May the joy of the Savior's birth shine brightly in the lives of those you teach this Christmas season and throughout the New Year!
Celebrating Christmas in Sunday school
Christmas is on Sunday this year—a thought that can either bring joy or panic to a Sunday school teacher's mind! What is your church's plan for Sunday school on December 25?
Will your church keep to its normal schedule of Sunday school and worship, have an abbreviated time for Sunday school, or cancel it altogether? Whatever your church's plan, Shine sessions have options for you to consider.
Flicker says, "Check out these teaching tips to help you plan."
Be ready to welcome everyone and move quickly into Building community. Preschool children will enjoy a welcome rhyme, Middlers will practice saying Merry Christmas in several languages, while Junior Youth will use discussion prompts to begin conversations about meaningful Christmas memories and traditions.
From the Primary teacher's guide: The topic of gifts will inevitably come up. Rather than trying to avoid it, invite children to talk briefly about the way their family opens gifts. Do children wake up early? Do family members open gifts one at a time? Where do they gather? This emphasis on family will allow you to move the conversation toward Christmas traditions rather than gifts received.
An abbreviated session? Focus on the biblical story by using the Gather and Experience sections.
No Sunday school? Combine elements of session 3 and 4 on December 18 so children hear the whole Christmas story.
Short on preparation time? Check out the Shine Pinterest boards below for quick links to Christmas videos, artwork depicting the Christmas story, craft projects, skits, and other materials to supplement the session.
Families away on Christmas day? Prepare a packet to give or email to each family on Sunday, December 18. Find Devotions for families and a Good news angels craft to include on our Extras webpage (www.ShineCurriculum.com/Extras).
The Sunday school treat
A long-standing Christmas tradition at my home church is the Sunday school treat: a brown paper bag filled with an apple or an orange, hard candies and nuts. The Sunday school treat has been given to children at the church for as long any anyone can remember. From my grandmother, I learned the importance of this tradition during the Great Depression when resources were scarce. A gift of a piece of fruit, candies, and nuts was special for the children, and at times, all they received at Christmas.
The Sunday school treat has evolved over the years. It now includes both an apple and an orange, and a full-size candy bar along with the hard candies and nuts. The brown paper bag is tied up with a festive ribbon and a candy cane. Older folks look forward to it as much as the children, so everyone receives a treat no matter their age. Extras are made for visitors and family guests. Different adult and youth Sunday school classes take responsibility for purchasing and packaging the treats each year, so eventually, everyone gets in on the joy of making them.
In my research, I have found that these Sunday school treats were commonplace among Mennonite and Brethren congregations as well as those of other denominations. These treats were one way that the church could show God's love and care for its children and help struggling families during a dismal time in our nation's history. While the times have changed, the overall purpose of the Sunday school treat has not—a simple gift sharing God's love and light.
Joan L. Daggett, Project Director
Were Sunday school treats ever a part of your church's Christmas celebration? Do you have a similar tradition at your church? Share your remembrances and traditions on our Facebook page.
You've been there—the Create activity took longer than expected, or the children really got into the Move activity, and now you hear the sound of music calling everyone to worship. Time is running out and you're tempted to skip the Bless page of the session and just open the door to parents waiting to pick up their children.
Stop! Bless can be a time of sharing reminders and words of encouragement to your children or youth as you send them out into the world. The brief prayer and scriptural blessing do not have to take long and help to wrap up the session in a meaningful way. After all the activity of Explore, Bless serves to gather the children and youth for a moment of worship and sending. What is your favorite way to bless your children or youth? Share your experiences with us on Facebook.