This is not an uncommon problem. Years ago it was a lot worse when little software existed. But those years in the wilderness taught us a lot.
» Sometimes the story they want you to cover is not a “major” Bible story, and there’s no software on it. Most software developers like us are not going to spend a small fortune developing a program on the Man with the Withered Hand. I’m part of the Workshop Rotation Model movement, which say, “teach the majors for several weeks in a row.” If you are changing the Bible story every Sunday, you are teaching a lot of “minor” stories of the Bible which aren’t what the kids need, and won’t remember anyhow because you’re moving to fast. Slow down.
» Sometimes the software that DOES exists isn’t right for your age group. Your K’s and 1st graders will have this problem. Most software is aimed at the mid-upper elementary. Some of it easily stretches down, if you know how to adapt it. Read my article about stretching here. And please note: it’s a lot easier to run a computer lab for older elementary than preschoolers and early readers. Probably more important too! Our older kids need MORE reasons to stay connected to the church.
» Sometimes you may not like the software for a particular story. (Crazy but true, some teachers don’t like gamey software and I can’t do anything about it.)
» Sometimes you didn’t order the software in time, or can’t afford it, or it won’t run on your computers.
» Sometimes your lab is so big, you can’t afford the single program that covers that story.
» Sometimes your lab concept or and leaders can’t pull off what you want them to do (even if they had the right software).
» “Creation is subject to frustration.” Romans 8:20 !
Here are your main options:
Sometimes you just need to do another story, or use another piece of software, or not use the computers. It’s okay. Better an important story with a great piece of software, than trying to figure out the scheduled story with a bad lesson idea. Back in the 90’s we punted a lot! Our computer lab was mostly on its own schedule.
I’ve seen Kindergartners use software made for 5th graders. You just need to be right there to help them. Read that ‘stretching’ article! And look at the teaching guide for the program. It often has helps.
USE YOUR UTILITY PROGRAMS
Write and Illustrate about it with Kid Pix CD. See our KP project ideas.
Make a quiz about it with Fall of Jericho CD.
Use Let’s Talk CD to have the kids create spoken dialog from the story. See all of Let’s Talk’s many lesson starter ideas!
It’s not a sin to go back and use a program from LAST year to fill a hole in your schedule. In fact, it’s awesome educational theory and brain science.
Recall = Remember.
Quizzing is what we did a lot of back in the pre-cool Bible software days. Kids like computer quizzes. Make a game of it.
RE-THINK YOUR LAB “Scope and Sequence”
Change the stories! Some curriculum persists in shotgunning any and all obscure Bible stories at our kids. Or taking a “too creative” approach to some basic stories. I see this with Christmas curriculum: just stay with the basic story please! Kids don’t need lessons that talk about how Norwegians celebrate Christmas.
RE-THINK YOUR LAB SCHEDULE
If you keep running up against “no software for 1st graders” and are tired of punting and using utility programs, consider REDUCING the number of week that the younger kids come into the lab. Only schedule them in when you HAVE the program that works for the story (and for that age group).
RE-THINK YOUR LAB BUDGET
Seriously, is the problem that they want you to teach with computers but have only given you a screensaver budget? I’d rather see a well-run lab with only a few computers and a handful of good software, than a room full of new machines playing stupid games.
RE-THINK YOUR AGE RANGE
If you can’t find good software for the younger kids all the time, don’t have them come in the lab as much. I know I wrote this elsewhere on this page, but it just makes SO much sense to me I want to say it again.
I’ve been teaching with software since 1990. There probably isn’t a Bible story or age group you will try to teach with computers that I haven’t tried, and I’m pretty good at coming up with new approaches.