Pre-Club Potty Routine
One club reports that they have added an extra activity to their check-in routine. After parents arrive and check in their Cubbie, they take him or her to the restroom. This minimizes interruptions after club starts!
Animal Name Tags Add to Cubbies Fun
Use clip art of Cubbies animal characters to make name tags. Cubbies who are 3 years old can wear a Luvie Lamb tag; 4-year-olds can wear a Katie Collie tag .
Colors Bring Order
If you have a large number of Cubbies, transitioning them from one segment to another can be tricky. One club dismisses children to line up for the next segment by calling out a different color. Those wearing that color may line up. This method will prevent all the Cubbies from rushing to the door at once.
Have Leaders Pick up Their “Pay”
At the end of one of your Cubbies meetings, after all the kids have been picked up, announce to the leaders to be sure to pick up their pay before they go! Tell them how much their ministry is appreciated and give them a Payday® candy bar.
Two Time-Saving Tips
Here are two simple tips that will save you time this fall.
- Write a list of all the craft supplies you’ll need for the year and make sure your classroom is well stocked.
- List the snacks you will serve each week. Prepare a snack sign-up sheet for the first club meeting. Each parent or leader can volunteer to bring a snack at least once during the year.
Apple Acres Entrance Booklet
Cubbies begin their year with the Apple Acres Entrance Booklet. It's a great tool to get the salvation message into unchurched homes and to help Christian parents in teaching their children. The Cubbies earn their first Green Apple emblem upon its completion. New Cubbies get their uniform vest and all children progress to either the AppleSeed or HoneyComb handbook, depending on the year.
Clubbers Love Bear Sitting!
A church in California sends the Cubbie Bear stuffed toy home with a different clubber each week. It's an honor to "bear sit" Cubbie, and then bring him back along with the group snack the next week.
Special Name Tags
Divide your clubbers into groups by using colors, shapes or Cubbies characters. Make corresponding name tags for the children and leaders. You can also match the name tags to the group's assigned tables. Get some ideas from our clip art page.
Give Cubbies a Preview of Sparks Game Time
Leaders in one church noticed that first-year Sparkies were intimidated by the games at the start of the club year. To aid in the transition, Cubbies are taken once or twice a month into the Sparks Game Time during the second half of each club year. They watch for the final five minutes, and if time allows, get to run around the empty game circle. Usually, leaders run with them, holding their hands. This ensures that they keep outside the four pins. It not only acquaints the children with circle games but also teaches them to wait their turn and line up on a color line.
Puppets Inspire Fun Goodbyes!
At the end of club, as parents pick up their kids, have a leader stationed at the door with one of the Cubbies puppets. Have the puppet say "goodbye" to each child using his or her name: "See you next week, Emma!" We usually remember best what we heard last, so using each child's name will leave a positive impression on parents and children. Try alternating puppets each week.
Singing and Jumping
Add this new twist to the "Cubbies Theme Song." Tell Cubbies to jump every time they sing the word "Jesus" or "Cubbies." (And of course, they can hop when they sing the words “hop” or “jump.”) Sing the song first without jumping, so the children are used to singing and don't get too distracted. Then enjoy watching clubbers and leaders jump up and down!
For your own protection, ensure that you are not isolated with a child at any time. Check your church's child protection guidelines regarding supervision policies.
Be Allergy Aware
If you serve snacks, be aware of any food allergies your clubbers have. Request this information from parents at registration. You could note them on the back of each Cubbies' name badge or post them in your club room.
Check up on Bear Hugs
Since Cubbies is a program in which all the children are working on the same Bear Hug each week, it's easy to overlook a Bear Hug when a Cubbie is absent. Make it a point to check the handbooks (or the record cards) of the children in your group. If any of them have uncompleted Bear Hugs, encourage them to make them up. This may take an additional session, such as before or after club, which needs to be arranged with the parent ahead of time. This will insure that all Cubbies will receive their book completion awards at the end of the club year.
An Easy Way to Attach Badges to Vests
We now have a solution to the problem of moms having to sew Cubbies emblems on the vests. Badge Magic, a new type of fabric adhesive, comes in sheets with pre-cut shapes. It's been tested in multiple washings and beats any iron-on of the past. See the catalog or online store.
Fun Ways to Move Cubbies From Place to Place
- Use the buddy system, moving two by two. Ask the pairs to hold hands.
- Move single file, telling Cubbies to keep one hand on the wall beside them. Make sure touching walls is allowed in your church.
- Use a "walking song" that will keep your Cubbies occupied and add fun to a routine part of the meeting. Always use the same song so it becomes associated with walking to another location.
- Tie several loops along a section of soft rope. Each Cubbie holds a loop as two leaders, one on each end of the rope, guide them along.
- If appropriate, have the children make train sounds as they walk!
Help Cubbies Learn About Missions
In the AppleSeed Teaching Plans there is a Special Day lesson on missions. This is a great way to introduce Cubbies to this important topic. Share about your church’s missionaries, their area of service and their work. Keep in mind what is age and developmentally appropriate for Cubbies.
Grow in Your Bible Knowledge
Teaching preschoolers basic Bible truths is what Cubbies leaders are all about. Seeing these little ones grow in their knowledge of God is a real blessing. Be sure you are growing in God’s Word, too. Try the Awana Youth Ministries Journey Main Studies and Electives for your own personal Bible study. Each one has 12 lessons designed to help you increase your understanding of the Bible.
Spontaneous Singing Grabs Their Interest
A Cubbies director in California with 30-plus children gets their attention by simply starting to sing a song – any song! The Cubbies stop and listen! It seems so strange to them that a grownup would just break into song. The group becomes almost instantly attentive.
A Moment of Silence
One director from Iowa shared this idea:
For our Cubbies, even a minute of quiet can seem like a long time, so we make a game of it. We tell them that we want to see if we can have one minute of total silence before we start something special – like snack time, an exciting story or a guest speaker. We watch the clock so they know exactly when the minute is up. Just that small break in the commotion does seem to calm everyone down. It’s also an opportunity for a quick, silent prayer for patience for the leaders!
Cubbies Love Boundary Lines!
One club, which routinely uses a puppet stage, put a curved masking tape boundary line on the carpet so kids would not crowd the stage. This helped everyone to see well. The children enjoy keeping “just” behind the line! You can also use this simple technique when a leader is sitting in a chair using visuals.
No Props Necessary
Children this age like to play imagination games – like baking a cake or going fishing. You don’t need any props. Just let them pretend to measure sugar, mix dough or crack eggs and say stuff like, “Oh, no, you’ve got egg on your face!” For fishing, you can pretend to reel in a fish or act out the one that got away!
January is the time to check the calendar. Since Cubbies handbooks have just 26 Bear Hugs, there should be enough weeks to complete them. Completion of Bear Hug 13, the halfway point, is a good time to encourage your Cubbies with something in addition to the usual uniform awards. Try one of the Cubbies gift items from the Awana Ministry Catalog.
Get Cubbies Acquainted With Your Pastor
Invite your pastor to join you for an evening in Cubbies. Have him arrive early to greet parents and participate in the story, games or any aspect of club. Give him an orientation to Cubbies beforehand so he knows what to expect. Getting young children acquainted with your pastor at an early age will help them feel comfortable when they observe their parents interacting with him.
Make Music With Your Verses
Cubbies love music! Purchase the AppleSeed or HoneyComb Handbook Music CD to use during club or give as gifts to parents. You can also encourage Cubbies parents to download the free Cubbies app for all Apple® devices! The app includes all the music from the AppleSeed and HoneyComb handbook music CDs (with seven songs available for free), and features Cubbies characters and interactive animation to appeal to preschoolers. A special feature lets parents record and share a video of their child singing along to a song.
Music Adds to Club
Music can add so much to your club! Have songs playing throughout Coming in Time. The AppleSeed or HoneyComb Handbook Music CD can be used in Starting Time, Song Time, Handbook Time and even Play Time, when appropriate. Use music in a different segment from week to week. Awana music is now available on iTunes, too.
Focus on Parents
At the start of the club year, welcome parents with a useful gift, such as a fridge magnet with the Cubbie leader’s name and contact info on it. Be sure to explain how parents can use the handbook with their child. Give them helpful tools, such as a schedule to tape inside the handbook. The schedule could include the dates for weekly Bible verses, theme nights, holidays and special events.
Encourage Cubbies’ Parents
It’s usually easy to tell which kids get help at home. At this age, parents are more involved with their children’s club experience. The Cubbies handbooks even have a parent sign off in each Bear Hug. But parents need encouragement, too. Be sure to engage them as they pick up their Cubbie. Thank them for bringing their child so faithfully and working with them on the current Bear Hug.
Cubbies Play Groups Add to Summer Fun
Strengthen club relationships by encouraging your Cubbies parents to form play groups with other Cubbies parents over the summer. You could even divide them into groups, based on where they live. Be sure to pick an organizer for each group. There are some free play date apps for iPhones and iPads that make organizing much easier. RedRover is one suggestion.
Reach out to Parents at Christmas
Be sure to use the Christmas Special Day lessons in both the AppleSeed Teaching Plans and HoneyComb Teaching Plans. Also be sure to send a flier or card home with your Cubbies listing all your church’s Christmas activities. Invite parents as they pick up their children.
Parents Make Good Leaders
Most clubs are concerned about attracting new leaders. At the Cubbies age, parents are always involved, so why not ask a parent who is not a leader now to help with Awards Night? Maybe it's decorations, refreshments or assisting with the children, etc. Tell them how much you appreciate their help and invite them to join your Cubbies leadership team next fall. Follow up in a week or two. Don't let the summer go by before they hear from you again!
Invite Parents to Club
Go through the church directory or whatever other sources you have to determine which parents in your church have children who are two years away from starting Kindergarten. Call each family and invite them to a Cubbies parent information night. Personal contact is always best and starts your relationship with the parents on a firm foundation.
Ask Questions About the Children
Coming-in Time is an ideal time to get acquainted with parents. One of the roles of a Cubbies leader is to focus the conversation on their children. Concentrate and work hard to ask about their Cubbie. Is he enjoying Cubbies so far? What did she do today? Does he still nap?
In the case of visitors (or people you don't know very well), you are naturally in a welcoming and orientation mode. But again, concentrate on asking questions about their Cubbie. This will strengthen your leadership bond with both the children and the parents.
Engage Parents Using Postcards
Send out postcards to parents reminding them of special events and awards nights or encouraging them to have their child make up any Bear Hugs they may have missed. Address them this way: To the Parents of: (name of Cubbie). This greeting includes both the parents and the children and will inspire interaction about the Cubbies program.
The monthly Parent Pause newsletter is a great resource to assist parents in growing their preschooler’s faith at home. This free five-page newsletter is available for download in color or black and white. It has parenting tips and ideas for family-centered fun and faith-building activities. Add your own club news to the blank page at the back and remove the Puggles page if your church does not use that program.
One idea is to hand out the next month’s newsletter to parents as they pick up their children on the last meeting of each month. Or put them in the kids' handbooks or Cubbies bags. Don't forget to mail them to any absentees. Or you can e-mail them to those who prefer to receive electronic communications.
Connect With Parents
You can build relationships with parents in the following ways:
- Talking with them at the beginning and end of club nights
- Phone calls, visits or e-mails
- Connecting at special events throughout the year
To maximize your ministry, all Cubbies leaders should actively seek to nurture Cubbies and their parents throughout the year.
Award Placement With a Purpose
The HoneyComb apple emblem awards go on the silk-screened "C" on the Cubbies' vests and the AppleSeed apple emblem awards go on the "A". Ever wonder why there is an A and a C on the Cubbies vests? The A reminds Cubbies of the word All in Romans 3:23. They remember that ALL have sinned. The C reminds Cubbies of the word Christ in Romans 5:8. They remember that while we were sinners, CHRIST died for us. Cubbies leaders can use the letters to review these two verses on each club night to provide a simple explanation of the gospel.
Orderly Awards Night
Before presenting your Cubbies with their handbook completion awards, bring them up to the platform to sing the "Cubbies Theme Song." Everybody enjoys seeing Cubbies "shout and jump for joy!" This also saves time, as all the children are already up front to get their awards. Be sure to have parents join their Cubbies to receive the Under the Apple Tree award each year.
At the end of the club year, think about some gift you can give each of your Cubbies. We suggest the Cubbies Zipper Pull. Give them to the Cubbies like an award. Fasten them right on the zipper of their jacket, garment or other item (such as a book bag). This will remind them of the good times they had in Cubbies and help them look forward to next year.