What is Needed

As a rule, the thing we need the most help with is creating artwork. Besides visuals to go with the lessons, we also need line-art that can be traced on overhead transparencies, projected and traced onto posterboard, and painted for decorations. We can find some artwork on the internet, but we cannot redistribute most of that due to copyright, so we need artwork that can be distributed with our materials, either because we have the author's permission to do so, or because the license of the artwork allows this. (For instance, artwork from the public domain or that is distributed under a BSD-like attribution license can be used, but artwork distributed under the GPL cannot be used, because that license is incompatible with ours.)
None of us at Galion are artists, and it really shows. I had one semester of art in college, so even the visuals we already have are really stretching the limits of my skill. In some cases I can use components from a public-domain source, such as the Open Clip Art Library, but that only goes so far. Also we have used in our own church a number of visuals that came with various purchased materials, which we have collected over the years, but this has two major problems: first, and worst for us, these visuals were not designed to go with our lessons, or with one another, and in many cases are not ideally suited. Second, and worst for everyone else, we cannot distribute visuals for which we do not have the copyright, so those visuals are not included here. We really need original artwork.
With that said, there may be other things we can use help with as well. If you look at the summary pages of each section (lessons, crafts, games, etc), you may find things that are marked as [Needed]. Beyond that, here are some additional things I have noticed that need to be done...
  • Most of the lessons currently use a boilerplate copyright acknowledgement for scriptures taken from the NIV translation. For some lessons, this may be exactly what is needed, but for others it may be that many of the scriptures are not verbatim from the NIV, and in that case either an except as noted clause should be added to the boilerplate and the exceptions noted, or if there are fewer excerpts from the NIV they should be noted individually with the short (NIV) acknowledgement and the boilerplate removed. Someone should go through all the lessons and check all the scripture passages to see whether they are indeed taken from the NIV, and make the appropriate adjustments. This is a tedious and largely thankless task, but it ought to be done to be in full compliance with Zondervan's policy.
  • The Fish with the Coin lesson needs to have the formatting and presentation cleaned up so that it is more obvious which portions are lines of drama and which are narration or commentary.(done in 2009)
  • The teen lessons for several of the years are almost entirely absent at this point. If nobody else takes this on, we will probably get to it eventually, but it would probably not be until the next time around the rotation, i.e., several years.
  • For the first several years, we did not script out any presentation for the preschool memory verse. This needs to be done.
  • Some of our music selections may come from albums that are no longer generally available. In such cases, it would be good to replace them with recommendations from readily available albums. (The unavailablity of older materials is perhaps the single most annoying feature of the way copyright law works...) (Alternately, if a larger church has the facilities and people to produce and record quality original music, that could, if done well, be even better, but realistically I think recommending selections from existing available albums is more feasible.) In particular, the Sing & Shout Songs albums have unfortunately become rather difficult to obtain of late, and the CEF Celebrate Life in Christ album was probably never available separately. Fortunately, the Hip Hop Hymns album still seems to be readily purchasable, may it always remain so. Bear in mind that when making recommendations we prefer to keep the total number of albums to a minimum, so if possible try to find albums with multiple usable songs. Also bear in mind that we have two very important criteria for music selection:
    • The music must have good solid lyrical content. Extra bonus points if it goes with the theme or, especially, the lessons. We have a limited tolerance for Praise songs — one of them every now and again is fine, but it is not okay for every song to be just that.
    • The music must have a tempo that moves. Children are not interested in singing music that drags like Brahms, turning quarter notes into whole notes and whole notes into multi-measure marathons of interminable note-holding. They will roll their eyes and start talking amongst themselves to relieve the boredom. Therefore, tempo is required.
  • Most of the pre-school lessons, and some of the elementary lessons, could use at least minor copy-editing.
  • Someone should get a statement from CEF regarding what they view the copyright status of the Wordless Book to be. We've been using it for the secondary preschool lesson every-other year (alternating with our own shapes lessons), but although the wordless book as an idea is older than CEF's involvement with it, and early versions of it are certainly out of copyright and in the public domain, CEF is responsible for the general form in which we have it today, and the use of the color green originated with them, and so I am not comfortable reproducing or distributing our wordless book lessons without checking with CEF. For now I have just linked to their own presentation of it, but that only works for an online presentation — in particular, it would not work for anyone who wants to reproduce the materials in written form. For this reason we should clarify this issue and, if necessary, write an alternative set of five simple lessons, along the lines of what we have done with shapes, but with something else than shapes or colors for the symbols. To work for preschool, it should not rely on the ability of the audience to read.
  • Some lessons may be missing some of the references under Bible Passages (or Other Passages). One such example is the Isaac and the Lamb lesson, which does not have any of the references for the last part of the lesson. Also, the Preschool Little Lamb lessons for God's Sheep are missing their references. Someone should track these all down so that they can be listed, or the lessons should be rewritten complete with references.

No comments: