The unwritten rule of preschool and elementary Bible classes is that the best teachers send home the cutest crafts. Unfortunately, just because a craft is cute doesn’t mean it’s the best craft for your Bible students. Why?
Any activity you use in a Bible class should extend learning. It should require students to process what they have just learned in some way. The best crafts will help students better understand or remember the lesson. Or they will help them remember to incorporate something from the lesson in their daily lives. Other crafts require students to think very little and waste valuable learning time.
So how can you tell if that adorable Bible craft extends learning or is just a time waster? Answering the following questions from your students’ point of view can help. (If you are having trouble thinking like your students, don’t be afraid to ask some of them their opinions!)
- What is the student required to think about to complete the craft? You want them to have to recall details or principles from the lesson in order to complete the project. If they are only required to think about what colors to use or how to glue part A To part B, it may not be your best choice.
- Does it help students better visualize and understand an unfamiliar object in the lesson? Creating models of the Temple or an altar for example can help them better understand quite a few Bible stories.
- Does the craft encourage students to continue to think about the lesson outside of class and apply it to their every day life? A craft like a prayer rock for example can encourage students to develop an independent prayer life.
- Is it something your students are physically able to complete with minimal adult help? Expecting three year olds, for example, to cut out complex pieces for a craft can leave everyone frustrated.
- Will it be treasured enough to actually make it home and hopefully be displayed for a period of time? If it’s a coloring sheet, the answer is “probably not”. However, a work of scripture art totally generated by the student may have a place of honor for weeks, reminding everyone of that important passage.
There are other things to consider when choosing or adapting crafts. For example, do you want it to be an individual effort or a group project? Do you want it to be a “closed” craft where the finished project has to look exactly like the example, or an “open” craft that allows for some student creativity? Finally, what materials can you afford to use? Sometimes you can still do more expensive crafts by asking people to donate the supplies you need. Just remember to allow plenty of time to collect the items before you will use them.
Bible crafts can extend learning or they can waste valuable learning time. Taking a few extra minutes to analyze a craft before using it can help you make the wisest choice possible.