Teaching The Little Ones

I’ve been teaching the “baby” class again for the past month. I haven’t been in this class for several years. I have really missed teaching them. We are in a baby slump at our congregation so we just have a couple in this age range. I have 2 in class on a regular basis. We are blessed with frequent visitors in this class due to young families coming back home for a visit.

I started teaching a baby class before I ever had children. My oldest is now 25. At the time, we had 3 little boys all nearly the same age in our congregation. Their parents thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to start a class for their age. We had a great time but those poor little boys got a very novice teacher. I got to see one of them for the first time in probably 20 years this summer. It was good to hug his neck.

Not long after starting that first class, I had a baby of my own. While visiting family at Bellaire, I took him to their baby class. Kelia Ballou was the teacher. I was amazed at how she taught that class. She had 10-15 babies in that class. Each baby sat on the floor in a semi-circle with a mom or dad right behind him/her. Those babies were captivated by her teaching the entire time. I went home that day with a new enthusiasm for teaching.

Kelia was using To Toddlers With Love by Palma Smiley. I soon began using it as well. This curriculum, while not perfect, is wonderful for this age group. If you’re not familiar with it, check out their website: Early Childhood Curriculum.  This curriculum teaches one lesson for a month and has plenty of activities/songs to keep teacher and students learning the entire class time.  The lessons are independent of each other so you can use them in any order.

This last month we studied David.  I chose this lesson first mainly because I had such a nice full box of activities all ready to go.  Palma Smiley recommends that you (and anyone else you can get to help you) make the activities and store them in boxes so they are ready to use whenever they are needed.  I have my personal set of boxes that I have used over the years and at each of the congregations we’ve attended I’ve helped them get a set of boxes to keep at the building.

For years, I would scour the clearance aisles, buy the baby kids’ meals at McD’s and confiscate toys out of my kids stash to supply my boxes with.  It’s amazing the things you can find to fill these boxes.  I have really tried to stay away from toys that represented a movie character to the kids or a toy that looks too cartoony.  Even though Nemo is a real looking fish, in most kids’ minds, he is a movie character.  Some of the fast food restaurants put their best toys (at least for my boxes) in their baby kids’ meals.  You have to ask specifically for these but they are worth it.  I have had my whole family buy happy meals with the baby toys so I could get enough for my class.

There is an interesting thing I noticed years ago and it happened again just Sunday AM.  These lessons are expected to last 1 month — that’s both Sunday and Wednesday classes.  Here in Huntington, that means 7 or 8 classes a month (we have a 1st Wednesday night singing each month).   With the older kids (around 2 years old) you can always tell when it’s time to move on to the next lesson.  They will get bored.  Sunday, Luke got bored.  He started out the month a little unsure of what all these activities were I was showing him.  Then, after a couple of weeks, he was really getting into them and feeling quite confident.  Then, Sunday, he was showing a lack of interest.  Time to move on to the next box.  Seeing as that was July 31st, it was perfect timing.  Sunday, August 7th, we’ll start our Baby Jesus box.

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