1. Group Time for Preschoolers
  2. Purpose Statement
  3. Before the Conference
    1. Focal Wall, Room Setup, and Decoration Ideas
    2. Audio/Visual Needs
    3. Preparation Steps: Resources to Collect and Prepare
  4. During the Conference
    1. Procedure Steps
  5. After the Conference

One Day Conference Plan Liz Fowler, Writer


Group Time for Preschoolers


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Purpose Statement

This is a one-hour conference for preschool Sunday School teachers and leaders. The purpose of this conference is to provide ideas and training for group time for preschoolers.

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Before the Conference

Focal Wall, Room Setup, and Decoration Ideas
Select a focal wall in the room. Set tables in front of the wall. Place chairs in a semicircle facing the tables.

§ Choose bright colored fabric or tablecloths to cover the tables.
§ Use pre-cut or printed letters to spell GROUP TIME. Attach the letters to the wall, using “safe” tape (or attach letters on a strip of poster board).
§ Display resources on the tables: Read-to-Me Bible (HCSB®), teaching pictures, musical instruments, game supplies, and other resources to use during group time,

Audio/Visual Needs

§ CD player
§ Bible Teaching for Kids: Music and More Enhanced CD
§ praise and worship music CD


Preparation Steps: Resources to Collect and Prepare

1. Copy five group time elements on card stock to use for group activities. (See procedure step 3.)
2. Print handouts: Group Time 101 (Item 1) and Top 10 Tips (Item 2). Place handouts in chairs for conferees. Provide pens or pencils.
3. Display the book Teaching Preschoolers: First Steps Toward Faith.*


4. Use a leader guide to make five copies of group time for next week’s session to use for group activities.

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During the Conference

Procedure Steps

1. Play music as the conferees arrive. Guide conferees to form five groups.
2. Greet the conferees and introduce yourself. Read story from Teaching Preschoolers: First Steps Toward Faith*:

“Hurry, Hurry!” Mrs. Willis called to the class of four-year-olds. “Let’s clean up the room. It’s almost time for our Bible story.” Mrs. Willis sat on the floor, guiding the children to sit in a circle with her. Some how she always felt a slight sense of dread when it came to this point in the session. For her, group time was a tortured few minutes of trying to make the boys and girls sit still and be quiet while she told the Bible story. If Mrs. Willis had understood how to incorporate a variety of activities, she could have made group time a fun and enjoyable learning experience for the preschoolers – and for herself as well.
Ask: “Have you ever felt that way?” Say: “Let’s talk about how to improve group time in Sunday School. “

3. Explain the purpose of group time—group time is the time during a session when the children and teachers come together for group learning experience*. Talk about the hows, whens, and whats of group time.
§ How?—start with the basic parts of group time.

Using the five groups of conferees, assign each group one of the following elements of group time:

1. Bible story
2. games with Bible content
3. music
4. Bible learning appllied to life experiences
5. reinforcing Bible truth and Bible story

After assignments are made, give each group a copy of the group time plans for a Sunday School sessoin. (See preparation step 4.) Ask the groups to discuss the elements and plan how to use the elements for the suggested group time. Allow time for each group to explain and demonstrate how their element is used in group time.

§ When?—consider the best time for group time.

Emphasize and explain that group time can take place at the beginning or the
end of the session:
With back-to-back teaching sessions, such as multiple Sunday Schools or music and missions, the beginning of the session may be the best time for group time. If the second session begins with a group time, the transition may be smoother as one group of leaders sets up the room while the other leaders prepare to leave.
Group time at the end of the session may be best for a smooth transition to Extended Teaching Care (ETC) or arrival of parents.

§ What?—think about what happens before, during, and after group time.

Before—choose a place in the room for group time.
Free the area of distractions so children can focus on the
     activities in group time.  
Arrange the children in a semicircle with their backs to the door,
if possible.
Guide preschoolers to sit in chairs or cross-legged on the floor.
Remember that transitions to group time are important.
Transitions provide opportunities for children to learn to cooperate and
be considerate of one another.”
Preschoolers need plenty of notice that it is time to clean up
and come to group time.*
    During—engage preschoolers in group time.
Call attention to Top Ten Tips (Item 1) handout.
Ask conferees to list their tips, and then encourage volunteers to
share their ideas.
Review group time information* from Teaching Preschoolers: First
Steps Toward Faith:

1. Movement, interactions, and games are all part of group time
2. Although preschoolers are active, they can learn in a group environment.
3. Preschoolers need opportunities to talk about what they have experienced during the session.
4. A variety of music can be used in group time. Songs can be chosen that prepare the way for settling and listening. A teacher may choose one or two fun songs and songs that relate the to biblical content for the session.
5. Using a game at the end of group time can help keep preschoolers’ attention while waiting to transition to next activity or waiting for parents to arrive.
6. Group time length—activities should change every three to five minutes. For example, three-year-olds, 5 to 10 minutes; four-year-olds, 10 to 15 minutes; and five-year-olds and kindergartners, 15 to 20 minutes. Begin the year with a shorter group time, and adjust the length as teachers get to know the preschoolers in the class.
7. Preschoolers can be involved as helpers during group time.
8. Pictures can be used to illustrate a Bible story, explan unfamilar words, or for games such as matching a Bible verse or Bible word to a picture.
9. An age-appropriate Bible should be used in group time. Preschoolers need to be involved in touching and looking at the Bible.

Challenge participants to choose one tip to implement before their next group time.
After— plan the end of group time.
Remember that transitions from group time are also important.
Preschoolers need clear instructions at the end of group time
such as talking about arrival of parents or other teachers.

4. Comment: “Now that we’ve covered the basics, I want to give you a good way to remember what we have talked about today.” Guide conferees to complete Group Time 101 (Item 2) handout.

G   games— action and Bible games
R    resources—leader guide, leader pack, enhanced CD
O    opportunities to move
U    understand age and attention span of preschoolers
P    pictures—for illustration or to recall Bible story
T   transition
I     interaction
M   music
E    environment

5. Conclude the conference with prayer. Thank conferees for attending. Offer to answer any questions or assist people as needed.

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After the Conference
1. Pack resources, materials, and focal wall items.

2. Accept help from volunteers, if needed.
3. Re-set room before leaving.
4. Express thanks to church staff and others who hosted the conference.

*Adapted from Teaching Preschoolers: First Steps: Toward Faith, Sanders and Bradberry ©2000 LifeWay Press


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One Day Training Conference Plan                                                                                                                        1