The Judges- Round and Round They Go

Recently I taught a set of classes about the time of the Judges.  The background to this time in history is one of a repeating cycle.  To illustrate the idea of a cycle that goes round and round I decided to use a hoola hoop.

Each week, as we studied our way through the Judges I used part of the class time to review this cycle.  Soon the children were able to explain this to the others in the class.  The rattle sound the hoola hoop made as it turned added to the fun.

How to Make a Wheel for Your Class

 If a hoola hoop is not available then use any circular object that can be rotated and used in the same way.  A bicycle wheel, hubcap, pizza pan or a round piece of cardboard would work just as well.

Write each of the stages of the cycle on thick card and tape them to the hoola hoop to form something like a wheel that can be rotated round and round.

Now it is time to review the cycle with the children in your class.  Turn the wheel as you tell about each stage. (To remind you of what to say write the following notes on the back side of the papers.)

  1. SAFE WITH GOD:
    God protected his people as they obeyed him.
  2. FORGET:
    Then the people strayed from God and even started worshipping false Gods.
  3. HURT:
    Because they left God they also left his protection.  When the enemies began to hurt them they had no protection from God.  This was a terrible time.
  4. HELP!
    Finally, after so many bad things were happening, the people realised their mistake and cried out to God for help.
  5. JUDGE:
    Even though the people forget God, God never forgot his people. When his people cried out for help he would send a hero (called a Judge) to save the day and turn them back to him. Sometimes these heroes were soldiers, sometimes they were very clever.  At least once they were a bit wild and crazy (Samson). God knew what kind of judge they needed.And the cycle continues…The judge would bring the people back to a time of safety with God (repeat number one again).  Sometimes many years would pass but then, the people began to forget again…(and this is where you continue to number two and so on).

Stories that Took Place During the Time of the Judges

1_Deborah Deborah the Judge

Gideon and Fleece Gideon and the Fleece

Gideon and Midianites Gideon and the Midianites

4_Birth of Samson The Birth of Samson

5_Samson and Delilah Samson and Delilah

6_Death of Samson The Death of Samson

7_Ruth and Naomi Ruth and Naomi

 

8_Ruth and Boaz Ruth and Boaz

9_God Answers Hannahs Prayer God Answers Hannah’s Prayer

10_Samuel Helper in Temple Samuel- Helper in the Tabernacle

11_Lord Speaks to Samuel The Lord Speaks to Samuel

I Think I’ll Just Hum…

2018 Tower of Babel Jengasm

Sometimes I prepare what I think is a great class and yet my students struggle to think past the surface level of the Bible story.  But sometimes, often when I least expect it, the kids run ahead of the teacher and want to go deeper.

Instead of just appreciating the facts or even the drama of the story they may ask questions about the characters or wonder why the characters did what they did.  They might want to discuss motivations and causes.  They may even ponder over what God was up to or discuss how he interacted with the characters.

Sometimes the Biblical truths become personal.  They dig deep into a child’s heart and convict them to act upon these truths.

And them sometimes, like this past Sunday, a child takes one more step and actually makes a plan.  It is at times like these that a teacher knows she has truly passed on the message.

Earlier in the week a young woman and I had prepared a lesson together on the Tower of Babel using the Lesson Template.  This time I stood back and she did the teaching.

  • First she had the letters of the words “proud” and “humble” written on cards.  She mixed the letters up and showed how to unscramble them to form the words.
  • Then she drew the face of a girl on a balloon and spoke as if she was the girl on the balloon.  She began “bragging” about everything from her good looks to her amazing skills at sports.  Every time she bragged she would blow some more hot air into the balloon.  The bragging continued until the balloon finally popped.
  • Using a simple flip chart she then told the story of how people began building a tower thinking only of how they would make a great name for themselves.  God was not pleased and mixed up their language so it must have sounded like they were just babbling to one another.  Not being able to communicate led to the people going their separate ways.
  • After this, two towers were built in class…
    • One was built out of large Lego blocks.  As each block was stacked the young teacher talked about how great God was.
    • The other tower was built from wooden Jenga blocks.  As we had planned, I built this tower making a point to blatently brag about my own abilities at each level.  As expected, my tower crashed and the first one held.
  • As we gathered back together we looked once more at the word “humble” and talked about what it meant.

One boy had taken in the facts and had been convicted that he should be humble.  But now, he was ready to put it into ACTION.   At his own instigation he devised a way to go deeper!

And here is a seven year old boy’s simple plan of action…

“Every time I start being too proud I think I’m going to just hum.”  In answer to the perplexed expressions on our faces he went on to explain, “I’m going to hum because that will help me stop being proud and remember to be HUM-ble.”

Yes, that little boy really understood the message.  He has a plan of action and now, so do I.  Next time I start thinking that teachers have all the answers…I’m going to start humming.

2018 Tower of Babel Lesson2

 

 

 

Pick a Card, Any Card

2017 4 SPBC Students1

I had a lot of fun this week working with students at the South Pacific Bible College here, in New Zealand.  It was their “Outreach Week” so I got to share with them the importance of reaching out to the children around us.

After talking about that we launched right into some hands-on participation in the behind-the-scenes work of Mission Bible Class.  Among other things, the students prepared a demonstration video for the website.  In the future teachers around the world will be able to access this free resource when they share God’s Word with children.

Click here or on the picture below to link to the “Pick a Card” Memory Verse Game demonstration video.  I can tell you first-hand that children really enjoy playing this game.

Thanks for your help, Students!

Pick a Card (Memory Verse Game)

Wading Lambs and Swimming Elephants

2016-2-elephant-and-lamb-1

 

As a Scripture was being publicly read in the church of my childhood I would sometimes watch my grandmother’s finger slide across the page of her Bible.  As a small child I would light up when I could occasionally read a word or two.

 

There is no other book like the Bible in its importance for people of all ages.  It has always amazed me how God’s Word can seem so simple and yet so complex.  Even when I am reading Scripture as I prepare lessons for infants and toddlers I am often astounded at a new concept that I had never noticed before.

I think Gregory the Great said it best many many years ago when he wrote the following (emphasis is mine),

“Divine speech sometimes stirs up the clever with mysteries, but more often provides consolation for the simple with the obvious. It has out in the open food for children but keeps hidden away the things that fill the minds of the eminent with awe. Scripture is like a river again, broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim”.

Saint Gregory the Great: Moralia on the Book of Blessed Job, Section 4.  Click here for full text.

 

What a blessing to help lambs wade in God’s Word!  As I teach children I want to be attentive to their stage of development and help them experience God fully.  I usually have my own Bible open on the table when I am teaching so that children can see that I refer to it and respect what God says.

In addition to my own Bible I want children to be very familiar with handling a Bible on their own.  If at all possible I try to have bibles available for the children.  Over the years I’ve developed a few measures for what children of various ages are able to do so I’m sharing them with you here in case you might find them useful in your teaching and at home.

 

Infants and Toddlers

  • 0-2 Rectangle3Allow the infants and toddlers to hold small Bibles.  These should be inexpensive because they will inevitably, at one time or another, be chewed and pulled apart and the pages torn.
  • Show them how to hold the Bible carefully and how to turn pages.
  • Place a sticker of Jesus inside the front cover so the children can “find Jesus” when they hold their bibles.
  • Hold the Bible in front of each child, in turn, and slide your finger along as you “read” from it.  I usually read, “God Loves Suzy.” (inserting the child’s name)  Or “God loves Mummy.” “God loves Daddy.”

 

Pre-School (ages 3-5 years)

  • 3-5 Rectangle3Pre-Schoolers can look at pictures in a children’s Bible.  If you do not have picture Bibles then tuck pictures between the pages of a Bible before class.
  • Guide the children in pretending to read along with you as you tell a story or read a verse.
  • Children of this age can learn to spell and write a few basic Bible words.  I use magnetic letters or puzzles to do this.  And of course they are learning to write letters at this age so they really enjoy just writing the letters.  We practice one word over a few weeks until the children have it down.  They are so proud of themselves!
    • G-O-D
    • J-E-S-U-S
    • B-I-B-L-E (song)

 

Younger Primary School Age (ages 6-7 years)

  • 6-7 Rectangle3Children of this age can learn to recite the names of the 66 books of the Bible. I think it really helps to learn them by singing the songs.
  • With help, children can find a book, chapter and verse in the Bible when given a Scripture reference.  This is much easier to accomplish with a few children than a big group.
  • Depending on their reading ability they can usually read a Bible verse that you have chosen (short and simple).
  • They can use their finger to follow along in their own Bible as the teacher reads

 

Older Primary School Age (ages 8-10 years)

  • 8-10 Rectangle3Depending on reading level children of this age might be able to read a few verses in a row or even a very short Bible story.  You will have to plan this carefully if children are reading out loud in class.  This can be embarassing for some children and it does take time.
  • Children in this age group can copy verses onto paper.  These can be used in the classroom or taken home as reminders.
  • Children aged 8-10 years are often able to confidently find a verse from a book, chapter, verse reference.  A fun game is for the teacher to call out a reference (like Ephesians 6:1).  The children then “race” to find the verse in their Bible and begin reading.

 

Pre-Teen (ages 11-12)

  • 11-12 Teaching AgesBy the pre-teen years children can usually read a set of verses or a Bible story of reasonable length from the Bible.
  • A teacher can challenge them to read a verse or set of verses and then:
    • Outline what they have read
    • Point out the most important words and/or
    • Name the characters and describe them based on what they have read.
  • Also guide them to read a verse, group of verses or a Bible story and then describe:
    • What this reading reveals about God
    • How the pre-teen’s thoughts and feelings are affected by what they have read, and/or
    • What actions they might take based on what they have just read.

 

 

Teaching Children to Pray

One of the most profound aspects of helping shape the spiritual lives of children is guiding them in talking to God.

A few years ago I realised that I was not giving proper attention to prayer in my Bible classes.  I found myself sometimes tagging a prayer on at the end instead of taking the time to facilitate an actual connection between the children and the Creator of the Universe.  He has, after all, invited these children into his presence and that is no insignificant thing to be passed quickly over!

Since that time I have used a number of different methods to encourage active prayer.  You can read more at Prayer in Bible Class but I thought I’d just share a few of my favourites here.

Prayer Sticks

Prayer requests written on craft sticks encourage children to pray in this activity.

  • Colorful popsicle sticks over white background (Shallow depth of field)At prayer time guide the children in drawing out the prayer sticks. Each child prays for the request that is written on the stick he or she has drawn.
  • Use this prayer method over a number of weeks. As prayers are answered move the sticks to a different container.
  • From time to time pull the sticks out of the “prayers answered” container and praise God for how he has heard and answered our prayers.

Five Finger Prayer

childs-handChildren pray in their own words for five different groups of people represented by each of their five fingers.

  • Thumb (As it point back at us.  Praying for people who are close to us)
  • Pointer Finger (Praying for those who point the way and lead us)
  • Tall Finger (Praying for people in authority)
  • Ring Finger (The weakest finger.  Praying for people who are weak or vulnerable)
  • Little Finger (Lastly, I will pray for myself)

Paper Chain Prayers

Children write prayer requests on the links of paper chains and then use the chains as prayer reminders.

  • Prayer ChainsGuide the children in writing specific prayer requests on the slips of paper. One prayer request on each piece of paper.
  • Staple or tape the ends of the papers together to form links of a chain.
    Connect the links to from a chain of prayer requests.
  • Children can hang the chains in the room in the classroom and bring them down at prayer time. The leader of the prayer prays for the requests listed on each link.
  • Or send the chains home with children so that they can use them at home and invite their families to pray with them.