If you have looked around the Teach One Reach One site, you may have noticed we are big fans of meaningful activities in Bible classes for kids and teens. What exactly do we mean by “meaningful” and how can you tell if your activity meets the criteria?
To us, meaningful activities are those which extend the learning beyond telling the Bible story. At first you may struggle with being able to tell the difference between an activity idea that is meaningful and one that is not. You may want to ask yourself the following questions the next time you begin planning to use an activity in your class.
- What is the student supposed to learn from this activity? Is the point of the activity unclear to you? If you can’t find a strong connection to your lesson or a godly principle, chances are the activity is not meaningful. Coloring sheets are a good example of this. What exactly can a child learn from a coloring sheet? Coloring can be used in meaningful ways, but a coloring sheet is not one of them.
- What will the students actually learn from this activity? This is a tricky one. I have seen some adorable craft ideas that have no meaning to the child. Adorable crafts can also be meaningful. Look at the activity with a critical eye. What concept is the child having reinforced by the activity? If you can’t think if anything more than a Bible fact (Baby Moses was placed in a basket.), the activity may not be extremely meaningful.
- How strong is the tie between the activity and the lesson? If your curriculum tells you to have students run around popping balloons to represent how God “pops” our sins and then the lesson is about the birth of Jesus, the connection is weak.
- Is the activity weighted too much to the fun side or the worksheet side? There are plenty of activity ideas that are lots of fun. Often, though they add little value to the lesson. On the other hand, worksheets will reinforce concepts, but bore your students so badly they still won’t learn anything. You need to use activities that include fun and meaningful learning.
- Can the students tell you and their parents what they learned from the activity? Granted some kids won’t remember anything you do, but most should be able to relate what the activity taught them about a concept from a lesson. Whether it is some new cultural information that helps them understand the Bible story better, a project or game helping them practice a godly character trait or a craft that will be used for a long time at home to reinforce a godly habit or Bible verse, the student should know what they learned.
You only have your students for a short amount of time each week. Use it as wisely as you can. Meaningful activities can often cost less and take less time to prepare than some cutting and pasting activities. Even if they sometimes take more time and money, the added learning your students will have makes it worthwhile.