Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

Getting the Most out of Handbook Time

By Chris Solaas

Don’t know what to do with Clubbers who’ve said their sections? Too busy dealing with Fidget and Gabby to listen to sections? Need some extra help during section time getting kids ready to say their sections? Try some of these ideas on for size!

Symptoms of the Problem (Is your handbook time like this?)

  • Clubbers Bored and Talkative
  • Clubbers unable to say sections due to noise level
  • Only a few sections passed per night per Club
  • Only a few Clubbers passing a LOT of sections
  • Kids coming to handbook time unprepared

Gee, What’s the Problem?

  • Lack of Manpower (listeners)
  • Lack of preparation on the kid’s part at home
  • Superperformers Hogging section time
  • Underachievers getting discouraged, resentful
  • Lack of Preparation on the Leaders’ part
  • Boredom in Clubbers done with their sections
  • Lack of Discipline
  • Everyone in one Room, those saying sections along with the Talkers/Jokers

Fine, Then What’s the Solution?

  • Getting extra listeners (recruitment, Student Leaders)
  • Contacting kids to encourage them to be ready (shows you care)
  • Limiting # sections per Clubber on the First pass through (prevents hogging)
  • Ensuring underachievers get encouragement and a chance to say their sections
  • Send Knee-mail (pray)
  • Whip up some fun Games
    Verse Hangman, MemMan Software, Verse Coloring Pages, Awana Sing and CD/Headphones, Verse Crosswords/Find-A-Word, etc.
  • Get Bored kids who are done to help slower kids get ready to say sections
  • Try to get kids working on the same sections together to study. (They can encourage each other – the Buddy System)
  • Set down Rules (in writing, on a table-stand card) and stick by them. (No Talking, except in groups studying verses, no moving about, etc.)
  • Separate the Listener Station by as much distance as possible from the Studiers.
  • Have those finished go to a third area to play fun learning games/study for the next section.



How come some kids just can’t seem to ‘get it’, and how do I get the light bulb to come on inside?


Learning Styles:

According to Cynthia Tobias in “The Way They Learn”, all kids have different learning ‘styles’:

Auditory Learners:  they can learn just by listening and repeating. Singing or saying verses works fine for them…

Tactile Learners: they need to ‘feel’ something with their hands to learn. Hard to teach, but giving a kid a rock to feel while explaining how throwing a rock across the Grand Canyon would “Fall Short” is an illustration of how to teach them.

Kinesthetic Learners: they need to ‘act it out’ and move in order to learn, and often to recite. This is Fidget with a capital ‘F’. Your best bet is hand motions, and letting them move while reciting, as long as they don’t fall out of their chair. Even when they seem like they aren’t paying attention they often are.

Visual Learners: they want pretty colors to see, and pictures, in order to learn. The graphics in the handbook often attract them and help them learn. The coloring pages are a good learning tool.

Hand Signals help Tactile, Visual, and Kinesthetic Learners

Picture Pages help Tactile, Visual and Kinesthetic Learners

Sing Along Verses help Auditory Learners.


A good rule is to try to involve as many senses as the child is comfortable with in learning.



Many leaders are not above bribing the kids to get them to learn their verses. Candy is a good incentive. Christian bookstore trinkets are another.

Years ago I promised the 5th & 6th grade boys if they would ALL just finish a certain number of sections I would paint my hair Blue. It really motivated most of them to achieve.

One year all clubbers in the greyshirts (now T&T’ers) that complete their 2nd Bible Drill (Discovery/Challenge 2 or later) by Jan 1 got to ‘pie the Commander’. The night I announced this we doubled our normal number of sections passed.

Contests help channel friendly competition and peer pressure into a valuable tool for getting kids to achieve.


Updated: May 10, 2014 — 11:59 am

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  1. Last year we started using and activity room during handbook time and set a pace schedule clubbers could not pass unless they were behind schedule. Most clubbers were only allowed to say 2 or 3 sections a week. If a clubber started later in the year or did not finish their book the previous year they were given a sticker in their book letting listeners know they could work on however many sections they had time for.

    Once clubbers passed their 2-3 sections they would take their book to their club secretary and be given a pass to an activity room where a leader is waiting for them with fun games. The leader is also encouraging them to recite parts of their sections as review.

    Clubbers are encouraged to come prepared to say their sections so they can go straight to the activity room when handbook time starts. Some clubbers find leaders on Sunday or other times of the week away from club. During registration on club night several of our listeners sit off to the side of the santuary where clubbers wait for opening and clubbers can go to them to pass their sections.

    This all works to get the eager and prepared clubbers out of the handbook time and free up leaders and listeners to work one on one with those who need more help.

    Two years ago before we startes this system we had about 60% of clubbers finish their books amd some finish their review.

    Last year we had 98% of clubbers finish their books with many also finishing their review. It was astounding the difference.

    The clubbers had more fun and the leaders also said they enjoyed it.

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