Many churches purchase some sort of packaged curriculum for their Bible classes. To make these products more marketable, the companies have to include lesson activity ideas that require little preparation on the part of volunteers. As a result, many of these activities have little real educational value and can even backfire by boring or irritating children, volunteers and/or parents.
Thankfully, with our activity idea bank full of hundreds of meaningful, memorable, hands-on activity ideas, it is easy to replace those time wasting activities with ones that will extend learning during your activity time. So what activities should you replace with more meaningful, effective ones? Here’s our list of activities we wish all Bible classes for children would replace.
- Coloring sheets. Top on our list of banned activities would be coloring sheets. These have absolutely no educational value and most don’t make it out of the church parking lot or family car. Why? Because children don’t have to think about anything, except which color crayon or marker they want to use next.
- Worksheets. An argument could be made that worksheets have minimal educational value, but the harm they can do far outweighs any possible good. Why? Our biggest concern is that we have met quite a few adults over the years who recall the shame and humiliation they felt when they believed worksheets exposed their learning difficulties to their peers in Bible classes. For the average child, however, worksheets are about as boring as you can get. A regular diet of worksheets in Bible class and most children will have to be practically dragged to your class.
- Foam pre-fab crafts. Similar to coloring sheets, these crafts only require knowing where to connect part A to part B. There are a few exceptions – like building a model of the Temple or Tabernacle, but most of the time they don’t add any educational value to your class.
- Cute crafts reproducing an element of the story. This is on a case by case basis. Some can help children remember important things, while others are a waste of time. Ask yourself if the craft forces them to think more deeply about the lesson in some way or is so wonderful they will display it in their home for a time and in so doing they will remember an important point from the lesson or memorize a key scripture.
- “Fun” activities that do not add value to your lesson. This one is also on a case by case basis. The biggest clue one of these activities needs to be replaced is to describe it to a friend and then tell them the point of the activity. If they give you a puzzled look, absolutely change the activity. One of the examples I often share is a Bible lesson I saw once that involved giving children several minutes to run around popping balloons. The lesson they were supposed to get out of the activity? That is how God “pops” our sins!
Does it take a little extra time to substitute activities? Absolutely, but if we are as passionate as we say we are about keeping young people faithful to God, it is worth every minute (plus don’t forget, our website has several ideas for every Bible story you can use). On our website, just click the children’s Bible lessons tab and find the Bible story you are using. Click on that link and scroll down for activity ideas. www.teachonereachone.org