of small groups of children with a wide age range have been waiting for. The12 flexible and simple to prepare sessions focus on the nature and character of God at a level that children from 3 to 11 can understand and respond to. Each session consists of a Bible story, a choice of activities, a response, prayer and take home sheet to share with the child’s family. And with the built in flexibility, whatever happens on the day, none of your valuable preparation time will ever be wasted.
“This book is a treasure trove for all who struggle to provide meaningful times for small and fluctuating groups.” - Catherine Kite, Faith Support Officer, Mothers' Union.
Flexibility is the key feature of this Bible teaching resource. The themed sessions are designed to be used in any order –as best suits your group. Where discussions with your church leader show that some sessions are more appropriate for particular weeks, you can mix them up or miss them out. If the worst happens and no children turn up for your prepared programme, you can simply hold that session over and use it at a later date so that none of your valuable time and energy goes to waste.
The flexibility of each allows you to easily adapt the content to the time available - whether 20 minutes or over an hour. If you only have a short session time, the material from one session can be shaped into two or more sessions so that you are not wasting material or time. You can also spend more time on the sessions and activities that most relate to the children in your group.
It’s really all about helping the members of your group – leaders as well as children, to form a growing a relationship with God, and the people around us. This is supported by teaching and example in learning not only to serve God but to serve each other too.
The necessary preparation for the session by the leadership team has been made as easy and straightforward as possible. Mostly it consists of familiarising yourself with the material provided and reading the Bible references, then thinking through your own responses and becoming confident in the options offered and ideas suggested.
The activities suggested, together with various options, can be customised to suit the numbers and ages of the group. The material is flexible that it can be adapted even after your preparation has been made if your situation suddenly changes on the day… which often happens. You’ve probably already had those days none of what you’ve prepares seems relevant on the day and doesn’t get used. With ‘Few Children, Great Opportunities’ this is never a waste of time or effort, as your plans can be used or adapted for later sessions, saving you preparation time later on.
What you want is for what you teach in the session to go home with the children. So each session includes ideas for home follow-up that can be suggested to parents. An added bonus is that the whole session can be adapted for use entirely at home by families who can set aside private time to connect with God and each other. 'Using the material at home' can even open up a new ministry of parents teaching the Bible to their families in a programme linked to your church.
Never forgetting that children are children – and that’s to be celebrated, not treated as an obstacle, the book honours them by keeping a sense of mystery and wonder about God and finding meaningful ways to celebrate and express a childlike love and devotion to him.
Throughout the series of sessions, everyone is encouraged to discover God's character through the actions or teaching of Jesus. Children and leaders together find out how people have responded to God in the past; in the Bible and in more recent history, and discover how people and organisations today are responding to God through love in action, and consider how they might make their own response.
The smaller your children’s group the more unstable and difficult to manage it becomes. That's not to say that each child is difficult to manage, or even that all the children together are difficult to manage. It’s really about managing the uncertainty inherent in small groups. If you have a children’s group of 50 children you can be pretty sure you’ll always have enough children turn up to a session to make the session practical. You can even be fairly sure what kind of session you’ll be able to run. With a group that never reaches double figures, there’s a reasonable chance that, more than once, no one will turn up at all. Even when they do, running a group of 2 or 3 is very different to a group of say 12 when they all come and bring a few friends.
And that’s not all. With a large group you can divide it into sub-groups of similar ages. In a small group, this approach will almost certainly give you a few subgroups of 2 members or less. So when it comes to preparing your small group session’ you can never be sure how many you’re actually preparing for. Unless you’ve been involved in leading this kind of small group, you might not realise now frustrating and exhausting this can be. And how difficult it can be to get communicate this to your church leaders with sufficient persuasion for them to take seriously the resources you need to do the job. Which is odd, given the shrinking size of most church’s Sunday schools.
But that’s how it is. There are of course issues of staffing, facilities, timing and available space when it comes to running a children’s small group Bible teaching activity. These are local issues unique to locality and so beyond the scope of what can be suggested here. But all groups large and small need a relevant, engaging and preferably whole church integrated teaching programme. Whatever is happening at the local level, and the published resources level, providers such as BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) are taking seriously the need to provide flexible, practical resources for small groups of children with a wide age range.
Resources such as ‘Small Groups Great Opportunity’ accept the reality of what it means to manage, lead and cope with the unpredictability of a small group with a mixed age range. These resources are first of all flexible – so that you can adapt them to your local needs and situations. They are written knowing that there’ll be arrange of abilities and maturity in the group. But most of all they’re written with primary concern for you, the leader. So this BRF series give you what you need. It respects the limited and valuable preparation time you have available and makes sure not of it is wasted by making the whole programme so flexible that you can even change it on the day if numbers suddenly go up and down, and you can even re-use at a later date anything you’ve prepared and don’t use. You’re important to your small group; because without you, nothing will happen at all.
|Page last updated||3rd May 2013|
|Author / Artist||Ruth Alliston; Sue Price|
|Publisher||BARNABAS FOR CHILDREN (October 2012)|
|Number of Pages||160|