How do you tell your students the Bible story when you teach? Do you read it from the teacher’s manual? Do you tell it from memory? Do you read parts or all of it from the Bible?
If you aren’t careful, telling the Bible story can cause students to tune out to the story and the rest of the lesson. You don’t have to be a professional story teller though to make the stories interesting to students – even if it’s one they have heard many times before.
Doing these few simple things can cause students to pay closer attention to the story and what God wants them to learn from it.
- Use an NIrV Bible. Telling the story from scripture helps students get used to the way the Bible sounds. Having been translated from other languages into English, the Bible phrases things in ways that can be difficult for students to understand. Constantly hearing actual scripture in class can help their comprehension when trying to read the Bible independently. The NIrV is written on a third grade reading level, which makes it ideal for telling Bible stories. (Note: If the story compresses several chapters into one story, you may want to choose specific verses to share instead of reading several chapters.)
- Watch your tone. Do you sound bored when you are telling the Bible story? Does your voice sound like you already know what comes next in the story? Having a curious and excited tone to your voice as you tell the story will help your students be interested and enthusiastic, too.
- Change voices. Are people, angels, donkeys and/or God speaking in the story? Give each of them a different voice. Not only does it make the story more interesting and realistic, it can help children remember who was speaking at various points in the story.
- Use your face and body. Is someone in the story joyful? Then smile. Is someone described as tired? Then droop your body as if you too are exhausted. Using expressions and body language to “act” out the story will help students understand and remember the story better.
If you really want to become a master teller of Bible stories, go attend those free story hours at libraries and festivals – especially those using professional story tellers. You can learn more tips by carefully observing what they do. Just remember to be faithful to the text in the Bible (Professional story tellers often add details which can subtly or drastically change the meanings of the original story.)
If you don’t have the time, merely adding the elements listed above can draw your students into the Bible story like never before.