Kid at computerOn this page I will collect links to various tools and utilities which support building interactive web pages like those demonstrated on the Children's Bible Teaching Resources page as well as other software tools for Christian education, particularly for children. I have personally tried each tool listed here and can recommend each one.  See also examples we have actually used in our fourth grade department in Kidz Web Home.

For your convenience, I have categorized each item as

bulletN -- novice -- easy to install and use; typically a self-contained software package
bulletI -- intermediate -- generally tools to build interactive web pages which require some HTML knowledge or a good HTML editor
bulletA -- advanced -- requires knowledge of HTML and some scripting capability

Table of Contents

BulletBible Study Software BulletMusic
BulletEducational Games and Resources BulletAuthoring Tools
BulletGraphics BulletComputer Equipment

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Bible Study Software

The Bible is basic to Sunday School work; the computer is a natural tool for searching, comparing, and annotating your Bible study. Use them in your own preparation, or let the children use them for research on Sunday morning. You might even want to provide their own personal copies. Here are some recommendations:

bullet(N) QuickVerse for Windows -- Bible study software/concordance/Bible reading plan (Commercial)
An extensive Parsons line of Bible study tools. Multiple translations are available, along with a large selection of additional reference resources (maps, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, etc.). Great for searching for words, and I especially like its flexible Bible reading plan which helps you and your kids read through the whole Bible.
Collections range in cost from $39 (QuickVerse Essentials) to $600 (QuickVerse 2006 Platinum), depending on the resources included in the package.  Special offers are available at reduced cost from time to time.
You may choose to purchase other translations (typically $29) or other study tools from an extensive on-line catalog, gradually forming a comprehensive Bible study library for yourself or your classroom.
bullet(N) Theophilus Bible study suite for Windows (Freeware)
Download contains King James (Authorized) version of the English Bible, Matthew Henry's Commentary and Easton's Bible Dictionary. Includes also preview of multimedia Bible narration. A variety of additional free helps are available, plus an inexpensive CD-ROM version.
The advantage of this package is that it is a free source, but perhaps more difficult to use for children than QuickVerse. Give it a try!

Educational Games and Resources

These are supplemental resources to involve the children in actively learning Bible skills or content. Guidance from the teacher is needed to stay with content relevant to the lesson or topic. They can also be useful for the entire class if the teacher or one child "drives the computer" while the screen is displayed on a TV monitor for the whole class to see.

bullet(N) Bibleland.com -- (Commercial, $24.95 CD-ROM)
This is a unique product, aimed at children, which I have found quite useful in the classroom. The concept is: The WWW didn't exist in Bible times, of course; but what if it did? What would the home pages of Bible characters look like? The kids can look up Daniel's Health Food Tips, David's Hints on Slaying Giants, and very appropriate and well-presented pages for almost all the characters from the Bible stories they are likely to encounter. I have found the content to be quite true to the Bible narrative, and the kids love it and learn from it. Purchase from your Christian bookstore or visit Sunday School Software Ministries on-line.
bullet(N) Know Your Bible 2001 by Heavenly Software (Shareware, $15 registration)
Know Your Bible 2001 is a Christian program comprised of 10 fun and educational games designed to help you learn the books, people, and major events of the Bible. The goal of each game is to select the book, person, or event in correct order after they have been randomized and placed on a set of buttons. Each game tracks your percentage correct, your time, and your score. In addition, each game includes a learn mode, sound effects, and tracks the high score.
Great for early arrivers and learning centers; for individual use by the children. (Developmental hint: while all children can learn the order of the books of the Bible, ordering the historical events may be too difficult for most children until about fifth grade.)

Graphics

Good visuals are essential to good learning. I scan pictures from the curriculum materials, use standard CD-ROM collections of Christian Clip Art, and generally collect images from everywhere. I have found different graphics packages have different strengths, and use all of those listed for one purpose or another.

bullet(N) LView Pro (Shareware, $40 registration)
LView is a good general purpose editor; it is quick to load and it can handle the basics. I use it for basic cropping, rotation, and sizing.
bullet(I) Ulead PhotoImpact 4.2 (Shareware, $99.95 registration)
PhotoImpact is a full-featured graphics package particularly good for web applications. Ulead provides SmartSaver in the package, which can reduce the size of web images to save download times; it also provides a great animated GIF editor, which makes it easy for you to animate your images. Published by Ulead Systems.
bullet(I) Paintshop Pro (Commercial, $99)
Paintshop Pro was a popular shareware package which has gone commercial. The latest version adds the capability of layers in graphics images, which is a powerful tool for constructing complex graphics. I use PaintShop Pro for most real editing jobs involving modifying images. Reviewers are saying it has 85% of the power of PhotoShop for 25% of the cost. Published by Jasc Software.
bullet(N) PrintMaster Gold (Commercial, $10/$40/$70)
Printmaster is a tool which lets you do things with your graphics.  Posters, banners, greeting cards, business cards, stickers, post cards, etc., can be designed and printed easily.  Use the provided graphics (more expenseive packages include more graphics) or import your own.  The package allows printing oversize posters and banners which you can easily piece together.
I use this package extensively for visual aids for the classroom.  You can also allow the children to use it to produce their own creations.
bullet(N) Media Center (Shareware, $39 registration)
Media Center is a different type of graphics tool. It is basically an image catalog, constructing thumbnail images from directories of graphics files--a useful function on its own. But its real strength in my toolkit is its slideshow capability. I can collect a set of digital photos in a directory, scan them into Media Center in seconds, and have an instant full-screen slide show with adjustable image duration, transition effects, etc. I have used this approach for a review of VBS on family night, for an interest center in the church Narthex, and for a year-end review of pictures of the fourth graders in Sunday School. This is one of my favorite tools. Published by Jasc Software.

Music

Music is a great way for children to learn--fun and effective. Our curriculum provides a song for each unit, and provides a cassette tape (or CD) for use in the classroom. One could record the cassette as a WAV file for use on the computer, but the files would be immense. A MIDI file is much smaller and more versatile--the children like to hear the song on a variety of instruments and tempos, easy to do with a MIDI sequencer. Here are the tools I use to "computerize" our Sunday School Music:

bullet(I) Musitec Pianoscan (Commercial, $99; downloadable demo available)
Pianoscan is a mini version of MidiScan, which can convert sheet music to a MIDI file by scanning the printed music. (If you're a piano artist, you could play the music into the computer on a MIDI-compatible keyboard and generate your own MIDI file; I don't play piano.) Pianoscan works fine with the printed unit songs in our teacher's material. Some editing is required because of scanning errors, but the program makes it easy to compare the interpreted score with the scanned image and correct any errors.
It takes me about an hour to produce a final MIDI file. I use the music files as background for web pages, as background music on Sunday morning during activities, and sometimes as accompaniment for the children to sing (would you believe bagpipes?).
bullet(I) WinJammer MIDI Sequencer (Shareware, $50 registration)
Pianoscan does not deal with repeats and Codas--it just knows notes and rests. WinJammer is a popular MIDI sequencer which essentially works as a MIDI file editor. I use it to cut and paste the appropriate bars to correctly interpret repeats of various kinds, producing the final linear MIDI file which plays from start to finish. [There are lots of other sequencers available; WinJammer is readily available on the Web for you to download and try.]
bullet(I) Jammer Professional 4.0  (Commercial, $129) by SoundTrek
Jammer is a tool I use to "orchestrate" the MIDI files after I scan them.  It allows selection from a large number of musical styles (jazz, blues, classical, dance, inspirational, ...) and provides rhythm and accompaniment for the basic melody in that style.  I have used Jammer to arrange the music for our monthly unit songs, and used the MIDI files that it outputs as background music for our activities on Sunday morning. (I was able to obtain Jammer through Christian Computer Concepts at the institutional price of $65...check to see if you qualify.)

Authoring Tools

World Wide Web technology is perfect for use in the Sunday School class as well as making materials available to class members between sessions (See Kidz Web Home for the support web for our fourth grade class.  The technology is familiar to the children, is interactive and engaging, and provides multiple approaches to reinforce a lesson.  

Important:  See also the Java applet reference page in the Kidz Web Home section of The Sunday School Page for additional resources.

bullet(N-I-A) Microsoft Agent technology provides the animated narration used on the Bible Story Page to support our class by telling an illustrated Bible story.  Our kids are attentive, retain the information presented, and ask to see "James" tell the story again. This technology is available free of charge. See the Microsoft Agent page for details.
bullet(A) WebQuiz Writer (Shareware, $39.95 registration)
WebQuiz Writer is a powerful test-creation application for Windows 95/98/NT designed to meet the requirements of professional educators. It offers a wealth of features to allow you to create multiple test versions, printed answer keys, answer sheets, and HTML/Java quizzes for the internet or intranet. True/false, multiple choice, and multiple answer formats are provided. The interface is extremely intuitive, making it easy for you to build you quiz and mark the correct answers. Features include an ODBC compliant database support, a full-featured spell checker, HTML tag support, and print capabilities.
bullet(I) Cut-N-Paste JavaScript (Freeware)
This site has over 150 free JavaScripts, many of which are adaptable for teachers.  In particular, click on the For Teachers section of their archive.  The Multiple Choice Test used on the Unit Questions Pages originally came from here.  They provide right to modify and adapt the scripts, as I have done here.
bullet(A) Intel Web Applets (Freeware)
Once available for free download from Intel were several Java applets to embellish your web pages. Most of these are innovative ways to display computer images (GIF or JPG image files); I use them to let the kids see their own pictures.  These are currently no longer available from Intel, but similar Java applets are available from various sources.  Look for creative ways to display the pictures of your pupils.
Choose from:
bullet3D Photo Cube
bulletphoto album with interesting image transitions
bulletphoto effects selected by viewer for series of images
bullet3D text to draw attention to your message
bulletImage carousel to spin your images in horizontal or vertical aspect (demonstrated on Kid Carousel page)
bulletJava Applets: See more detail about the Java applets used in Kidz Web Home.

Computer Equipment

For your information, I list here the computer hardware I use in preparation for Sunday School and on Sunday morning. This is not an endorsement or recommendation of any particular hardware, but it will help you understand my environment and experience.

bulletDesktop Computer: 800 MHz Pentium 3, 64 MB memory
bulletNotebook Computer: WinBook XL, 233 MHz Pentium, 32 MB memory, integral CD-ROM player and 3.5" diskette. [I load the software to be used on Sunday morning on the notebook and transport it to class.]  Because I usually use the notebook to drive a TV set (WinBook provides an integral video output, so no converter is needed), I opted for a less expensive LCD display.
bulletDigital Camera: Epson PhotoPC 500 (640x480 pixels, 30 image capacity) Because I do not have an LCD display or diskette storage, I get excellent battery life. The four AA cells are the only consumables for the camera. I use it constantly on Sunday morning and at children's activities. [This particular model is obsolete, but there are many others to choose from.]
bulletPrinter: Epson Stylus C84 Inkjet. A color printer is an inexpensive necessity for preparing classroom visuals, printing photographs from the digital camera, etc.
bulletScanner: Umax Astra 1220U.  I use it to scan images from the pupil book which can then be used to produce larger teaching visuals, on classroom web pages, or in other ways. If you don't have a digital camera, you can scan photographs to get pictures of your pupils. You can also scan the children's artwork, missionaries' pictures, music or text for optical recognition, etc.

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Commercial: Commercial software is available for purchase only, often by download (with credit card payment) or from a retail outlet. Sometimes a demonstration version (with limited functionality or limited use interval) is available for evaluation purposes.

Shareware: Shareware products are provided on an honor basis as "try before you buy" downloads. If you try the package for a specified time (typically 30 days), you are expected to register the software for a nominal sum to compensate the author for his or her efforts and to provide for ongoing support. In some cases, the evaluation copy may be limited in functionality or use interval. Registration typically entitles you to run a single copy of the software in a single computer; check the author's license for specifics.
REGISTER YOUR SHAREWARE!!! It's the right thing to do.

Freeware:
Freeware is software that has been placed in the public domain by its author with no expectation of compensation. You are free to use and distribute such software to others, subject to any restrictions declared in any license provided by the author.