5 STEPS TO TEACH AN ENGAGING
BIBLE LESSON TO KIDS
(And how to give Bob and Larry a break!)
Robert and Alice were in the Sunday school room trying to develop a lesson. "We need something that will engage our students," said Robert as he tossed his pencil down.
"I'm not sure how we can do this," responded Alice, sighing heavily. "It feels like every student is going about their own thing and attached to their phones. I love Veggie Tales, but I don't want to just Bob and Larry teach our class the whole time -- again!"
Alice was right - every kid was glued to a screen these days, and they couldn't just scold them or tell them to leave them at home with repercussions from their families. "How are we supposed to teach?" she asked Robert, frowning deeply at the papers scattered around the table. She felt discouraged but knew she needed more time before giving up hope altogether; there had to be some way to connect with their students.
Every Sunday school teacher knows the importance of a good lesson. It is not enough to read from the Bible; we need to engage our students and make them feel part of the story. But ... how do you plan an engaging lesson? How do you CONNECT?
I think you know this one and have probably done it many times. THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE; WHAT WILL INTEREST THEM. For Sunday school, think about their lives and what they will find interesting. What will engage your Sunday school audience? Think about the children who may attend your class. How do different bible stories affect their daily lives or what they learn from them?
"Children learn more effectively when adults engage them in everyday activities that are based on their interests," says Lauren Lowry of the Hanen Centre. When children are interested in what they do, it is much easier for them to learn and engage with their surroundings. Adults can get creative about this by finding out the child's hobbies or interests so that activities surrounding those areas of interest may be used as tools to teach new concepts.
Your Bible class as well presents an opportunity to discuss the bible stories regarding how they affect children's lives or what lessons we can learn from them. For instance, a child may ask about Adam and Eve after watching Disney Channel TV shows where cartoons portray characters with unrealistic bodies. So you could focus on teaching that everyone is different but still beautiful inside even if their outward appearance doesn't reflect that beauty at first glance (Genesis 2:25).
When Sunday school teachers talk about children's interests during motivating everyday activities, they encourage the kids to pay attention and interact. And truly learn.
Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.
Deuteronomy 11:19-21, MSG (read full chapter)
CHOOSE A SERIES OF LESSONS THAT CONNECT WITH CHILDREN'S DAILY LIVES and help them see God in ways they never had before. Research a biblical topic that will pique their interest-something with which they can relate.
Various educational products help children learn about the Bible, and you can find one for every age group. If your child has trouble connecting with scripture or has grown out of their current curriculum, try something new to spark an interest in them again.
Children's educational resources for kids have become increasingly sophisticated in recent decades. Nowadays teachers can find a variety of game-like options that focus on Biblical topics (e.g., Noah’s Ark), often incorporating colourful images or storytelling elements into everyday play activities; other examples include illustrated bible storybooks for young readers with accompanying audio CDs featuring vocal actors who dramatize scenes from these popular stories while reading scripture passages aloud (see example below).
If you're looking to pique a child's interest, you'll want to try researching biblical topics that RELATE to them. It will help give the children something they can latch onto and understand better without feeling like it is too hard or not relatable in any way.
If you can make the Bible come alive to kids by ENGAGING AS MANY OF THEIR SENSES AS POSSIBLE IN A LESSON, they won't forget it. There's nothing worse than sitting in a classroom full of bored kids. If you can make the Bible come alive to children by engaging as many senses as possible, they won't forget it.
The best way is usually through visuals and hands-on experiences because there are five different ways that people learn: visual learners build mental images when reading or listening; auditory learners pay attention better if taught with sound effects; tactile/kinesthetic students have an easier time understanding concepts after touching them (and even forms lessons around writing); logical/mathematical types understand ideas well from geometry shapes and patterns on charts; lastly, reflective types need quiet spaces for deep thinking.
You get the idea. Kids are visual and auditory learners - so if you want them to remember something for life, teach with pictures or play songs or give them a space to review that reinforce what is taught in His Word!
FIND ACTIVITIES TO RELATE THE SAME SCRIPTURE STORIES TO EVERYDAY LIFE so kids understand how God's Word applies in every aspect of their lives. Sunday school teachers can tell scripture stories and relate to daily life by giving examples of people in the modern world who have struggled with similar situations.
The best way to teach the scriptures is by finding ways to relate them to everyday life. I remember when a Sunday school teacher gave an example of treating our family and friends with love. She shared the story of Esau, who sold his birthright so that he could get some food. She related well to the fact that if we treat our family without respect, we will regret what type of person we become without our parents' guidance. In another example, the story of Jesus feeding five thousand people could be an opportunity for parents or teachers to talk about how much food is needed when lots of children get together at a party or picnic. And how about all the people who are hungry throughout the WORLD?
Making God's word relevant to kids through stories of real-life situations helps them understand how scripture applies in their lives.
CREATE QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION SO THAT KIDS CAN SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS AND GET EXCITED ABOUT IT TOO! We all know how important it is to ask the right questions when we want people to think. The same thing holds for kids! We need some great biblical discussion starters so that children can engage with scripture and get excited about what they learn too.
Here we have some examples of good discussion questions:
What does forgiveness look like?
What would our world look like without Jesus Christ?
How do you feel when someone offers grace towards those who don't deserve it?
Bible school discussion questions are a great way to stimulate conversation and share your views on the Bible. You can pose questions in various ways, but they must help facilitate thoughtful dialogue to learn more about God’s Word as well as each other!
God is good. All the time.
Now, what happened to Robert and Alice? Robert studied marine biology, so he came up with this idea: he had a box with a picture of a massive fish (as a blue whale) or on the side and a hole at the back. He asked volunteers to put their hands inside it to understand how disgusting Jonah felt when he was trapped in there. The noodles he placed inside were slimy and gross (eww, I know, it's disgusting -- but they loved it, especially the boys *wink*!).
"Oh. The story of Jonah." Alice smiled knowingly as she glanced at the children sitting in front of her, their eyes full of anticipation and wonderment. "So you want to know what it means to follow what God tells us even if our plans get rerouted?" she queried with a smile before they nodded eagerly in unison.
It was only after the kids' senses were heightened and they were ready to know what inspired the gooey squirmy inside-of-a-box thing, that Alice read them the story of Jonah. Then they were prepared to do their review activity and earn what it means when we do things for ourselves instead of doing things God asked us to do.
Whether you’ve been teaching for years or are new to the ministry, we hope these tips will help make your Sunday School lesson planning more accessible and engaging. Teaching is a great way to spend God’s gift of time on earth; however, it can be difficult if there isn't any support available. If that's the case with you, check out The Scriptures Scout's Sleuth for Truth curriculum and many other resources at The Sunday School Store! You'll find everything from materials in multiple formats (printable PDFs, PowerPoint presentations) as well as ready-made lessons plans for all ages and topics.
We hope you enjoyed this post and learned some helpful tips on how to create compelling lessons. If you’re looking for more ideas, it out for some guidance! It's a website with curriculum resources that help make teaching fun and engaging--plus, there are plenty of lesson plans to choose from. To get started, just click here.
I know you know this, but it never hurts to hear it: Instead of relying on VeggieTales to present the Gospel, make sure it's your job. Give Bob and Larry a break and happy sleuthing!
If your Sunday school isn't meeting in person yet,
this is a great idea for some games to help kids stay engaged ONLINE!
Can you find what senses this teacher is accessing?