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!

Searching the Scriptures for the Answer

Bottle Caps1

 

Is it possible to teach a Bible class without opening a Bible?  The surprising answer is that many people do just that.

When we use curriculum (or even this website) we might find so much information already prepared for us that we forget that we are teaching from God’s Word.  We may use great visual aids and various games and activities but never actually open a Bible in class.

If the teacher is not using a Bible then we shouldn’t be surprised if the children do not feel a need to.

In the Book of Acts people from two different locations were compared by how they studied God’s Word.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.    Acts 17:11, NIV

I want to be like the Bereans!  I want my students to be like the Bereans!

One way to help teach the children to search the Scriptures is through puzzles and games that require them to open their Bibles and search for the answers.  After teaching about how Jesus Healed Ten Lepers I asked the children to unscramble some important words from Luke 17:11-19.  At first, the children tried to work the puzzle without their Bibles but they soon realised that it was a little harder than they had thought.  With their Bibles open, they were soon able to unscramble these important words: Jesus, Leprosy, Healed, Thanked and Faith.

Click here to learn how to make simple Bottle Cap Word Puzzles for your class.

Bottle Caps2

 

 

 

Who Took My Jesus?

Burial and Resurrection Craft

In two Wednesday evening bible classes I taught a group of children about the Burial and Resurrection of Jesus.

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important story a child will ever hear because it is the core of the Gospel.  If it was not for the sacrificial death of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead none of us could receive forgiveness of sins and a relationship with God.  (see I Corinthians 15:1-5)

To help the children experience this story I chose a craft as an activity.  If a teacher chooses an appropriate and meaningful craft then the time spent making it can be used the time to “chat” or talk about what the bible says happened.

The children were given paper plates, paper and toilet tissue to make their own tomb, body and stone to re-enact the story.

The Tomb:

We cut a paper plate in half and cut out a “door” on one of the halves.  We painted one side of the plate black and the other grey to resemble the stone tomb.  Then we used staples to attach the edges together (see photo above).
As we made the tombs we talked about how Joseph of Arimathea arranged for the burial (John 19:38-42)

The Body:

We cut a simple outline of a body from cardboard.  Then we wrapped the body with a couple of layers of toilet paper.  After this first layer of toilet paper we then sprayed it lightly with water to dampen it.  (I supplied a spray bottle filled with water to make this easy)  Then we added a second layer of toilet paper and sprayed it. To add a scent like the spices we dapped on a little perfume.  We repeated this with a few layers until the damp (but not soggy) shape resembled a linen-wrapped body.  When this dried all of toilet paper remained stuck together.
Again, we continued the discussion (from the Scripture above) about burial customs and how they wrapped bodies in linen and placed spices in between the cloths.

The Stone:

This was simple to make by crumpling up paper into a ball.
As we made the stones we talked about how this big stone was put in place and guards placed over it (see Matthew 27:57-66)

At this point each child placed their tomb on a table and put the body inside.  Each carefully rolled the stone in place.  Because everything was still a bit damp we decided to leave them in the classroom until the next week.

The Resurrection!

Just before class the next week I went into the room and removed the “body” from each tomb and put it away.  Then I waited.  Just as I predicted, one by one the children arrived and went straight to the tomb they had created and moved the stone to look inside.  Each one found the tomb empty.  One child said, “Oh, no!  Who took my Jesus?”

Of course I told returned the bodies I had hidden but their reaction to an empty tomb was the perfect way to begin the class and talk about the resurrection.  The children got to experience the same emotions as the soldiers, the women and the apostles as they each found the tomb empty.  Mary Magdelene used almost the same words (verse 13) as the children when she said, “They have taken my Lord away…and I don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20:1-18).

This was a great class!

Note: You could teach this story in one lesson but you will need to distract the children while a helper removes the bodies from the tombs.

Teaching Alongside the Creator

Teaching with the Creator

In the rush to find scissors and glue we should not neglect the natural supplies God has provided as teaching resources.

We do not teach alone.  We join the Master Teacher, the Creator, who is already using his creation to draw people to Himself:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4, NIV)

and…

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)
 

A student I supervise, Cristy, recently encouraged a group of teachers to bring God’s teaching resources into our classrooms.  Cristy sent a group of teachers outside the building to find and bring back items that teach about God.  (She only allowed them 3 minutes!).

Here are the types items these teachers found:

We thought this might be more of a challenge when we taught the same workshop in Metro Manila (Philippines).  The church building we were in was surrounded by a parking lot devoid of plants and next to a busy street.  Still, when Cristy sent the teachers out they quickly adapted and came back with a wonderful collection of both natural and other teaching items including items such as:

Pointing out God’s creation when we teach brings a profound richness into what we are sharing.  In the years to come children may forget a picture used for illustration or a worksheet.  But, for the rest of their lives they will continue to see leaves and stones and soil.  Connecting these things with spiritual lessons now will mean that the lessons will be reinforced over and over.

I can just imagine the future when one of my students, as an elderly person, picking up a stone and telling his or her grandchild about how the stone was rolled away from the tomb.

I want to teach with the Creator!