Thursday, July 12, 2012

Morning Devotions and SCIENCE !

Morning devotion time is probably the most important time of our school day.  We
believe that every school day absolutely must begin with a scheduled meeting
time for all of the students and teachers.  The time taken away from other classes
and parts of the day is well worth it.

Here is a look at our morning devotions schedule:
8:28 Morning bell (arm sticks out the door and rings a bell)
8:30 All students in seats with Bibles and music folders
8:30-8:35 Singing (95% of these are word-for-word scripture memory songs)
8:35-8:38 Comments, corrections, announcements etc.
8:38-8:45   Scripture Reading and Bible devotions
8:45-8:50  Science  Time
8:50-9:00  Review scripture memory chapter and final announcements

The morning devotion typically starts with singing scripture songs for about five
minutes.  We use this time to memorize entire chapters, or large portions, of
scripture.  Music is a great tool to do this, and if it is learned in the proper
manner and reviewed fairly often they retain it long term--not just mumbling
through it once quickly to say that they’ve done it and then never doing it again.
We also periodically review all of the previous month’s scripture.  If you are interested in obtaining several of these songs for FREE, please let us know and we'll get them to you. 

On Mondays we take time to hear any interesting stories about their weekends.
Teachers should always keep a running diary, at least mentally, of anything
interesting that happens to them.  The students love to hear it.  This includes
anything strange or unusual that happens to you, any different stories about
churches you visit or people you meet and funny happenings at home. (There
are many more of these funny at-home stories than you realize; teachers need to
figure out how to verbalize these in story form to make them interesting).
Always keep a written or mental treasury of memorable moments from your
entire life.  Examples: stories you remember from childhood, especially school
stories; funny stories from your marriage are also a blessing;  and funny things
people said to you.   (We always make sure it is all right with a
student ahead of time if we share something funny or interesting they did.)

Next we usually do about five to ten minutes of Bible study.  My favorite
way to do this is to start at the beginning of a gospel and just read short passages
of scripture each day and discuss them verse by verse.  The short devotional
time should include participation from students.  I  have found it effective to
pick a book of the Bible, preferably New Testament, and to read ten or twelve
verses a day.  This takes little to no preparation, and all that is necessary is to
read the scripture out loud and make comments on what is being taught in the
scripture.  It is a good way for the student and the teacher to get used to
expository teaching.  George Mueller decided early in his career that this was
the only way  he would preach-- by reading the scriptures and then making
comments on what he had just read.

The morning devotion time is also a good place to discuss good Biblical doctrine.
We should never assume that our young ladies understand why they wear a
head covering.  We need to make sure that they can defend their belief about
this.   Likewise, for the young men, we should never assume that they
understand why we are non-resistant.  It is very effective to teach the students
good, Biblical doctrine and not surmise that they have absorbed it through
osmosis from our Anabaptist culture.
Another wonderfully hot topic is conscientious objector status.  Many of our
youth believe that since they are “Mennonite” that they will automatically be
granted CO status.  They need to understand that the government is not looking for a Mennonite background to excuse them, but a consistent, Biblically non-
resistant lifestyle.  This would include driving records, local reputation, and an
inordinate amount of firearms used for “hunting”. 

After Bible reading with teacher and student comments, we usually move on to
about five minutes of discussing the day or week’s schedule and making any
needed corrections or discuss any rule violations.   Every deviance that is
noticed by the teachers at any time must be addressed each day.  Any
inappropriate behavior or words that  you see or hear MUST be dealt with lest
it become cankerous to the entire school.  It should be addressed every time it
happens until it is taken care of.   This should always be done in a kind, loving,
graceful manner.  This isn’t time to point anyone out or beat anyone down.  It is
time to discus school rules and Biblical principles, how they were violated, and
how we can all work together and do better next time.

For example, we recently got a few new swings for our school swing set.  We
went from two swings to six swings in one day.  It should have been a joyous
experience, but, alas, the elementary students were all fighting over them.  We
placed a ban on the swings the next day or two and discussed it during morning
devotions.  The problem isn’t completely solved, but it is much better.  ANY
behavioral problem is discussed openly with the entire school, without any
names used or individuals being pointed out.  They know and get the message.
We want them to understand that we care, that we are watching them, and that
we desire for them to have their hearts right with their fellow students, parents
and teachers.

This is also the time when we announce anyone who has ten fish in their fish
bowl , ten bees in their hive, ten stars with their moon, or ten flowers in their
garden.  They then receive their little prize and we all do our official school clap for
them, which we’ll discuss later.

The yellow parakeet is real, the red cardinal is fake.  It made a funny picture :-). 

Next we have what we call “Science Time”.  It is really a science show-and-tell
where the students bring in interesting plants, animals, fossils, rocks or anything
else they have found.   Our favorites so far have included a fossil the size of the
top of a student’s desk, three baby raccoons, snapping turtles, crawfish, local
stream fish, a live garter snake, a mounted bug collection bought at a garage
sale, several monarch butterfly cocoons which we watched “hatch” and set free,
numerous large wolf spiders, one with a large sac that eventually hatched (we
watched her carry her babies around on her back), a road-kill pheasant, spotted
salamanders, and nest full of baby birds. (Our thirteen year-old daughter was
successful in keeping two of them alive and eventually set them free).

No one in our family hunts (although we happily accept and enjoy any venison
sausage that is shared with us :-) and we do not encourage students to kill things
and bring them in.  

A wild hog- lovely.  I once told someone I was concerned about students killing things and bringing them in.  I didn't mean bugs.  We live in Texas.  I meant hogs, deer, raccoons, foxes, armadillos, opossums, and no telling what else.  And yes, we have had all those things brought in for "science".  (Most of them were alive.)

A reassembled squirrel skeleton, minus a leg.

This was packed up after we had it on a table at a school program.  It includes; a large wasp nest, deer antlers, a large thorn branch, cotton, a femur, a snake shed and several large fossils.

These fossils are about 4-5 inches across.  We have an abundance of them around here and would like to share them with our fellow teachers.  If you are interested, our students who collect them are selling them for just $7 each, which includes postage.   If you would like one let us know either on the comment form below, or email us at

When things get cold and dreary outside and it is hard to find any “science” item
we switch to “History Time” in which the students bring in any item fifty years
old or older.  We discuss how it was used and why, and how things are different
now.  When we first began this one of our first graders couldn’t quite get the
change and called it “Old Science”. 

Morning devotion time is very important.  This time of the day is one of the ties
that really binds the school together as a community.  A good time to discuss
Sunday’s sermon is on Monday morning.  It is also a good time to tell everyone
in the school what the daily schedule change will be, or what will be going on
differently.  This is the best time of day for parents and any visitors to see what
the social and spiritual climate of the school is.