In my large group teaching I don’t usually have kids follow the lesson along in their Bible. That’s because we have a broadly graded program that includes many preliterate readers. Usually I’ll just read it aloud or have older kids read the verse for the group. Then any supporting texts I’ll display on PowerPoint or a marker board.
So, when the Go Fish VBS called for kids to actually use their Bibles I was not really prepared. It’s a big change in learning environment and will take some adaptation. After a little practice our kids found the routine, but here are a few things I learned along the way.
1. Make sure you have extra Bibles on hand. No matter what prize you offer some children will forget to bring their Bible. We even had several kids bringing story book Bibles. Having loaners on hand ensures no child is left out.
2. Encourage a standard translation as much as possible. This can be a challenge when kids bring their Bibles from home and it can be a real shock for some kids to see different things. Be ready for some questions! Most of our kids come with the NIV, which is fine because we have a stack of extras that match in the children’s department. Above all make sure the leader’s Bible and posters match your emphasized translation.
3. Allow time and assistance for locating each Bible reference. After announcing the verse let the children work to find it and then help one another as needed. Once everyone has the spot they should raise their hand to show they are ready.
4. Invite the strong readers to read the text aloud. Even on longer passages I call on several readers so that no one reads more than a few consecutive verses. I will include less confident readers, but only when I’m certain they can handle the verse. Be ready with quick pronunciation help for unfamiliar words.
5. Alternate short readings with explanation and question. Be ready to paraphrase and restate the meaning of the verse. Then use questions to immediately test comprehension. Often I will ask and answer the questions without waiting for volunteers to answer. Sometimes I will ask teasing type questions or silly statements and allow the children to correct what I said.
I’d love to hear your feedback on these tips, especially if you teach a large group of kids with open Bibles. Just leave a comment below.