Tips & Tricks
Putting the Fun in Fundamentals
– Julie Cox
Flashing lights and amusing music, puppet plays and dramatic skits, brightly colored sets and hands-on learning are all on the top of the list for today’s children’s programs both in secular education and Christian education. With all the new bells and whistles available and studies to prove the validity of these aids it might be easy for the church to get caught in the entertainment trap. But let me assure you that each of these methods can have a place in your classroom. It is a delicate balance of using the latest tools without losing sight of what is truly important—God’s Word. Here are a few creative approaches to make it happen!
Spice Up Your Story!
The stories found in God’s Word are filled with adventure, suspense and even humor. Adding some dramatic approaches will help the children realize these are true-to-life stories. Being dramatic doesn’t require a stage or a dress rehearsal.
A simple shawl and some baby powder in my hair once mesmerized the children as I told the story of Christ’s dedication through the eyes of the prophetess, Anna. Telling the story of Jonah from the whale’s perspective could be a way to keep the attention of children who have heard the story many times.
Using a child to enact even a short part of the lesson is an effective visual aid and keeps everyone listening to see if they may be chosen next. Or let everyone assume the part of the Israelites as they beg God to save them from their enemies—giving a phrase to chant whenever you say a key word. You will be amazed at how well your students recall the lesson at the end of the hour.
If you have an energetic team of adults or teens that have a theatrical flair let them present a brief skit as an introduction. Better yet, let them tell the whole story. Just be sure the content isn’t so dramatic that it strays from the truth.
Power Up Your Presentation!
Having something to look at adds interest and multiplies the retention factor. Flashcards and flannel graph figures have been our standard so what about trying something different? Are you a computer whiz? Develop a PowerPoint presentation to reinforce your message. Can you draw? Use simple drawings on a chalkboard or dry-erase board to illustrate your main points. Or for a real treat have the children be the artists. Have individuals participate or give the whole class a plain piece of paper and a pencil so they can “doodle” while you teach. Remind them that whatever they draw must pertain to the lesson.
Music, Munchies and More!
Music has long been a means of sharing God’s message. Music that is well-written musically as well as lyrically can easily communicate spiritual truths. Not musically inclined? Head to your local Christian bookstore to check out the latest tapes and compact discs. Some even offer split tracks, which allow you to play the music with or without additional voices.
Adding some simple signs and movements gives the children a chance to move and expend energy. More importantly, studies show that by involving visual, auditory and sensory movement you increase long-term recollection.
Don’t just stop with visual and auditory stimuli. Use all the senses! Incorporate sand play if the lesson is Jesus’ story of the wise man and the foolish man. A taste of some parsley as you teach about the Passover feast can leave lasting impressions.
Do you want the children to enjoy coming to class? Do you want them to listen to and heed God’s Word? As you create an environment that welcomes the children and captures their attention the Holy Spirit will win their hearts. Let’s make use of all these great resources to make the fundamentals of God’s Word truly enjoyable!