I like to use Play Floam to teach my K-5th graders bible lessons. Best of all, they LOVE it! I am often asked, “What is Floam and where do I get it?” I thought I’d take today to share the answers to these questions.
I get mine from Amazon for about $8 a set of 8. The kids like to mix it together. I don’t mind because I divide it back up and they all end up with the same multi color ball of Floam! Here’s a link for Educational Insights PlayFoam Combo 8 Pack.
Watch a video overview. It’s not fancy, but will give you an idea of what it is. You’ll see. It’s not messy at all!
Learning stinks, right? Most kids think they do not enjoy learning, they do not want to go to school much less bible class. Like most of us though, they love learning when the love how they are learning. They learn best when they are having so much fun they do not realize they are learning. That’s the trick! As teachers and parents of God’s word, we have our work cut out for us. We must get creative in our teaching.
Reach all three major learning styles with one simple activity- a bible puppet theater. First, you share the lesson using your finger puppets to tell the story. Your finger puppet may be the student and you, the teacher, talk to the puppet. You tell the puppet the bible story while asking questions all along the way. Your finger puppet answers with amazement. And when the puppet does not know the answer, it simply asks the class! Get them involved. You reach the visual learner as they watch the puppets in action. The auditory learner hears the story and gets to answer some questions along the way. The kinesthetic learner is about to learn the way they do best now. You’ve been an example to this theater, it’s time to create theirs. It’s so easy!
1. Cut along all the dotted lines. This will separate the puppets from the stage and it gives your theater its windows.
2. Glue or tape your toilet paper rolls (or other items) to create the stand for your theater. These should tape to the back (unless the kids decorate them to be a part of the stage- Roman pillars?)
3. Now, decorate the finger puppets.
4. Cut them out.
5. Measure around kids fingers and tape to fit.
6. And there you have it! A finger puppet theater.
7. Let kids partner up to present the lesson. They decide who is the finger teacher and finger student.
God’s word is exciting and so very important; so let’s make learning about Him something our kids look forward to. And let’s try to create something with them they won’t leave on the seats at church or toss the minute they get home. Our goal is to keep God in their thoughts. After all, they play “superhero” make believe with each other; so why not reenacting bible stories?
I recently shared with you characteristics of an auditory learner and ways to effectively teach them God’s word (View it here). I thought we’d have some fun and make some stringed phones for you to try with your class. Tin cans look cool, but paper ones work best (and are easier) so that’s what I will do here.
Step 1: You will need your supplies. It’s just 2 paper cups and string (as long as you’d like). Oh, and something to poke a hole in each cup. I used a pencil tip but something a little smaller may be better.
Step 2: Poke a small hole, just large enough to put your string through, in the bottom center of each cup.
Step 3: Push string through the bottom of one cup, tying a knot on the string inside the cup. This will prevent kids from being able to pull the string out when tightening to talk.
Step 4: Repeat with the other end of the string on the second cup and you’re done! You’ve got a stringed phone.
Once you make a set, how do you use it to teach? Good question! As kids arrive to bible class, let them pair up with a set of stringed phones. They can talk to their partner about anything! This is just a fun warm up. If they need prompting, list some questions they can ask each other and answer, a getting to know you time. Or, you may write questions out on a bunch of cards and hand each person a set as they arrive. They simply select a card and ask that question. Examples:
- What’s your favorite animal, ice cream, drink, holiday…
- What’s food do you hate the most?
- Who’s your favorite person in the bible?
Now for the lesson, the heart of the class where you share God’s word and pray that it sticks with them throughout their lives. Enthusiastically tell the bible story asking plenty of questions as you go. Now that they have heard the lesson, it’s time to reinforce it! The kids should be in pairs (if you have an odd number, the teacher participates too).
- Ask a question about the lesson. Keep questions short enough for kids to repeat.
- One person from each pair repeats the question in the can.
- The person listening now gives the answer. If the do not know it they say, “I don’t know, do you?” Now the first person gets a chance to answer back.
- After kids are done, the teacher gives the correct answer.
- Repeat asking another question alternating who asks the question into the can.
Trust me. The kids will have a blast and learn so much!
“The kids are going to love this!” I thought. “They get to play with slime all through class! They are going to invite their friends and beg to come back next week! Our children’s bible classes are going to spill over with so many kids.” Well, that’s what I thought as I put the lesson together and excitedly set containers of sparkling galaxy slime at their seats. Unfortunately, I did not take into account the need for training others on presenting the lesson. I thought slime was full proof, but I was wrong. I was so very wrong.
Kids need to know the bible is real and full of life. When you really look at the bible, and I mean really look, you will find so much interesting information as you turn the pages. Kids are fascinated as you point out strange or gross things from the scriptures. Don’t sugar coat God’s word. Kids are not interested in boring. They want on the edge of your seat thrilling! And how you share God’s thrilling message matters. Are you stoic or are you lively? Are you simply reading the words or are you giving them life?
Teaching bible class does need to be fun for kids so they look forward to coming, but it is more than just the activity. Back to my experience I mentioned earlier, the kids were so excited when they walked through the door and saw slime, but that quickly faded. I was disappointed as I peeked through windows in doors to see kids with blank stares. They were far from engaged. In one of my elementary classes, the teacher was reading the lesson with guided instructions for what to create from their slime. So what was the problem? There was no life, no enthusiasm in the reading of the lesson. For kids to engage, you have to show them the bible is alive, show lots and lots of enthusiasm, of excitement. I decided to test my theory as I subbed for a class and wow! The kids had a blast, they learned and asked if they could have this for class again. Presentation matters.
God’s word is fascinating when we tell it like it is. Just this past week I taught elementary kids about Joshua, a mighty warrior for God. He was on a roll defeating countries left and right as the Israelites took the land God had promised them. As he defeated nations, he captured kings and made a statement with their dead bodies. He stuck a pole through their bodies and put them up on display for a day. He didn’t do this just one time either. The kids were wide eyed and paying attention. They could not believe this was really in the bible. Show them how interesting it is and when the are paying attention, you can talk more about what we can learn from these accounts in scripture.
Asking kids to put themselves in the bible individuals shoes helps kids relate, makes them real. As you talk about Adam and Eve walking through the garden with God, ask them what that might have been like. Can you imagine walking around your yard with God just like he was your best friend? Do you think this might have caused them to see God differently than we do? We look at him with awe, almost untouchable, but for them, God was always there. It may not have seemed like a big deal to them. We can begin to see people from scripture as human when we ask questions like these.
The bible is far from boring so let’s make sure we portray it that way. Let’s help our kids engage in God’s word by sharing it with energy and enthusiasm. Give kids a reason to be wowed by God’s word! Stoic or full of life? Your decision may change the way a child relates to God’s word so give it your all.
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Earth Gobblers & Korah’s Rebellion
Capture the Attention of the Hyper & Tired
I have the Tasmanian Devil in my second grade class. She interrupts, blurts out comments that are completely off topic, walks around the classroom during teaching, messes with the kids sitting next to her and at times, simply refuses to participate. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that according to a parent report from 2011-2012, approximately 11% of children ages 4-17 years old (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD. I am one that believes this condition is overdiagnosed; however, there are many, many children that really do suffer from this. And these are often our “problem” children. So how do we handle this as bible class teachers?
First, try handling these children in the classroom. Start with teaching in a manner that kids with discipline problems learn best. They are typically your kinesthetic learners. They need movement! They need to be hands on. I have found that play-doh and similar items work amazingly well! Guiding them to create things you talk about in the lesson as you teach keeps them hands-on and focused! All kids like this stuff so when you teach for these kids, all kids love your class! When this does not work and you feel you need to go to the parents for advice, remember the Oreo method. Say something positive about their child, then share the problem, then end with another positive. For example, “Amy is a bright energetic little girl. I love seeing her big smile every week. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for how I might best keep her in her seat for the lessons. I’m afraid she has too much energy to sit and listen so I wondered what you have seen that works. She’s as sharp as a tack! When I ask a question she knows the answer so I know she’s listening!” (Compare that to, “Amy won’t stay in her seat and is disrupting the class. Do you have any suggestions?”)
If you have a child that is a discipline problem in your class, chances are, they are the same way at school. Their parents are used to hearing about their child causing problems for teachers but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear again and again. I was one of these parents when it came to my youngest. I would get calls that my daughter was walking around the classroom during instruction time, making noise with her pencils or fingers on the tables, and my favorite, barking like a dog at the other kids in the lunch line. She would never behave this way at home because she knew it was unacceptable; but at school, she was the child I am sure the teacher’s wished would stay home sick more often. Getting a call from her bible class teacher was the icing on the cake. Knowing the teachers were trying to work with my child, trying to find a solution was reassuring. Hearing that they found positive in my child helped me at the time; so please keep this in mind when addressing parents. Oreo! Positive – Negative – Positive.
As a bible class teacher, we want our kids excited about coming to class! We also do not want our parents dreading a call from us or avoiding us at church, wondering what their child has done now. Take every opportunity to praise the kids when they do well and share good behavior with their parents. This encourages parents to come back again and again, knowing their child’s teacher knows how to teach their child and enjoys having them in class. And when you don’t enjoy it, look for alternative ways to teach, alternative ways to capture their attention. It’s incredibly rewarding when you find what works! These are kids so finding fun ways to teach typically does the trick.
From Boring to Thrilling Through Story Telling
Capture the Attention of the Hyper and Tired (& ADHD)
Play Through the Bible