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Few Children Great Opportunities (PDF Download)

12 stand-alone sessions for mixed-age church-based groups

Sue Price, Ruth Alliston

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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

Content

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.

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • 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

From the Introduction

  • Each session is themed, and it doesn't matter in which order the sessions are used. In your initial preparation you may wish to discuss with your church leader the preaching programme for the coming few months and see if any of the sessions are more appropriate for particular weeks. Once prepared, however, a facilitator can hold a session over and use it at any later date if no children turn up.
  • Each session is flexible and can be easily adapted to the time available, whether 20 minutes or over an hour. If you only have a short session time, the material can be shaped into two or more sessions so that you are not wasting material.
  • Emphasis is given to forming and growing a relationship with God and the people around us, and learning to serve God and each other.
  • Much of the preparation for the session by the facilitator will consist of reading the Bible references, thinking through their own responses and becoming familiar with the options and ideas suggested.
  • The activities suggested, together with various options, can be customised to the numbers and ages of the group, even adapting at the point of delivery. It may sometimes happen that all the items prepared do not get used on a particular day. This shouldn't be regarded as a waste of time or effort, as these items can often be used or adapted on another occasion, and will save preparation time later on.
  • Each session includes ideas for home follow-up that can be suggested to parents, but the whole session can also be adapted to be used at home by families who want to set aside a time to connect with God and each other. See the section headed 'Using the material at home'.
  • Positive attention is given to developing an awareness of the mystery and wonder of God and finding meaningful ways together to celebrate him and express love for him.
  • Everyone is encouraged to discover God's character through the actions or teaching of Jesus, find out how people have responded to God in the past (both people in the Bible and in more recent history), discover people and organisations today who are responding to God through love and action and consider their own response.

Download family follow-up sheets linked to this title

Endorsements

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

Author info

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.

Reviews

From Country Way - June to September 2013

Many rural churches struggle to run meaningful children's groups, but resources are now becoming available that give real help - with material that is suitable for small numbers, a wide age-range and limited resources (especially in terms of leaders); Few Children, Great Opportunities is one of these.

The sessions are designed for church-based groups, but are equally suited to those that meet in homes or even for individual families. Each is based around one facet of God's character (e.g. peace, truth, love) and how this is relevant for a child's daily life. Although there are connections between the different sessions, they can be used in any order. All follow a similar pattern, and have at their core a short passage of Scripture around which the rest of the activities revolve. They include the careful use of stories and linked activities.

Very helpful guidelines are provided at the start on how to make the best use of the material, and the material is designed flexibly so that each session can be adapted to cover more than one week. The additional resources required are few and relatively simple, but will require access to the internet.

While not rural in content, this is another useful tool for small rural churches in their ministry to children.

Reviewed by Simon Martin


This book was advertised in the January 2013 newsletter. It contains 12 stand-alone sessions for mixed age children's groups, each exploring a characteristic of God. It is published by Bible Reading Fellowship and costs 8.99. I began reading the opening pages of this book with some apprehension as some books seem to expect more time, or artistic ability, than I can offer. However I was encouraged by the tone and attitude towards children that came from the pages. There is a gentleness and yet an undercurrent of excitement about exploring who is God.

I used the first session on a Sunday when I ended up with seven children ranging from a 3-year old with limited English to an articulate girl of 13, including a couple of very shy children and a noisy boy. As preparation I had already read the session and picked out what I would do in the 30 mins available. All of the resources needed I already had either at home or at church. Before the group started I quickly made up an example of the simple craft. It was accessible to all ages, though some needed more support but some of the older children were happy to help. The oldest children were up for joining in the fun and the youngest followed their lead.

They all seemed to get a sense of wonder from placing a drop of diluted food colouring onto paper towel and seeing how far it spread, like God's love spreading out. The small numbers enabled us to do this one at a time which allowed anticipation and each child to have their moment of full attention. They enjoy trying to fit under a duvet cover to represent being surrounded by God's love. The cups with hearts on were ideal for our worship time. Overall I found the material interactive and inclusive with some different ways of conveying God's love and our connection to it. I would need to work on ways to ensure the oldest ones have opportunities to learn and stretch themselves. As it stands I would say that 11 is really the upper age limit for this material. However by using a couple of leaders it would be simple to have deeper discussion with older ones as part of it. I was certainly grateful for the material which was ideal for a broad range of children, both in terms of age and temperament.

Reviewed by Linda Hallett, Uckfield URC

Book details

  • ISBN: DOWN8805Z
  • Published: 19 October 2012
  • Status:
  • Format: PDF Download
  • Pages: 160