We don’t usually think about food when planning a Bible class for kids or teens. It may seem unnecessary or problematic to add food to a Bible lesson…especially with all of the food preferences and allergies in the diets of many today.
Yet food can add something to a lesson that other activities and experiences may lack. It can make other lessons and activities more meaningful. In fact, there are five excellent reasons to consider adding food to some of your Bible lessons.
- Improve memory. Taste and smell are two of the senses usually associated with food. By adding the appropriate foods to your Bible lesson, you are asking students to use two more senses to process it. In general, the more of the five senses you can involve in learning, the better the lesson will be remembered.
- Cultural understanding. If you are teaching a Bible lesson that involves a fig tree, the only experience your Bible students may have had with a fig tree or a fig is a cookie. Bringing in photos of fig trees and dried figs to eat, not only helps them process the lesson, but also aids in better understanding the diet of some of the people in the Bible.
- Empathy. We don’t know exactly what manna is, but the description allows us to make a small wafer cookie that has similar flavors. Having students sample them, then consider that as the only food on their plate for every meal for forty years…..and suddenly, the Israelites complaining about not having meat makes a lot more sense. Students can empathize and realize they too might be complaining like the Israelites…instead of thinking they would never insult God like that.
- Blood sugar. Many students rich and poor come to Bible class hungry. Either they didn’t eat breakfast, can’t afford breakfast, or it’s so close to lunch, they are starving. Whatever the cause, low blood sugar can make students lethargic or cause them to focus on their grumbling stomachs or the clock more than your lesson. Bringing in a healthy snack, can raise blood sugar levels, keep them more stable and with small portions…not ruin their next meal.
- Service. One of the commands to serve others in the Bible that is repeated frequently is feeding the poor. Whether your students work together to cook, grow or collect food for those in food insecurity, they are learning practical ways to fulfill those commands.
Remember, before using food in your Bible class, check with parents for food allergies. Keep the ingredient list from the packaging or bring the recipe you used with you. Try to avoid ingredients like nuts which have a high incidence of allergies in children. Keep portions small, unless your Bible students experience food insecurity at home. Stay away from refined snacks like candy as much as possible, as they can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes and annoy parents.
Using food in a Bible class takes extra time and effort. The added benefits, however, can make it more than worth the trouble. You may not want to do it every week, but try to add it to your Bible lessons at least periodically to enhance your curriculum.