Whether a parent or pedagogy professor, anyone who works with teaching and children knows quite well that there are many types of learners. It is important not only to acknowledge this but to create lessons that reach these varied types of individuals and encompass a broad spectrum of activities and teaching methods. The same is true for Sunday school lessons and teachers. A sure-fire way to turn kids OFF faith is to constantly use the same canned lessons, worksheets, and flannel graphs.
The Bible is exciting, action-packed, colorful, and at times confusing or even humorous. Bring it to life for students so that it stays alive in their minds and connotations. The best tools to employ for this are ones that get children as involved as possible. It is remarkable how creative they can be, and with a wide range of mediums. Invite students to use their own creativity, and use yours as demonstration! You may opt to…
1. Capitalize on thespian leanings… never underestimate the power of acting. Narrate a story for students to pantomime. Or have them choose roles and act out a story. This could involve reading and research to get the details of a story. Perhaps you could hold a mock interview and have a student read about a Bible figure and try to embody that person.
2. Use art in various forms…invite students to listen as you read or tell a story, and create an illustration to go with it. This can sometimes be a good tool to use for some of the more obscure tales or more descriptive images read in prophetic texts and visions. Or have them read a story and make a comic strip version to share with fellow students.
3. Mold it! Get fidgety fingers moving constructively by allowing students to mold clay or play-doh during a lesson. Caveat: students must mold something justifiably connected to the Bible story. If the play-doh is thrown, mashed into the carpet, ingested, or drawn on, it is instantly gone.
4. PUPPETS! This goes along somewhat with the acting and drama bit, but can encompass so many elements. Students may want to craft their own puppets from old socks, paper bags, or gloves. Or perhaps there is an official puppetry team at church that can loan some finger friends. Or maybe you have some stuffed animals and critter puppets that can be designated as Bible heroes. I have recently employed this method with a group that covers a broad age range, and they cannot get enough of the puppets. Something about using a different mode of storytelling grabs and keeps their attention and genuinely enhances their memory of details. The students are eager to make up their own puppet show renditions now, and they recall story elements with surprising excellence. They even remind me if I forget that the elephant puppet is supposed to represent Samuel (big ears), and they make sure that the giant bobcat I use for Jesus is also God. It makes the story more interactive, dramatic, and downright fun!
So get out there…think outside the box. Get the little hands busy and minds actively engaged. Awaken your inner Academy Award winning spirit. Above all, remember that your purpose ought to be bringing God’s word to brilliantly-hued life. HE is the ultimate star.