Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day 2014

Snow!  Yes, that's right... yesterday we had one to two inches of white winter goodness fall in my corner of the world.  Today, I'll be doing all of my favorite snow activities.  I'll be drinking hot chocolate, eating cereal (the snow meal of champions), and laying around watching Gilmore Girls and catching up on my DVR!  Oh, I'll also be eating my last little bit of snow cream!  

Sweet Snow Bliss! 

Happy Snow Day!

P.S. If you are looking for ideas to keep your little one's busy check out Miss Mary's list of Top 10 ideas for cold weather fun!  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Ice Cream

I Scream!  You Scream!  We all scream for... Snow? 

That's right folks.  My literal corner of the world is currently estimated to get 3 inches of snow over the next 24 hours.  I'm a little bit partially still in disbelief, partially dreading it, and partially excited about the idea of hibernating with a good book and my wedding plans.  Who else is getting snow?  If you're getting ready to be home bound with some little one's check out my list of top 10 ideas for cold-weather fun

And ironically... the day that the snow is supposed to start falling my letter for today is I! 

That's right... on one of the coldest days of the year, right before the Snow hibernation of 2014 I'm talking about Ice Cream!  I'm telling you that #KidsMin has some of the best perks of any job ever!  (I'm sorry for shouting I just get so excited!)  What other job do you get to have snacks on a daily basis and one of my favorite snacks to give my little one's is Ice Cream! 

Who gets snacks on a regular basis?
Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers
This age group receives a snack at every class.  Our nurseries are always stocked with a big supply of goldfish and animal crackers and they receive a small handful at every service.  They are growing and they need that little extra nourishment before they go home for lunch or dinner.  

And Miss Mary... I also get snacks.  I can not count the number of Sundays that I've rushed out of the house without breakfast and ended up sneaking into the nursery for some goldfish to get me through the morning.  Can I get an 'Amen' or an 'I'm With You' from my fellow #KidsMin?  

All of my other snacks are done on a spontaneous basis.  My kids don't expect them at every class, but they love it when they are brought as a surprise.  I like to surprise my 3rd-5th graders with donuts on Sunday mornings for Connections.  I like to surprise my Kindergartners with the random cookie or pudding pack.  During those long summer months I'll bring ice cream treats and during these epically cold winters I bring hot chocolate with marshmallows (I add ice to the cup so there is no chance of burning!

Here are a few rules that I always follow when it comes to snacks!

I have a very strict NO PEANUT policy in my #KidsMin.  Peanut allergies are too highly common and they are very serious.  If you serve items with nuts please use extreme caution!

I know what my kids are allergic too and I simply don't serve it.  

I serve sweets in moderation.  I can't pass out ice cream and chocolate candy in the same service.  I want to be liked by my parents.  

If I'm serving something unusual I place a sign at check-in and ask parents to inform volunteers if they have any objection to what we are serving that day.  Here's an example of one that I used over the summer. 

Don't be afraid to enforce an object lesson with a creative snack.  And those holidays we talked about yesterday, snacks go great with those too.  

Snacks are fun so don't be afraid to mix it up and surprise your little one with an extra special treat!  For some fun and unique snack ideas feel free to visit my Tasty Treats Pinterest board here!  

Tomorrow I'm talking about Juggling and how I manage to get it all done.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Holidays

Hello, Friends!  I have missed you all.  
Here is the truth... Work and wedding planning has literally taken over my life.
Literally when I am not working I'm sitting with my laptop in my lap researching wedding info.  
Everyone wants answers about every decision right then. 
As a result, my blogging has been pretty spotty.  But, I'm determined to reach my goal of 182 blog posts this year and I with this post (#13) I am 7% of the way there.  Not bad.  

Today I'm covering the letter H in my #KidsMin from A to Z series! 

I absolutely adore holidays!  I think it comes from growing up with a mom who did everything that she could to make holidays be something that was treasured.  Whether it was Christmas or Valentine's Day she always had something up her sleeve to make it special for us.  And let's not forget that this was all before Pinterest.  She had to come up with her ideas on her own.

How do I incorporate holidays into my #KidsMin?  Sometimes it is in the simplest of ways!  The Sunday after Valentine's day I host a Valentine's day party for my connections classes.  We read a book talking about God's love, eat tasty donuts, and I give out Valentine's to everyone.  I host a Christmas party for my kids every year on the last Wednesday night of the year.  

The biggest holidays for us are obviously Christmas & Easter.  It's very important to me that I make the celebrations for these as big as possible.  Why?  Because I want for my kids to truly celebrate the birth, death, and life of the Savior of our world!  If it takes an Easter egg hunt to remind kids that Jesus is their Savior then let's do it. 

Another reason that I love to celebrate holidays is because we tend to have a lot of visitors during those times.  More people come to church on Christmas and Easter than they do at any other time!  If that doesn't make us want to put our best foot forward, I don't know what will.  Holidays are a great time for outreach.  Figure out a way that you can draw people into your church and make it fun and exciting for their kids.  Parents will go where their kids are happy and where they know that their kids are loved and cared for.  Sometimes all it takes to make that happen is a Valentine's from their favorite #KidsMin volunteer.  Or maybe you hand out goody bags at Christmas.  Who knows?  That might be the only gift your little one's receive. 

I also love to coordinate my lessons with holidays.  It not only gives the kids something new and different a couple of Sundays out of the year, but it's also great for when you need to catch up or you are ahead of your normal lessons.  The great news is that there are literally tons of resources online to find lessons related to a holiday.  Literally all that you have to do is web search for the holiday and kids ministry lesson and you will see tons of options.  

For some great ideas on how to celebrate Holidays be sure to visit and follow my Pinterest boards here.  

Tomorrow I'll be back talking about Ice Cream!  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Games

Did anyone else enjoy their 3 day weekend?  Can I also just say that I love that Friday is our staff off day leaving me with essentially a 4 day weekend!  Can I get a Hallelujah!  What did I do over the weekend?  I soaked up all the love that I can get!  I was surrounded by my family that loves me and I soaked it up like water.  I also watched movies on Monday.  Lots and lots of movies.  And did wedding planning.  Lots and lots of wedding planning!

Speaking of wedding planning... Guess which girl found her dress over the weekend?  
This girl did!  And on the 3rd try too!  Thank you Lord for favor! 

Today, I've got a short but fun post for #KidsMin from A to Z! 

Here's a recap of what we have done so far:

I'm not sure who has more fun with #KidsMin my little one's or Miss Mary!  I LOVE to play games!  No seriously, I love to play games.  One of my favorite things to do on AWANA nights are to rock out during the scooter races.  I'm not even kidding.  So, how do we do game time and when do we play games. 

Let me just throw this out there: I'm so ready for the polar vortex to be over so that we can go outside again!  Anyone else with me?  We do lots of organized games with our little one's!  They love AWANA game time first of all!  Some of their other favorites include: dodge ball, Simon Say's, musical chairs, etc... They love the classics!  

I love to play games with my kids because I want them to see that Miss Mary doesn't just get on to them all the time.  I want them to see that Miss Mary loves them and wants to have fun with them.  I push kids on the swing set, I participate in dodge ball, I throw the bean bags if they want me to.  I keep our games simple with instructions that are easy to follow.  

When I need a game to match one of my lessons I pop on Pinterest and find lots of cute and easy to assemble ideas!  I try to switch it up and teach them one new game every month.  For some game ideas feel free to visit my Pinterest board here

See you tomorrow where I'm covering one of my favorites!  Holidays! 

Happy Tuesday! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Social- All about 3 {2014- #2}

I'm linking up again this week for Sunday Social!  Two weeks in a row... I'd call that blogging progress.  This week's questions all come in answers of three.  For an ordered person like me I think that's pretty grand! 

Sunday Social

Top 3 favorite kinds of food
1) Italian. 
2) BBQ
3) International flavors

First 3 things you do in the morning
1) Talk to Jesus
2) Check e-mails
3) Get ready for my day

Last 3 things you do at night
1) Say goodnight and I love you to the fiance'
2) Watch an episode of Friends
3) Talk to Jesus

3 TV shows you NEVER miss
1) Chicago Fire
2) Grey's Anatomy
3) Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
If my fiance' is reading this he is probably cringing and vowing to put a stop to the Honey Boo Boo watching after our marriage.  What can I say?  I think she's hilarious!  

3 places you want to visit
1) Italy
2) Greece
3) Cape Town, SA 

3 people you can always count on
1) Fiance'
2) Mommy
3) Sister

I loved this week's Sunday Social.  It was short, sweet, and to the point.  
Also, it was numbered.  My favorite.  

Did we have anything in common?
Let's talk about it!  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Top 10 Ideas for Cold Weather Fun

I don't know what the weather is like in your corner of the blog sphere.  But, in my southern corner (you know, the corner where it's supposed to be nice and warm) it is freezing!  Seriously, it's cold!  When my friend Audra described our corner of the world as the North Pole she wasn't kidding.  Yesterday morning, I had to stop and put gas in my car, and I could feel my limbs freezing as I stood in the cold.  And no, I'm not exaggerating.   

Here's a question I get asked a lot and see floating around in blog land a lot.
What do we do with our little ones when it's this cold outside?

I feel for my blog friends who live in places where they've literally been trapped inside with little one's for weeks at a time.  
Let's face it... we love our little one's, but they have to have constant activities to keep them busy and fun things to do.  

That's where this post came in.  
With a high of 44 degrees today I thought I'd put together a little what to do with your little one's when it's freezing outside.  
I hope this helps all of my anxious mommy's who are quickly running out of options!

Make an indoor fort
Grab some blankets and some furniture and let your little one's get creative.  After you've made your fort grab some books or some movies, make a batch of hot cocoa, and settle in for a day of books and movies. 

Have a dance party
I know it sounds silly.  Let your hair down, swing your toddlers onto your hip, and grab the hands of your 8 years old.  Put on some happy music and dance away!  It's a great way to let your little ones dance off some energy and have a great time. 

Go on a scavenger hunt
Make an easy to hard list of objects for your little one's to find throughout your house.  Hand over your cell phone or digital camera and let them have it.  You can have them looking for five things that are yellow or the garlic press.  Set a time limit or don't, give a prize or don't.  They'll have fun taking pictures and searching.  

Have a crafting party
That's right... I said it.  Pull out all of your craft supplies, throw down some butcher paper and let your kids color and paint until their hearts content.  Bring out the things that your kids normally don't get to craft with.  If your worried about them getting messy, don't be.  After their craft party you can set them up for a warm bath play time and they'll get clean and have more fun while doing it.  PS- The great thing about butcher paper is that after they've gone to bed if you don't want to keep it you can just wad it up and toss it.  Easy peasy clean up! 

Bring the snow inside
My corner of the world would give anything for snow, but all we ever get is cold weather.  If you're lucky enough to have lots of white goodness on the ground outside scoop some into a big pot and bring it inside for your kids to play with.  Set them in the floor of your kitchen, give them a couple of pots and pans, throw in some food coloring, and let them have at it. 

Bundle them up for a lunch break play break
 Do you desperately need to get out of the house?  Warm up that car, bundle your kids up, and head to your local fast food place for lunch.  Buy a couple of kids meals and let your kids play in the play place after they are done.  The change in environment will be good for the little one's and good for you.  I recommend going to a fast food place that has coffee.  Let the little one's play and you mom should enjoy a latte.  

Put on a puppet show
I have to be honest for my creative spirit this is my favorite!  You don't have to do anything elaborate either.  While all of your supplies are out from your craft party, grab some of dad's old long socks and make some puppets.  After your done grab a sheet out of the closet, string it up, and voila... you have an instant puppet stage.  Mommy & Daddy can put on a show for the little one's, the little one's can put on a show for mommy & daddy and they can have fun for hours.

Skype Grandma & Graddaddy
Take some time out of your day to let your little one's talk to their grandparents.  You can also call ahead and ask grandma to have a book ready to read to your little one's via Skype.  Set your little one's up with a bowl of popcorn and let them regale their grandparents with all of their grand adventures for the day.  

Monopoly or board game marathons
If your little one's are old enough to enjoy board games set up a marathon or a tournament.  They will love the chance to play with mom & dad.  Make sure you have your bowl of popcorn handy, some nice music, and your game face on. 

Make a movie
Oooh I love this one too.  I wish that I had little one's of my own already so I could do this.  Pull out your video camera and tell your kids that your going to make a movie.  Come up with a story line or just tell your kids to act silly.  However you decide to do it, not only will you be occupied for a while, but you'll have a priceless treasure to keep forever.  Your little one's won't stay little forever so you'll be able to look back years from now on these cold days with a smile.  

Yes, it's cold outside, but that doesn't mean we have to be bored or that our little one's are running wild!  There are a lot of fun and exciting activities  that we can do to keep our little one's happy and our mommy's and daddy's from going nuts! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

High Five for Friday {2014- #1}

Happy Friday and Wedding planning weekend to me!  I'm so excited to get to spend the weekend with all of my favorite people.  I'm even more excited to spend the weekend trying on lots of beautiful white dresses if you know what I mean.  Which I think you do!  It's like a fairy tale come true. 

Here's what else made my week pretty great! 

Good hair days... I mean seriously with the length that my hair is getting now just having a day where it looks halfway decent is beginning to be a miracle.  I desperately need a trim so it spends most of it's time in a classic low pony-tail so a day where I can where it down is truly an accomplishment. 

Catching myself staring at my beautiful ring at least 10 times every hour... It's gorgeous right!  Enough said about that.  

Realizing that my Christmas gift from my sister is the perfect bag to hold all of my wedding planning supplies in... This Coach purse is adorable!  My soon to be sister gave it to me for Christmas and while it's supposed to be an overnight bag I've found it's perfect for holding my wedding planner and journal, and a couple of pens.  Because yes, I do have to carry it with me everywhere! 

Learning how to be a pioneer woman by cooking dinner for my sweet fiance'... If you've never had a fried chicken taco you are missing out!  They are so good.  I'm determined to be a good wife and I want to be able to provide my new family with delicious meals.  I used this delicious recipe from the Pioneer Woman and the fiance' loved it!  As an added positive I didn't cut myself and only burnt my thumb one time while cooking the entire meal. 

Finding a venue and picking a date... The fiance' and I were so excited to finally pick a venue and settle on a date.  We've been planning a short engagement so this Bride has been a little stressed with finding a place that was available and had everything we wanted in it.  We found a beautiful church in our area that has plenty of room for our guests and a great staff to work with us.  April 5th here we come!  

This #KidsMin had a great week and I hope you did too! 

With so many things going on this week and this weekend I decided to give you a glimpse into my life today and come back with #KidsMin from A to Z... Games on Monday.  I'm sticking to my goal this year to put people first and blogging second.  While my initial goal was to finish A to Z in January I've already pushed into February on my calendar, and I don't even mind.  I'd rather spend time focusing more on each letter's content than to write off a post in 10 minutes and get it out there just to do it.  

If all goes according to plan next week I should be covering...
Ice Cream
and Kids.  

Although, as we learned yesterday... Plans change and flexibility is often required.  
It's about Grace and not perfection even in the blogging world. 

Happy Weekend

Thursday, January 16, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Flexibility & Follow Up

Two days ago, my fiance' and I picked a venue and set a wedding date!  

I am so excited and relieved.  I never imagined how hard it would be to find a place that we both liked, that was big enough for all of our guests, and that was semi-affordable.  Can I just say how crazy is it that people expect you to get married in the grass on their farm, and have your reception under a barn roof for $6,000.  Does that blow anyone else's mind?  

This is our we are so excited that we finally find a place face!  Now we just have to pick the food, find a dress, find a suit/tux, pick a flower girl, decide on the flowers, find a photographer, etc... My checklists are getting out of control!  

That's why I am now two days behind on my A to Z posts!  I was busy picking out venues and my Wednesday was crazy!  We had Double Bucks night in AWANA last night and it was a lot of fun and I'm so proud of my little one's and all that they accomplished.  Here's my promo card!  Feel free to e-mail me if you would like a template (  

Today, I'm getting back on the bandwagon!

I am the epitome of what many people would refer to as a perfectionist.  When I am working I like for things to be perfect.  I don't do anything halfway, and I plan everything down to the very last detail.  No, seriously... the last detail.  I pick out color-coordinating napkins last detail.  When I am planning events, Sunday School, AWANA, anything I want everything to work out perfectly.  The first six months that I worked in Children's Ministry for full-time I was a nervous wreck.  When things didn't go perfectly, I got upset.  If the details didn't line up, I went home and felt as if I had failed.  It took me quite some time before I realized that I had to have some flexibility in my ministry.  Here's the thing, when your working with kids it isn't going to always go perfectly.  We have to be flexible!  Things will not always go as planned.  I've learned how to be flexible from watching my little one's.  They don't care when things don't go perfectly.  They just roll with the punches and keep on going.  This is what is so hard for leaders and volunteers.  

This is one of my favorite quotes.
Jesus never called us to be perfect in our ministries.
He called us to be vessels of grace.  
We can not forget that grace extends to us as well.  

Kids in our ministries want to know that they are cared for and loved.  They want to know that when they aren't in our ministries that they are missed.  Follow-up is an area that I personally have struggled in.  It's easy to let a week go by without sending out 'I Miss You' postcards.  It's easier still to let two weeks go by and then maybe three.  It's easy to forget to call and check on your volunteer who was out sick last night.  But, it's important to not let these things happen.  When your kids aren't at church for two weeks, send them a postcard and let them know that they were missed.  If your volunteers are sick, give them a call and see how they are feeling.  It isn't enough just to care for people only when they are in our building.  We have to care enough to go beyond our building.  We have to get out from our buildings and reach out to those around us. 

I've heard that one of the first things that they teach salesman is that the follow up is crucial to their success.  I've wondered why that is?  And I think it's because that the follow up is where they connect and say I really care about you and making this sale.  It's the same thing in our ministries.  Follow-up is where we show people that we care about them.  Don't let this slip by you or be forgotten about.  

Tomorrow, I'll be around for high 5 for Friday and I'll be talking all about the letter G... for GAMES! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Expectations

Happy Monday, friends!  I hope that your weekends (and especially Sundays) were full of fun, laughter, and life change for some little one's.  I had a great Sunday with my little one's.  Then again, I knew it was going to be a great Sunday when I walked in the door and I had a little one running for a Miss Mary hug.  The #KidsMin life is sweet for sure.  I had a fabulous morning with my 3rd-5th graders.  I walked in the door at 9:20 (10 minutes before class starts) and I had 4 kids sitting at the table, Bibles open, waiting for me and asking me to do sword drills.  It was the most bizarre but heart warming Sunday.  And as an added Bonus I got the rare pleasure of attending church during the second service with my fiance'!  It was a truly great morning. 

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's Sunday Social.  If you've always wondered why I started blogging, who my favorite bloggers are, and what my favorite blog posts are you should totally visit here and check it out!  It was really fun to take a break from my #KidsMin from A to Z series but I'm back today.  We are 15% of the way through and still have a lot of great letters left!  I mean, come on... this week we are going to spend a day talking about Ice Cream.  I scream!  You scream!  We all scream for Ice Cream!  (And then we send little one's home with their parents... best part of the job!) 

B is for Butcher Paper and Bibles 
C is for Curriculum and Communication
D is for Do It Yourself

When I first began working in full time kids ministry (almost 2 years ago now... wow is that hard to believe) I had such high hopes and ideals for my little one's.  I had visions of kids sitting attentively in their chairs hanging on to my every word as I poured my soul out in my teaching.  I believed that we would play fun games and when I said stop everyone would halt in their tracks.  Whoa!  Was I mistaken or what?  We all know that kids ministry isn't that easy.  If it was, we would probably have less burnt out and frustrated Children's Pastors and a lot more happy little ones.  Here is what I realized after about 3 months in full time kids ministry.  It's all about the expectations.  

If I became frustrated and just expected my little ones to run wild and take over my kids ministry then guess what... they would do just that!  I learned that I had to make my expectations for my little one's simple and clear.  When Miss Mary is speaking they are expected to have good listening bodies.  Their hands are expected to be in their laps, they are expected to be sitting in a chair, their eyes are expected to be on me, and their mouths are expected to be closed.  When Miss Mary says walk instead of run they are expected to walk.  

The key to kids and expectations and order is to communicate your expectations clearly and simply.  

Here is a great example.  Yesterday morning I was teaching 3rd-5th grade Sunday School and we had a really fun game to play that involved playing tag around our classroom.  We have a fairly large classroom so I wasn't too concerned, but before we started I clearly communicated my expectations to my class.  I told them that we were going to have a great time playing tag, but they were not to yell (as classes meet right beside us) and that they were not to get too aggressive as we were playing inside and not out.  I also clearly communicated that I expected these rules to be followed or we would stop the game and not play anymore.  We had a great time playing tag, no one got hurt, and hopefully the classes meeting around us weren't disturbed too much.  In fact, I only had to give one reminder not to yell for the whole 5 minutes of the game.  

It really is all about expectations!  

You can take this same concept and even apply it to your volunteers and parents.  It's about making sure that your expectations are communicated clearly and they will more than likely be followed.  Sure there are always those issues where a kid tries to push your buttons, but I have found in my experience that that is the exception and not the majority. 

What are some ways that you communicate your expectations and make sure that they get followed? 

Oh, and P.S.  Tomorrow it's all about 2 #KidsMin favorites: Flexibility & Follow Up!  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Social {2014- #1}

I am really hoping to participate in Sunday Social a lot more this year.
This is my favorite link-up that I've ever participated in simply because I really feel like the guided questions really help you to get to know other blogs and to make new blogging friends.  

This week it's back to the beginning and it's all about the blog! 

Sunday Social

What is the name of your blog?  How long have you been blogging?
The name of my blog is #KidsMin Calling (#KidsMin= Kids Ministry) and I have been blogging since January of 2013. 

Why do you blog?
I blog because I'm passionate about what I do.  It sounds really cliche' but it's true.  I'm passionate about kids ministry and I find that I spend a lot of time looking for ideas online.  And I remember times of not being able to find what I was looking for.  I blog because of one of my ideas can inspire a Children's Pastor or parent or volunteer, and then in turn they can change a child's life and then I have made a difference.  

What is the first blog you ever followed?
Enjoying the Small Things

What is your favorite post you wrote in 2013? 
It's hard to narrow it down to my favorite post.  How about a top 3?

What are your top blogging goals for 2014? 
My top and only goal is to blog consistently and end the year with at least 182 published posts.  That would put me at an average of one blog post every two days.  Why not every day?  Well, I have a full time job and I'm getting married and about to have a life.  A girl has to have some priorities.

Top 3 favorite blogs to follow
Mix & Match Family
Kelly's Korner
Under the Sycamore

Happy Sunday to all of my friends! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Do It Yourself

It's Friday, and this is my 5th day in a row to have a blog post ready!
Bring on the weekend!  For one thing I get to see my fiance' (saying that never gets old).  After two weeks apart we are so ready to see each other.  We will also get to spend Sunday getting to do fun wedding stuff like picking a date (officially) and deciding on a wedding venue.  Two things that all of our loved ones are getting pretty desperate to know.  And let's be honest, this Bride is ready to get into full fledged picking out flowers, designing centerpieces, and buying a dress wedding planning.  I will promise to not let the blog get to overrun with wedding stuff between now and wedding day, but a girl has to be able to share something.  

Speaking of sharing something... this is a letter in my new series that you do NOT want to miss.  
B is for Butcher Paper and Bibles 
C is for Curriculum and Communication

That's right, today I'm talking all about ways to cut costs, get creative, and do things yourself.  One thing that I is very important to me is running my ministries on cost-effective budgets.  I'm very aware of the fact that I am using God's money to minister and I want to make the most of it!  One of the biggest ways that I do that is by doing things myself.  I think it's great if you have a large budget and you can buy things already made and put together, but that just doesn't work for me.  

Here's a great example... VBS and crafts.  When I was coordinating my VBS this year I began investigating the cost of crafts.  Just to give you an idea I had an average of 110 kids every night.  Now, to buy the craft packs from the distributor (which again if you can afford to do is great) would have cost me close to $1,000!  When I saw that price my jaw dropped.  However, what I chose to do instead was to gather the supplies myself to still make the same crafts from my local craft stores.  By shopping smartly, using coupons, and throwing a craft prep party to pre-package our crafts I cut that $1,000 estimate into a third.  

I know that so many times we want our ministries to be fabulous and we think that means everything must look top notch and professional.  While it is important that we do things with excellence, that doesn't mean that everything has to look perfect.  Does your nursery need a new paint job?  Head to your local hardware store, buy your paint, and throw a painting party for your volunteers.  Have them help you do it yourself.  You'll save money just by not paying for a professional painter.  Have you been wanting a puppet stage?  Build one for yourself. 

Here's what is important to remember about doing it yourself... Everything is possible!  If I looked at projects and believed that I couldn't make them happen then I would never get anything done.  I would have to buy everything and my budget would be shot for the year.  Do you need new postcards or promotional items?  Design them yourself.  Are you looking for new and creative crafts?  Scrounge around in your resource or supply room and get creative.  It's nothing for our staff members to come into my office once a week and see me sitting on the floor surrounded by a glue gun and craft supplies working on a new project.  

The important thing to remember is that you don't have to buy everything new and to get creative!  Don't be afraid to think outside of the box and use what you have laying around.  One of the questions I get asked the most frequently is... Did you make that?  When I say yes people are often amazed at what I can come up with.  Bottom line... if your looking to cut your budget do less buying and more making.  

For more ideas on ways that you can Do It Yourself feel free to visit my Pinterest boards here

Next week I'll be talking about:
Flexibility and Follow-Up
Ice Cream

Those are going to be super fun days that you don't want to miss!  

Have a fabulous weekend! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Curriculum & Communication {Part 2}

This week is absolutely flying by and I'm super excited to be cranking out my fourth post for the week today.  I blogged 88 times in 2013 (which equates to about once every 4 days) and I'm really determined this year to blog more consistently.  One of my resolutions is to have blogged at least 182 times by the end of the year.  That would put me at blogging roughly every two days.  Why am I not shooting for every day?  Well, let's see I have a full-time job, and I'm getting married.  A girl has to have priorities!  Last night was so much fun with my sweet kiddos!  I missed them so much and was thrilled to see their smiling faces.  They had a great time getting their points for Arctic Snowball month and playing games!  

Now back to business!  
I have really enjoyed the beginning of my new series on #KidsMin from A to Z.  

Today, I'm covering part 2 of the letter C in my newest series on #KidsMin from A to Z. 
Feel free to visit here to see yesterday's post talking all about my Curriculum.

I have one last thing to add about curriculum.  No, I do not write my own.  While I am perfectly capable of doing so and do write my own lessons on occasion I would prefer to use someone else's curriculum and and save time by tweaking it the way I want.  But, if you do write your own curriculum... Kudos!  I'm super impressed!  

Today I'm talking all about another equally big C... Communication. 


Are you seeing how important it is?

I truly believe that you can not have a successful ministry without learning how to communicate.  Listed below are my top tips for communicating with little ones, parents, and volunteers. 

Little Ones: 
Make sure that they have your undivided attention.  
Put your phones away and return text messages at another time. 
Get down on their level.  
Sometimes the best form of communication for little ones is to simply play. 
Use words that they can understand (save sanctification for another time).  

Keep your parents informed on what their kids are learning.  
Clearly communicate problems that arise with little ones promptly. 
Give postcards to parents of upcoming special events. 
Send out e-mail blasts the day of a special event or theme night. 

Send out monthly newsletters with a calendar attached.  
Take advantage of social media for those little reminders right before service. 
Send postcards to remind everyone of upcoming training or meetings. 
Digital updates are great but don't underestimate the power of snail mail.  
Don't forget to say thank you frequently!  

If your think you are over communicating, then... GREAT!  You are probably communicating just the right amount.  I send out monthly newsletters, weekly reminders, and update my social media constantly for my volunteers.  As a result I have fewer volunteers forget about meetings and special events.  I also have parents who remember what our theme nights are and their kids are always ready to go and excited!  

Communication is so so so important.

How do you communicate with your little ones, parents & volunteers?
Do you have any tips for us?

Sound off below!  

Oh, and I promise you... you DO NOT want to miss tomorrow's letter! 
I'll be talking all about budgets and how I DIY (do it yourself) to save money and get more creative!  A #KidsMin necessity!  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Curriculum & Communication

Happy Wednesday, Friends! 

I am so excited about this Wednesday!  For one thing I have missed my little ones terribly.  I've seen them on Sundays but our program takes a 3 week break for Christmas on Wednesdays and I haven't seen several of my kids since the last time we had AWANA and Transit back in 2013.  I'm also super excited because we are entering my favorite month in all of AWANA!  It's time for Arctic Snowball Month! 

Arctic Snowball time is simply put incredible.  In my neck of the woods we LOVE snow!  We so rarely see it that when there is even a hint of that fluffy and white winter goodness we kind of go crazy.  We go to bed with dreams of snowmen and snowball fights and wake up rushing to the window praying that when we pull back the curtains we'll see snowflakes.  Unfortunately, more often than not all we see when we pull back those curtains is dirt and dead grass.  I have come up with a way to motivate my kids to learn there verses and to bring them snow all at the same time.  Throughout the month they earn points to accumulate snow for Miss Mary's Snow Mountain the first week of February and it is a huge success!  I'll be doing a detailed post on this in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime if you'd like more information feel free to ask in the comments!  

I'm also excited because I think we are coming out of this dreadfully cold polar vortex.  Yesterday we had a high of 28 and today we are moving all the way up to 44.  That's much better for this southern girl.  Like I said yesterday, if we aren't having snow then I don't want it to be so dreadfully cold. 

Today, I'm covering the letter C in my newest series on #KidsMin from A to Z. 

Curriculum and communication are such big and important topics that I couldn't think about leaving either one of them out.  In fact, they are so big that I'm breaking the letter C up into 2 days.  Today I'll cover curriculum and I'll come back and finish up with communication tomorrow.  

Curriculum:  Let me just say that I am so thankful for my fellow Children's Pastor friends because they are a lifeline when it comes to curriculum.  I can't count the number of times that we have all e-mailed each other asking for recommendations on what has worked for us and what hasn't.  I said this when I covered AWANA but I think it is so important that I am going to say it again.   What works for one ministry doesn't work for everyone.  We use a variety of curriculum from a variety of companies for our different ministries and I truly believe that I have found the best fits for my ministry.  However, that doesn't mean it is the best fit for you. 

Here's what we use and what I like about it:

Connections (or Sunday School): Group's Hands on Bible Curriculum for preschoolers-5th graders.  I absolutely love this curriculum for my connections hour.  It's simple and easy for my teachers because everything they need comes in their box (minus the basics such as crayons and markers).  The lesson plans are easy to read, understand, and teach from and it provides a variety of activities to keep the kids engaged from start to finish.  

Children's Church: The Gospel Project by Lifeway for our K-3rd graders.  This curriculum is simply amazing and I love what it has done for our Children's Church hour.  It's a wonderful media based curriculum that provides opportunities for both large group and small group times which is working wonderfully for our rapidly growing kids church.  It also provides short videos (you don't watch a screen the whole time) that correlate directly to the lesson and keep our kids engaged and interested.  

Wednesday Nights: AWANA- I think I summed this up pretty well on the letter A so visit here to see what we like about this fantastic program!  

Transit (Grades 5&6)- For Transit we also use another program by Lifeway called Flyte that is designed specifically for pre-teens and I love this curriculum!  I think that I can speak for my volunteers and say that they are enjoying it as well and enjoy teaching it.  Like the Gospel Project it is a media based program that keeps the kids engaged.  It also provides great ideas for games, activities, and small group time.  I have seen such a great amount of growth in the heart of our pre-teens since we started using this program and they are really connecting with it and learning from it. 

For our toddlers and preschoolers we use short 4 week series done by various people such as Veggie Tales to give the kids something that is simple and on their level.  Many times my volunteers for these classes will come in with their own lessons that they have designed at home based on simple Bible lessons and I always have a big supply of books, coloring sheets, and Veggie Tales stacked in my office for them to choose from.  Our babies listen to Praise Baby worship songs throughout our service and we consider that their teaching time and lesson. 

That's what we use and why we like it.  It's so important to provide your volunteers with solid curriculum that is easy for them to use.  Make sure that you are asking your volunteers what they like or don't like and that you are listening to their suggestions.  I get catalogs from companies monthly that I look through and I am always open to changing a curriculum or using something else if what we have isn't working.  The thing I remember about curriculum is that it's always about flexibility. 

Do you have a curriculum that you would recommend?  

Sound off in the comments below!