Whether you teach Bible classes for kids and teens regularly or as a last minute substitute, it helps to have a pre-packed bag with some essentials. I find if I keep this bag packed and by the door, getting ready to teach class is so much easier. If I need some special items for that particular lesson, I can just add them to the bag and I’m ready to go. Even if I am substituting for a teacher who has supposedly left everything I need in the room, I take my bag. More than once, I have arrived only to find someone else has moved the prepared materials and no one can find them. Thankfully, my bag helps me to improvise quickly in emergency situations, too.
So what’s in my teaching bag of tricks? You can vary it a thousand different ways, but these are things I have found I use on a regular basis:
- Map quilt – It is so important for students to learn things in a context of place and time. Whether I am teaching the Bible or tutoring a secular subject while connecting it back to the Bible, my map quilt is a great way to turn geography into hands-on learning. (For instructions on making a map quilt, see Monday’s post.)
- Bible in an easy to understand version. I prefer reading the story directly from the Bible. I think it develops a good habit of turning directly to the Bible as our source of information. In order to make it understandable (especially for young children), I prefer to use the NIrV version. Written on a third grade reading level, it is accurate enough for teaching children the Bible.
- Book or App with photographs of places and things in the Bible. If I can’t take an actual item to show students what something was, I like to at least show them photos. Seeing something with your own eyes makes it so much more real. Unfortunately, many items mentioned in the Bible have never been seen by the average child today. I can tell you from my own experience, seeing a recreation of items in the Bible can make a passage that seems foreign suddenly become clear.
- Bible Trivia Questions – I have found these books in many Christian bookstores on the sale rack for a couple of dollars. While understanding the Bible is more important than memorizing a bunch of random facts, children still need to learn the facts in order to be able to easily make godly decisions and/or share their faith. I try to use Bible Trivia as a filler if the lesson runs short or no materials can be found for a last second substitution class. They can also be used as a quick warm-up activity while you are waiting for the rest of the class to come.
- Sharpies, typing paper, scissors and glue stick (or Aileen’s craft glue bottle) – Having these materials in your bag will allow you to fashion signs, create last minute visuals or activities and solve classroom mishaps. The well equipped classroom should have all of these things within reach, but I have found this is rarely the case. If you are teaching outdoors with no materials, these items can be life savers.
- Bible costume – If you have a flare for storytelling or acting, a costume should always be in your bag. With a few quick changes you can be Ruth or Esther, telling “your” story as it happened. You can also hand it to a student and let them act out a particular story in the Bible for you.
- Camera or camera phone – Parents love knowing what their children did in class and what they learned. Emailing photos to parents of their child active in class can open all sorts of dialogue between you and the parents of your students.
- IPad or smart phone – having access to the internet can help you answer students’ questions, show them photos of unplanned things that come up in class or help you find a last minute activity for a class you have two minutes notice to substitute. Don’t forget to bookmark Teach One Reach One as a place to check for ideas and tips!
Having a pre-packed Bible class bag by the door will save you time rushing around each time you teach searching for the same items. Just place it by the door and add the special things you need for that class. You will save time and energy and rarely arrive to your class missing some important item. If you have a special teaching bag, I would love to hear what special things you add to yours. We may share your suggestions in a future post.