I am in the process of posting 20 free Sunday School lessons at CLAMcentral.com. That’s five weeks times four age-levels. It’s been a long journey to this point and a very long way to go to do all 400+ lessons in the series, but it’s fun and a blessing from God to me. Check ’em out; they are for you!
The image above shows a typical Print and Prep file; there is one with each lesson. In this particular lesson, Upper Elementary New Testament Week 1, there are six files included in the folder you download: The lesson plan itself (“Jesus is Our Friend”), the Biggie Verse poster that you tape together from four sheets, Student Notebook activity pages, a game we call “Bug Splat,” and finally a page that begins a weekly Bible time line.
I have a ton of stuff I want to accomplish with CLAMcentral. It’ll take years to reach a fraction of the potential. Take a look at the lessons, then drop by here to say hi.
Just this morning I’ve added the very first of my CLAMbake New Testament Sunday School Lessons. There are four zipped folders to download, each containing a lesson plan, activity sheets, posters and more. I will add more weeks’ worth asap. Week 1 is “Jesus is Our Friend.” You can download from this page: CLAMcentral.com.
I have to be away for a week, and that means a delay of releasing my New Testament lesson plans. So I lifted several episodes of “The Adventures of Starship U-99” from the CLAMazine take-home paper that comes with the Middle Elementary lesson plans. The lesson plans and the CLAMazine will be uploaded starting in a couple of weeks (early August 2014). Meanwhile, here’s the link so that you can download the crazy U-99 episodes: Starship U-99
This game, “Growing Up God’s Way,” will be posted for download mid-July, 2014. It’s for Upper Elementary Sunday School, a fun activity to launch into a discussion of habits to build in order to grow up to be the men and women God wants us to be. It’s from Lesson 4 of my New Testament series, one of the free samples that will be posted soon. The lesson is based on Luke 2, where the 12-year-old Jesus returned from Jerusalem to obey his parents and to grow in wisdom, experience and favor with God and people.
The game is easy to play, but the printed instructions could use this video demo to help clarify things.
You may know that CLAMbake is the name of my Sunday School curriculum, and that CLAM stands for Christ’s Love And Majesty.
So this past Sunday I gave the kids each a copy of the CLAM Prayer you see above, and a page on which they could write their own prayers using words that began with or included the letters C, L, A, and M. Here are a few of the two dozen responses (spelling errors included):
“You CARE for all sinners. You LOVE all pepole. You ACT as one. You MAKE life worth living.”
“You are the CLEANEST thing in this dirty world. I LOVE you soooooooooo much. You are A bright light in a dark world. You are MY God!”
“You are CRAZY awesome. I LOVE you. You are AMAZING. You are my MASTER and my only Master.”
This is from my New Testament lesson 3, upper elementary. I will post it and others for you to enjoy in a few weeks.
Tips for people using CLAMcentral Sunday School curriculum.
Well first of all, at this time you are NOT using the curriculum because I haven’t released it yet! But I’m posting these comments well in advance so I don’t implode when the time crunch gets in full gear.
I’ve put the finishing touches on the Preschool lesson first this time, so we’ll start with that.
PRESCHOOL Lesson 2
The lesson is very loosely based on selections from John 1. The older age-levels learn from the passage that Jesus is God. In the Preschool, we major on the fact that Jesus is Creator, along with his Father, and that he made us.
My first little tip is to say I can’t emphasize enough that a puppet skit can flop big time if you don’t do it right. Best solution: Have one adult put a puppet on each hand and “play along” as another adult reads the skit. That way, the puppets will be lively and exciting for the kids to watch. Be sure to add your own attention-getting devices (questions, calling kids by their names and so on).
The skit is optional and, if you look closely, an almost word-for-word recital of the Advent Bible stories, but with a few puppet jokes tossed in. You can do both but it is not at all necessary, they are very similar.
The butcher paper activity was a huge hit each time we did it in our classes. The teachers will hang the finished papers on the wall; if you have a dedicated classroom you will likely see it hanging there for months. When you do the activity with the kids, do it at a table or on the floor.
This week’s coloring page (shown above) is educational; it teaches the parts of the face. Let me know if your kids like that sort of thing.
Introduction to the Lesson: Today we do a couple of things that set a precedent for future CLAbakes. First, the kids “take care of business” by working on fancy covers for their Bibles. Then they take a close look at who Jesus really is. Jesus is God! All CLAMbake lessons are built upon this truth.
Crazy Lunacy And Monkeyshines
Hopefully the kids you work with know the Bible’s table of contents upside down and backwards. But just in case…play the Lesson 2 game from the Bible
Wars CLAModule to help train kids to find Bible references. By the end of the year they will be experts. The games make it easy.
Christ’s Love And Majesty
Our main goal at CLAMbake is to teach kids the great Bible truths about our Lord Jesus; reasons to celebrate him in our lives. One obstacle we must eliminate is any aversion our children might have to the Book itself. Poor reading skills, an imposing big black book and so forth are reasons kids might avoid the Bible. We want to make the Bible “user friendly” for our kids, so let’s have the kids take some time to personalize their class Bibles. I like those Christian foam stickers that are available wherever Christian foam stickers are sold (like WalMart maybe).
Creative Learning And Memorization
Now that the “housekeeping” portion of our lesson is complete, let’s get into the real purpose: Who Jesus is. The Gospel of John, chapter 1, is today’s stop, the first of many we will make in the future. As you go over the passages and questions on the Teacher’s CLAM Bible page, help your students to feel a sense of awe as they contemplate the love and majesty of our Lord and Savior.
Once the Concentration game is finished, close in prayer or have a round of prayer, praising God for who He is. Or as we say here at CLAMbake: “Christ’s Love And Majesty.”
Note: CLAMbake is designed to gather steam as it rolls along faster and faster. Soon you will be amazed at how much the kids are learning as the truths of God’s Word are taught more deeply.
The main difference between this Middle Elementary lesson and the Upper version is the addition of a CLAMazine game activity and the subtraction of the Student Notebooks (only ever used in Upper) and no Bible Wars or Bible book covers.
The CLAMazine is a weekly activity sheet that doubles as a take-home paper. You want to encourage parents to go over the sheet with their kids at home. I intentionally make the CLAMazine reading level a little mature for the Middle Elementary kids so that they will enjoy reading it with the help of parents and teachers. The Early Elementary kids also receive the magazine so they very much need mom or dad to read it. There is always a simple coloring page for the younger set to enjoy, however.
In this edition, your students work individually or in pairs to solve a maze-like game that defines the meaning of the name “Jesus.” The meaning is “God’s Saves” (or “God our Savior”). This goes along with the lesson theme and the Biggie Verse, which focuses on the fact that Jesus is God. I want the curriculum to establish that fact very early on so that the kids have a solid base to build a powerful admiration for the Lord. Remember, when a person truly admires Jesus, he or she won’t leave him.
At this age-level I do a super-simplified version of our Bible passage. In this case, the children learn that Jesus had a great friend named John, who wrote a Bible book about Jesus. John called Jesus “The Word.” Our version makes it clear, as did John’s, that Jesus was with God before, during and after creation and is in fact, the Creator.
The students then play a Bible Bingo game that features cartoons of things Jesus made. I’ve learned that, even in my Upper Elementary group, kids love Bible Bingo. In fact, they won’t stop playing until ALL the squares are filled. You might want to recognize not only the first kid to get a Bingo, but the last one as well. And the first kid to get two Bingos. Silly fun that gets kids thinking about another reason to admire Jesus; he made everything including us.
Before the lesson is closed with a coloring page, the kids make handprints on a poster. If you want to go to the time and trouble of using clay or flour to make permanent handprints, that would be great, but I just go with tracings on a poster. The idea is that we were all created by Jesus; together we are his.
Hey! In about a dozen weeks I hope to begin uploading the first set of CLAMbake New Testament lessons. Each set is five weeks worth in four age-levels: Upper, Middle and Early Elementary and Preschool. With the lessons are posters, games, activity pages and much more. My colleagues and I are doing the final teach-through now (each lesson in earlier forms have been taught at least twice already to eliminate klinkers).
As promised, I am posting extra tips here. I’m starting now, well before the release date, to make sure I don’t burn out down the road. I am going to talk to you now as though you have a lesson plan in your hand, because by the time you read this, you probably do.
Let’s begin with the UPPER ELEMENTARY Lesson 1: Jesus is Our Friend
I picked that title and topic because this is the week we welcome younger kids into our classes for the first time, a great time to talk about making new friends. Jesus is our very best friend because he is the one who paves the way for us to come to God for salvation and eternal life.
The first thing to do is to make your classroom a welcoming, fun place. Check the Promo Posters CLAModule for posters to hang up. Also highly recommended: Little cupcakes or similar to form a bit of a party atmosphere. The lesson plans don’t mention a snack break, but if they did, the paragraph would look like this:
Cookies: Luscious And Mouthwatering (Notice the CLAM in the heading?) We have found that a ten-minute break is worth it’s weight in gold when it comes to class demeanor. Kids seem to do better in a class that takes a break in the middle. Teachers, too! On the other hand, don’t waste your money on expensive refreshments—kids this age are not known for their culinary discernment. Having said that, today would be a nice time for a special welcoming treat of some sort.
The Student Notebooks: This first CLAMbake is the kick-off for a year packed with great truth and wisdom from the New Testament. The student notebooks that you begin today make it possible for your kids to treasure God’s Word for a long, long time. Keep the notebooks each week, but have the kids take them home when they graduate at the end of the year.
I do have lockers (shelves, really) for the kids to put their notebooks in. Everything in my classroom is “CLAM” this and “CLAM” that–the lockers are “Cubbyholes, Lockers And Mailboxes.”
The Friendship Chart activity: Whether your students know each other well or not at all, the Friendship Chart notebook page gives them a chance to build relationships and have fun. This activity also provides a lead into the subject of Jesus as friend. The Chart has all the instructions.
Now it’s time to look at Luke 1:1-14. For future lessons you will want full Bibles for each student. Part of the CLAMbake experience this year is gaining familiarity with the Book. Even so, we have provided our own CLAM Bible pages for the student notebooks—a series of Bible stories to help your students comprehend each lesson. Use the CLAM Bible page in the lesson plan to guide your discussion.
The Job passage is a beautiful look at our Savior Jesus. Job desperately needed a friend. He found the best friend a person could ever have when he turned to the Lord. Incidentally, many Bible scholars think that Job may have lived very early in biblical history. Even so, he seems to have a clear understanding that he had a friend in heaven who served as a go-between bridging the gap between man and God.
How to Build a Bridge: A bridge can consist of two chairs crossed with a bit of plywood, lumber or anything that will work. Place these materials around the building for kids to go find. Once a bridge is built, have kids walk across it. PHOTO OP: Take a picture of the kids on or near their bridge.
MIDDLE ELEMENTARY Lesson 1: Jesus is Our Friend
The “Would You Rather?” game is a lot of fun to play. The kids will want to keep going with it, so feel free to ad-lib as many questions as time allows. Of course, with kids this age, anything gross earns extra points. You know, like “Would you rather have someone accidentally sneeze in your face or in your food?” Never mind, let’s move on…
The Hangman game gives you the opportunity to talk about CLAMbake (the name of your class) and the meaning of CLAM: Christ’s Love And Majesty. Tell the kids that Christ’s Love is everything he says and does, and his Majesty is who he is, the Son of God. Let the kids know that we will spend the year talking about the things Jesus did and said in the Bible and all the great things about him.
A really great thing about Jesus is that he is our very best friend. The Bug Splat game lists many wonderful things Jesus does for us. The game is super fun to play and will have the kids shouting and laughing. And that’s what we want! Remember, we aren’t in church just to have fun, but we USE fun to communicate the gospel to our kids.
After telling the kids a little bit about your life with Jesus, hand out the CLAMazine take-home paper. The CLAMazine features things to do at home, and you can often use one or two of the activities in class if time permits.
EARLY ELEMENTARY Lesson 1: Jesus is Our Friend
After playing “Would you Rather?” ask your learners one more question: “Would you rather be named Luke or Theophilus? Yes, I said Theophilus! Raise your hand if you’d rather be named Luke. Raise your hand if you’d rather be named Theophilus. Let’s read our Bible story, the first little bit of a Bible book called the Gospel of Luke. The book is actually a letter from a man named Luke to his friend Theophilus.”
The Hat Craft: The kids are employing a number of skills such as taping, reading, using stickers, working with partners, thinking about friendship and about Jesus, and sharing snacks. By doing so, the idea that Jesus is our friend is etched into their thinking. Celebrating Christ’s love for us gives you the opportunity to repeat the message of his friendship toward us.
In the CLAMazine: Every issue provides a coloring page for you to use in class if you wish. Because our friend Jesus created everything (see John 1:3), today’s coloring page shows some of the things Jesus made, including trees, hills, the sun, clouds, elephants, birds, fish and people.
In addition to giving you an additional activity or a replacement for one of the others, today’s coloring page brings one more opportunity to talk about our friend Jesus. Point out to your learners that one of the greatest examples of his friendship toward us is the many wonderful things he made for us.
PRESCHOOL Lesson 1: Jesus is Our Friend
The lesson has way more than you need to capture the attention of kids as young as Preschoolers. Choose the ones that work for you. Most lessons won’t have this many, i just had plenty to go around this time.
The Advent Bible covers four lessons with two stories each. So that would be two stories each for lessons 1-4, with the 5th lesson being review (CLAMbake curriculum will be made available in five-lesson increments). The way the Advent Bible works is really fun for kids, and you do not need to worry about which stories they pick; any and all will work on any week.
Preschools being what they are, don’t sweat it if you can’t get them into one large group to do an activity. Just do the activity several times during the hour as different kids become interested.
That’s about it for now. More to follow; stay tuned.
This comic strip teaches middle elementary kids important truths about the Lord. The setup is simple: humanity has learned to travel to the stars. There is no alien life out there, but humans have set up colonies all over the place. Some of those colonies are based on people and places found in the pages of the Bible.
The captain of the U-99 is a well-meaning dip. The other main characters are Chief Engineer Finster who attempts to solve the problems the captain causes, Lieutenant Diane Smith who is the only smart one on board, and Com Bot, a floating robot who sums up the spiritual point of each story. The comic strips are published weekly in the upcoming CLAMazine papers. I hope to animate a number of them to include on a CLAMbake website. Good fun, and all part of the CLAMcentral Sunday School resources you’ll be able to get starting Fall, 2014.
How many squares do you see? It takes a long time for my upper elementary kids to see the “big picture.” They always start by guessing one, then 16 or 17. But God sees all 31. It’s a fun way to introduce the idea that we need to attach ourselves to God and obey him, because he knows so much more than we do.
The tile is “Priority Poster” because the lesson, based on Haggai 1:1-15, talks about God’s priorities and our own. Because God sees the big picture and we don’t, it’s wise to make God’s priorities our own.
This poster is from my Old Testament Lesson 52. I will be releasing New Testament 1-5 in Fall of 2014, so this poster will come out about 2 years later! In the meantime, you can make your own version.
Teaching Tip: Start off by asking a kid in class, “How many circles are on the poster?” (Two.) Ask someone else, “How many stars are on the poster?” (Two.) Then ask “How many squares are on the poster?” They usually say one. Say, “No. How many squares are on this poster?” After that, everyone starts guessing.
And if you don’t see all 31, you’ll just have to wait until 2016!