Same-Same But Different

For a number of years I have been collecting songs to add to www.missionbibleclass.org My hope has always been that Bible class teachers who would like to learn new songs can watch and listen to the videos over and over until they have mastered them.

Hearing Christian songs sung in different countries often reveals some interesting variations to what I have been singing the same way for years. In these last couple of days some wonderful Christian women allowed me to video them singing songs to upload to my website. I hope other teachers in Thailand will appreciate listening to them and learning new songs to sing with children.

I thought you might enjoy listening to the Thai version of a couple of old favourites.

More songs here.

Mustard Seeds and Matryoshka Dolls

Teaching Jesus’ parables to three and four year olds is challenging.  Pre-schoolers struggle understanding abstract concepts.  The figurative nature of the parables will largely pass them by because they usually think in more literal terms.

This morning the class I was teaching tackled the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  Jesus told a story about a farmer planting a tiny little seed.  The seed sprouted and grew into the tallest of trees.

We began the class by sorting seeds.  The children pulled the tiny mustard seeds from the pile and we marveled that such a tiny seed could grow into a large tree.

The three little boys I was teaching are also very small.  They dream of the day when they can be big and strong like their dads.  Great men begin as little boys.

Sometimes hands-on activities are helpful in helping pre-schoolers understand concepts.  I chose a couple of these to stress the point about growth.

  • First, I placed a tiny little paper circle on the table. Then, one at a time, I revealed a set of circles of ever increasing size. The children loved stretching their vocabulary to describe the sizes.  Tiny, little, small, medium, bigger, enormous, giant and finally, super super huge.
  • Secondly, I was able to make use of some Matryoshka (nesting) dolls that I had on hand.  Seeing the sizes displayed in doll form helped the children relate to how they themselves are in the process of growing.

All in all it was a great class.

Sometimes my efforts in teaching seem extremely small.  What difference will my teaching make in the bigger picture?  This parable reminds me that God does great things from small beginnings.

Curiosity that Leads to God

Photo by Mikhail Kryshin downloaded via Flickr. Use licensed by Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/When was the last time you were curious about something?  I mean really curious; the kind of curiosity that compelled you to get off the couch, or out of the office to go and earnestly seek out the answer; the burning desire to “know” that enticed you to look around the corner or walk down the untravelled path.

How energising is that quest!  How thrilling and satisfying is the answer once found!

I never want to deny a child the chance to feel that energy, thrill and satisfaction.  In my rush to GIVE information I must first allow children an opportunity to actually WANT it.

 

An Expectation of Curiosity

God draws children to himself through their curiosity.  I love how he prepares the Israelites leaving Egypt for future questions their children will ask.

In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Deuteronomy 6:20-21, NIV

Notice he says “when” your son asks you and not “if” your son asks you.  God knows children will be curious.

 

Curiosity Comes from God and Leads to God

God does not want us to feel the satisfaction before we have answers because he is the answer.  Only God can satisfy the curiosity and longing children (and adults) feel.

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.  Psalms 63:1, NIV

 

Keep Them Guessing

PIC_0061The Bible is filled with interesting and attention-grabbing stories that children can easily relate to.  Before sharing a Bible story I will often share one small part of it as a “teaser”.  Here’s a fun and effective activity to try next time you teach children.  Keep Them Guessing is a simple activity where children are provided with items as clues to guess what comes next.

The photo at the top of the page is by Mikhail Kryshin downloaded via Flickr. Use licensed by Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/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?

I Have Skeletons in My Closet

flickr CC cookiejan_2939715465I have to be honest, Halloween is not exactly my favourite holiday.  But one thing I really like about it is what happens afterwards.  After the big rush (and sometimes even before) there are all sorts of skeletons on sale!

Why is this a good thing, you might ask?  Why would I need to stock up on skeletons and stow them away in my closet?

It’s simple…I’m a Bible teacher!

Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones

Bones and skeletons are great visual aids and conversation starters for the story of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones from Ezekiel 37:1-14.

I love to tell this story of hope.  This vision has the vital elements needed for a dramatic story.  The kids love the “creepy” image of dry bones lying all over a valley.  They can relate to how Ezekiel must have felt when the bones began rattling and coming together.  Tendons and flesh formed on them and finally God breathed his spirit into them.  If Ezekiel was hopeless because his people were in captivity he could finally understand how God had the power to bring a nation back to life.

Teaching Items in Post-Holiday Sales Bins

As a teacher I am always on the lookout for items that will help me share God’s Word in ways children can best relate to.  No one has to spend a lot of money or buy new things to teach children about God.  But if you live in a place where after-holiday sales provide extremely cheap items then this may be a great opportunity.  What are the holidays where you live?

After Christmas

  • Creche and manger scenes (angels, wise men, animals, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the manger itself), pictures of Jesus as a baby, stars and spices like the wise men brought.  The obvious uses are for stories such as The Birth of Jesus and Wise Men and a Star.
  • Gaudy plastic strings of gold and silver garland can make great “treasure” when you later tell the Parable of a Treasure & a Pearl.
  • Greenery, artificial trees, candles and even twinkling lights bought in after-Christmas clearance sales really come in handy for costumes and acting out Bible stories later on.
  • You’re going to enjoy pulling twinkling lights out of storage when you tell the story of  Jesus Teaches about Salt and Light.

After Valentines Day

After Easter

  • This is the obvious time to find things like books and figurines to help you later tell the story of the Burial and the Resurrection of Jesus.
  • Since I teach infants and toddlers I sometimes use the little wind-up bunnies when I teach about Day 6-God Created Animals & People.
  • And I like to have a few plastic eggs on hand throughout the year so I can put verses or pictures inside and let the children hunt for them.  They are also great for telling the story of death, burial and resurrection of Jesus with Resurrection Eggs.

 After Halloween

After Thanksgiving

  • We can give thanks throughout the year so I’ve sometimes used items on sale after this holiday to teach stories such as Jesus Heals Ten Lepers.
  • And all of plastic fruit comes in handy for teaching about The Fruit of the Spirit.

Happy Teaching!