Volunteers Writing Curriculum on a Limited Budget

Barbara Graves —  October 14, 2010

Recently, Whitney George shared a great post about how Church on the Move writes a new series for their children’s ministry. You can check it out here.  That post started me thinking of how often a volunteer kidmin with a small budget finds limited choices for curriculum, prompting them to write their own. That was my situation when I first starting writing our curriculum. One option that I have used several times is to tie a series to a recently released movie. Since I didn’t have the budget, and I certainly don’t have the talent myself, to create amazing graphics, I could use the movie’s merchandise. The advantages are that there are often many items available that can be used for decor, games, object lessons, and prizes. It’s even easy to find inexpensive items that you can send home with each child as a reminder of the day’s lesson.

For example, we wanted to do a series emphasizing that God is always with us. We illustrated it using scenes from Toy Story 3 and our kids came away knowing that God is with us, to infinity and beyond! Just a quick run to Walmart and we had plenty of props readily available for our lessons and games. And the movie was full of situations that mirror our lives with God. Andy was going to a new college, and our kids often go to a new school or new class. In those times, God is with us. When the toys are facing the blaze at the landfill it brings to mind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego facing the fiery furnace. Again, God was with them. Andy decision on keeping his toys for himself or giving them away, lends itself easily to teach generosity like the widow of Zarephath, and God will always be with those who care for others.

You can find many situations in movies that have parallel spiritual situations. Using these in church gives you a “now and later” effect with your lesson. Kids will think about it now, when they are in church and you teach the lesson, and later when they watch the movie at home. Kids are going to watch those movies, often over and over again. If you have established a link between a spiritual lesson and certain scenes in that movie, every time they watch the movie, that lesson will be called to mind.

Barbara Graves

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Barbara is a married mother of 4 grown kids. She is the volunteer Children’s Pastor at Momentum Church in Woodstock, GA where she oversees kids from birth to 5th grade. She can often be found driving around north Georgia, usually with a cup of coffee in her hand.

6 responses to Volunteers Writing Curriculum on a Limited Budget

  1. What a great idea Barbara! Love the Toy Story 3 lessons idea! Can you share more on the lessons you did so I can steal…eh hem…I mean borrow them LOL.

    • Wendy, we are all theives, I mean, borrowers in Kidmin! LOL! This is the outline of our series:

      Theme: God is With Us: To Infinity and Beyond
      Scripture: “And be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Matt.28:20
      -When the situation seems impossible: God is With Us: Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego
      Movie scene: Rescued from the fire at the landfill
      -When we are the only ones standing for what is right: God is with us: Daniel & Lions Den
      Movie scene: After the daycare kids “play” with the kids & the potato heads have all their parts in the wrong places. I tied this to what Daniel’s enemies thought would happen to him in the lion’s den, but God not only protected Daniel but later, that fate came to his enemies instead.
      -When we are outnumbered: God is with Us: Gideon & the 300.
      Movie scene: The toys escaping from the daycare (this week I was light on the Toy Story application because we used our gummy bear army that week)
      –When we are generous: God is With Us: The widow at Zarephath.
      Movie scene: Andy gives his toys. I made a huge connection here that Andy’s toys were his. They belonged to him, he had every right to keep them, they were important. But when we are generous with what is OURS, God will provide & we learn what real joy is. This was a very powerful lesson in MomentumKids.

      That’s the basis. If you have any other questions, just shoot me an email!

  2. Great post and some great ideas! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Great post, Barbara. Even though we have used movie clips quite a bit, I have never even thought of the possibility that it would be reinforced when they watch the movie again at home. Brilliant! 🙂 A few years back when Narnia came out, we wrote our curriculum around that. It was amazing how God opened our eyes to see so many things in the movie that related to our relationship to God. And not just the obvious things…even obscure things in the movie can make a spiritual point come alive. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Sarah! I put great value on review, and by the time we review the main points from a series, we have associated that movie clip with the designated “truth” so many times, it’s an automatic reaction by most of the kids. I love it when parents will say, “we were watching a movie, and my child said,……” It lets me know that they really do think of those lessons!