Is Hands-On Teaching Worth the Effort?

IS Hands-On Teaching Worth the Effort - Teach One Reach OneYou should see my “craft” room. Actually, you would be horrified. It is a staging area for Teach One Reach One, Parenting Like Hannah and dozens of other activities. It is a constant disaster area. I am a familiar face at all of the local craft and dollar stores. I can be seen grabbing strange things from nature or taking photos of all sorts of interesting things wherever I go. All in the name of hands-on Bible teaching and learning.

Sometimes people will ask me if it’s worth all of the time, effort and money I often put into my classes. The answer is a definite “Yes, absolutely!”. I don’t say this just because I enjoy being creative and finding exciting ways for children to learn things about God. (Even though I do.) I don’t say it because I have nothing else to fill my days, but work on teaching materials. (That is so far from the truth it is amusing!)

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Using the Five Senses in Bible Lessons

Using the Five Senses in Bible Lessons - Teach One Reach OneDo you remember Christmas when you were a child? You probably have vivid memories of smells, sounds, tastes, sights and maybe even the feel of some special toy or ornament. Your memories are so vivid because those special holidays incorporated all of your senses.

Your classes can be like that for your students. Whether you are teaching a Bible class or tutoring academic subjects using the Bible, it is important to involve as many of your students’ senses as possible during your lesson. Most of the activities you will find on the Teach One Reach One site were designed to involve several senses to make learning more memorable.

If you are working with other materials, you can still adapt them to include sensory learning. Here are a few tips to help you:

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Banning Pens and Pencils From Bible Classes

Banning Pens and Pencils From Bible Class - Teach One Reach OneEvery time I hear a story like this repeated, it makes me feel sick. “Susie doesn’t like Bible class very much. She struggles with the reading and writing involved.” Eventually, Susie learns to “disappear” in her Bible class in hopes no one calls on her to read or share her answers. Soon she finds a way to convince her parents not to make her go to class at all. Learning about God has become a painful experience – one she plans to avoid at all costs.

Unfortunately, Susie’s story is not uncommon. I hear it multiple times every year from people of all ages and in every type of church you can name. Our Bible classes and interestingly enough, even some of our Bible based tutoring programs fail to recognize the pain and embarrassment children feel when they struggle academically in an environment. Yet teachers continue to pull out worksheets covered with fill-in-the-blank and essay questions. Or randomly assign students to read long passages of scripture – often on a reading level far above the child’s – out loud. In front of their peers.

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Adapting Bible Lessons for Students with Special Needs

Adapting Bible Lessons for Children with Special Needs - Teach One Reach One

Some children with special needs learn better if they have something to fiddle with while listening.

If you combine all of the statistics for the special needs a child may have, the chances are almost 100%  you will have at least one child with special learning needs in your classroom. One of the reasons Teach One Reach One relies on experiential learning (instead of worksheets and lectures) is that it allows more students to participate without having to adjust much for their learning differences.

Even if you use all of our resources, you will occasionally have one or more students who cannot easily participate in the activities and lessons as we have designed them. The temptation for many volunteers is to either deny the child access to the class or sit him to the side with nothing to do other than perhaps coloring. I understand adapting your class to include every child may take extra time on your part, but what better way to reflect God’s love to all of your students!

When you begin trying to adapt your lesson plans to include a child with special needs, there are a few things you can do to make your job a little easier:

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Culture and the Bible Classroom

Culture and the Bible Classroom - Teach One Reach OneMy first experience teaching children from a culture different than mine was when I lived in New York City. Our congregation was unique at the time because it offered worship services in English, Spanish and Korean. About once a quarter, the services combined for a unique multi-lingual worship service and the most interesting potluck lunch you have ever experienced.

Since the children were bilingual, their classes were combined. My lessons worked for all of the students since they were all growing up in New York City together. When it came time for games though, I quickly realized this special multi-cultural environment created some unique situations. I quickly learned if I didn’t watch it carefully, the students would group by language and start cheating by speaking in a language the others couldn’t understand well.

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