Grade 4|5

Elementary / Ministries //

ou’ve heard me mention the big classroom re-design we’re in the middle of at willow chicago, right? if not — have a look here and here. and, here!

one of our main motivations for re-designing all of the classrooms was to create a special place for our 4th/5th graders. in the past, the kids had been included in a large elementary classroom for kids from 1st grade – 5th grade. and, as you might imagine it was difficult to create a lesson just right for all of the ages. in the city, by the time our kids have reached 4th grade, they’ve seen a lot of life. and, the 1st grade simple lessons of faith just weren’t working for them.

today: the nitty gritty of Grade 4|5

we worked as a team — pastor jon, me, melissa, our next gen pastor jordan, and a key volunteer who had agreed to lead the new classroom — to create the classroom experience together. in our first meeting, we brainstormed our values, and the characteristics that defined these kids.

from that meeting, a smaller group {me, melissa, jordan} met to define the experience and create a plan. we determined a format that included children in worship followed by small groups of mentoring and deeper bible study that would be just right for our unique kids.

we presented the format to our original group, they contributed tweaks, and we were on our way. we purchased supplies, communicated changes to parents and staff, and recruited a volunteer team.

our format:

{keep in mind, we’re just a few weeks in and tweaking as we go along. but, i’m thrilled with the direction we’re going! kids are smiling, and learning, and engaging in deep faith conversations.}

9:40-10:00 AM

Families arrive and sit together in the Grade 4|5 family section alongside Grade 4|5 volunteers

10:00-10:30 AM

Families participate in worship together

10:30 AM

Announcements & Grade 4|5 dismissal to classroom

10:30-10:45 AM

Children participate in activities to help transition them from worship to small group discussion

10:45-11:00 AM

Children watch the lesson video for the day

11:00-11:25 AM

Children split into boys/girls small groups to discuss the lesson further and journal their reflections

11:25-11:30 AM

Parents arrive for pick-up and connect with volunteers on the day’s lesson.

also! we’re trying out the re:form curriculum for this new classroom. this year, we’ll do the OT and NT lessons which makes for a perfect transition for our kids coming from the tru curriculum lessons used in K-Grade 3. i really like the short video lessons, and the journals are to die for! i do a bunch of editing each week so that it’s just right for our kids. but, that’s the story of my life, right?

that’s us. i’d love to hear from you. what’s going on in Grade 4|5 for you?





About the Author

Amy Dolan is founder, leader and blogger for Lemon Lime Kids, a children’s ministry consulting company that seeks to encourage churches to consider a fresh approach to leading and teaching children. Amy started the company in 2005, as a way to empower and encourage fellow children’s ministry leaders, and since that first day has had the opportunity to work with leaders & organizations committed to the spiritual growth of children. Amy believes that the church fully empowered, combined with the commitment of the family, and the compassion of the community has the power to inspire children’s faith for a lifetime. In addition to her consulting work with Lemon Lime Kids, Amy leads the strategic curriculum development for Phil Vischer’s new curriculum What’s in the Bible? (, and serves as Director of LOCAL, a Chicago-area children’s ministry collaborative ( Amy is the former Executive Director for Children’s Ministry at the Willow Creek Association, a former Children’s Ministry Director at The Chapel in Libertyville, IL and a Curriculum Writer for Promiseland at Willow Creek in South Barrington. Amy is proud to be married to her husband Kelly, and loves living in Chicago. Amy blogs at and tweets at @adolan.