How much thought goes into your children’s ministry? Since you are reading this article, I’m guessing you have dedicated some time to this effort. Thank God for you! If we are going to reach children before the age of 13, then we better have a plan. And we better be checking back against that plan to make sure we are staying on course. And we better check our stats and see if what we are doing is effective, because if it’s not, we better adjust.
To effectively reach children, we need to understand children and teach them in a manner that they learn best. So often, we are given a book with lessons and teach straight out of that. There are some great materials out there! Fantastic ideas, but are you teaching them in a manner that really reaches your children, excites them and stays with them? I started down this path when I had a severely ADHD child in one of my classes. The teacher asked me what she could do to keep this child from distracting other kids. I had to give this a lot of thought and prayer. I researched the topic and decided, the kids needed something in their hands.
This led me to Play-doh lessons. It worked great! I made up Play-doh mats for each lesson. All the teacher had to do was read the bible story with enthusiasm, stopping at key points to let the kids create what was on their mats, something from what they just heard. For instance, when we taught on the creation, they would go to the box labeled “Day 1.” In the box would be a light bulb. The kids simple shaped their play-doh over the light bulb on their pages. In the box labeled “Day 2” they filled the cloud with Play-doh. And it continued. This was so simple and the kids loved it!
How did it help with learning? First of all, it was hands-on so every child, from the shy and quiet to the loud and wild, was seated and participating. This is kinesthetic learning. They saw the lesson on their papers and created the pictures so now we are reaching our visual learners. Then we have the story being read aloud and the teacher asking questions allowing kids to answer and repeat. This is auditory learning. I discovered that through something as simple as Play-doh, we were able to cover all three major learning styles. After months of this, I checked in with the classes and was honestly amazed! The kids had retained so much of what they were taught. It was i
I was afraid the Play-doh might get mundane so I added kinetic sand, Silly Putty, play floam and white erase boards. By rotating these things out from week to week, the kids never got tired of one thing; in fact, they got excited when it came back around to their favorite. By the way, the play floam is an all time favorite! I also took out the mats and simple read from the scriptures telling the kids what to create. This worked well. I’d make it too so the kids could watch me and follow along. Plus, they could see that a camel doesn’t half to look like an actual camel. They get a good giggle out of what our items wind up looking like in the end.
On top of it all, this makes lesson preparation incredibly easy. Once you have a set of each in your class, you are set! Review the bible story, select the verses you will read (with enthusiasm) and which you will stop at to create something while reinforcing this part of the lesson. I’ve never had a simple and more effective class than I do now!