I’m about to drop a truth bomb about Sunday School. I’m also about to use the words “dislike” and “Sunday School” in the same sentence. Don’t panic, just go with it.
One of the things that I dislike about Sunday School is the pile-up of useless papers & projects. The papers, I understand–for further study with parents and memorization purposes. But the projects kill me. A lot of times, they aren’t very functional, useful, or even cute enough to hang on the fridge.
I still remember discovering the knife in my back when I realized my Mother had secretly been trashing all of my Sunday School masterpieces. I poured some serious heart into those bad boys and all they saw was the inside of trash bag. In her defense, she kept a few memorable and extra cute pieces–I think.
The point is, most SS projects get thrown away because they lose meaning & value rather quickly.
As a SS teacher, I hated this. Because why on earth am I pouring time & materials into projects that will basically go from the SS room to the trash can? Is that project really helping the student to learn? I want more from my SS hour. I want the kiddos to come out with something that will help them remember what we’ve learned. Something that they’ll want to hang on to for a while.
So I put my homeschool & creative skills to use and comprised a lap book to utilize with my very first SS class.
If you don’t know what a lap book is…oh my goodness, just go and google that right now. I’ll wait. And I’m sorry to say it but you’ve been living half of a life. Basically a lap book is a folded file-folder (see below) with all sorts of flaps & pockets that are stuffed with information you’ve learned about a specific topic. But you still have to google it, it’s hard to explain without a visual.
All that to say, I LOVE lap books. We made a bunch for school growing up and they’ve stuck with me. I can still picture and remember what we learned because I poured a lot of time & creativity into it. So I thought it would be an amazing season long project for the kids to work on–each week we complete a new project to match the lesson and stick it in the lap book. At the end of the semester, you can take it home except now all of your projects are neatly stored together for you to pull out and look at later. It’s kinda like a pop-up book and who doesn’t love those?
I’ve been doing the same thing for the past couple years. But then it hit me that I was putting in 80% of the work on these and my class was growing. I say 80% because my class is comprised of the littlest people–some are still learning how to glue without sticking up the whole table while others would cut right through the middle of their completed project if I gave them scissors.
For the older kids, I think a lap book would be very feasible. But with the littles, I was the one pulling a late night adding in the flaps & pockets, cutting apart the projects, and glueing them in. It was totally worth it because they LOVED their lap books. As in, they kept them and looked through them months after that season had ended. Maybe someday I’ll walk you through my SS lap book.
But at this time, this girl wanted more sleep. So I came up with a simpler solution with the same result…
The Pocket Project
It’s basically, a glorified, plastic pocket with a zipper to insert our weekly projects into. This eliminates the adding of flaps & pockets on my end and the projects are simple enough to complete all on the same day. Once it goes in the pocket, it’s done.
On the first Sunday of a new season, each kid gets their own pocket to decorate. I affix the letter stickers beforehand to make it simpler. I never cease to be amazed at how many stickers one kid can fit on their pocket. There is just no design sense really. But I guess that’s more fun.
I buy ALL of my SS supplies from the Dollar Tree. Ok, maybe the occasional item can’t be found there. I actually bought the pockets at Walmart. But the Dollar Tree is my happy place–no shame here.
I stock up on stickers, buttons, pom-poms, poster letters, poster borders, popsicle sticks, rhinestones, watercolor sets, prizes, seasonal decorations, play doh…I mean I could do this all day.
Don’t break the bank on this stuff, it’s just as great to a kid coming from the Dollar Tree. And you won’t cringe when you watch those materials get smashed, stepped on, or altogether ruined.
Now back to the actual projects. After the pockets are decorated the first week, I keep them in our room until the end of the semester. Then each week we work on projects to add to our pocket.
Below is an example of one week’s worth of projects from our curriculum’s resource CD. I try to assemble a few different things so that we aren’t coloring the whole hour or are sitting bored if the first project goes a little too fast (play doh is a fantastic back-up in a pinch, btw).
The way it will probably work out is we will color the characters and stick them on popsicle sticks to create “puppets” while I read the lesson. After the lesson, we’ll work through the match up sheet. Guaranteed that won’t take more than two minutes–these kids can be so competitive. Then we’ll decorate our crown with stickers, crayons, pom-poms, and rhinestones–we avoid glitter and glitter glue at all costs in my class.
There’s a few different activities & materials here which I try to do most of the time. If we’ve been coloring a lot lately, I’ll give them watercolors instead of crayons.
I always try to have my project done beforehand for two reasons: 1) they can see what it’s supposed to look like and 2) I can get a test run in (sometimes I can be a little overambitious.
We did the project below when we learned about Jacob and his ladder. The one below that is the wall of Jericho. I try to take advantage of lessons that offer unique crafting opportunities–sometimes you can’t get around the coloring. I like that they involve motor skills & following a pattern in addition to reminding us of the lesson.
Now here is an example of exploring projects outside of the curriculum. You can find so many FREE resources on Pinterest and the internet as a whole (does that exist outside of Pinterest?).
I wasn’t thrilled with the material that was given for Creation. I felt like it could have been more memorable and fun, so I found these awesome coloring pages online & sized them down for gluing in our book. Each week we worked on the respective number in addition to correlating projects.
Now, I was proud of this project. It was one of those “aha” moments and we had a lot of fun with it in class. They thought it was so cool to use food for a stamp and each stamp was a thrill of excitement. It was made to represent our lesson on Adam & Eve and their fruit problem. With the littles, I simply numbered the apples to give them a fun project to play with later. But for older kids, we would have written out pieces of our memory verse on each apple to create a helpful memorization game.
Simply cut a few apples in half (one half per kid is fine because they can share stamps with other colors) and give each kid a small plate with a paintbrush, paper towels, washable paint, & cardstock. You can figure out the rest. It’s so easy and fun–you should try it!
This is another printable that I found on the internet. We turned our printable Adam & Eve into puppets by taping popsicle sticks to their backs. I like making “puppets” for each new character that we learn about, I think it helps to remember them better.
By now you know that I’m all about mixing materials for more fun, so rather than coloring this whole project I added in tissue paper for us to rip & glue. For the kiddos, that’s called fun and for adults, that’s called stress relief.
I used the snake printable for our lesson with the apples & forbidden fruit. It was great opportunity to color & bedazzle the snake. When it was dry & cut out, we attached the base to a page of cardstock leaving enough unattached for them to “spiral” the snake.
I think all of my kids prefer painting over crayons, it just takes a few more steps so we don’t always go that route. We spent a lot of time learning about dinosaurs in our creation study so in an effort to add more “games” to our pocket, I found these printables.
I should mention that for projects that are in multiple pieces and don’t incorporate a whole page like the matching game, I find a way to attach it to a piece of cardstock so that it stays organized in the pocket. Like the snake above, we glued it to cardstock. For the matching game, I would glue a basic envelope to cardstock and store the pieces in there.
I like to use the cardstock to keep each lesson organized. I also like to add the title of the lesson and even the date or number in the series to help remember the order. With little kids, this doesn’t matter as much. But older kids will appreciate that touch.
The projects above are more examples of adding in the cardstock backing. The pictures were included with the resource CD, I simply downsized them to fit by printing multiples on one page. Then I made a pages stating “God is with me wherever I go,” “Worship God Alone,” or “the Victory is the Lords”–the key points of our lesson and the reason behind the pictures. On the first project, I also made a couple words dashed for tracing. Each kid got to pick a couple pictures that they liked, colored each picture, and glued to the cardstock. Done and done.
One of the focal points in our lesson’s on Noah was the heart–Noah was a righteous man who loved God while most were sinful people who hated God and were sinful. The project below is incomplete but you can catch my drift. To drive home this contrast on the heart, I printed off a Noah character and the best picture I could find of an angry looking person–specifically a child to be more relatable. Then each child got a red heart and a black heart. They colored their characters while we read the lesson, discussing the differences in a heart that has been changed by God and one that has not. At the end of the lesson, we took a close look at the characters discussing the visible differences and as a group discussed which heart belonged to which character and why. It’s so simple but the visual really helped the kids to connect the dots and understand the concept in a personal light.
One of our lessons on Noah focused on the ark. How big it was, what it was made of, etc. We used (pre-measured) yarn to give us a visual on how long the ark was (go outside if you can)–it’s quite impressive, actually.
For the project, I had the idea to dive into the cubit measurement to help us remember this lesson…because you can’t really stuff a whole ball of yarn into your pocket. It doubles as a great opportunity to “record” those little hands before they grow any bigger. I laid out a bunch of cute, brightly colored scrapbook paper for them to choose from. Once we made our selections, I went around the table and helped them trace their arms from the elbow to their fingertips. I let them work on their cutting skills by cutting out one of their arms–I kept the other to the side just in case they completely mutilated the other one. We then glued on the definition of a cubit and how Noah used it to the back of the hand–I also wrote each child’s name and their age on the back for memories sake. On my own time, I actually ran these through my laminator to preserve them long term.
When we learned about Noah boarding the ark with his family and ALL the animals, we took an ark template with the door flap cut out (made from card-stock), animal stickers (from the Dollar Tree), and a folded length of scrapbook paper. It’s pretty self-explanatory otherwise. The kiddos love anything stickers–so it’s an easy way to add excitement to our project.
After 40 days & nights, Noah got off the ark and God made a promise with a rainbow. So using a handmade template cut from black card-stock, we glued pieces of rainbow colored tissue to the back to create our own rainbow that illuminates in the sunlight! I was actually aiming for one sided laminate sheets to seal the front and easily adhere the tissue paper to the back without glue…buuuuut, someone (certainly not me…) grabbed the wrong stuff. So we improvised last minute and glued instead. It took a little longer and didn’t go quite as smoothly as if I had grabbed the right stuff but we got the desired end result.
We added in a few, fun extras that I found online. The above was part of a free teacher’s packet that I found via Pinterest. Not only is the matching game adorable but it was a change from the usual coloring options–something fun for them to do later.
I printed off the story booklet for our last lesson on Noah since we spent such a long time on that segment, I figured it would be helpful review and tie everything together.
For our lesson on Abraham & Isaac, I found this printable coloring page & a separate copy of a ram & knife. We colored the picture and attached the ram and knife to the picture with yarn so it became a picture that you could play with. I don’t know if you’d actually want to play “sacrificing a ram with a knife” but it sounded good at the time.
Maybe just gluing the ram & knife would’ve worked better.
Joseph is a FUN story to work through because there are so many creative & colorful opportunities for projects. I cut a simple coat pattern from thick cardstock–don’t look to close, the sleeves are a little uneven.
Then we went to town with our tissue paper, stickers, and rhinestones. Whenever stickers are involved we are happy campers!
For our next lesson on Joseph wherein we talked about his time in Egypt as a slave, we colored & cut out a pair of hands to resemble Joseph’s hands. Then we make a paper chain to attach both hands & resemble his chains, aka his time in slavery. I had no idea what a hit making a paper chain would be. My class had never made paper chains before so after we made Joseph’s literal chains, I cut up larger strips of construction paper for us to make the longest paper chain ever. They asked to work on it for the next few Sundays instead of our usual Playdoh time. Like I said, it was a big hit.
If you’re ever in need of a simple, cost effective, fun project make paper bag puppets! I used this trick for our lesson on Job. Mine is incomplete as far as coloring goes so use your imagination. I found this puppet template online, we cut them out, colored it in, & glued it to the bag. Then I left it up to them to be creative.
I provided construction paper, pom-poms, buttons, stickers, all the good stuff for making a snazzy outfit for Job. It was neat to see where their imaginations took them.
One of our lessons centered around the idea of being a good steward of God’s creation. I found this pocket friendly template online for us to color. Once it was colored, we cut out the earth including the center flaps then attached it to a piece of card-stock. Underneath each flap we wrote down an idea of how we could personally take care of God’s creation, like: picking up trash, taking care of our pets, or recycling.
Rabbit trail. A couple weeks after this lesson, one of my student’s parents told me that they were out on a family walk when this little girl spotted some trash laying on the ground. She ran over and picked it up and told her Dad that she needs to do that because we need to take care of God’s Creation. *cue all the heart melting*
This was a recent project about Rahab and the Isrealite spies. I used the exact printable from the resource CD on this one.
However, I made a few tweaks to elaborate on a simple coloring project. I layered up a few pages and used my X-Acto knife to cut a few slits in the paper so that we could weave and tie knots. I would have used faux straw but I only had yellow crepe paper on hand at the time, so we glued pieces of that on top of our spies to cover them.
For review weeks, I’ve sized down pictures from our resource CD to formulate a booklet. Simply staple the pictures together in order and let them color!
Another alternative to the booklet method, would be to create a sequence game. I would put numbers on the back of the pictures for the kiddos to check their answers after putting the pictures in order.
There is one last important project that I want to show you: the Gospel. I found this idea on Pinterest and love the visual representation–you can grab your own and read more on it here. They share some different hands-on ideas, verses, and verbiage for explaining each item. In short, each item represents the following:
Black Heart: our hearts without Christ, dead in sin, dirty
Red Heart with cross: a redeemed heart, accepting Christ into our heart which we are able to do because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross
White Heart: clean, forgiven, pure, how God sees our heart after we’ve accepted Christ into it
Green Leaf: growth, as we read the Bible & go to church we learn more about God and grow in our relationship with Him
Flame: as we grow in our relationship with God, we shine bright for others to see and hopefully come to know God as well
Crown: the crown reminds us of heaven and our hope for eternity with God, we don’t have to fear death anymore!
Ok! So that’s an overview of how the pocket project works and how I come up with project ideas. I’m all about it because it’s so versatile & easy. The kids love investing in it each week and having one great “masterpiece” to go home with that doesn’t clog up the fridge or find it’s way to the trash as easily like mine childhood projects did.
Not that I’m bitter, Mom. (I actually totally get it)
So I’m curious, what do you do for Sunday School craft projects? Leave me a comment below or let’s connect on Instagram! I’m always up for new ideas and inspiration, so please share.
Thanks for spending a few minutes away from the crazy with me today, chat again real soon! xx