Teaching with Tech
by Ashley Alden
Does the phrase, “Teaching with technology in Sunday school” make you say “YES!” or “Uh oh!”? I’ll admit, I’m a little of both. My personal collection of smart devices is very small and my church doesn’t have a ton of tech stuff in our classrooms either. But kids today are growing up in a tech-saturated society and we do well if we can incorporate some of their world into the world of Sunday school. Plus, technology offers so many cool resources to make lessons and Biblical truth really come alive. So let’s dive into some ways you can incorporate technology into your Sunday school class.
Using a smart phone or tablet
- Show pictures of Biblical places that exist today. Many kids think the Bible belongs on the same shelf as Aesop’s Fables or Grimm’s Fairy Tales—nice stories but completely fiction. Looking up current pictures of Biblical locations can help bring the Bible to life and help reinforce the fact that the events in the Bible actually happened in real places. You might look up a picture of the ruins of Jericho or show a picture of modern-day Bethlehem or Jerusalem. Pictures make the Bible come to life! You can show the pictures on your smart phone or tablet, or project them onto a larger screen (more on that later).
- Take pictures of God’s creation. Before class, take your phone and take some pictures of things God created. To add to the fun, you could take a close-up picture of the object and then have the kids guess what the object is. This involves them in class and is also a really fun game!
- Play sound effects that go with your lesson. Recently in children’s church my teaching partner wanted the children to know what a dove sounded like, because it went with the lesson on Jesus cleansing the Temple. So she brought her iPad and had it prepped to play a clip of a dove’s coo. It was fun for the kids to try and mimic the sound after they’d heard it a few times.
- Create atmosphere and excitement with sound effects. When kids come into class, you could have a theme song or sound effect playing. When suspense is needed, play a drumroll track. When transitioning to a certain part of class (such as puppets, Bible lesson, etc) have a track for that. If playing Jeopardy, play the Jeopardy theme song. Children will love the variety and it will also clue them in to what is coming next. Think about how game shows use music and sound effects. Maybe you could incorporate some of those into your class time.
- Amplify the sound by using Bluetooth speakers. If you have a larger class and you want everyone to hear well, consider investing in a Bluetooth speaker. This can pair easily with your device and can pack quite the sound punch! They are relatively inexpensive and some models take up very little space, making them easy to transport.
- Recommend apps to children. Of course you want to be very careful when recommending phone apps to children, but there are some great ones that kids could use to help them read or listen to their Bible. A great app, Bible.Is, has an audio children’s dramatized version. Some children prefer to listen to the Bible and pointing them to a good app is a way to help get them in God’s Word.
Think about how game shows use music and sound effects. Maybe you could incorporate some of those into your class time.
Using a projector or large screen
- Your church may have access to technology such as a projector, smart board, or large TV screen. If so, use it to your advantage! These enable you to put visuals where all the children can easily see.
- PowerPoint is a tremendous tool for teaching. You can show Bible lesson visuals, song lyrics, and even play games with PowerPoint®. CEF Press® offers a number of curriculum series (Old and New Testament and topical) that are available in a Resource and PowerPoint CD. These CDs are loaded with Bible lesson visuals, songs, missionary stories and PowerPoint review games! If you’re looking for PowerPoints that pack a punch, check out what’s available at cefpress.com. You can also search online for games like Jeopardy in PowerPoint version to use as a review game.
- YouTube is also an amazing resource for teaching. You can search for Gospel object lessons, scientific demonstrations, songs, or even Biblical content. Showing short YouTube clips can really enhance your class and drive home the point. For example, if there’s a Gospel object lesson that you can’t feasibly do in class but it’s on YouTube, show the video. Or maybe there’s a scientific process or demonstration that would help you make a point in your lesson. Just be sure you preview the content ahead of time to make sure it’s appropriate and that you won’t see any “surprises” as you show it.
- Music videos are a great resource for kids when leading worship or song time. There are many on YouTube (check out Jana Alayra!) or at cefonline.com/freedemos. These song videos are creative, fun, and upbeat and have the lyrics on the screen so kids can learn the words, motions, and tune from the video. We use the CEF song videos and the kids LOVE them! If the kids are wiggly or fidgety, doing a song video will usually get out the wiggles and help them listen better.
Using Other Resources
- Utilize a whiteboard. A whiteboard isn’t very “high tech” but it can be a valuable teaching tool. You can write on it or have kids write on it as part of your lesson. Simple object lessons can be done using just the whiteboard and some colorful markers.
- Utilize a pocket chart. Again, not very “high tech” but pocket charts can hold visuals and the more visuals, the more you can hold the children’s attention. They come in all sizes and are a good investment.
- Websites like canva.com can give you backgrounds to make memory verse or song visuals really pop with color and style.
YouTube is also an amazing resource for teaching. You can search for Gospel object lessons, scientific demonstrations, songs, or even Biblical content.
Tips for Effectively Using Tech
- Test it first! Technology is great… when it works. Make sure you test everything before kids arrive so the tech is an enhancement and not a distraction.
- Have the media cued and ready to go. Using a sound effect on your iPad? Have it ready to play. Planning on showing a certain YouTube video? Have it ready to go and tested with sound and visual before you play it.
- Practice with it. If you’re interspersing tech elements in your class time, practice first so you’re comfortable incorporating it into your teaching. That way your teaching will flow smoothly and you won’t need as many “reset” moments in class. (For more on resetting your class and regaining attention, see our blog post on that topic.)
I hope this article has given you some ideas to spark variety in your teaching using technology! If you’re not familiar with using technology as part of your class routine, start small—maybe pick one or two things on this list, try it and see how it goes. Technology can be an incredible tool to help bring interest and clarity to your teaching. What are your favorite ways to teach with tech? Start the conversation and comment below!
Now you’re ready to Teach with Tech!
If you need song ideas, you can find visual aids, CDs, and music downloads at CEF Press.