Do you remember the first words you recognised when you began to read? The three and four-year-olds that I teach are so pleased with themselves when they begin to realise that they can spell the word B-I-B-L-E.
We work on this skill for quite some time. Each week we sing the B-I-B-L-E song. I display the letters, and we point to each one as we sing it. When I pick up my bible, I point out the letters and say them.
For a while, the children just mimic me. I can tell that they have not quite figured it out. Then, one day, it “clicks”. That’s what happened this past Sunday. For the first time, one of the children realised that those letters spell BIBLE!
We sang the song as usual, and he pointed to the letters. But, this time, he then looked at me and said, “That says BIBLE!”. He then looked all over our classroom, pointing out the word everywhere he saw it. It was on each bible in the room. It was on a room poster. The word BIBLE was outlined on the bulletin board. He was so excited!
Recognising words as we read our Bible is another way of learning. Pointing out and talking about words like “Jesus” and “forgive” can be life-changing.
I’m always looking for games that help children learn and are adaptable to any lesson. The Bible Wordz game is one of those.
In this adaptable game, children form words from letter tiles. The words relate to words found in the Bible lesson. Thanks to Tamako Weiss for putting this game together for me.
Individual letter tiles: Use tiles from games like Scrabble or Bananagrams. Magnetic letters are another good choice. Alternatively, make your own from paper or bottlecaps. You will need enough tiles to form multiple words
Index cards or paper to create word cards
A flat surface, like a table, on which to play
(optional) 30-second timer
(optional) Prizes. These can be stickers, candy bars, bookmarks, or inexpensive toys
Collect or prepare letter tiles.
Create the word cards by writing a keyword on each card.
How to play:
After telling the bible story, show students the keyword cards. Take time to explain the meaning of each word.
To begin the game, the students spread the tiles (face up) on the table surface.
Set the timer for 30 seconds. When the time begins, students try to spell as many keywords as possible before the time is up.
Students can use word grids or make the words individually.
This can be done as a group or as a competition. If competing, whoever spells the most words in 30 seconds wins.
Ways you can adapt this game:
Ask the children to use a bible and choose the keywords on their own. They can then create their own word cards and play the game.
Use very simple words for younger children and more complex ones for older children.
Use review questions instead of word cards. Plan ahead so that you can ask questions that have one-word answers. Ask the review question, and the students spell out the answer using the letter tiles.
The following example is from the story Moses Does Not Honour God.
Question: Who struck the rock twice? Answer: Moses.
The first child to guess and spell M-O-S-E-S wins the round.
Skip the cards and timer and play straight from the Bible. Choose a set of verses and form as many words as possible from those verses.
There are many ways you can adapt this game. Choose what is best for your class and students.
As I read about King Josiah and his zealous destruction of idols and places of false worship I wrestled with how I would relate the severe actions of destruction and even death to the lives of these 4 and 5 year olds without giving them nightmares or encouraging destructive behaviour in general.
How do we relate tough lessons in the Bible to children?
Here’s how I prepared for the lesson about Josiah. There were many actions and themes that children this age would find confusing and disturbing. So, as I read about Josiah, I tried to focus on God and then thought about how Josiah responded to him. Here’s what I came up with:
God is Holy and Josiah believed this passionately and wanted to honour him.
God desires and commands our sole worship. Josiah was indignant about the prevalent idol worship in the kingdom.
God expects to be taken seriously. Josiah took his kingship seriously and was determined to change his kingdom.
God displays emotions but he always does the right thing. Josiah’s anger, indignation and outrage did not lead him to sin. These emotions propelled him into actions that honoured God.
God’s Word is true. Josiah had respect for God’s Word and obeyed it.
God is concerned about everyone. As king, Josiah displayed leadership and shared God’s Word with his people.
Trying to teach all of these would have been too much for 4 and 5 year olds to comprehend so I focused on just two main points that I thought they could best relate to. I felt confident in the priority of these choices since they are also how God started when he issued the 10 Commandments.
God is Holy.
Do not worship idols or anything else besides God.
God is Holy
We spent time in a “special” area I had created in our classroom. I wasn’t trying to re-create the temple but I made the space special with some silver wrapping paper and some strings of gold beads that I found. As we sat in this space we read from God’s special book, talked about the special tabernacle and temple and then spent some time talking about how God is different and holy.
Do Not Worship Idols
After sharing the Bible story we spent some time destroying idols! The children took turns finding a scroll I hid underneath some carpet tiles. If they found the scroll they “read” it.
Yes! for God……….No! for idols
Once they found and read the scroll they then followed Josiah’s example in clearing out all of the idols. The biblical version is much more graphic. We expressed our outrage by kicking them and knocking them down.
To conclude the class we gathered in and focused on God’s holiness one more time.
For older children I would follow up by taping pictures of other “idols” on the boxes to show that anything we place as more important than God can be our idol. This might include possessions, beauty, sports…and the list goes on.
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.
Today I had fun making a “how to” video for playing a review or application game for Bible class.
Two girls allowed me to video them explaining how to make a home-made rice bag that can be used for a variety of games in Bible classes. Spending this fun morning with them reminded me again that we don’t need expensive teaching tools to share God’s with children. We made a great game using rice, old socks and a little imagination.