Life on Life
David C Cook, 2010

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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Life on Life curriculum offers discipleship for children ages 8-11 that brings life transformation to the whole child through three types of lessons: Spiritual Formation, Character Development, and Life Skills. The curriculum equips a teacher to see children grow in their faith, develop strong character qualities that will shape them as they grow, and learn life skills that will empower them to be healthy adults. All lessons are biblically based.

The curriculum is unique because if offers encouragement for at-risk and vulnerable children. Children who come from difficult or nontraditional home situations can discover God’s truth in an inclusive and encouraging way. Children who struggle with academic challenges or social difficulties can find support in God’s loving presence. Children who are battling even the most difficult issues, such as homelessness, serious illness, and abuse, can find comfort in God’s healing hands. Every lesson offers encouragement in a Christ-centred format that reinforces a Christian worldview.

What do you get?

Downloadable access to all four lessons plus an introductory document. Includes leader instructions, printable resources and facilitating documents. Subscriptions also allow other team members to access the lesson plans, and contribute ideas. Session titles included are:

  1. God’s wonderful creation
  2. God’s useful creation
  3. Our amazing Creator
  4. God created me

Also available: Sessions on Friendship, Integrity, Self-control.

Free 60 day trial subscription, with 3 different options for subscription per year. Go for this free trial to begin with. Signing up for access to these resources is not cheap (around £350 a year), but the quality and flexibility are very good. Summaries of these plans can be viewed here: https://disciplr.com

Who is it for?

Children aged 8 – 11 years old, with a class or group size of 15 – 30 children. Beginning, Enquiring. Curriculum is designed for children who are vulnerable or at-risk.

Cost?

Free

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    This is a great resource and a rare find. It is created for children who are vulnerable or at risk. It is website-based with extra resources, targeted material, options to change layouts, communicate with colleagues and plan sessions.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Lesson outlines show the teacher the direction for the lesson. Explicit objectives are not provided, however, the stated aim of the series is to develop character, life skills and spiritual formation.

    How accessible are the leader’s notes?

    Leader notes are fairly accessible once familiar with how to navigate the site, as some resources may be missed otherwise. There are teacher devotions, tips and instructions on how to work with children who may be vulnerable. The sessions themselves include clear directives and information, allowing leaders to follow a varied script of fun based on Bible truths. Each lesson has changes in font for different sections and links to other relevant resources.

    Who could lead it?

    Considering this particular series is designed for running with vulnerable or at-risk children, an experienced Children’s Worker is best placed to implement the programme. If the leader has no previous experience with vulnerable children, there are teacher guidance notes provided and handy tips throughout.

    How helpful are the participants’ resources?

    Simple colourful print out sheets constitute the main participant resource. These are simple but effective for their purpose and appropriate for the age range too.

    How good is any digital material?

    Whole series is provided digitally for use and is very good quality.

    How much prep will I have to do?

    This series focuses on teaching children who may come from more complicated backgrounds that they are loved and valued by God. With this in mind, the leader should ensure they spend adequate time reading the preparation material and teaching support. The next step is for leaders and facilitators to collaborate over content and running order (there is a recommended running order but also flexibility). Logistical preparation should then be straightforward, as these lessons do not need many extra resources - most are optional, and easily available. Leaders need to make sure they have the extra, optional resources and have printed materials too. Most preparation time will be spent in careful consideration of the children attending and how to link the material most effectively to their lives.

    Is there website support? Links?

    Website support is offered by the disciplr online team via live chat or email (or call, but these resources come from the USA). All content is available online to adapt and share with colleagues.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Children interact during simple games, the Bible teaching, response time and optional activities. Most interaction is between the leader teaching and the children, but there are some questions they are asked to discuss in pairs.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Children learn through a range of approaches such as simple crafts, actions, discussion and moving their bodies.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    This series is unique in its combined approach which is to help grow both leaders and children. Created initially for vulnerable children in India, this series has been used all over the world to help bring at-risk children to Jesus, and equip them to know God’s love for them. The 4-week curriculum is aimed at children aged 8 - 11 years old and for a group size of between 15 - 30 children in order to get the most out of the content. Everything needed is provided in the downloads, with the addition of a few free or easily found extra resources. Optional supplies include basic school supplies, such as paper, pencils, and crayons. There are comprehensive leader notes to help guide effective teaching of children with more challenging backgrounds and the content is soundly Bible based. Each lesson has optional resources to extend running time with raw material designed to last approximately 40 minutes. The access to this series is via an online platform which allows leaders to collaborate with other team members to review running orders and add thoughts to the curriculum; all that is needed is an internet connection for all team members. These sessions are also adaptable as they provide a range of optional extras.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Children apply the material by answering questions about the story and their lives. They also apply the material in the ‘response’ section which helps solidify learning. It may be an activity such as pointing out things God made and then answering questions about them.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    The whole session has sound Bible basis. Approximately 25 minutes are spent on the talk and response sections directly out of the recommended 40 minute running order.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Biblical material is presented by reading, answering questions, doing actions, and reading. All material presentation is relatively low key to keep children having fun but also learning and concentrating. Children then respond to the teaching by answering questions about the story, and about their lives in relation to the story. Children receive a short prayer of blessing at the end of the time too.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    The sessions acknowledge that children may have troubles in their lives but the focus is on God being there with them in it. Children are asked whether they think they don’t deserve God’s love as much because sometimes difficult things have happened. They learn that God is for everyone and that they are as individually created and precious as all other children and adults.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    This series has no specific theological perspective but does teach the creation story in a literal sense.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    Children learn that by loving God first and being right with him, the other values of Christianity will follow. As this series is on creation, there is an emphasis on our responsibility to love others and look after the world around us.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    This curriculum aims to develop the children’s faith in three ways: spiritual formation, character development and life skills. Spiritual development aims to help lead children into faith by focusing on God’s word. Character development encourages children to develop qualities because they love and want to honour Jesus. Life skills teaches children practical life skills and helps them understand that learning Christian values is important, but that developing a good relationship with God is more important.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    Children learn how important they are to God as they have been made in his image. They are asked how it makes them feel to know that God made them to be like him? Once they grasp this, they are encouraged to ask him to help them know and reflect him more.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    This resource connects well to problems children may be having, from divorcing parents to being on the poverty line. It focuses on the children finding stability in God’s love for them and not from other scary circumstances which may arise.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Children are lightly encouraged to tell friends about Jesus; the emphasis is on living as a Christian and others finding God through that witness.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Children are encouraged to look after the world around them including plants, animals and people. They are asked practical questions about how they can do this.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Good coverage of individual global issues. For example, this resource can be used around the world for children experiencing poverty, pain, and suffering on all kinds of levels.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Indirectly by mention of looking out for others and understanding that as we reflect Jesus we can teach others about him.

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