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Making First Look Work

Previously, I addressed why we made the change to the reThink Curriculum package for our areas at  Trinity Church.  Today I’d like to share about how we use the First Look Curriculum in our Early Childhood Environments.  I’ve already covered how we made the change in Elementary environments, so go read that now! Our Early Childhood (EC) and Nursery areas would cover any child from birth through Kindergarten, specifically we’ve always referred to EC as 3 year olds and up.  It’s complicated, but that’s how we roll currently.

What is our setup?

We have one main environments for babies up to 12 months that consist of glider rockers, swings, bouncy chairs, changing tables, padded floor mats, and lots of people that want to just rock babies.  We then promote kids up to a Walkers class when they turn one year or start walking; we have two of these classes.  Then kids turn 2 and are promoted to the 2’s, of which there are 2 classrooms.  Then kids turn 3 and are promoted to the 3’s, of which there are 2 classrooms.  Then kids turn 4 and are promoted to the 4’s, and they are then taken to our Pre-K building and placed in a much larger space.  There is currently only one 4 year old environment.  Then when kids turn 5, they promote up to the 5-6 Pre-K and Kindergarten environments.  We have two Kindergarten classrooms, but they meet together in one much larger room for storytelling and singing time.  After they’re “together time” they return to separate areas.

I share all this to say, that EC can be a complicated beast to organize and prepare curriculum for.  There are often times that we have to add classroom space and create the additional third space for each age; and other times that we have to combine areas due to out-of-town leaders.  We have always struggled with curriculum not being age-appropriate or hard to teach.  First Look has eased this frustration, and allowed us to solve this problem.

How do you make it work?

Here is where First Look has proven so easy to implement.  Just like 252 Basics, there is a mountain of content to sort through; but they provide something for every environment, age, and space.  I have song posters that it above changing tables in the baby rooms, and play time instructions for walkers that support the lesson for that week.  Then my 2 year olds have their own material that is perfect for their age, then it just continues up through preschool and kindergarten.

We tweak it somewhat, but mostly to get all the content to fit into our 65 minute service format.  The ability to edit, subtract, and add to the curriculum has been our favorite part.  No more scratching out content on a secured .PDF file, we simply edit it out in a word document and go with it!  Leaders of each classroom space get a manual for each month.  We do our best to make the manual as snazzy, colorful, and exciting as we can!

Was it easy to train your teachers?

We’ve never had training work so well.  I really think that the overarching 3 basic truths of First Look, made it easy for classroom leaders to buy into it.  They were excited to get started, and have spoken very positively of the change over the past 4 weeks.

Do you use the videos?

We use the Wonder! Look at God’s Story DVD’s for our large group storytelling segments.  The videos are short, short, short, and they work perfectly to keep the kids attention.  These DVD’s have helped us ease into the transtition and have proven to be a great resource.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Kenny Laughters · September 30, 2010

    Jonathan, thank you for this post. We are about to move to first look/252 basics and we are currently restructure our rooms. This was all very helpful and practical. Thanks,

    Kenny Laughters