4 and 5 Week Rotation Schedule Examples

Creating a 4 or 5 Week Rotation Schedule

Concepts, ideas, and example schedules

This brief article from Neil MacQueen makes a number of suggestions for how you can approach scheduling your workshops in 4 or 5 week rotations. It is not meant to be exhaustive or prescriptive. Your replies are welcome.
 
Also: Read our article about What Stories to Teach (also known as, a 4 or 5 year "scope and sequence.")

The Rotation Model is intentionally flexible.

Rather than always following the same schedule formula every rotation, Rotation modelers first consider how the upcoming story, their creative ideas, expected attendance, room availability, and church calendar could inform the number and type of workshops they need to offer, and which grades are in them on which weeks. Thus, an Advent rotation schedule might look different than a spring or summer one. And some of the workshops for Last Supper/Seder meal rotation might look very different from an Exodus Journey rotation schedule.


 

The 4 or 5 Week Consensus

After over two decades of Rotation experience in a variety of settings, it is the general consensus of the Rotation community that "4 or 5 weeks per story" is the right number for most stories. This number is recommended regardless of how many grade groups or workshops you have.  See "exceptions" below.

What's the difference between 4 or 5 weeks?

Whether you choose to do 4 or 5 week story rotations is your choice. It can depend on the needs of the story or your calendar. For example, most would probably agree that the Ten Commandments needs all of 5 weeks, if not 6. Whereas, Advent or the Last Supper only need 4, ...because Advent and Holy Week occur every year.

At a minimum, most Rotation Modelers believe "if it is worth teaching, it is worth teaching for at least 4 weeks." If you have a large group of irregular attenders, then you may need to cover most stories for 5 weeks at a time in order to "catch" each irregular attender at least twice during each rotation.  It's your decision.

Exceptions:

Some special rotation stories might warrant 6 weeks, such as, the Ten Commandments. It can depend on how much of the story you want to cover in one rotation. The Rotation.org Writing team's Red Sea-Wanderings lesson set has an alternative back-to-back rotations on that large story. 

It's not unheard of to do only 3 week rotations for Advent and Easter stories, depending on your church's scheduling needs. These stories tend to be well-known, and get plenty of coverage in other parts of the children's church experience as well.


 
How to Fit 6 Grade Groups Into a 5 Week Schedule

Just because you have 6 grade groups rotating among your 6 workshops does NOT mean you have to do a 6 week rotation. You can still schedule 4 or 5 weeks for a story. It just means that each of your grade groups will miss one or two of the workshops for that story.

If you're going to have certain groups skip certain workshops, pay close attention to which workshops might be "best" for certain age groups to miss. For example, younger can miss Computer more often because you may have less software for their age group. Whereas, you might have your oldest grade skip Cooking. Your choice, and it can entirely depend on what your lesson ideas and resources are for that particular rotation.

(This "6 groups/6 workshop but only 5 weeks" may seem obvious to some but isn't always immediately understood by new Rotation churches.)





About Scheduling the Video Workshop


Most Rotationers will try to put the younger grades into the Video Workshop on the 1st week so that they can "see the whole story" early in in the rotation. Video is particularly good at helping students acquire a big story's outline. Whereas, the Art workshop tends to focus on one aspect of the story, rather than the storyline.

Alternately, some Rotation churches routinely combine several grade groups on the first week of a new rotation to show the video, and then split into grade groups after the video to discuss it. This works particularly well if you have the space, and a particular video with a broad age-range.

See an example schedule below which demonstrates combining grades for video, and then turning the video workshop into a drama workshop for the rest of the rotation.


 

Scheduling Certain Workshops for Certain Grades Only

Some Rotation churches schedule specific workshops for certain grades only. For example, it's common to have the K's and 1st graders skip the Computer workshop due to the relative lack of software for that age. This is sometimes done for Drama workshop as well, if the drama lesson plan is developmentally too much of a stretch for younger kids. Instead, the schedule might include a substitute workshop for that grade, replacing Drama or Computer with Cooking, for example.


 

Which Workshops to Schedule?

The four "classic" and most often used workshops are:

  • ART
  • DRAMA
  • BIBLE SKILLS & GAMES
  • VIDEO/A-V

Most Rotation churches at some point will bring in a COOKING or COMPUTER or SCIENCE/STORYTELLING workshop. They may do this as a permanent fifth workshop, or as a "special occasion" workshop inspired by a particular lesson they saw. Yes, you can even "rotate" your workshops!  ...Keeps them fresh.

While it's nice to have "permanent" workshops to fall back on, certain stories and rotation lesson sets will inspire you to add other workshops from time to time.

On rarer occasions, as you look at a certain story or workshop idea, you may find that you'd like to have TWO weeks in one workshop.  (This is where your scheduling can get really creative and complicated!). Some older children's art projects, dramas, or software, for example, might be best used two weeks in a row by the same group.

And for some story rotations, you might get inspired to combine workshops, such as, Art and Drama, --if the art project, for example, is going to be used in the drama.

And then there are different churches interpretations of what you DO in a workshop. For example, the Video/A-V Workshop was originally conceived of as a place where you can also MAKE a Video, ....which is more like drama.   The Point: workshops are flexible.


 

WORKSHOP ROTATION SCHEDULE EXAMPLES

The following examples are meant to be descriptive, not definitive. Adapt!

(1) A Classic 5 Week, 5 Grade Group Schedule

This first example below is a classic "5 Grades, 5 Weeks, 5 Workshops" schedule.

STORY: 10
COMMANDS

GRADE 1

GRADE 2

GRADE 3

GRADE 4

GRADE 5

Week 1

VIDEO

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

COMPUTER

DRAMA

Week 2

DRAMA

VIDEO

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

COMPUTER

Week 3

COMPUTER

DRAMA

VIDEO

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

Week 4


BIBLE
GAMES

COMPUTER

DRAMA

VIDEO

ART

Week 5

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

COMPUTER

DRAMA

VIDEO


If you only had four weeks to do this story, then you'd just lop off Week 5 and the kids would miss those workshops.



(2) A Classic 5 Week, 4 Grade Group Schedule


This next example shows the same classic 5 week rotation with 5 workshops, but just 4 grade groups rotating through them, ...thus leaving one workshop 'open' each week.


STORY: 10
COMMANDS

GRADE 2

GRADE 3

GRADE 4

GRADE 5

Workshops in this column are closed that week, or add additional grade here.

Week 1

VIDEO

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

COMPUTER

DRAMA

Week 2

DRAMA

VIDEO

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

COMPUTER

Week 3

COMPUTER

DRAMA

VIDEO

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

Week 4

BIBLE
GAMES


COMPUTER

DRAMA

VIDEO

ART

Week 5

ART

BIBLE
GAMES

COMPUTER

DRAMA

VIDEO



"Open" workshops on the schedule are a "Sunday off" for that workshop teacher or room. The workshops can be used by other grade groups, such as teens or preschoolers. The main reason you would have an "open" workshop on your schedule is because you need to be scheduling 4 or 5 weeks ON THE STORY, but may not have 4 or 5 groups taking up each workshop each week. 



 

(3) Small Church, 5 Week, 3 Grade Group Schedule


This next example schedule below is the kind of schedule you'd see in a smaller churchthat only had 3 rotating groups, but was doing 5 week rotations and thus needed 5 workshops. For demonstration purposes, the following schedule also switches Cooking for Computer for grade K-1, and also shows you which of your two workshops are "open" each week.


STORY: TEN   COMMANDMENTS 

GRADES K-1 

GRADES 2-4  

GRADES 5-6 

  OPEN

  OPEN

Week 1

VIDEO

COMPUTER

BIBLE
GAMES

ART

DRAMA

Week 2


DRAMA

VIDEO

COOKING

BIBLE
GAMES

ART

Week 3


ART


DRAMA


VIDEO


COOKING

BIBLE
GAMES

Week 4

BIBLE
GAMES

ART

DRAMA

VIDEO

COOKING

Week 5

COOKING

BIBLE
GAMES

ART

COMPUTER

VIDEO




To turn this "small church schedule" above into a four week rotation, you'd simply eliminate one of the weeks. However, pay attention to which workshops for which grade you are elimination. For example, you would not want to eliminate a computer workshop for your older kids because its one of their favorites. For some older groups, you might choose to eliminate the Art Workshop. Which to eliminate often depends on what you plan to DO in a particular workshop.


 

(4) Small Church, 4 Week, 3 Groups Schedule Variation

Last but not least, here's an example schedule for a small church where ONE of their workshop rooms has to be used for TWO different workshops due to space restrictions.

In many cases, the video is shown to ALL in the first week in one big workshop with break-out groups, then the space is used for another workshop during the rest of the rotation. In this example, the Video workshop space gets used for Drama in subsequent weeks. Due to space, supplies, and furniture needs, you would not typically try to have an art workshop occupy the same room as video or games which need more open space. Thus, for example, in this schedule, the Video workshop is only used in week 1, and is then turned into a Drama workshop.

STORY: 
GOOD SAMARITAN   
K-1st            2nd-3rd   4th-5th     
Week 1VIDEOVIDEOVIDEO 
Week 2DRAMACOMPUTERART 
Week 3ARTDRAMACOMPUTER 
Week 4COMPUTERARTDRAMA 
     

 

Read my article about "SMALL ROTATION SUNDAY SCHOOLS, FEW KIDS" at https://www.rotation.org/topic/...ll-churches-few-kids.  It has some schedule examples in it as well.


 
Years ago I created a simple ONLINE SCHEDULING TOOL which still works...

http://nghosting.com/~rotation/form1-5.htm 

http://nghosting.com/~rotation/form1.htm

Just edit the text and select "PRINT" from your browser's menu.


 

In Conclusion..


Adapting your Rotation Schedule to your teaching needs, preferences, calendar, rooms, and inspirations is one of the things that attracts Christian Educators to this model. 

The Rotation Model believes Bible literacy in Sunday School only comes through focusing on the story over a multi-week period ("rotation"), and that children and their lesson memories are best nurtured by creatively teaching through a variety of approaches ("workshops").


Our approach to scheduling enables us to ACT on those beliefs, while giving us the flexibility to work with the church calendar.

<>< Neil
for rotation.org

You are welcome to reply to this article and submit your own schedule examples.

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