Because we work with so many different churches and ministries at Teach One Reach One, it is easier for us to notice patterns in how our Bible classes are taught. Some are positive, while many could use some tweaking to be more impactful. One of the most common mistakes we see is making Bible classes for teens (and sometimes even older children) into college type lecture classes. Lectures aren’t even the best way to teach adults and they can greatly undermine the effectIveness of Bible classes for children and teens.
While you may not be willing to embrace Bible lessons containing activities to teach Christian life skills or providing students with opportunities for guided practice during your Bible class, there is something you can do to at least improve comprehension and retention of what you are teaching them.
A study found that physics students who were shown visual aids and/or given graphic organizers for the material scored 70% higher on the test than students who didn’t receive them. Granted physics almost requires visual aids to understand in my opinion. Even if you decide to greatly reduce the statistical benefit possible because it is a Bible class, however, the improvement would be significant enough to make adding visual aids and graphic organizers essential tools for Bible class teachers.
So what are the types of aids you could use in a Bible class to help students? Here are a few of our favorites.
- Maps. Maps can show where things happened in comparison to where students live, modern place names for places mentioned in the Bible, help students track the movements of various people and more.
- Replicas. History and social studies classes are almost nonexistent in some schools. Bringing in replicas of scrolls, clay lamps and more can improve student comprehension of unfamiliar items mentioned in the Bible.
- Photos. It is hard to find a replica of Baal to purchase – even on Amazon! However, there are museums that have actual idols and other items on display. Often there are photos of them on museum websites you can show your students.
- Sketches. Sketches of things like the Tabernacle and Temple can help students better understand and visualize how they may have looked.
- Time lines. A good time line can not only help students understand when things in the Bible occurred in relation to each other, but you can find them that also plug in well known moments in secular history. It can help students organize material in their brains for easier memory if they can attach it to information they have already memorized for a test at school.
- Charts. You can find charts online and in books which organize material from the Bible graphically. Most of these allow you to make copies for students for free if you have purchased the book.
As you plan Bible lessons for teens and older children, try adding visual aids. You may just be surprised at how much better your students understand and remember what you are teaching them.