A Sunday School Teacher's Secret to Keeping Class Fun, Exciting and ON TARGET!
Every Sunday school teacher has a different approach to keeping their class fun and exciting. I'm one of those Sunday school teachers that has been teaching for a while. I've seen it all - the good, the bad and the ugly.
Some use games, others do crafts, and some even sing songs with the kids. For most, they like to keep it simple by teaching students what they will be learning for that week's lesson. They do love hearing stories from the Bible and then getting a chance to act them out in our classroom, do a craft project, or even teach the lesson themselves!
I do know what makes kids laugh and how to keep them engaged. But my secret weapon? Jesus. It's not just about reading a story or having an activity with little meaning. When you combine biblical stories with creative activities, students will be begging for more! Let me tell you about my story and how you can make that excitement happen for your little believers.
Every Sunday, I used to dread sitting in my class. Every day we would go over the same old Bible stories and every week held a new lesson about how God was present even when people didn't know He was orchestrating their lives.
As much as it helped me come closer to Jesus through prayer and worship, all this Sunday school repetition made for some dull moments during class and lacked any real engagement from my or other students' perspectives.
So my mother, Anne Gray, decided not to make it more challenging with what's already there. She didn't want to be one of the many others who have also given up on teaching because they're not engaging enough (or the teacher themselves doesn't see any growth). She asked herself, "How can a teacher make learning about the Bible more interesting?!!" So she dove in herself to help teachers create environments where their students learn that Christ is always present throughout scripture whether you recognize this presence or not!
Mom, a long time servant of the Lord and teacher of childhood education. She has also always been very eager to help children learn about Jesus. When she saw that her children were not interested in reading books because they didn't have enough hands-on experience with them at home, she created the "Look At The Book" program (which has since changed names!). It provided quality Sunday school experiences for kids through their partnerships with parents and other adults in the church who cared about getting their families more involved in biblical understanding.
As many Christians do, those folks believed as you do (or you wouldn't be here) that it's essential to get our youth engaged early in life. That way, when we look back years later as adults, there will be fewer spiritual gaps between generations. This gap may be due to lack of practice or even misunderstanding from secondary sources (like TV shows and movies and even schools).
Matt Valler, Global Project Leader for The Bible Engagement for Youth Project, told Christianity Today that "Thirteen per cent of teenagers say they read the Bible at least once a month - a figure higher than any church attendance statistics for that age group. However, the trends still all appear to point downwards, particularly in terms of young people and church attendance."
However, the curriculum I am speaking of that Anne Gray created was so original and exciting to the kids; it made them want to come back every Sunday. And it still does! She knew how to make learning about Jesus fun in the classroom and her classes had the perfect balance of fun and education, which I think every parent wants for their child.
These simple teacher's lessons were so engaging and made students want to return every. Single. Week! The students even created a healthy competition where they invited their friends. Why? Just because THEY WANTED THEM TO FIND JESUS LIKE THEY HAD BEEN DOING! I'm not kidding. When she would tell me about her classes, I could see the excitement on her face; it was clear that no teaching job in public or private education had ever given her as much satisfaction before this one.
And the kids? They COULDN'T WAIT for Sunday mornings so they could find out what she was going to teach them and that she was going to show them HOW to find Jesus in every part of the Word of God, not just the New Testament!
And now ... years later ... it is finally being digitized and easy-to-access online!
Once I heard mom call herself a "teaching momma," and she was not kidding. She was an empty-nester in her 60s when she said this! She had been teaching kids for years to prepare them with the life skills they'll need once they grow up independently. So when it came time to create a curriculum for church, this mother (MY mother!) knew precisely what was required of her: prayer and divine inspiration from God Himself. It took more than just creating, though - through His guidance, she found resources that were easy-to-teach but also allowed children plenty of room for learning outside as well!
We also need to teach young people how to read the Bible- not just to read it. Tim Gough, the centre director at Youth For Christ says that not teaching young people how is like "handing them an acoustic guitar in order to introduce them to Brit-Pop; it’s only going to go so far!"
But mom's excitement about creating ideas for Sunday school lessons about finding Jesus like a detective was contagious. Kids were toting their Bibles with a magnifying glass attached for inspiration!
The children followed the clues with their magnifying glass, and she couldn't help but share in their excitement. The kids were thrilled to find Jesus like a detective. They even found Jesus while they were learning about the kings of Israel. Every child felt like they were on a treasure hunt!
Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
Luke 24:32, MSG
And she inspired so many church members to help her. The children were so engaged that even their parents wanted to help teach and take up a magnifying glass of their own, "to find Jesus in Genesis."
Even one preacher surprised everyone by showing up for class, and he brought a magnifying glass! He wanted to be a part of it all, even if that meant being an outsider. He tried to find a way to do the same thing with the adults in the congregation, so he asked if it was okay for him to come back as often as possible. "I want to learn more!"
And guess what? In the past forty years, she has inspired so many church members at various congregations across the United States and New Zealand. Now here it is years later, and there are still teachers who are using this curriculum. AND there are still students running to class with a Bible and their magnifying glasses, eager to see where they will see Jesus next! In fact, here is something I only recently heard from someone who recently started using Sleuth for the Truth because she was actually one of the first students who was in one of the first iterations of this teaching method!
“What a blessing this Bible curriculum has been to our children in our congregation. As a full time public teacher and the education coordinator at our church I need a one stop shop for myself and my Bible teachers. Our kids get so excited about the point system and have been motivated to learn about the word of God.
Thank you to the Scripture Scout.” -Kimmie V.
Here is the activity she settled on that day. Cheap, huh? Even the bundles are affordable compared to most high-priced church curriculums these days. Not only is it affordable, when appropriate it will actually GIVE YOU A LIST OF RESOURCES that you can find in your own house or church supply room.
And now you can help YOUR child or student make sense of the Bible (even Amos or Leviticus!) by using what is now called Sleuth for the Truth. This curriculum used in whole will take them all through Scripture in a year and is versatile enough to use different age groups, making it perfect for Sunday school classes, home school co-ops, life groups, families with multiple children, or you and your child. Here is a freebie I created just to explain all the many ways Sleuth for the Truth can be used!
The Sleuth for the Truth Bible school curriculum may just be your answer to prayer. Yep, it can take students through the Bible in a year, but you can use it over and over through the years in varying ways with different ages. Or if you just need one lesson at a time by whatever Biblical story you are sharing, that option is available to you as well.
Whether you’ve been looking for an answer to prayer when it comes to teaching your kids about God, are currently homeschooling, want something new at church on Sunday mornings, just like puzzles (it's okay!), or need a new approach to scripture for your own use, this resource and all it's possibilities might be precisely what you need!
P.S. Happy Birthday, mom.