Fun Activities to Help Kids Understand the Bible

Reading the words in the Bible can be challenging for some children for various reasons. Understanding what they have read can often prove even more challenging. Because secular schools don’t teach many of the skills kids need to comprehend what they read in scripture, we need to provide those lessons and experiences.

One of the stumbling blocks to Bible reading comprehension is culture. The cultures in the times the Bible was written were vastly different from our cultures today. This means there are words that have little real meaning to young people, like “shofar”. They also don’t understand some of the customs, like why the bride and bridesmaids were waiting for the groom and needed oil lamps. Children can also miss the significance of stories like Rebekah watering the camels of Abraham’s servant or Tabitha/Dorcas making clothes for the poor. (It is important to note that culture does not change God’s commands or principles, rather it restores the full intricacy of scripture.)

There are some fun activities you can do with Bible students to increase their Bible reading comprehension by expanding their understanding of the cultures in the Bible. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Past or Present. A version of this game is in the photograph above. Gather replicas of items mentioned in the Bible and some modern day items that didn’t exist in Bible times. Throw in a few like the plastic spoon, which is a mix (Spoons existed in the time of Jesus, but plastic did not!). Have students guess which items are from the past and how they were used. Young children may need explanations for why modern items did not exist during Bible times. (Note: Photos of items can be used either in place of hard to find items or to make individual sets for each student.)
  • Mystery Item. Biblical Archaeology magazine includes this in every issue. Unfortunately, many of their items really wouldn’t work for our purposes. Find a replica or a photo of an item your Bible students have probably never seen before. For example, an idol of Baal, incense, clay lamps and other similar items work well. Ask your students to tell you what they think the item is, how it was used and at least one Bible story or scripture that mentions that item. This can also be done with foods and spices, but if you are allowing students to taste the mystery item, check with parents for allergies first.
  • A Day in the Life. This works really well when studying people like Rebekah, Tabitha/Dorcas, David or others whose story has cultural elements that deepen the meaning of what happened. For example, in the case of Rebekah, get sealed gallon water jugs and if possible one of those really large water bottles that holds multiple gallons. Having students try to lift the heavy water bottle and/or carrying the gallon sized one multiple times to water one camel is a lot more difficult than turning on the hose that your students probably imagined. In the same way, dying fibers with natural dyes, spinning, weaving and sewing by hand underscore how much effort it may have taken Dorcas to make clothing. Trying to sling a ping pong ball at a target with the type of sling David had helps students understand how much David needed to practice and develop the gift God had given him so he was ready to face Goliath. (Free detailed instructions for these activities can be found on our website.) You can also have students step back in time and experience Bible stories as they attend a wedding or Passover feast or wander in the “wilderness”.
  • How Did They Do That? This activity is great to get kids interested in reading the Bible and encouraging their curiosity about learning more about what God wants them to know. For example, since Jacob and Joseph were living in Egypt when they died, their bodies were mummified! Our website has details for mummifying a fish with students so they can better understand how their mummification made it easier to take their bodies back to Israel to be buried later. Or using a map app or map scale to calculate how long it would take Mary, Joseph and Jesus to walk (older kids might like to compare how long it would take to drive the same distance today) from Nazareth to Jerusalem, makes it more understandable why Mary and Joseph weren’t happy to find Jesus missing!

Our website has tons of additional ideas for cultural activities tied to Bible lessons. Most are found under the “Bible” activity for that story, although some are also found under “science”, “health” or “sustenance and survival” activities. Have fun with it, but teach as much culture as you can to your students to help improve their Bible reading comprehension.

Categories Bible, Elementary, Faith Based Academic Program, Preschool
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