- TRUST IN GOD: Take a deep breath and remind yourself that each of these children is on a journey of faith toward God. Something special and eternal is going on between God and them. God is doing the real work here and you are his tool to help this child listen to his words.
- Teach the best you can but keep the focus on God. If you focus on yourself and strive to be some sort of “perfect teacher” you can lose focus on both God and the children. Your stress over this can make the classroom environment tense or rigid.
- Get to know the children and try to view them like God does. This will lead you to share God’s Word in ways that are intentional, stimulating and joy-filled.
- OBEY GOD: Children will listen to your words but they will also watch your life and model after it. What kind of view of God will a child have if he or she hears you talk about God but live a life that is immoral, insensitive, judgemental or lackadaisical?
- PRAY: Open your heart to God and ask him to use you for his glory. Pray for the children in your class by name.
- STAY TRUE TO SCRIPTURE: Select the Bible Story you will be teaching.
- Click here for a List of Bible Stories and Suggested Themes.
- Read the Scripture and Background Information. Do any further study needed. If you don’t believe what you are teaching then the students won’t either.
- Outline the story and become very familiar with it.
- Check yourself. Don’t get so excited about games, crafts or themes that you stray away from what God is saying in his Word.
- FOCUS: Don’t try to teach everything you know in one lesson. Think about what is meaningful in a child’s world. Consider the most important thing(s) your students can learn about God in the Scripture you will be teaching from. In this lesson what can they know, believe and be able to do? Your lesson plan should not just be a random collection of “busy activities”. What you do in class is your way of helping the children know, believe and learn to do the goals you have set out for them.
- PLAN AHEAD: Use the suggested lesson plan outline below (or click here for a printable blank lesson planner) to prepare your class. I change the order and adapt things to the setting and to the ages of the children I am teaching but I almost always have all of the elements listed in the planner.
- As you plan what will happen in your class you can use these Teaching Ideas or use your own.
- Consider what the classroom experience will be like from the children’s perspective. Sometimes I even sit on the floor and look at the classroom from the height of my students so I can see things from their view. As a result I sometimes change the way I do visual aids or how I display bulletin boards or posters.
- Gather all supplies that you need and do any needed preparation like photocopying or pre-cutting parts of the craft. When you gather supplies consider the abilities and safety of your students (scissors that fit little hands-even for lefties, glue that is not dried out, etc.) Set your classroom up before the day of your class if possible.
- CREATE A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: God is not limited to space or material things and neither should we be. We can share God’s Word anywhere. The most important factors in teaching children is that your teaching space is safe, pleasant and free from distractions as much as possible. As you create a space consider the age level of the children and what their learning needs are.
- If you have a classroom then make sure it is clean and tidy. Room decorations should help the children focus on what is being taught and not be distracting. If you want the children to move around for a game or activity then arrange furniture accordingly.
- If you are using a temporary room (a home, library, rented hall, garage, etc.) then try to arrange the space where children will not be distracted by the surroundings. Encourage ownership of the room by inviting the children to help you come up with ideas. Arrange seating where they will be facing away from distractions such as windows or hallways where they can see people walking by. Perhaps you can create a temporary “wall” by placing a blanket over some chairs.
- Teaching in a large space like a gym or outside can be challenging. The open space can be great for games or activities but you will want to draw the children together for most of the class time. Children will be anxious and confused unless you create some boundaries. This might mean spreading out a blanket and asking them to sit with you on it to begin. Another simple way to draw everyone in is to use a rope or even a garden hose to create a large circle. If possible plan to gather the children near a fence or wall so you have at least one clear boundary.
- REALLY BE THERE: The time you have with children is precious so focus your thoughts and energies on sharing God’s Word with them in this moment.
- Leave your burdens and problems with God (outside the classroom and class time) so you can be open to the needs of the children in your class.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes before class begins so you can pray again and make any last-minute preparations. If you are calm and collected when the children arrive then it sets the tone for the entire class.
- Greet each child with a warm smile and welcome.
- STEP OUT IN FAITH: Even after many years as a teacher I still get nervous sometimes. It might be a slip in confidence or perhaps I’m worried I might not relate. I can say to you what I say to myself, “Jesus loves these children and I love these children. Their souls are more important than my inadequacies. I can do anything if God is with me.”
- EXPECT TO IMPROVE: Every time you teach you will also learn. Sometimes you will learn through making mistakes. That is okay. When they know you care about them children are very forgiving and patient.
The Parts of a Lesson Plan
Choose a Bible Story and write the title here. A title gives focus and reminds you, as the teacher, that this lesson is unique and has a purpose. You can make up your own title or use one of the ones listed in Bible Stories and Suggested Themes.
It is important to read and understand what God has to say and spend time in prayer before you begin planning your class. You will want to record a reference to where the actual story is found as well as other verses that help give context. Do your own study or check any of the lessons at in Bible Stories and Suggested Themes to find relevant verses.
Rather than try to cover everything in one lesson try to narrow your focus down to one basic lesson to emphasize. There are often a number of themes or subjects you could cover so you will have to make some choices. First think about what important truths those hearing this story for the first time would have learned. What does it reveal about God? Then think about what the children in your class would find relevant. If you need help you will find suggested themes on each lesson in Bible Stories and Suggested Themes.
This is how you will greet and welcome children to your class as they arrive (and of course you have arrived well before the first child has!). Take this time to discover together what you have in common and create a warm atmosphere whether you have one or many students. This could be done by letting them help you prepare materials or set up a table, chatting while you colour pictures together that will be used as a visual during the story, looking through a book or pictures that relate to today’s story or emphasis, making something out of play-dough that relates to the story or emphasis, finding a verse in the Bible, singing songs, or any other activity that helps set the tone.
Introducing the Story:
This is the point when you will gather your students’ attention just before you tell the main story of the day. This can be done by asking a leading question, describing a current-day (and age appropriate) situation that relates to what is happening in the story, showing an object that relates to something in the story, etc. As you get to know the children in your class you will learn what really grabs their attention. A section “How to Introduce the Story” is found on each lesson on the list Bible Stories and Suggested Themes.
Telling the Story:
You will choose a method by which you will present a lesson from the Scripture. No matter how you decide to present the story remember the most important step is to read and understand the Scripture you are trying to relate. This will make your presentation natural and from your heart.
Some teachers are excellent storytellers and use a combination of this and reading directly from the Bible as their main method. Others are artistic and can draw pictures as they tell the story. Many of us find good pictures to help us along at some point. Using a variety of methods helps the students understand and remember the story the best. I suggest challenging yourself to try something different so that your teaching does not become stale. Visual Aids and Ways to Tell the Story
A powerful part of your class time will be in the activities you choose to help relate the story to the children’s lives. This can be done through interactive games, singing, prayer, discussion, memorizing or reading verses from the Bible, projects, crafts or any other method that you and the children enjoy. This is not a time for “busy work” but a time to plant God’s word in their hearts. Ideas for application activities
Re-emphasising the important points of the day’s story will help the children remember it. Again, this can be done through games, crafts, songs, memory verse activities, letting a student retell the story re-using your visual aids, etc. Ideas for review activities
Use a definite ending of class to give closure and to help the children transition into whatever they will be doing after your class. You could close with prayer, a quiet game, a particular song you sing each week, handing out homework or any activity that you and your students find helpful.