We do a K through 2nd grade and a third through fifth grade rotation on a regular basis. HOWEVER, for the Christmas season we combined them all (which is still only about fifteen kids). We did this primarily to relieve the "teaching load" over the holidays. This worked well too but I was surprised that the younger ones asked when they could go back to being "Stars" and "Hearts". This rotation we've brought in the Junior HIgh kids to help the third through fifth graders with the Temple construction AND that combination seems to be working well for this particular rotation. I think flexibility as well as knowing how your kids interact with each other is probably the most important issue. Good luck!
We have grades 1-6 rotate to different stations every week, using the traditional workshop rotation format (seems odd to use workshop rotation and traditional in the same sentence Smile. We put our PreK and Kind students together in one classroom and do a modified rotation with them. We have 15-18 kids and 4 adults. The students stay in the same room and the rotation comes to them. Each week one of the 4 teachers leads one of the workshops and the other adults are the helpers. Each teacher does just one lesson/month. We felt it would be better for the 3-5 year olds to have some consistency with the same room and same adults. We also thought it would be intimidating for potential teachers if they had to teach students ranging in age from 3-12; it's easier on them with just grades 1-6. Hope this helps. Good luck.
Our numbers fluctuate greatly from week to week. We have to be extremely flexible with our rotations. We often meet as one large group if the numbers are smaller. During our summer rotations we often stay together to participate in games, art, cooking workshops. We have problems recruiting volunteers as well so we often have to combine classes. We usually don't have any problems unless the group is excessively large and/or we have personality conflicts among the kids. We do stay as flexible as possible in order to accommodate all the situations we face Smile
We have 25-30 kids divided PreK-K, 1st-3rd, and 4th-6th. We just added the Pre-K's this year to "beef up" that grouping (usu. 4 kids total). Our teachers do see all 3 age groups, but we try to write modified lessons for the youngest group.
If our numbers are particularly low due to a holiday weekend or if we can only staff 2 of 3 rotations, we will combine the kids. We've found that putting the Pre-K-K class with the 4-6 works nicely. The older students seem to enjoy mentoring the little ones.
we don't do Pre-K and K, but in the summer months we have two groups of 1-3 and 4-6. It works pretty well. The biggest problem is probably the age difference between those 4th and 6th graders. As well as the 1st graders and 3rd graders. But we pair up older kids with younger ones and it generally works pretty well.

Wyn said that you will do a workshop even if only one child shows up. How do you manage that? I can understand if it is with computers or art, but what do you do if it is a games or drama workshop? I'm curious, I'd LOVE to make that work somehow. Especially at this time of year we risk lower numbers due to the weather~~ We're in PA and getting a real winter this year Wink
If you have a really small class -- 1-2 students, include your shepherd and yourself! For drama -- take multiple roles -- it can be really funny to switch around quickly. Sometimes those Sundays can be really special as a time to bond with kids and shower them with lots of individual attention.

Hi Jaymie and Joanne,

Jaymie has it right. We make the children feel special even if there is only one. It is very easy to get frustrated after having put all of the preparation into a lesson and it takes improvising to make it meaningful but it can work. I always feel really sad when a great workshop has been missed by many.

That is the way we've been feeling lately! Sad when such great workshops are missed by so many kids. We've had some great stuff and not many kids were able to benefit. We've been quite discouraged since our numbers have been down a lot since before Christmas. Any suggestions on how to reach out to the kids and/or parents? I have sent postcards to the kids (several have told me how much they appreciate that!) and I have mailed notes to parents as well.

We have tried workshops with only one child, but usually combine with another workshop that they may have missed.

Thanks everyone~the support and exchange of info and ideas is great!

This is an interesting subject which my church is discussing too....

I like third graders grouped UP with 4th and 5th, because 3rd graders can read.

Grouping 3rd graders with 1st graders can be a drag, especially at the beginning of the school year when those 1st graders are mighty young. It's really a problem with the computer lab, for example, where mouse + reading skills are important. In Art or Cooking it isn't such a big deal.

In our small church, however, our GROUPINGS vary from year to year.
For example, we are seriously contemplating moving our Wed Night 4th and 5th graders UP TOGETHER into their own brand new 5th-6th Grade Fellowship Group on Wed Night next season. Why? ...because we only have two regular 4th graders and BOTH of them are mature for their age, and they are friends with all the 5th graders (of which we have about 10!) And oddly enough, our 3rd grade group is 'young' right now.

This means we'll also probably offer a 5th-6th grade Sunday School class next year. Currently our break is BETWEEN 5th and 6th.

Joanne... has your weather been bad like ours has this past January? What do you think the reasons for the downturn is?

I'm disappointed too when we have something extra special but get less than special attd. Goes with the territory unfortunately. Let's remember that when you and I get a streak of good attd and think it's because we're so good!

<>< Neil
We group our 4/5 grade classes most years as well. Most of the time we'll group our 3rd graders UP as well. We have a very large group of K and 1 this year so those groups pretty much stand alone. We have changed our "groupings" according the needs from year to year as well.

Neil, We're in southeastern PA and yes, our weather has been something. I think the good Lord is just reminding us what a real winter is! Now that we have some snow, I don't mind the cold too much. Wink

I love this website and am so thankful for all the support and encouragement we can get here!
Hi Joanne,
I completely understand your frustration at low attendance.
We have mild winters (except for that incessant rain!)but many of our congregants are skiers. Come January, they are usually gone on the weekends. So far, though, we've noticed our attendance holding... I'm holding my breath.
But, as one of our pastors has said, even if only 1 person shows up on Sunday morning, he'll preach to them. If only 1 kid shows up for CE, we'll teach. Maybe that's the one individual who needs ministering that particular day.
Good luck to you, and I agree with your comment about these boards! Smile
Last year we had one particular Sunday that had a total attendance of 20 (our church usually averages 150+ with two services, and our Sunday school added in). That day we had one fourth grade girl and my husband had three senior high kids. I did have a lesson with the fourth grader. I think she did appreciate the one-on-one. I just remember that for the future Smile
We have to remember to stay encouraged and focus on helping these children learn about God and his love. What a better way if it is one-on-one!

We also have lower numbers in the winter, and last week, we only had 1 kindergartner. It was the storytelling workshop, which also included a "treasure hunt." Our 2 shepherds joined in! The kindergartner loved all the attention from these 2 high schoolers, and the shepherds learned too.
Although we have small groups (8-10 per workshop usually) we do have 2 shepherds for each group, and even with games and other workshops, adding 2 shepherds to the mix makes things do-able.

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Joanne Ryder:
Wyn said that you will do a workshop even if only one child shows up. How do you manage that? I can understand if it is with computers or art, but what do you do if it is a games or drama workshop? I'm curious, I'd LOVE to make that work somehow. Especially at this time of year we risk lower numbers due to the weather~~ We're in PA and getting a real winter this year Wink[/QUOTE
I have noticed many of you said you put your 4th and 5th grade together. What do you do with the 6th grade? Do they go in with the 7th and 8th? We do not currently have a class for our 7th and 8th grade class because our pastor wants them in with the adults. I think 6th grade is too young to just put in church. What do you guys think?
Thanks for all you input.
Eek Putting 7-8th graders with adults is not a good idea! We have a separate 7-8th class (6th is in rotation). Although having youth with adults for special things can be good, in an ongoing format I don't find it helpful. The youth either feel intimidated or are directly put down by the adults. Plus they need to be able to bond together, guided by adults who know and love them for who they are. If they're in with the adults, that probably also means they're with their parents and that's also not always helpful. Yes, we want to foster good relationships between our kids and their parents, but CE classes aren't the proper forum (other than special events).

On the 6th grade in church-do you mean they're too young to be in worship? Hardly. Children learn to worship by participating and observing the adults. (Read: No separate children's church) If your children in 6th and under are not in worship now, how can they be expected to know what's going on or to continue in worship as they grow? Frown Just when you expect them to be in worship, they'll avoid it because it's too unfamiliar, compounded with the whole questioning thing that adolescents do.
Our church welcomes those in first grade and up in worship. All our children and youth participate regularly in choir, handbells, etc. As they prepare for worship, we also teach them about the different parts. We have a fairly 'high' and 'traditional' liturgy for a PCUSA congregation-BUT that is a GOOD thing when you want to help your younger members follow and understand. Less traditional forms of worship are also attractive, especially when the kids have a part in planning (ours do from time to time). The point is KIDS NEED TO BE IN WORSHIP!
Our district school system is set up as elementary (grades K-5), middle school (6-8) and senior high (9-10). Our Sunday school is set up the same way. It works quite well for us. The middle and senior high students use a discussion type format for their lesson material. I LOVE the idea of having senior high help as shepherds, though, and am going to see if our pastor would agree to using them once in awhile in that way.
I had to put a plug in about this. We started rotation in Sept 2003 for 3yr through 5th grade. We create two similar but different lesson sets - one for the 3yr through 1st grade and the other for the 2nd - 5th grade. The 3yr-1st we write in a format that does not require much, if any, reading and writing. I think this works well since it seems some of our 1st graders are still uncomfortable or struggling to master reading skills and still fully enjoy the 'interactive' approach that is traditionally used in preschool environments. By grouping four age levels per lesson set, we operate our rotation on a monthly basis with workshop teachers getting one Sunday 'off' in five SUnday months. This seems to work well for the volunteers who sign up - some even sign up months in advance knowing that particular months of the year are less busy for them. We are a large church so this works with a class per each age level; however, I believe that grouping the 1st graders down with younger would work in most situations because of their limited mastery of reading, reading comprehension, and writing skills (particularly at the beginning of the school year. And we have yet to have a 1st grader complain that they don't get to read and write enough in Bible Adventure Zone. One last caveat to all this is that some were skeptical that 3 and 4 yr olds would benefit and thrive in the rotation format - teachers, parents, and outsiders all have been sold on this format for this age group.

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