Adding a visual element to your story-telling will help children process the information that they are receiving. A good visual aid accentuates the meaning of Scripture without adding to it or causing the children’s minds to veer off into a different direction.
Before using any visual aid make certain that you have first read what the Bible has to say. If you have read the Scripture and then outlined the Bible story then you will be more likely to use any visual aid in a way that best conveys the original meaning.
And remember…try something new!
Telling a Story with Pictures:
One of the most common ways to tell a story is to use illustrations so the children can view them as you speak. New teachers often like this method because words can be written on the reverse side of the pictures to help the nervous teacher remember what to say.
Unfortunately, this is also one of the most overused methods, and the temptation for the teacher is to under-prepare and then be forced to read the words with little emotion or eye contact. Refer to the article Telling a Story With Pictures for instructions and links to free illustrations. Here are some common ways to use illustrations:
- Print the pictures onto paper and make a “flip chart” or album.
- Show the pictures on your phone, tablet, computer or projection screen. I would highly suggest that you download the pictures beforehand and have full battery power. Showing them straight from the internet can result in problems such as lagged download time or loss of connection.
- Use PowerPoint or a similar program to create any number of visual aid presentations. Check here for instructions and examples of PowerPoint slideshows.
Costumed Story Teller:
Dress up as one of the story characters and tell the story from that character’s point of view. Your costume might be as simple as a veil made from a towel or pillowcase that you place on your head with a man’s tie for a headband. You could also let the children take turns being the characters for review. Click here for instructions for making simple costumes.
Use a hand puppet to tell or review the story from a different point of view. For example, tell the story of the fiery furnace from Daniel’s point of view or from the guard’s point of view.
Finger Puppets (actual fingertips):
Use a pen to draw a simple face on your finger(s). Use this as a puppet to tell the story or ask the children review questions. You could also “dress up” the character with a small cloth for a veil or a man’s headdress. You could use a rubber band as a headband.
Finger Puppets (made from a glove):
Cut off the fingers of an old pair of gloves and decorate. There are some easy directions online in places such as wikihow.com
Draw a simple face on the underside of a plastic spoon and use it to tell the story. One spoon for each character in the story. Simple puppet instructions here.
Alternatively, attach paper puppets to the back of a spoon and use them to tell the story.
Draw as You Tell the Story:
Children usually love it when a teacher attempts to draw the story. Either they are impressed with your artistic abilities or will feel empathy for your efforts. Even if they laugh, you can be satisfied that you, at least, have their attention! Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable to your students in this way.
The beauty of this method is that you can draw anywhere: on a chalkboard, paper or even with a stick in the sand.
Before you teach the lesson, plan out the picture(s) you want to draw. Keep your plan simple and be minimalistic. Don’t add to the truth of the Bible to be “cute”. If you get carried away by the details of a picture, then you are probably losing focus on what the lesson is actually about.
Simple and quick line drawings or stick figures can convey a lesson well. Children enjoy trying to draw figures themselves. Stick figures are highly underrated. Some patterns and examples for stick figures can be found here.
Draw and Tell (the children draw their own visual aids):
Before class, plan how you will divide the story into “scenes”. Mark off that many numbered squares (or any shapes) on paper so that children will be able to draw the appropriate number of scenes. In class, as you tell the story, ask the children to draw something in each box. For example, Scene 1-Joseph lived in Egypt, so draw a picture of something you might see in Egypt (like pyramids or mummies). Scene 2-Joseph was Pharaoh’s special helper, and he wore Pharaoh’s ring (draw a hand with a ring on it), etc.
You will need to do a trial run before class so that you will be prepared for this. For fun, you can do this same exercise on a chalkboard, on big sheets of newsprint, on the footpath/sidewalk with chalk, in the sand or with any other surface or materials at your disposal. Instructions and examples of this method can be found here.
Puzzles for Teaching:
Cut a picture into pieces so that the children can put it back together again like a puzzle. Or tell the story using the puzzles. Click here to learn how.
Draw simple characters from the Bible Story and attach them to upturned paper or plastic cups. These characters can be used to “act out” the story. More instructions and examples can be found here.
Dolls and even blocks of wood or stones can become characters in the imagination of a child.