20 Time Savers for Tired Teachers

20 Time Savers for Tired Teachers
Experienced Children’s Workers Share Their Best Time-Saving Ideas
Lesson Preparation

1) Twenty minutes spent daily in study is the most economical way for me to prepare. The day after class I begin the next lesson by reading the Bible passages listed in the teacher’s manual. The following day I read the lesson in the manual. The third day I reread the manual, underlining points I want to emphasize. The fourth day I reread the Scriptures, underscoring important passages. The fifth and sixth days I practice the lesson with the visuals. The seventh day I am ready to present the lesson to the children. For me, 20 minutes a day seems much less formidable than larger blocks of time spent less frequently.

Heather Beach

2) I know a busy doctor who loves to teach. If he waited to study at home he would never find the time, so he carries 3×5 index cards with him. As he has time during lunch periods he studies the Bible lesson and writes notes on the file cards. Everyday — during lunch or coffee breaks — he pulls out his cards and works through his lesson. By the next class the lesson has become part of him. He has revised most of the cards several times and he is well prepared!

Judy Meyers

3) Using the lesson Scripture in my own personal quiet time transforms my teaching and saves me hours or preparation time. God’s Word ministers to me directly when I use each lesson’s Scripture in my devotion s for two or three days at the beginning of each week. By midweek I’m ready to go over the material in the teacher’s book and jot down lesson plans with my children’s needs in mind. By the week’s end fresh ways of presenting the lesson suggest themselves. I have a time to gather visuals and material I’ll need for other activities. Because God’s Word is real to me it is real to my students.

Eva Gibson

4) Here is my special study system for mid-lifers! Just five willing workers: WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE and WHO. Open your Bible to the next lesson you will be teaching. As you read it through list on a paper the WHO’S of that passage. Now read the Scripture again, listing the WHERE’S; again for the WHAT’s, etc. You will want to give WHAT a last name and head that list with “what happened? Two of the words need to be used a second time. Answer the questions, “WHY am I teaching this?” (aim) and “WHAT do I want my listener to do?” (application).

Phyllis Robinson

5) Prepare note cards or slips of paper with one or two words written on them in large letter to refresh your mind on things you want to include in your lesson. Place the reminders in order with your flannelgraph figures.

Liz Lee

Preparation of Visuals

6) Here are some easy scenery techniques for the flannelboard:

Indoor — use string or yarn of contrasting color. Fasten in place by wrapping around pins. A construction paper door or window could be added. Barred windows made a prison.

Palace or temple — place one or two pillars on plain flannelboard. Pillars can be made from large-size construction paper or flannel.

Stormy sea — blue yarn placed to give jagged effect. Pull straight for calm sea.

To vary a scene, rather than using one or two figures on a large plain board, use a small handboard. Handboards can add interest to your visualization.

Katherine Hershey

7) For quick preparation of visuals that are not already backed for the flannelboard use a spray adhesive to make them adhere to the board. The spray is available in craft stores. Although expensive it goes a long way and is especially suitable for lightweight paper. Construction paper will adhere to the flannelboard if the back is roughed up with points of a scissors or sandpaper.

Katherine Hershey

8) To turn a small picture into poster size, divide the picture and poster into any number of equally spaced squares. Copy one section at a time. If a section contains lots of details, subdivide it.

If you want to change the picture to make it taller or broader, change the ratio of the sides but keep the same number of squares.

Violet Whittaker

Review Games

9) Mount several review games on a manila file folder. A tic-tac-toe grid could be drawn on one side and covered with clear self-adhesive paper. Velcro, loops of masking tape or Plasti-Tak can be used to attach the X’s and O’s. A point game can be played on the other side. Print 10 numbers at various places on the folder (5’s, 10’s and 20’s). Cover with clear self-adhesive. Place crosses or other shapes appropriate to the lesson over the numbers with Plasti-Tak. As each child answers a question correctly he may remove one of the shapes and receive the points for his team. A third side of the folder could have a secret message or word written on it. Cover each letter with a piece of paper and number them. As a question is answered a child may call out one of the numbers to be removed. The object is to see which team can guess the secret word first. The fourth side of the folder may contain a move-an-item grid picture. Example: Divide a picture of a lake into five sections. Cover with clear adhesive paper. Two paper boats will be moved across the lake as teams answer questions correctly. Or you can use the entire inside of the folder for a concentration game. If you are teaching a four-to-six week series all the components of the games can be stored in the folder, making a complete unit for that teaching period.

Liz Lee

10) This review game is simple to prepare, simple to use and generates exceptional enthusiasm from the kids! It’s name — ZONK! Prepare 14 felt circles of the same color. Place a piece of wide masking tape on the back of each circle or print the following word and numbers directly on the felt:

2 circles — ZONK

2 circles — 20

2 circles — 10

4 circles —5

2 circles — 3

2 circles — 2

To play, scatter circles at random on flannelboard with printed sides down. When a student answers a question correctly he may turn over as many circles as he wishes, one at a time. The object is to make the highest score by adding up the numbers turned over. But if a ZONK is turned over, the score for that person is zero and his turn is over. The fun is deciding when to stop — hopefully, before choosing a ZONK!

Lisa Countiss

The Class Hour
11) When teaching with a helper, divide the class hour into small segments, alternating between the two of you. While one is leading, the other can be preparing the next part. Move quickly from one part to another without discussion between the two of you. The change of leaders helps keep the children’s attention longer and each teacher has a chance to think about the coming segment.

Lorella Rouster

12) When teaching alone, arrange everything you will use in order. As you proceed through the hour, take each item from the top of the pile; use it, then lay it on a second pile. This saves time and even keeps the items in order in the event you will be teaching more than one class.

Lorella Rouster

13) On the classroom wall place Post-it Notes naming special jobs for kids who would like to help. Each child can remove the note with the job he wants to complete.

Barth and Sally Middleton

14) Because our Good News Club is large, roll-taking robs me of valuable teaching time. Therefore, I give the children the responsibility for taking roll. I set up a tray table near the entrance. On it I place sharpened pencils and a piece of lined paper that is dated, with the words “First Name” and “Last Name” at the top. The children sign in before sitting down. I later transpose the names to my record book. This system also makes it easier to catch late-comers without interrupting the lesson.

Heather Beach

15) To save time in dividing a group into teams for a contest or review game, give each child a small sticky dot as he comes in. Alternate colors. Have the children apply the dots to their upper clothing so they are clearly seen by you.

Liz Lee


16) Part of the reason our job of teaching might take so long is that we never organize our materials. When we need something we spend precious minutes rummaging. Decide on your system for organization. Use similar containers and put things in their places; pens together, pencils together, paper clips, rubber bands, stickers, etc. If you use one kind of container the shelf on which they sit will look neat, too. Consider shoe boxes, two pound cheese boxes, small or large coffee cans or even zip-lock bags. If you have to carry supplies between class and home it is especially helpful to keep items in zip-lock bags.

Judy Meyers

17) Filing visualized Bible verses in the order in which they appear in the Bible makes it possible to locate any verse easily. There may be times you need a verse other than in the context of the lesson it was visualized for. Even when needed for the lesson series in which it first appeared it can be located quickly.

Katherine Hershey

18) My teenage daughter calls me a “box teacher.” My box is an empty cardboard box that fills as my week progresses. Visuals, games, student papers and extra supplies are put in as I think of them and as new ideas present themselves. On Saturday night I review my lesson and arrange the box so that what I need is in order from top to bottom. My box is beside me as I teach. When I return home the materials are put away and I begin a new week with an empty box.

Eva Gibson


19) My intentions to send postcards to absentees have always been good. But too often I haven’t had time to address the card or write the short message. I got smart when I realized that my pupils could address the postcards and write the messages to their absent peers. It only takes a few minutes and is the last thing we do in class.

Judy Meyers

20) I keep a small plastic pouch in my purse. In it are a tiny address book with all my students’ names, addresses, phone numbers and birthdays; postcards with stamps already on and a pen. If I’m in the area of one of my student’s homes I can stop in for a quick visit. When forced to wait at a railroad crossing, in doctors’ offices, etc., I can write postcards to absentees or to any student in need of special encouragement. My students get more attention and I made use of otherwise wasted moments.

Lorella Rouster

Evangelizing Today’s Child, January/February 1988.