By Doris Binner,
AiM, St. James Lutheran Church, Coopersburg
Three years ago, St. James Lutheran Church started using the Rotation
Model of learning and the Augsburg Fortress Firelight curriculum in Sunday
Firelight materials place the emphasis on the learners by using the different
ways children learn at different stages of life.
The curriculum draws
on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (verbal/linguistic,
musical, visual/spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily/kinesthetic,
logical/mathematical, and naturalist).
to the theory, everyone has varying degrees of all intelligences and
these intelligences act in a mix. Rarely is just one intelligence
prominent in individuals.
theory provides the framework for exploring Bible stories actively by
using “deeper learning” activities that tap into
varying intelligences so that all kids will learn the Bible stories.
to using the rotation model in Sunday school, we used the method in
our vacation Bible school for several years. Learning
were set up to tell the Bible story and reinforce it through
storytelling, games, crafts, and music. Teen and adult crew
small groups of children from one learning center to another
them). Children enjoyed the variety of learning techniques
so much that, when Firelight was introduced; our Christian
on ways we could use it at St. James.
rotation method designates specific rooms or areas for drama, arts and
crafts, computer lab, and the like.
our building is used by our nursery school and KidCare, a
before and after-school program. None of our rooms could
Sunday morning education by setting up activity-specific
much prayer, discussion, and planning, we chose to adapt the rotation
Bible story is used but a different learning option is chosen for each
week. Home Base leaders are recruited
to do the
of four-week sessions. They also usually teach the first
and sometimes the
fourth week of the four-week cycle.
Area leaders are recruited to teach the other two or three weeks, using
their particular God-given gifts
Some people volunteer
for specific areas, such as science, art, and games.
on food or storytelling options.
Area leaders not only choose their special passions to teach, but they
also can teach when it is convenient
the age group to which they would like to relate.
leaders rotate between classrooms and age groups to facilitate the learning
especially when doing an art or science project
that might be messy. The church
kitchen is used when cooking or baking.
are recruited to be with the classes on a weekly basis. Shepherds
are guides who help
children to restrooms,
the “constant” presence that some
children need to see each week.
the flexibility of scheduling for Skill Area and Home Base leaders,
no one “burns out” by teaching 35-40
weeks of the year. Teachers who were planning
to take a year off when we began using Firelight
and Rotation Method decided to give it a try
for just a year. They are still teaching because
the teachers, as well as the students, love it! “It’s
fun!” related one Home Base leader. “Sometimes
hard to allow other leaders to come in to teach
because I like it all and want to do those sessions,
are five different Bible stories in each Firelight unit. At St. James
we used each
Bible story for four
weeks, but used
option each week.
Tuesday night each month we have a Firelight planning night. Home Base
for the month. They
learning options they like best for themselves,
then Skill Area leaders are called
to teach the other weeks.
a wonderful way to discover the gifts of our congregation members and
them to develop
those gifts, sharing
their faith with our
from another congregation who were considering the Rotation Method
came to observe
church school. Their visit
happened when we were using the “Surprised
by God’s Grace” unit
and focusing on the first Passover
Bible story. The visitors were themselves
surprised when they found our grade
5 and 6 class participating in a Seder-like
meal, tasting many of the foods. Six
months later in confirmation
class, our youth got the connection
of the Passover and the Lord’s
Supper. The mental light bulb turned
on! The learning was reinforced.
Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter seasons, our Learning Ministries
team members create
our own rotations
year we have been able to come up
with different activities, skits, and crafts
to teach the children about the life
looking forward to our fourth year of Rotation Method at St.
James, and have
children, preschool through grade
5. At VBS we use the traditional
for every 5-6
children. It was a
fantastic week with fun and hands-on
free to come to visit and observe our Sunday church school.
me at St. James