The coloring sheet has been a staple in children’s Bible classes for decades. Yet, it is probably the biggest time waster you can do with your students. The problem with coloring sheets is that they require very little thinking from students. If they are pondering anything, it’s probably what colors they should use for Joseph’s coat – not the lessons from the story they can apply to their own lives.
Ideally the craft or art project you choose to do with your students should require them to process what they have learned. Young children may only be able to begin to process the facts of the story and their drawings may only reflect those.
Older children should be able to begin processing the Bible on higher levels- especially if you have been intentionally moving them through the various levels of understanding – remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating.
This piece of art was created by an older elementary student who is beginning to process how she sees her relationship with God and how it will impact her future. Yes, she obviously still cares about the colors and the artistry of it, but there was also some thinking about the topic that happened.
Student art doesn’t have to be restricted to paintings or drawings. At times, you may want them to create something that will help them practice or remember to do something you discussed in class. While decorating a student created prayer journal may not seem like it engages the mind, the student is much more likely to value it and remember to use it than a pre-fabricated one made from foam.
The next time your activity calls for a coloring sheet, foam cutouts or some other rather mindless craft, consider substituting an activity that will get your students thinking about your lesson. Using that activity time productively can enhance student learning and understanding. (Don’t be afraid to continue discussing your topic as students work. Some may be focused and tune you out, but others may need the extra help the discussion can give them.)