Our kids arrive to Sunday School at different times - some come to class early and some arrive late.  I am looking for some suggestions of things the elementary kids can do if they get to class early.  They can be generic ideas.  They do not need to tie in with the lesson of the day.  Our preschool kids play with play dough and do puzzles while they wait but I am looking for ideas that would be more appropriate for elementary age kids - K-2nd graders and 3rd-5th graders.  I would welcome any suggestions. 

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

I found some great balls for pre class  at Amazon under Toss and Talk Balls .  


We  are currently looking also for these same ideas.  I found a set of inflatable balls that you toss back and forth and you have to answer the question that your hand lands own. These questions deal more with getting to know one another. Sorry I don't know where the ball came from. Was already at our church.  I would try amazon or an educational supply store.  I have also gone on Pinterest and looked at ice breaking games for this period of time for late comers to arrive. AS I find other ideas I'll be sure and add them - please do the same . Good luck

Last edited by Luanne Payne

The early/late arrival problem has beleaguered many programs. Sunday Schools after worship tend to avoid this problem. In-between a little less.  Early Sunday Schools BEFORE worship, however, never seem to solve people's arrival issues, rather, they adapt their program around it.


There are simple solutions, such as those mentioned and sure to come: crafts, games, etc. But there is a "structural solution" described below, that has some additional benefits.


One of the more successful workarounds to the early/late arrival problem is the "Assembly Time Before Sunday School."  Assembly is a scheduled gathering led by one or more persons, with elements of worship, music, and "introducing the story" in some creative way (sometimes a skit, or lesson game, quiz/recap of last week's lesson, 'extra' subjects like prayer/worship/mission, or short video, for example).  


The Assembly takes away some of the class' time. For example: If Sunday School CLASS usually starts at 9 am and runs until 9:50, then Assembly gets 9 to 9:15.  


As a teacher, if you want me to give up that much of my lesson, you need to make sure that Assembly "intros" what we're studying that Sunday, --otherwise, you're just cutting short Sunday School, and that's not great for creative lessons.  


Rotation churches, thus, find it EASIER to add Assembly Time to the schedule because all the classes are focusing on the same subject that day.  In fact, in the early days of Rotation, many of us thought Assembly Time should have been a REGULAR FEATURE of the WoRM, but because of facility and schedule issues, not all of us were able to do it. I liked it because it gave us a place to add music every week, but alas, the church's Sunday morning schedule and room availability didn't permit us to regularly do it.


Assembly Time allows late arrivers to be on time for AT LEAST the class AND front-loads the class with something attractive ---so many late-arrivers won't want to MISS IT.  


Hope this helps.



Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

We use our Assembly Time mostly for Music. Our Sunday school is before worship so we preview some worship music and reinforce Rotation learning with our unit's music. This works well because, no matter when you arrive, you can participate fully.

An article I ran across just today for children older than pre-school is based on Legos. You can find it at Building Faith Brick by Brick: Formation with Lego by Emily Given.

(Talks about how boys love Legos, but my 4 granddaughters adore Legos, too.) It's from an Episcopal publisher, but looks very usable by other denominations. The "early arrivals" might even put together some Legos that would help tell the morning's story.


Last edited by Luanne Payne

We have early arrivers (MUCH preferred over those late comer/stragglers!) nearly every Sunday. We use it as a time for the shepherds (who get there ten minutes early) to chat with the kids and review memory verses with them. For super early arrivers, I've had the kids help me set things up in the classroom.


We have a variety of books of the Bible activities  - we have puzzles (make your own by spray painting the puzzle and box and using a paint pen to draw the verse, books, etc. on it), Bible book stix (write the books on craft sticks and have them put in order) or use cards. We also made Bible Book blocks as a project in our art room several years ago. They can put those in order, or categorize according to the types of books. It's prime time for memory verse work  -- write out on cards and put the verse in order or write on an erase board and erase a word or two at a time.


You can also make out cards that correlate with the lesson -- I will often search for clip art that relates to the story. You can make a single card or duplicate so there are matches. Hide the cards around the classroom and have the kids search for them. Then find the matches (if you duplicated) or have the kids tell you how the cards relate to the story. You can use the cards later on in the lesson as a matching game. Can even have the kids "help" create the game by coloring in the cards for you.


Another thought is to use journals.You could add some simple art journaling to go along with their memory verse or a key word or phrase from the story. We are doing art journaling activities more and more with our kids and they love it! 


Hope some of these ideas might help! What a great problem to have!



Originally Posted by JStroud:

I found some great balls for pre class  at Amazon under Toss and Talk Balls .  


We  are currently looking also for these same ideas.  I found a set of inflatable balls that you toss back and forth and you have to answer the question that your hand lands own. 


beach ball

I have made "toss question balls" of my own by writing on inflatable beach balls - the ones with sections of colors.



Lots of great ideas.


-- Carol

You could blow up pages from Bible story coloring books to poster size that relate to the lesson, attach it to the wall, and have crayons or markers available.  You could also have textured items like fabric scraps, tissue paper, etc to give dimension.


Or, have a tree poster they can write prayer joys & concerns on.  Each month use a different shaped note paper.  For example - September, use apple-shaped paper; October - pumpkins, etc.


Julie Burton

We have the same issue and have tried several things including letting them go into the computer lab and play the games for a while at the beginning.  What we have used for the last few years though is a Bible Trivia Card that has 3 questions on the story we are learning.  The questions are simple and have three choices that the kids can choose from to circle for the answer. We include the scripture where the answer can be found.  This gets parents, kids and shepherds into the Bible as they arrive and the kids are also aware of the story we are learning if they missed the previous week. When we do the group opening we go through the questions and give each child a small piece of candy for their efforts.

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