This post is for those of you who were interested in more ideas to use when teaching bible class to young children.
The first thing we do when starting a class is talk about who is in class and who is not. Some people like to use an attendance chart. I don't. At least not with the younger (ages 2-4) children. The reason is because I want to make it very clear who is there and who isn't. This way we can pray for those who are missing. I like to use pictures of the children for this activity. They love to see themselves and they recognize their friends as well. I have done this activity many different ways.
Above are two examples. The flower on the left was what I did one spring quarter. I had a metal bulletin board (made from metal sheets I found at Home Depot) and put grass on the bottom and the words on top "We're growing in God's Word". Then each child that was present, would place their flower on the board. We would count the flowers that were on the board and then we would count the flowers that I still had and would then talk about who was missing, why and that we would pray for them during prayer time. Another time I put their heads in little car windows and they would "drive" their cars from their house (a house on one side of the board) to the building (on the other side of the board). On the picture with Macy, it also had their memory verse for the quarter and when I would hold up each child's picture, they would say their verse before placing their picture on the board. I always have blanks for those who are visiting.
After we see who is in class, who is not, who came to worship with the kids, etc. we have a time for prayer. The first thing I do is ask "When we pray, who are we talking to?" and the children say "God!" Then we talk about how when we pray we can ask God for things and we can thank God for our blessings. I then remind them about who is gone from class, who we know is sick from the congregation, etc. and say something like, "Let's remember to ask God to help ______ get better." or "Let's ask God to make sure _____ has a safe trip while they are on vacation."
Then I tell the children that God has given us many blessings. This is can be a hard concept for children to grasp. So what I did was cut out pictures of things the children have or can thank God for-clothes, food, the world, animals, their car, their friends, their families, etc. Depending on the size of the class, I will let the children pick out one or two pictures to show what they are thankful for. The children can then hold them during our prayer to remind them what to say thank you for or they can put them up on one of our bulletin boards that I have labeled "I am thankful for . . ." If you look in the picture below, you will see the picture on the top has magnet tape on the back for this very purpose. We haven't always worshiped where we had access to a magnet board, so I used a cookie sheet instead. With older children, you could write these things down to give them ideas.
The next (and final activity for this post) activity we do is talk about The Bible. The first thing we do is ask "What is the Bible?" and the kids say "God's word". Of course if they are really young, we say it for them until they can do it their selves. Then we ask "How do you spell Bible?" and at this point I have a sign with the letters B-I-B-L-E on it or I pass out these and each child points to each letter and we say them out loud. Then we sing the B-I-B-L-E. Sounds boring, it is boring, but the kids love it. The littlest ones get really antsy and hold out their fingers because I will hold their finger and help them tap each letter as we spell it.
The Bible above is not a "real" bible, but one I made. You can make individual bibles like this or you can make a larger set of cards to hold up for this next activity.
The next thing we do is talk about how God's word is very special. We talk about how we should take care of our bibles and read them everyday to learn about God and Jesus. Then I have the children open the Bibles and we look at the pages. There are four examples of something that the children should not do their bibles-cut, rip, fold the pages or scribble.
We go through each page and I'll say "Oh dear, look at this. Someone has cut this page of the bible." or "Oh no! Someone was not treating this bible gently and this page has been torn or bent." or "Look at this! Someone has been scribbling in this Bible. Is that how we treat our Bibles?"
Then on the last page I have a heart and when we turn to that page I say, "What should we do with our Bibles/God's Word?" and they point to the heart and we say "We should love our Bibles/God's word." If you aren't comfortable cutting up an old Bible, you can just type up some words on a piece of paper and use those or you can draw a picture of a Bible with a pair of scissors, crayon, etc. around it and put a frown face or something to show it's not okay. I make sure not to say, "We never write/color in our Bibles" because many of us in fact do write notes or highlight certain passages.
Of course during each of these activities, we sing one or more songs that relate to that topic. Depending on the age of the children, I will go into greater detail about the bible, it's parts, the books, etc. On Wednesday nights we practice saying the books from memory. Even the youngest can do many without help! On Sunday morning I mainly focus on the book that our study comes from for that class.
Hope this gives you some more ideas. Depending on the size of your class, you have already filled up 15-20 minutes of class (or more!). These are 15-20 minutes that you don't need to plan out every week because the process is the same each week.