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Missions Discipleship

Looking Like a First Grader: How to Help Kindergartners Use Their Newfound Skills in Growing and Learning About Missions

I start noticing it every year in the weeks leading up to the end of the school year. The kindergartners in my Mission Friends class seem to suddenly look taller, and the preschool chairs do not exactly fit them anymore.

One of the kindergartners pipes up, “I’ll read the Bible thought marker myself.” Another one tells me his plans for building a complex structure with blocks even before he gets started.

Yes, those kindergartners are looking and sounding more and more like first graders!

Throughout this year, kindergartners have gained new skills. Since they have now completed kindergarten, we can help them to continue using these skills and prepare them to move up to children’s missions in the church.

Here are some examples of ways to help kindergartners.


    • Allow kindergartners to use their greater reading skills by letting them read aloud a Bible thought bookmark or words in a game from Mission Friends Leader Kit.
    • Help with words with which the kindergartner may not be familiar.
    • Do not force a child to read aloud, but ask if they would like to read aloud.
    • Provide the summer issue of Missions Journey: Kids Adventure for a kindergartner to read about missions in the children’s materials for the same areas featured in Mission Friends.


    • Kindergartners now have greater small muscle control in their hands and fingers. Encourage them to write their names on artwork.
    • Provide paper and pencils in the Books area for them to practice writing.
    • Provide index cards in Blocks and encourage them to write signs for their buildings, such as “church” or “school.”
    • Allow them to draw pictures of the mission story and write the missionaries’ names.
    • Introduce kindergartners to the leaders of Girls in Action (GA), Royal Ambassadors (RA), or Children in Action (CA) in your church, and help them practice writing the names of the leaders.

Greater Attention Span

    • Kindergartners are able to concentrate on an activity or story for a longer period of time. Tell a longer, more detailed story for kindergartners.
    • Allow kindergartners to work on one activity for a longer time rather than moving between several activities in the classroom.
    • Ask the children’s missions leaders to include kindergartners in a missions project with the children’s groups this summer.


    • With greater cognitive skills, kindergartners are able to plan what they are going to do in an activity. Allow kindergartners to ask questions and solve problems.
    • Ask kindergartners to retell the main points of the mission story.

Social Skills

    • Kindergartners have gained in getting along with others, and peers are becoming more important to them. Allow kindergartners to work with others on activities.
    • Consider pairing kindergartners up with an older child in GA, RA, or CA to learn more about activities they will do in the children’s missions groups.

Let’s enjoy our kindergartners this summer as they grow to look more and more like first graders. This is a great time to help them use their newfound skills in growing and learning about missions. We can also prepare them for the next steps in their missions journey as they soon move up to the children’s missions groups.

Joye Smith is the national WMU preschool ministry consultant.