April 4, 2009

Free Missions Curriculum

I downloaded Mission-Minded LIFE: Teaching With God's Heart for the World for our homeschool last fall, looked through it, was very impressed, and never used it. :-) Although I downloaded it for use in our homeschool, it contains so much information that portions of it and ideas from it could be used in children's ministry, youth groups and even missions training. The book may not be available for free much longer, so I wanted to make sure I posted about it.

The curriculum is written by Ann Dunagan, a homeschooling mother of seven, author, and co-founder (with her husband, Jon) of Harvest Ministry. She blogs about being a mission-minded family at the Missions and Your Family section of the Harvest Ministry website. Her articles are so encouraging! If you are a family with a heart for missions and you are trying to be a "missions-minded family," then take a look at her blog.

Teaching With God's Heart for the World is a two-volume out-of-print book that "presents a 'whirlwind tour' of God's enduring passion for missions - all-the-way through world history and all-across-the-globe."

I cannot give this extensive curriculum full justice here. As I said, it is written as a homeschool curriculum, but you will find teaching tips, missions ideas, and daily lessons that could easily be incorporated into children's ministry, youth ministry and missions teaching

This 600-plus page book is broken up into several sections because of its size, which makes it a bit cumbersome to navigate. Printing out the tables of contents for each volume and marking them with the downloaded section numbers would be very helpful.

This curriculum may not be available as a free download for long, so I encourage you to take advantage of it. The download is available here. Day 1 of the Daily Lesson Plans in Volume 1 Part 3 is missing, so don't miss the link for that, which is in the description paragraph of the Volume 1 Part 3 download.

If you download this and decide to use it in some type of ministry, I would love to hear how you are using it.

April 3, 2009

Names of Jesus Easter Garland

Hat tip to Keeper of the Home for sharing the link for this beautiful garland!

I adapted this to use as a children's ministry craft.We don't have many children attending our weekly ministry right now, nor do we have many workers, so at the time we are combining grades K-6. Here how I adapted this for my multi-aged class (directions are for Microsoft Word):

What you Need:

* list of names in order at the original post - just scroll down a bit
* I downloaded Sandy Text Hmk Bold, which is the font The Homespun Heart used - scroll down to download the free font or use whatever font you like best
* Microsoft Word or a word processing or other program of your choice - you could use graphics software to really make this pretty if you have time
* cardstock or plain paper and clear contact paper
* hole punches
* plain or decorative scissors
* ribbon (I used inexpensive 1/4" satin ribbon in different colors that I already had at home)


1. Make a new document in Microsoft Word and set the page to landscape and the margins as small as your printer allows.

2. "Draw" a circle using the Drawing toolbar and change the heigth and width to 4 inches in the "Size" tab in "Format AutoShape." Right-click on this circle, select "Order," then "Move behind text."

3. Copy and paste the circle 8 times (for a total of 9 circles), arrange them 3 on a page (total of 3 pages of 3), and fill each with a different color and texture using "Format AutoShape." I made the line the same color as as the fill.

4. "Draw" a new circle, resizing it to 3 inches. Put the first "name" in the circle by right-clicking on the circle and selecting "Add Text." I used the free Sandy Text font that I downloaded and sized it at 38. I had to do some adjusting to center it vertically.

5. Copy and paste this circle 8 times, changing and centering the text in each one. I tried to size them at 40. I sized "Jesus" at 48 and "Hosanna!" at 38 (it wouldn't fit at 40). It doesn't matter where you put these right now - I had them all below the first three pages from step 3.

6. Take the first 3-inch name circle and movee and center it onto the first 4-inch circle. I kept the font color black and the fill white, but I did change the line to the color of the background in "Format AutoShape." You could keep the line at no color and change the transparency of the background of the 3-inch circle to make the larger background show through a bit.

7. Repeat step 6 for all of the other 3-inch circles, putting them in the order listed.

8. I printed these on cardstock since we don't have many children right now. If you have a color copier available (which we don't), then you could copy them. I'll have other cost-saving options below if you have too many children to be printing these out! :-)

9. Cut out one set of printed circles (I printed on scratch paper and had my daughters cut them out) and lay them out on a table to figure out how long to cut the "garland." Cut enough lengths of ribbon for each child and tie small loops on each end (again, my daughters helped). Cut out 7-inch lengths of ribbon (9 for each length of garland) - my son did this. (I love my helpers!)

10. During craft time in class, each child cut out his/her own circles using his choice of plain or decorative scissors. S/he then punched a hole in each circle, chose a garland, and tied each circle in order on his/her garland. I had to help some children with tying and/or hole punching, but the craft was pre-assembled enough that it didn't take too long. Some children wanted to slide their circles directly onto the garland instead of tying them on, which worked. That is another option.

Other Options:

* If you have an older group of children and all of the supplies, let them follow the original instructions for this craft! :-)

* Backgrounds: Use scrapbook paper (as in original directions), construction paper, plain paper that the children color, cardstock that the children color, colored paper, or colored cardstock. Use what you have or can afford and pre-cut or have the children do their own cutting depending on the age of your group.

* Name Circles: Print yourself or cut out circles on whatever paper you want and have the children write the names themselves while you explain where they are in the Easter story. If you have an older group, they can do the cutting themselves.

* Ribbon: Use any ribbon you have on hand, twine, hemp, lanyard - think outside the box. If you don't have or can't afford ribbon, what about taping the circles together in a vertical or horizontal line or mounting them on paper that the children decorate? You could also use paperclips to hook them together.

From My Inbox - Week of March 29

I decided to begin sharing notable ministry-related links from my inbox each week, so here it goes for this week...