Making learning fun
This isn't your traditional Sunday School class anymore.
At First United Methodist Church in Luverne,
Sunday School has taken on a whole new meaning when it comes to teaching and learning, according to the Rev. Ken Jackson, who has been at First United for a year.
“Our children are our primary focus here at church,” he said. “We need to listen to them, especially when they are willing to talk to an adult. When we listen to them and to their needs, we can better serve them.”
Jackson said that the church has taken the “traditional Sunday School class where you sit at a desk and listen to a Bible story,” and they have changed that
to a more hands-on kinesthetic approach to teaching and learning.
“Kids learn in so many different ways,” he said. “Now, they hear the Bible stories, and they see them acted out. We have the youth and the adult to wear costumes and act out stories from the Bible.”
Jackson said the new Sunday School routine rotates from week to week. For example, the first week of the month, the children will act out a Bible story. The next week, they will hear the same story again, but it may be put in a shortened version with the focus and emphasis placed on one or two particular
aspects or lessons to be learned.
“We will focus on a specific theme that week,” he said.
In addition, the kids get the chance to visit “Eden's Eatery” where they can make a snack that reinforces the lessons taught from the specific Bible lesson being taught that month. They can also go to the “game room,” which has a giant, multi-colored game board covering almost the entire floor of the room. The children play a game on the game board that, again, reinforces the themes and lessons being taught from the same Bible story being studied.
On the third Sunday of each month, the three age groups of children are rotated so that everyone gets the chance to visit each room and participate in each different activity. The groups are divided into ages three through six, seven through nine, and ten through twelve.
On the fourth Sunday, all of the youth will participate in learning songs and enjoying music that involves the Bible story.
“In traditional Sunday School, you sit down and be quiet,” Jackson said. “Here, we want them jumping around and being excited and what they are learning.”
Jackson told of the child who was vacationing at the beach with her family, but who was worried about missing Sunday School.
“She wanted to come back in time so she wouldn't miss anything,” he said, smiling.
“Kids are so stimulated visually as well as through all of their sense today that we feel the church needs to keep the message the same, but simply change the way it is presented so the kids will hear it and remember it,” he said.
Jackson credits Becky Richardson, Robyn Snellgrove, Rose Wise, and Leigh Johnson with bringing this need to light.
“They were the catalysts to say that we really needed to do something for our children,” he added.
The new Sunday School program at First United Methodist Church began in Feb. of this year.
“It's like having Vacation Bible School every Sunday,” he said.