Have you ever heard of Rotation, a model of Sunday school? Churches that use this approach plan for several workshops, or stations, that help kids explore many facets of a Bible story. Across multiple weeks, groups of kids rotate between these workshops. Here’s an example. A church using the Rotation model chooses the story of Naomi and Ruth for the month of April. They divide kids into four groups, and then plan for four stations, or workshops. Each week, the kids hear the Bible story. Then each group goes to a specific station where they experience an activity that connects to the story. Activities may be modified from week to week based on the age of the kids in the group.
- When kids are in the Art workshop, they learn to make different types of friendship bracelets and talk about Ruth and Naomi’s friendship and the value of loyalty in a friendship.
- In the Cooking workshop, they make biscuits or another kind of quick bread they can enjoy together. While their creations are baking, they handle many kinds of grains and learn about gleaning in the Bible.
- During their time in Drama, they reenact the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz using costumes.
- And in the Games workshop, they play lively rounds of a movement game called “Where You Go I Will Go” that has them traveling from Moab to Judah and picking grain.
Those who use this Rotation model point to many ways it livens up children’s ministry through its dynamic, flexible way of creating memorable Bible story experiences for kids. Here are some of those reasons.
- You can go deeper into Bible stories. In many Sunday school models, kids explore a Bible story one week, then move to a different one the next week. In Rotation, kids spend multiple weeks on each Bible story. Spending more time with the story can lead to deeper learning, which can help them make more connections to their own lives.
- Kids experience stories in multiple ways. Rotation Sunday school is inspired by Multiple Intelligences theory. This theory, originated by Howard Gardner, states that we have many ways we can express our potential, not just traditionally-defined intelligence. The eight types of intelligences he defined are linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Rotation offers different ways to access the Bible story, kids use all their senses and all their smarts.
- Kids who miss a week don’t miss a story. Attendance at Sunday school is variable for kids because of many life situations. Custody arrangements, extracurricular activities, vacations, and other events keep families on the go. Most kids do not show up every week for your children’s ministry. Rotation Sunday school helps every kid have a memorable story experience when they are present.
- You can recruit volunteers based on an array of gifts. Many Sunday school programs ask adult leaders to plan lessons with one age group all year. Recruiting leaders for Rotation is different. You can ask adults with specific gifts and interests to lead a rotation during a month-long unit. That means that a kitchen wizard can do a cooking unit, a musician could lead songwriting for a 4-week segment, and a carpentry buff could be a guest when the kids explore the story about building. Yes, you’ll need to recruit more people overall for shorter periods of time, but you can capture people’s attention with an invitation to share their gifts and interests with kids in creative ways.
- Adults who accompany kids each week can go deeper relationally. In many Rotation programs, an adult accompanies kids each week to their workshops. This adult, sometimes called a Shepherd, is recruited because they enjoy being with kids. Shepherds do not need to plan for the lesson. They only need to be present with kids, enjoy their time together, and build relationships.
- Spaces can be designed with kids in mind. Churches who invest in Rotation Sunday school often remake their space to accommodate different workshops. Some churches have constructed art studios and mini-theaters for viewing videos and presenting productions. Others have renamed rooms so kids know exactly where to go for each kind of workshop.
- You can plan more flexibly for different age groups. Many churches using Rotation Sunday school only have a few kids in each grade. Directors can combine ages into larger groups like Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary and then plan engaging workshops for a smaller number of groups.
Whether you are new to the idea of Rotation Sunday school or have been leading one for years, consider all the unique benefits it provides to churches that want to go deep into Bible stories to create lasting experiences for kids.