If you teach preschool or elementary Bible students, you are probably busy teaching them some of the basic Bible stories. Your activities are probably a lot of cute crafts that illustrate the story in some way. By focusing all of your efforts on the stories and cute crafts however, your students may be missing some important information they need to be taught.
The Bible is filled with words that sound easy, but actually aren’t. Often our children can use those words appropriately as answers to questions or in sentences. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they have any real working knowledge of what those words mean. Those who are taught a few meanings, are often taught other phrases as definitions that may be as confusing as the original word. (What’s a parable? An “earthly story with a heavenly meaning”.)
In addition, the Bible tells us about cultures that are very different from our own. Many young children have never even seen a camel or have any idea what an oil lamp is (or why running out of oil at a wedding would be a problem). Yet, they will nod their sweet little heads, answer the questions with the correct words or phrases and actually have no earthly idea what they have just said.
While those cute crafts are indeed adorable, they don’t necessarily help kids better understand important words or cultural elements in the Bible stories you are teaching them. The younger the child, the more likely they need extra help understanding these things.
Since young children are concrete thinkers, sometimes the best activities help them touch, taste, see, hear, smell and/or experience some of the elements of the Bible story. These concrete experiences will help them understand what you are trying to teach them.
Look at your Bible lesson. Would a child the age of your students know what those things are from practical experience? Remember, some things like oil lamps may have still been used by our grandparents during storms when lights went out, but most kids today have never even seen one.
If you aren’t sure, ask a child that age to describe or explain the words or items to you in their own words. If they can’t, then many others their age probably can’t either. An activity helping them experience or better understand it will help.
Taking the time to do activities that improve understanding may not result in quite as many cute crafts to send home, but they will help students better understand the things you want your students to know.