‘Tis the Season to Teach Infants and Toddlers

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The first breath Jesus took on this earth was as a fragile newborn infant.  The One who would save the world had to have his nappies/diapers changed.  He learned to feed himself, crawl and walk.  He experienced the human senses of taste, touch, hearing, sight and smell.

“My Friend Jesus” is a series of lessons created especially for children under the age of three.  In this series infants and toddlers are introduced to Jesus and relate to him through various common experiences of childhood (celebration, helping, community, worship and growth).  Role-play and sensory activities are used to express a growing relationship and friendship with him.

 

Purpose of Class:

In these lessons teachers, parents and helpers will guide infants and toddlers to:

  • Know that Jesus is special.
  • Experience affinity with Jesus in a variety of situations through role-play and sensory activities.
  • Learn practices that express friendship, affection, obedience, respect and worship.

 And Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”.  John 15:15, CEV

“My Friend Jesus” Download Page

Downloads include:

My Friend Jesus_Theme Overview

Lesson 1: Cherished Baby (Click here to view or print lesson)
Expressing love through protection and tender care.

Lesson 2: Time to Celebrate
The joy of giving, receiving and celebrating.

Lesson 3: Helper at Home
Being part of a family by sharing responsibilities at home.

Lesson 4: Worship and Praise
Being part of a community of worshipers.

Lesson 5. Growing and Learning
The satisfaction of maturing and moving forward.

Lesson 6. My Friend, Jesus
Comfort, love and affection of a relationship with Jesus.

Infant and Toddler Teaching Instructions

 

 

Photo above by YouaremyWonderwall via Flickr.  Creative Commons  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

 

Yes, They are Listening

Sometimes we try our best and then wonder if children actually retain what we have taught them.  I thought you might enjoy watching this video of children sharing what they have learned.  I don’t know about you, but these children certainly encourage me to keep teaching!

Although we may sometimes view the Bible as a collection of stories it is actually one story.  It is God’s Story.  It is about how he has revealed himself to mankind throughout history.

Thank you to the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond, Oklahoma, USA for allowing me to post this video on www.missionbibleclass.org

Thank you to the children on the video who are willing to share The Story!

 

Keep it Simple: Stick Figures

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There is something unassuming about a simple stick figure.  It is not a great work of art.  It does not have moving parts nor is it usually animated.

Yet, at a camp last week some student teachers used stick figures to illustrate a Bible story for kids.  The kids were enthralled.

Why was that?

Kids are constantly stimulated by all sorts of colourful graphics on T.V., laptops and tablets.  What was it that they found so interesting about these simple figures?

Personally, I think that the unassuming imperfection of a simple stick figure relays a certain genuineness that children can’t help but recognise.  By keeping the visual aid simple the teachers communicated the following to the children:

  1. I drew this for you.
  2. I don’t mind if you see me trying and making mistakes.  I’m willing to share the “real me” with you.
  3. This story is more important than my inadequacies so I want to share this with you.
  4. God uses me (and you) for good when we put our pride to the side.

 

Here’s an encouragement for today.  Strive to give your best effort when you teach children but remember God can use even our most humble gifts to advance His kingdom.

 

Supplies Used in this Story-telling Method:

 

Instructions:

  1. Read over the event in the Bible and outline the story.  In the example above the outline was:
    1. Paul heals the lame man in Lystra
    2. The people of Lystra begin to worship Paul and Barnabas like they were gods
    3. Paul tells them that only God should be worshipped.  He is the giver of all gifts.  He made everything around them.  But the people would not stop worshipping them.
    4. Some angry men from another town came and started saying bad things about Paul and Barnabas.  They made the crowd very angry.
    5. 2015-09-18 17.00.03The crowd became so angry that they threw stones at Paul until he fell down and they said he was dead.
    6. After the crowd left Paul got up.  He and Barnabas left Lystra and continued on to other cities to teach about Jesus.
  2. Divide the paper into sections.
  3. Draw the scenes of the story on each of the sections.
  4. Before class begins cover each of the scenes with paper.
  5. Remove the papers one at a time as you tell the story to the children.  (By waiting to reveal pictures one at a time you will help the children maintain a sense of anticipation.)

 

Adaptations:

  • Draw the pictures as you tell the story.  This will require planning ahead and a little practice.
  • Ask another person to draw as you tell the story.  Teenagers or adults could be the guest artist in your class.
  • Older children can read the story from the Bible together with you and outline it.  They could then plan out the scenes and draw them themselves.
  • Instead of a number of scenes choose one scene and draw it together as a group.
  • Use other mediums besides paper and markers:
    • Paints or chalk pastels
    • Sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk, footpath or concrete
    • Sharpie pens or any number of purchased products made to write temporarily on glass.  The teacher or children can write on a window pane.  (You will want to test this first to make sure it cleans up well with window cleaner).
    • (for outside) Use a stick and draw in the sand.

 

Extra Help for Drawing Stick Figures:

Here are a few helpful instructional videos I have found online.

Dressing Up is Serious Business

King and Queen costumes
Volunteers modelling costumes for Queen Jezebel and King Ahab from 1 Kings 17.  (click photo for basic costume instructions)

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.

Click here for instructions for making simple costumes that can be used for any Bible story that you teach.

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.

 

Agabus and a Belt

As the Apostle Paul was making his way to Jerusalem, a New Testament prophet, Agabus, used a prop to warn Paul of dangers awaiting him there.  He removed Paul’s belt and then acted out the message by tying his own hands and feet (Acts 21:7-14).  Paul would also be bound in Jerusalem.

 

Give it a Try in Your Bible Class!

 

 

Stargazing and Pointing the Way

Star Gazing

One beautiful summer evening, years ago, I held my sleepy two-year-old son in my arms as we gazed at the twinkling stars in the night sky.  He peered intently as I pointed out constellations with my finger and reminded him that God had made each star.  I was touched that we were sharing this special moment together until I realised that, in actual fact, he was not looking at the stars at all.  His full attention was concentrated on my hand!  He was trying to make his chubby little fingers bend and point in the same way mine did.

And sometimes that is how it is when we teach children about God.  In our minds we are viewing a grander and bigger picture of the Story of God but the children we are teaching are concerned with what is directly in front of them.

In time my son learnt to look beyond my pointing finger to see and appreciate God’s creation on his own.  In fact, his knowledge of the night sky long ago far exceeded mine.  He still loves his mother but now he has a unique and personal relationship with the Creator beyond what I could have planned for him.

In the same way, the children we teach will eventually see far beyond the individual Bible stories and begin to appreciate how each fits into God’s Greater Story.  I know it is your prayer, like mine, that they will understand how they themselves fit into that story.  I hope this will be far beyond what you and I could plan for them.

We ourselves need to remember that, at its core, God’s Story is more than facts, heroes, doctrines, moral lessons or even how children can live happy lives.  These things are pointers but the grander and bigger story is about The One who creates, restores and reigns.

Timeline Pics

Helping Children See the Bigger Picture

Learning the Stories of the Bible will provide children with a strong spiritual foundation that will continue to shape them throughout their lives.  But to understand an even grander and bigger picture of God children also need to understand how the Bible fits together as one continuous story.

A friend of mine drew the simple figures above as memory joggers so that children could draw them and tell the basic story of the Bible:  creation, law, kings, Jesus, the church and the final coming.  The pictures are intentionally simple so that children can easily draw them.

Other teachers have painted these pictures on their classroom walls as a timeline.  Pictures of individual Bible Stories are attached to the appropriate places on the timeline so that children understand the chronology and how the stories fit together.

Whatever methods you use to share God’s Story may God bless you as you point children toward him.

Photo at top of post: “Star Gazing” by Uditha Wickramanayaka
Creative Commons via Flickr
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/