Running a Session
Before the Session
The first thing you need to do, before even choosing a lesson, is to find out information about the children who are coming. I ask parents to complete an enrolment form, in addition to the general consent form given out for all the young people in our church. It includes information which will help decide which level of activity is the best fit. Click here for a detailed description of all 4 levels.
The next thing is to look at the TOPICS to decide which lesson you would like to teach. The Lesson Plan lists everything you will need. Make sure you have enough copies of the relevant activity sheets, based on the levels of the children attending the session. If possible, provide each child with a named work tray and folder.
Check with parents and leaders so that you know who is coming and can plan the 1:1 allocation. I have an ‘Aslan Leaders’ WhatsApp group and I always message them letting them know who they will be supporting, with a link to the lesson we’ll be doing.
🪑 Layout of the Room
Give yourselves plenty of time to set up! Allocate a place/table for each child to go to when they first arrive and, as far as possible, keep this as 'their' space. In this picture you see a set of chairs set out for ‘circle time’. I used this layout for a long time but then found that children preferred to stay at their tables. Choose whichever option suits you!
🤓 Presenting the Session
The lesson plan has all the teaching info, plus links to videos of the story and songs which can be downloaded and displayed on a TV using a USB stick or added to the PowerPoints available. I have started adding ppts to the resources, as they are a great way to use the teaching material, but it’s a work in progress! If you want to make your own, simply transfer the Lesson Plan info onto slides and add the downloaded videos or links. For copyright reasons I can’t share the downloaded videos myself but you can download them using this free software. If there is no access to a TV and the numbers are small, an iPad or laptop would be adequate provided there is a good wi-fi signal.
📺 Using a PowerPoint Presentation
Using the PPT on an iPad: Select ‘PowerPoint’ from the list of downloads. At the bottom of the screen, click on ‘download’ and then ‘open in’ ‘PowerPoint’. (At this point you can insert downloaded videos or do any other edits if you would like to.) When you are ready to present, click on ‘Notes’ at the bottom of the screen. This gives the same teaching as on the lesson plan and starts after the introductory slides. Attach the iPad to a TV using an HDMI adapter and select ‘Presenter View’. You’ll see both slides and notes, but only the slides will appear on the screen.
The timings on the lesson plan are given for our church service which starts at 10am. The parents collect the children at 11.15 or soon after.
It is helpful to have worktrays for the printed activities and have them ready on the tables before the children arrive.
📋 Visual Timetable
Some children find it useful to have a visual timetable as shown here. Click here for instructions and to print the first example and here for the second.
Always good to allow 10 minutes for the leaders to pray together before the session starts!
Beginning of Session
As soon as the children arrive, they choose an activity. Usually they bring something - a tablet is the most common, but if we know there is a special interest eg Lego we put it out ready for them. The end of this section is marked by the 'countdown' video of 100 sheep jumping over a fence. When we get down to '20' all personal tablets and phones are collected in ready for the teaching time.
We play a hello game or sing a song to begin the session. The game is throwing a football to a person in the group and saying their name as we throw. This encourages the use of names and group identity. We continue passing the ball until everyone has had it at least once. Not easy for everyone but we help each other!
The Lesson Plan/ PowerPoint has all the information you need to teach the topics and all the links to videos are included. The Aslan opening prayer can be downloaded if you are using the videos without a PowerPoint.
- The teaching is kept fairly short to take into account the mixed levels of ability, and the use of videos also helps to engage children of all levels.
- The songs are also on video. You may prefer to use musicians to play live music, but I find the visuals helpful for those unable – or reluctant! - to join in.
- I’ve added prayers where PowerPoints are completed. These are not on the Lesson Plans as they would need to be displayed for everyone to join in. It may also be a preference to pray for each other and be more flexible in your approach.
🍪 Snack time
We have a biscuit and drink of water and use the time to see if anyone has any news to share. This social time is important and has become easier as the children have become more comfortable with each other. When there is a birthday, we always have a cake and give a card. After a few minutes we move into the activity section of the morning.
In addition to directed tasks in the worktrays, it is a good idea to provide a range of games, puzzles, books etc if individuals finish their activities quickly.
Children may like to take their work home. If not, we also provide an A4 ring binder to file their work in, which is then kept at church, with the option to take it home at the end of the year.
End of Session
We allow 15 minutes at the end of the session for children to choose their own activity. Phones, tablets etc are given back. Cars, Lego etc can be played with until parents arrive.