One of my favourite parts of teaching is conversation. There are times in a normal classroom setting for children to quietly listen while I share a story, read from the Bible or give instruction. But, as far as I am concerned, I have not done my job as a teacher if I have not interspersed that lecture style with plenty of opportunities for good conversation between the students and myself. I don’t want to always be the one talking. I also want to listen. I don’t accomplish this every time but it is my goal to engage with each child that I teach.
This is one of the reasons I love simple activities like the ones below.
In these activities the teacher and students draw simple pictures and participate together in discovering the important words and ideas in a Bible story.
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
The 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/
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!
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.
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)
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?
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.
Children love the idea of finding hidden treasures. Honestly, don’t we ALL enjoy the thought of finding hidden treasures?
Jesus must have known this when he used treasure and a valuable pearl to describe the Kingdom of Heaven.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it”. Matthew 13:44-46 New International Version (NIV)
In the Parables of a Hidden Treasure and a Valuable Pearl, when a man found a treasure he hid it in a field and then sold everything he had to buy the field. Another man sold everything he had to buy a pearl of great value. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like this. When we find God we should do everything we can to follow him.
Here are some ways to help children experience the Parable:
Have children rewrite the parable using items of value to them. The treasure might be a million dollars or a huge diamond.
Write “God is MY Treasure” at the top of a poster board or large piece of paper. Bring catalogues, magazines, real estate ads and automobile ads to class and let the children cut out pictures of valuable things. Glue all of the pictures onto the poster. Discuss as you work.
Make a treasure box and decorate it with glitter, beautiful stones, etc. Write “God” on the inside of the box.
For review let the children choose a “treasure” out of a treasure box when they answer a question correctly.
Ask a jeweller how much pearls cost. Ask if he or she knows the value of the world’s most valuable pearls. Share the information with the class.
Find out if your public library has good picture books about how pearls are formed. Bring the books to class to show the children.
Play hangman using words from today’s story (treasure, Matthew, pearl, merchant, etc.)
Draw a vertical line down the centre of a chalk/white board. Title one column with “God’s Treasures” and title the other “Man’s Treasures”. Ask the children to help you think of items to write in each column. Discuss the value of each. Read Matthew 6:19-21. (This application idea is called Drawing Contrasts.)