"The Zoo" Children's
Themes provide excitement, variety, and a
setting. e.g. "Swamp Days". Lesson One - "Garbage In - Garbage Out";
Lesson Two - "Overcoming Temptation"; Lesson Three - "Swamp Rescue".
The themes change every three weeks, long
enough to hold interest without becoming boring.
For every theme, props and puppets are changed
to fit with the theme.
Props can be made simply from easily
The theme should be chosen to fit the
environment you have to work in.
In any children's
program there is a need to maintain control. Boundaries and limits MUST
be set. Children need to know what is expected of them. If there is no
structure, very little learning will take place. We have developed the
following system of discipline to help maintain control. It is mostly
based on methods we have seen used by other ministries. CONSISTENCY is
important. Once the rules have been stated, it is important to follow
through with them. To be most effective, use all elements of the
Divide the children
into two teams. Girls on one side and boys on the other. This is the
simplest and fairest method of establishing two teams. It also helps to
ensure a mix of ages on each side. It is important not to use this as an
opportunity to promote one gender as better than the other.
Three balloons are
designated to each team. If any member of a team is being disruptive,
then one of their balloons is popped. A team having had all three of
their balloons popped, will then forfeit their treat at the end of the
program. The other team would then receive double treats. (The other
team must not have any of their balloons popped to receive double).
NEVER pop the third balloon early in the program - you have no leverage
after that happens. We have popped all three balloons on rare occasions.
It has sent the message that we mean what we say and are willing to
This is a rule that
applies to the individual child. When a child is misbehaving, a verbal
warning or "strike" is given. After "three strikes" (baseball analogy),
the child is "out". This means that the child is asked to leave the
program. Be clear that they must leave for the remainder of that weeks
session but emphasize that they are welcome to return next time. Try to
be as gracious as possible - it's not an easy rule to enforce, but once
you've set the rule, you must follow through.
This is an
incentive used to encourage the children to pay attention. We offer
prizes to the children who are being quiet and behaving during the
program. One or two leaders are assigned to select the winners. Four
prizes are given (two to each team) to the children who have been
sitting with legs crossed, arms folded, looking straight ahead and not
talking to or bothering their neighbour. Be sure to award the prizes to
children who genuinely deserve to win. This helps to reinforce the
Depending on the
particular setting for your program, other rules will have to be added.
For example, on "The Zoo" bus, the children are instructed not to touch
or draw on the windows and also to stand clear of the bus as it is
pulling up to the curb. In the case of a program held inside a building,
a specific area may be out of bounds. Be consistent about the rules that
incentives - good behaviour is acknowledged with a reward. Rewards
definitely help maintain control. They are certainly a good investment
given the importance of the message that you have been given the
opportunity to share.
"The Zoo" Children's Ministry
was run all year round. In the summer it was operated out of a (cube
van) and in the winter it was operated out of the (Zoo Bus). The program
or curriculum is designed specifically to suit one of the vehicles.
There are some activities that can only be done in a certain setting or
are limited by space so we had adapted our lessons to suit the area we
were using. If you are planning to use "The Zoo" curriculum that we
offer, you may find it necessary to adjust it to meet your needs. We
have found a few tricks of the trade:
Use video to do the story.
Remember you are dealing with a generation that thrives on TV
Games in this setting may require a decrease in
physical activity. Use word games etc. These will help the children with
literacy and other skills required in school, so their purpose is two
Songs with actions can be changed to actions that
can be done while sitting down. The kids think that is an interesting
Games can take up much more
space, use relays etc.
Singing can be done using songs with lots and lots
of actions. Take advantage of the space.
This is an excellent opportunity to take full
advantage of themes. Space for props is unlimited. What an exciting
Kids today are accustomed to
fast-paced visual media. It is important to keep that in mind when
planning an effective program for children. We have learned from
experience that the use of puppets, puppet videos and props helps to
catch and hold the attention of kids today.
Puppets are without a doubt, one of the most
effective children's ministry tools.
Prayer Sponsor Program
PRAYER IS VITAL -
it forms the backbone of any children's ministry program. It is
important to pray for the specific needs of each child and their family.
You need people who are committed to this task. A prayer sponsor program
can be established by assigning a list of children from five or six
families to willing volunteers. A volunteer who is well acquainted with
the children would be best suited to establish this program and maintain
it by providing regular updates to the individual prayer sponsors.
relational - you need to get to know your kids. This helps establish a
level of trust which results in credibility. Obviously this is important
in sharing the Gospel. The first step in building a relationship with
the kids is to learn their names. To obtain names and addresses a
coloring contest can be run. Be sure winners are selected by a random
draw (done in front of the kids). Do not judge their individual ability.
As a result of having personal
information such as their name, address and birth date, a visitation
program can be established. A good tool to use in the program is a
promotional flyer. This reminds the kids/parents about the program and
allows a point of contact to the home. It gives you a reason to be on
their doorstep. Flyers should be interesting and fun, it's a good idea
to include an activity or two. Flyers should state the time, date, and
location of your program and include a clear statement of who you
represent (i.e. church or organization.) Birthday cards are Very
Effective in building relationships. The card conveys to the child and
the parents that you are personally interested. Our experience has been
that the parents really appreciate this gesture.
add interest - help to make the program
add variety and change. Prop changes are
generally done every three weeks, depending on the theme.
can be made simply from easily obtainable
items such as cardboard, paper, fabric, plastic, wood, paint, markers,
can be items you may already have. Look in
children's toy boxes, your basement or the garage.
can be borrowed from sources in the community,
e.g. the Fire Dept.
can also include items related to the theme
that are designed to be used directly in the program. e.g. game props
and memory verse props.