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.
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)
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 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”.
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.
In Egypt, Joseph became a slave to a man named Potipher. Potipher’s wife lied about Joseph so he went to prison.
While in prison Joseph interpreted the dreams of two prisoners (the former cupbearer and baker of King Pharaoh). The cupbearer was set free from prison and returned to the Pharaoh’s service.
When the Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret, the cupbearer suggested he call for Joseph. Joseph interpreted the dreams and Pharaoh was so impressed that he put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt.
Read more about Joseph and learn how to teach the story to children here: Joseph in Egypt and in Genesis 39:1-41:57.
Joseph was a man of integrity. He chose to live for God even though he was far from his family and living in Egypt, a land far from his home.
Children need to learn about integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing because you know it is the right thing to do. This means choosing to act or choosing not to act in a certain way even if there is no reward or recognition. Integrity is choosing to do the right thing even if no one is watching.
To help children apply integrity to their everyday life try the following idea.
Write situations on cards. Each child should draw a card and act out the situation on the card. The other children can guess what the child is acting out and explain how this relates to integrity. Here are some examples of what you might write on the cards:
- Integrity is seeing rubbish/trash on the floor and picking it up and putting it in the bin without being asked.
- Integrity is saying good things about someone when others are gossiping about them.
- Integrity is choosing not to watch a movie that you are not allowed to watch even when you are at a friend’s house and your parents would never know.
- Integrity is telling the teacher that you were playing by her desk and broke her vase while she was out of the room.
- Integrity is telling the truth even if it means you will get in trouble.
- Integrity is finding money on the floor at the library and reporting it to the librarian rather than putting it into your pocket.
- Integrity is replacing someone else’s property that you broke.
- Integrity is studying for the test and writing your own answers instead of copying someone else’s work.
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.
- Print out this worksheet for an interactive discussion about what we treasure.
- 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.
- Use the “Crayon Resist” method to tell the story. Instructions Here.
- 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.)