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									by Sharon Ellard


A brain scan allows doctors to see how babies’ brains respond to various activities. When an adult catches a baby’s attention with a smile, a song, or a toy, a baby’s brain growth is stimulated. Babies are smarter than we often give them credit for. And what better places than the church nursery and Sunday School rooms to encourage such brain activity. Here’s a starter list of what babies and toddlers can do during their first 3 years.

Tips and Resources


Newborns recognize their mother’s voice. They are able to hear from the fifth month of pregnancy on. In the midst of the babble of a busy delivery room, infants will turn their heads toward the sound of their mothers’ familiar voices. For the first weeks of life, babies can focus clearly on objects that are 8 to 11 inches from their eyes. This is the natural distance from face to face when babies are held and may be why people instinctually get close to babies to talk to them. Adults who talk to babies using animated facial expressions capture newborns’ attention and stimulate brain growth, especially in the areas of emotional attachment. In fact, brain scans show that a newborn’s brain becomes more active when grown-ups talk with the higher pitch and slower pace of baby talk.

By 3 to 6 months, babies have started to learn daily routines. They will smile and coo at people who talk to them. They begin to interact with rattles, teething rings, small balls, and other simple toys. They will learn some toys make noise, some feel good to sore gums, and some roll away. They begin to reach for nearby toys and turn toward tapping or squeaking sounds.

Teaching Tips ✶ Play peek-a-boo with the Baby Picture
Cards in your Radiant Baby Curriculum Kit, bringing the card into and out of the baby’s vision. ✶ Begin to create playful rituals during nursery and class time. ✶ Provide plenty of simple toys, helping babies reach for, hold, and explore them.


Teaching Tips ✶ Talk to newborns in “baby talk,” using
the Little Lamb Puppet from your Radiant Baby Curriculum Kit. ✶ Hold and cuddle newborns. ✶ Use animated facial expressions when talking to newborns.

Radiant Baby Curriculum Kit Ideal for use in church nursery, day care center, or at home. Includes: Little Lamb Puppet, Baby Picture Cards, Praise for Little Ones Cassette, Play and Learn Cards, Radiant Baby Teacher Guide, Baby Board Books, and Baby Posters. 59LK1595 $59.95 Little Lamb Puppet* Happy lamb puppet enhances Bible learning and play. Soft, washable, fur-like fabric. 9" 19LK7995 $9.99 Baby Picture Cards* Colorful pictures show God’s world and Bible story pictures. Babies can touch and handle as they learn Bible truths. 7 x 8" 08LK1408 $4.99
*Included in Radiant Baby Curriculum Kit



Tips and Resources

These more experienced little ones are beginning to prefer certain routines and want to be with people they know. They like face-to-face talks, will try to respond, and begin saying simple words like “da-da” or “bye-bye.” When a fun “game” is repeated from week to week, they will begin to remember and imitate it. For example, they can imitate tapping with two blocks while a teacher says, “Tap, tap, tap, tap—Jesus loves YOU!” As they begin to crawl, pull themselves up, and navigate furniture, babies will move to activities they want to repeat.

Toddlers are busy people. They’re walking. They’re talking. They practice both until they drop. With your help, toddlers will climb, turn in circles, or march in a line. Because toddlers are constantly on the go, this is a great time to begin teaching through guided play. (See “Learning through Play” on page 8.) Toddlers can follow simple instructions. Before they can say one word, they understand 100. They love to imitate. They will imitate movements (clapping, waving, etc.) and noises (animal noises, vehicle sounds, etc.). They love ritual. One of their first words will be “again.” They love to move to music. Long before they can sing the words, they can begin to “worship” through movement.

Teaching Tips ✶ Use the repeated themes in your Radiant
Baby Teacher Guide and Play and Learn Cards to capture teachable moments. ✶ Play simple games in which they can imitate you. ✶ Repeat games and learning activities from week to week. ✶ Talk to babies and let them “talk” to you.

Teaching Tips ✶ Play songs from the Praise for Little Ones
Cassette. Create actions to the songs, and let the children sing and do the actions. ✶ Use simple games to teach a Bible story. ✶ Provide duplicate toys to help toddlers learn through imitation. ✶ Repeat games and activities to help toddlers master new skills.

Radiant Baby Teacher Guide* Enjoy one year’s worth of monthly lessons; fun and varied learning activities; reproducible parent newsletters; helpful tips on ministering to babies; reproducible decorative patterns; and reproducible sign-in sheets, care instructions, and medical release forms. 59LK1594 $7.99 Play and Learn Cards* Make your planning and teaching simpler! Every activity in the teacher guide comes on a 4 x 6" card, just right for storage in a standard file box (not included). 19LK0198 $4.99 Praise for Little Ones Cassette* Acquaints babies with familiar Christian songs on one side. Helps babies rest with the soothing sounds of quiet instrumental music on the second side. 60 minutes. 28LK0940 $9.99 Baby Board Books* Sturdy and just the right size for little hands. Colorful pictures teach about God’s creation. Bible words connect pictures to Bible truths. Order one for every child. 3 x 3" God Made the World 02LK1116 God Made the Animals 02LK1117 God Made Families 02LK1118 God Made Me 02LK1119 $4.99 each
*Included in Radiant Baby Curriculum Kit


During the final six months of their third year, most toddlers stop “toddling” and become young children. They add running to walking. Their talking improves and expands—even strangers can understand what they say. They are using the restroom. As they near their third birthday, the closer they become to being ready to join older children in crafts, singing, games, and Bible stories in preschool Sunday School classes.


Q: Why Should I Use a
A A: ~nursery sign-in sheet can help …

Nursery Sign-In Sheet?

Teaching Tips ✶ Teach important biblical truths while children play with the Baby Board Books.

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✶ Use more complex games that develop
motor skills. ✶ Incorporate more songs and talkative interaction in your lesson. (Ask more questions, and let students respond.) ✶ Provide crafts and games for children to do.

Reassure parents. Parents will know that nursery workers can contact them during the service if necessary. Provide a record of attendance for follow-up. Protect babies from being taken from the nursery without parental permission. Provide a record, if needed, that the church has been responsible in providing for the security of babies in the church nursery.

Q: How Do I Use a Nursery A:
Sheet? ~ Create a master sign-in sheet. It should
include information like the child’s name, parents’ names, an assigned number, and “IN” and “OUT” columns. Or use the one provided in Make Your Nursery Baby Friendly. Make duplicates of the blank master sheet. Determine the best place to post the sheet. As parents check their children in, ask them to initial the “IN” column. They will do the same in the “OUT” column when they pick their children up after service. Use a new (blank) sign-in sheet for each service. Before each service, fill in the date and service information. File sign-in sheets for follow-up, and keep copies as legal records.

Babies are smarter than we often think. A caring nursery ministry gives babies and toddlers a head start in developing the loving relationships and faith God wants for them.
The resource section on pages 35–39 will give you even more great ideas on ageappropriate resources for your nursery or toddler class.
Sharon Ellard is Promotions Coordinator for the Assemblies of God Sunday School Department. This article is adapted from StepOne:A Guide for Teachers (Nursery). See page 38 for more information.

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Q: How Do I Introduce the A:

System? ~ Before introducing the system, send a letter
to parents, explaining how the sign-in system will help your church care for babies and toddlers more safely in the nursery. Determine how the numbering system will work. Will you simply number the children consecutively as they are checked in? Will you assign numbers to those who attend regularly? Is there another numbering system currently in place in your church that could be used? Decide if your church will need to supplement the system with nursery ID cards. Periodically evaluate the system to see if it can be updated to better meet your needs.


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