Fabric scraps, old sheets and other odds and ends can be treasure for a Bible class teacher. Using some of these items a teacher might dress up as a Bible character to tell the story. A teacher can also collect items that encourage children or other volunteers to play character roles in an impromptu re-enactment of the Bible story they have just been taught.
The brave volunteers at left are modelling examples of costumes that could be used for Elijah’s nemeses, Jezebel and Ahab in the story God Takes Care of Elijah.
Child’s Play or Ancient Teaching Method?
At first glance this might seem like a childish way to review or re-tell a story. How can something this fun be serious, right? But think again! More than once in the Bible prophets used variations of costumes and props to bring home a message from God.
Jeremiah and a Yoke
We can read in Jeremiah 27-28 how the prophet, Jeremiah, was instructed by God to wear a wooden yoke to show how the people would fall under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
I 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?
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?
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.
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.
I was recently entertaining some children at a church in Texas while their parents were in a meeting. We were playing a game where picture cards were passed out. Some of the children began to complain that the cards they had been dealt were not as good as the ones the other children had received. One child even reached out and took what he considered a “better” card away from a smaller child.
Just as I was about to sit everyone down for a little lecture about fair play and kindness one of the younger children stopped everyone in their tracks by piping up with the perfect reminder in a very thick Texas accent, “You ‘git’ what you ‘git’ so don’t throw a fit.”
Oh, how we all need to be reminded to be content with what we have! I later learned about a children’s book with the title “You Get What You Get” but an even earlier source might be something Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-12…
…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
This is certainly not just a lesson for children. How often do we say things like:
If only I had a classroom I could be a good teacher.
I wish those other people would start teaching.
Why don’t my church leaders ever thank me?
What! Only one child came today? Why can’t I have a big class like that other church?
It is a lesson for me. “I ‘git’ what I ‘git’ so I won’t throw a fit!”
Helping Children Understand Contentment
Contentment has long been something that has eluded mankind. The Israelites certainly dealt with this after they left the “comforts” of Egypt and followed Moses into the wilderness.
In teaching the story of the Bronze Snake on a Pole I love to help the children role-play various situations where they must be content with what they have. My favourite scenario is a birthday party. We pretend that we are at a birthday party opening presents. I take the first turn and act out being “discontent” by pretending to open a gift from my grandmother and saying “Oh, no! I didn’t want the doll with the PINK dress. I wanted the one with the PURPLE dress.” (I lose all pride when I teach so I add a lot of drama. The children love it.)
We then discuss how the grandmother might feel. I carry on the discussion talking about how some little girls might not even have a birthday gift. After discussing this I act out the scene again modelling contentment and thanking my grandmother for the gift. Usually all of the children want to take a turn at being the one opening a gift.
It is my prayer that the children I teach will learn to apply this lesson of contentment to other life situations just as the little boy I told you about. This is such an important life lesson. No matter where they go and what they do in life the children will “git what they git”.