Top Tips for Lively Lessons

Creating lessons which keep children's interest and help them understand the story better can be a challenge at any time.  It can also be especially tough if the class has children of varying ages and abilities, such as a preschool class of 0-5 year olds!

Here are a few suggestions on how you can create lively, interesting and interactive Bible lessons.  Special thanks to Kim and Kristina who contributed to the original discussion about this topic.

1.   Be prepared.

  • Great lessons rarely can be created on the spot (unless you are a really old hand at it!).  They require some thought and gathering of appropriate 'extras' for the story.
  • It is always wise to plan to have a few more activities than you may actually use.  There is nothing worse than having to occupy children for a large period of time while waiting for mum or dad to come and pick them up - this will take away from the learning process as it will be the last thing they remember about your class, not the lesson you have just taught.  
  • Remember, too, that some activities may not take as long as you planned, others may not grab children's interest the way you imagined.  In such instances the best thing is to move onto a new activity.
  • Some easy extra activities you can have up your sleeve a colouring page or activity sheet, songs and fingerplays about the story, questions to help them remember what the story was about.

Kim:  With younger children it is important to have many short activities. This will allow the young ones and older ones to stay tuned in.

2.   Use your voice.

  • A strong, firm, confident and expressive voice can be a key to keeping children's attention in a Bible class.

  • Mem Fox (an Australian children's author) in her book Reading Magic (Pan, 2001) states, "The more expressively we read, the more fantastic the experience will be."  She adds too that the emotional value of a story should be shown through our voice, our eyes and expressions.  There is no doubt that such advice should also be applied to our telling of Bible stories!

  • While many would have you believe that it is important that you retell a story however, not everybody has the confidence to do this.  I believe that if you are familiar with the story (so that you can look up frequently) and are expressive, reading a story can be equally effective in keeping children's attention.  Don't forget to pause though to allow children's questions and participation.

Kristina:  "Another key is to be excited and show the kids how much you love God and how important he is to you and they will naturally follow."

3.   Involve the children in the telling of the story. 

  • have them dress-up

  • guess what part an object has to play in the story 
  • for the younger children give them something to hold that is a part of the story
  • Use figures (Duplo characters, dolls or make characters from the suggestions given in MSSS Bible Characters) and let the children move the figures about in the story.  - give each child just one figure each.    

  • If there is 'movement' in the story, let the children act out the movements to keep them involved.

Kristina:  "Make sure all the kids have a part in everything.  My favorite way (as well as the kids') is to dress them up as the characters in the story and tell it that way.  It makes it seem more real and even the little ones like to get involved."

Vicki:  "My girls really love the story of Baby Moses.  It has made such an impact on them that it is not unusual for them to get out one of their dolls' baskets and come running to me to tell me that a princess has found their baby.  One day they will even understand the full impact of this story!"

4.   Encourage emotional involvement.

  • Ask lots of questions.  Some children may already know the story, so ask questions to test this and let them help with the telling.  This allows them also to give comments that show their understanding of the story from which you can work on.
  • Make statements which compare the situation in the Bible story with the children's own situations.  For example, in the story of Daniel and his friends in Babylon, ask them to imagine how they would feel if they had been taken away from their home and family, particularly, mum and dad.
  • Encourage them to think about the things they can do or be like the character in the Bible story.  For example, after the story of Samuel, ask them who they should listen to and what they should say when they are called.

5.   Pray.

  • This should be the first step really!  If we want children to learn about God we need to make sure we have Him with us.

Some Example Story Ideas

Moses and the Water from the Rock

  • Have an older child dress-up as Moses to act out the story and others as people to ask Moses for water. 
  • Give each child a rock to hold (make sure it is fairly large so the little one can't stick it in its mouth!).  Have them squeeze the rock, hit it with their hand etc. to try and get water out of it - lead into a discussion about how the water came from it.   

The Sabbath Day

  • Give children objects we take to church to talk about and hold - Bible, lesson study book, hymnbook 
  • Have things we can thank God for on the Sabbath - an assortment of soft toys, flowers, pictures of family etc. 
  • Go for a walk outside and look for things we can thank God for on the Sabbath.

for tiny ones!

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