customize mission friends interest areas for your group
Missions Discipleship

Ways to Customize Mission Friends Interest Areas for Your Group

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word customize as to “build, fit, or alter according to individual specifications.” Consider the value of customizing the Mission Friends curriculum to best meet the needs of preschoolers in your group.

Think about the above definition in relation to your Mission Friends class: to alter (or modify) Mission Friends curriculum according to the specific needs of your group.

There will be times when you need to customize interest area activities given in Mission Friends Leader. It’s important to be flexible as you plan activities, modifying them to best suit your class.

The interest areas used in Mission Friends Leader are Art, Blocks, Books, Homeliving, Music and Movement, Nature, and Puzzles and Manipulatives. These areas allow preschoolers to learn through play, their senses, and doing hands-on activities.

Even though activities are suggested for each of the interest areas, you might not do all of the activities listed for various reasons. But how and why do you choose which ones to do?

How do I adjust interest areas suggested in Mission Friends Leader to fit within different time limits?

Time is a major reason for customizing your class. Meeting times can vary from 45–75 minutes per Mission Friends session.

    • If you have a shorter session, consider alternating the interest areas each week, incorporating the story during an interest area activity, and offering only three or four activities.
    • If your session is longer, include four or five of the suggested activities. Offer group time for the whole group at a dedicated time.
    • In case of extra time, always have an activity idea ready to use, whether it is an art project, a game, a tub of blocks, or a movement song. Add one or two of the Extra Activities found at under Free Downloads.
    • For threes and fours, spend more time in interest areas and have a shorter group time.
    • As preschoolers grow older and have longer attention spans, increase the time kindergartners spend in group time.

I enjoy doing some interest areas more than others. Is it OK not to use the ones I don’t like?

It is easy to omit interest areas you find boring, repetitive, or you are not comfortable doing. Remember the interest areas are designed for preschoolers and not the leader. Play and repetition are how preschoolers learn.

    • Repetition of activities encourages preschoolers to practice and learn both new and familiar skills.
    • Preschoolers are multisensory and use all of the learning styles — auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. Activities are planned to benefit preschoolers with different learning styles.
    • The interest areas you do not implement could be the very ones that some of your preschoolers enjoy (and need) the most. Offer a variety to avoid depriving them of their preferred learning style as they learn about missions.

How can I customize interest areas for preschoolers with special needs?

When planning for interest area activities, keep in mind any special needs your preschoolers may have. Reach out to parents for suggestions of how they customize and adapt at home.

    • Modify activities so preschoolers with mobility issues can participate. Place activities on a table or remove chairs so a wheelchair can be placed at a table.
    • Change tactile materials for a child with sensory or touch challenges. Provide materials the child is comfortable touching.
    • Help a child sensitive to loud noises by adapting a noisy activity to something quieter.
    • Provide a quiet corner for a preschooler who struggles with social activities.
    • Establish routine and clear guidelines so preschoolers with distractibility or high activity needs know what to expect.

by Beth Campbell