The Puzzling Attraction of Puzzles

Puzzling_Mitch_5294339220_687c49b375_b

Disorder and exposed edges cause us to be tense and unsettled.  We fervently scan for those straight edges to establish a boundary and begin to sort things out.  We aren’t satisfied until everything is in its proper place and the picture is complete.

It is no wonder we say we “work” puzzles.  The process doesn’t seem like “play” at all.

It is work.  Yet, even when there is no outside competition involved, we find pleasure in that work.  It is a quest for the solution.  A desire to find the answer to the problem.  Figuring out how the pieces fit together.  Consciously or not, all of us are looking for answers.  God, in his wisdom has created us curious and hungry to ‘know’.  It sometimes feels like very hard work and yet we still seek.

As teachers we can walk alongside children and guide them in the important Christian-life-skill of looking for answers and seeking truth.  Throughout their lives truth will always be found in God.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1, NIV

A good lesson plan for Bible Class should include challenging and pleasurable learning  activities that motivate children to think.

Challenges don’t have to be complicated.  One simple activity is an adaptation of jig-saw puzzles.  Click here for written instructions and links to good online teaching pictures you can use.

Or watch this 2 minute training video below.

May God bless you as you help children seek answers.

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Photo Credit (top of page): “Puzzling” by Mitch used through Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

 

Same Game – Different Name

I thought I’d finish off 2014 by posting a simple game to use as a review in Bible Class.

Well, at least I assumed it would be simple!

XsandOs

A woman named Debbie (Arizona, USA) emailed me awhile back with the suggestion of adapting an “X and O” game into a review activity for Bible Class.   Children list words and ideas and then play a game similar to “tic-tac-toe” or “noughts and crosses”.  The example in the picture above is from the Bible lesson Conquering the Land and Fighting Giants.

I thought such a simple idea would be easy to explain until I began filming a “how-to” video and writing out instructions.  Hopefully, the final result makes sense. Click here to learn how to use the game in your Bible Class.

Same Game-Different Name

It turns out that many of us play the game but we know it by different names.  That’s why I stuck with the simple title of “X and O Review Game“.  Here are some of the other names listed by Wikipedia:

  • Tick-tack-toe, Tic-tac-toe, Tick-tat-toe, or Tit-tat-toe (USA, Canada)
  • Noughts and crosses or Naughts and crosses (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
  • Exy-Ozys, Xsie-Osies (verbal name only) (Northern Ireland)
  • Xs and Os (Egypt, Republic of Ireland, Canada, Zimbabwe, Romania)
  • O-X (Mauritius)

qml-tic-tac-toe-example

Older Than You Think

I was amazed to find out that In fact, 1st Century Romans played a version of this game that was very similar to what we play today!  So this game has been played since the time of Christ.

Same Same but Different

As my Thai friends say, “same-same but different”.  God’s Word does not change but it is shared in different languages and and by various methods that fit the culture and understanding of the hearer.  You know the needs of the children you are teaching.  I’m hoping you are reading the ideas on www.missionbibleclass.org and then adapting them to your own teaching situation and language.

If a simple and inconsequential game of “X and O” can still be played and enjoyed by adults and children century after century then how much more lasting is the Word of God for all people for all time?

Food for Thought- Transfiguration

2012_Transfiguration Cloud

Even a snack or food can help children understand the meaning of Scripture.

I’m quite confident in this method because it is one that God used often.  Stories that come to mind are The Passover, Manna and Quail, The Last Supper and even in the way we are asked to remember Christ in communion.

Tonight in Bible class we studied about the Transfiguration of Christ from Matthew 17:1-13.  The children and I read the Scripture together as we made and ate our snack.

(Teacher Tip: I found out, the hard way, that 2 of the children were lactose intolerant so you might want to check that first 🙂 )

Supplies:

  • Ice Cream
  • Cola (any fizzy/gassy drink will do)
  • A spoon or ice-cream scoop
  • Cups
  • Spoons

Instructions:

  1. Read Matthew 17:1-3 to the children and discuss.  We spent a while talking about what the word “transfiguration” means (A complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.)
    “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” NIV
  2. Continue reading through verse 13 taking time to emphasis verse 5
    While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
  3. Now pass out the cups and spoons.  Fill each child’s cup with 3 scoops of ice-cream.  As you do this emphasise the 3 men who appeared on the mountain: Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
  4. Now for the “cloud”!  Pour cola over the ice-cream and watch the froth rise.
  5. My kids loved this.   By the time we had repeated the process for each child all the children knew the story well.

Using What’s on Hand…or Foot

I’ve talked in other posts about using what is “on hand” or available to teach.  This time I thought I would take that more literally!

Reading through Luke 7:36-50 I wondered how I might help the children remember how Jesus forgave The Sinful Woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.

Simon, the Pharisee, observed the woman and Jesus and began making judgements about them.  Even though Simon didn’t say it outloud Jesus knew exactly what he was thinking and spoke to him.   A great teaching on forgiveness was followed by Jesus forgiving the woman.

Who was looking where?  Simon was looking at the woman and Jesus.  Jesus was looking at the woman and Simon.  But what was the woman looking at?  In her shame I think this woman was looking at FEET the entire time.  And very special feet at that.

What better way to relate to this woman than to help the children notice feet?  I decided to write L-U-K-E-7 on the left foot and J-E-S-U-S on the right.  If you try this then I would suggest a fine point Sharpie pen and (those who know me well will appreciate this) anti-bacterial hand sanitiser!

Be prepared for lots of giggles!

Some might call it crazy.  Some might call it gross.  I call it good teaching and about the closest I get to washing disciples’ feet.

Click here for more Teaching Ideas.