Often the first few minutes of Bible class time are wasted as teachers wait for students to enter the classroom. Over the years, we have found when students understand they are missing something interesting by being late, they will get to class much more quickly. Starter activities are a great way to encourage students to arrive on time and sneak in a few extra minutes of learning time.
There are several types of starter activities that will engage students. It’s important to remember, the activities you choose must appeal to your students….otherwise, they don’t work well. Starter activities shouldn’t be time fillers or wasters either. They should introduce students to something new and interesting, introduce them in some way to the underlying concepts in the Bible lesson or encourage them to puzzle through how what they are learning in the Bible can be reflected in the way they live their lives.
Starter activities aren’t just for kids. Our free teen Living the Christian Life Bible lessons all begin with a starter activity to get them thinking about and discussing the topic of the lesson that day. It’s important to remember that starter activities for kids or teens shouldn’t last more than about five minutes, or you will cut into the time you need for your lesson and main activity.
Here are some starter activities you may want to try.
- Pit and Peak of the Week. You’re probably familiar with this activity, where each person gives the high and low point of the past week. You can even tweak it a bit and have them share a prayer concern for the coming week, too. (Fair warning: This activity can run much longer than five minutes if students have no one who really listens to them outside of class or they are struggling with something. A timer can help with the promise of following up on those who want or need more time.)
- Talking Cubes. I found the ones pictured in the school supply area of a local retailer. You can find other versions online or make your own. (When making your own, you may want to try using slips of paper they can draw, rather than dice.) Have students take turns rolling the dice and answering the question. This is a good way for everyone to get to know each other and if you focus on the faith aspect of answers, even secular cubes like these can be used in a spiritual way. For example, if the cube asks them to share something that makes them angry, you can follow up with a question about what they do to make sure they don’t sin when they get angry about that.
- Creation Show and Tell. You can change the theme, assign a certain number of students each week (make sure parents know the assignment) or have a once a month or once a quarter show and tell starter time. Once again, a timer is your friend or this could become an entire lesson (which is fine if that is your plan). For creation show and tell, I would ask students to bring in something amazing God has created. They can bring a photo or an actual item. If time allows, ask a few of them how the item they chose reminds them of how amazing God is.
- Application News Challenge. Find a recent news story that presents a situation where the people involved had choices to make. Were their choices godly? Have students defend their answers using examples from the Bible or scriptures. If the choices made weren’t godly, what other choices could have been made?
- Ongoing Service Projects. Have a service project that is too involved to finish in one class period? Let students who arrive early work to finish it. To work well as a starter activity, it should be a service project students are excited about and not last too many weeks.
- If you teach teens, you may want to look through our Living the Christian Life teen lessons for other free starting activities for lessons. Some of the activities could also be used with older elementary students.
Providing starter activities engages students the second they arrive, which can also help improve classroom behavior. It also helps you make best use of every second of learning time with your students. They are a great tweak to any Bible class!