The truth is that there are many websites available with great online Sunday school resources. How do you choose the right one for your specific children's ministry program?
TOO MANY OPTIONS?
All you need to do is search for Sunday school lessons, games, or crafts and you get pages and pages of websites vying for your attention. Some even pay a little extra to show up first. These are usually identified as promoted, sponsored, or ad sites. The number of potential options will continue to increase as more and more teachers and youth workers discover the ease and simplicity of using online resources compared to costly, old-fashion, pre-printed materials. So, how do you determine which online resource is right for you?
NOT ALL ONLINE RESOURCES ARE ALIKE
Search engine rankings alone are not always the best way to measure the right online resources for your children's ministry program. Popularity often depends on how the web pages are presented, organized, or offered on the website. Behind-the-scene practices and page volume can have a direct impact on search engine rankings. However, what may not be taken into account is the quality of the material.
Online Sunday school resources for the most part fall into three categories.
1. All Free
2. Membership Based
3. Pay Only
Let's examine each of these a little further.
This sounds like the best option, at first. After all, how can you go wrong paying nothing? The downside is that most websites offering all free resources have only a limited number of materials. Once exhausted, it is back to searching for the next available alternative. This creates a level of inconsistency in the way you teach and prepare for your class.
A few websites offer a large amount of all free resources. This is usually accomplished by encouraging visitors to contribute materials. This method is a great way to boost the number of pages along with search engine popularity. However, this method also produces some difficulties for a teacher. Contributors have their own ideas on how to write a lesson. Formats, styles, length, and age appropriateness can vary greatly between contributors. Trying to teach using different formats from one Sunday to the next can cause frustration and extra time in preparation. Imagine wanting to teach a lesson series on Noah, and each lesson appears to use a new format or come from a different point of view. One lesson is complete with a coloring page or game, and the next lesson contains only a lecture and discussion questions. Inconsistency can be an important issue.
Finally, websites offering all free resources still have hosting and operational expenses. You have probably heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch. This is true with online resources as well. One can recover expenses in part through unwanted advertizing or by promoting specific items from other companies known as affiliate programs. However, all of this can get in the way of finding the materials you want quickly.
Websites offering membership based resources are similar to the Totally Free types, except that annual fees are required to view some or all of the materials. Benefits from membership fees are generally poured back into maintaining the website and expanding the amount of resources. Unlike all free websites, well-managed membership based websites have a greater potential to standardize lesson plans and other resources. Membership fees are normally very low for the amount and quality of materials offered compared to pre-printed alternatives.
Most often, these websites pay a little extra to show up on search engines because they offer only a limited amount of free materials. There may be a sample lesson to use as a trial, but this will often require registration. For a nominal amount, you purchase a finite number of lessons. These lessons are rarely customizable. Sometimes, they are offered one by one, so you need to use them in the order received.
The most significant drawback with "Pay Only" resources is that you need to make the purchase first before you can see exactly what you will get. This is not to say the materials are in any way inadequate, but you will not know if they fit your particular teaching style until you send in your payment. Whether or not you can use the materials, you may still need to find additional resources, such as games, activities, or crafts to supplement each purchased lesson plan.
WHY CHOOSE KIDS SUNDAY SCHOOL PLACE?
Kids Sunday School Place is a membership based website. For a minimal annual fee, you gain access to all of the materials available, all of the time. We hold nothing back for additional fees. This enables us to take additional measures to ensure that our vast selection of materials is of the highest quality, and that our ad-free website provides you with a pleasant browsing experience.
Although we enjoy the creativity of many different contributors, we go to great lengths to adjust each idea submitted into our standardized formats. We insure each lesson follows a well-defined outline, focuses on a specific theme, provides sound Biblical information, requires a consistent amount of time, and is age appropriate. In addition, we alternate games, crafts, skits, and other ideas between lessons in order to provide a variety of learning experiences for the children.
Unlike many membership websites, we offer a substantial amount of free lessons and materials. So much, you can teach a class for around a year without becoming a member. The reason we can do this is that we are confident that once you see how much the children enjoy coming to class and how much they learn about Jesus when you use our recourses, you will want to become a member in order to continue using our resouces.
See also: Why Choose an Online Curriculum?