Welcome back to another post in the Bringing the Bible to Life Series! If you want to catch up on some old posts, you can find them here:
In my the Cooking up a great Children’s Ministry lesson post, we talked a bit about the components of a great lesson. I gave a few examples of appetizers, main dishes, and side dishes along with a promise to cover each of these elements in a bit more detail. A few days ago, we took a closer look at appetizers. Today’s focus will be on savory side dishes.
Savory Side Dish Ideas
There’s nothing like a heaping pile of mashed potatoes or a delicious broccoli and cheese casserole. Of course, that’s not the kind of side we’re talking about here! (I bet I made you a little hungry though, huh?). The side dishes we’re featuring here are elements of the lesson that complement and enhance the main dish (the day’s Scripture passage).
The elements of a good side dish include:
- Complimenting the main dish by re-emphasizing the main point (or bottom line) for the day. A side dish should not, in any way, create a new main point. There should be no confusion as to what the lesson is about. Kids should be able to walk out of your class and instantly tell their parents about the “main point” of the lesson.
- Lots of butter (wait, I think I’m on the wrong type of side dish again!)
Here’s some side dishes to try:
- Build Something: Something amazing happens when kids rally together to complete a giant project. When we were learning about the days of creation in Children’s Church, the kids built a giant mural together as a class. We unrolled a 20 foot long piece of white paper (donated from a guy who works in a local factory), divided it into 7 sections and got to work. It was amazing to see all the kids lying on the paper, passing crayons back and forth, delegating jobs, and designing a beautiful piece of art. Likewise, I’ve heard some truly amazing stories about kids working together to build a replica of the Tabernacle. Check out the Jubilation Station from David C. Cook for some great curriculum geared towards this type of activity.
- Stick Puppets: I don’t know what it is about a Popsicle stick, but as soon as you slap one on a picture, it becomes 10 times more fun! Even if you use a simple Bible character figure you can really up the sticking power of a Bible story (check Pinterest for lots of great printable figures). You can also make masks out of paper plates that coordinate with the day’s story (like Lion’s from Daniel 6).
- Use a Prop: Grab something from your closet or shelves to help bring the story to life. For example, use a colorful bathrobe or coat to tell the story of Joseph or use a blow-up boat to tell the story of Jesus calming the storm. This method is great as a review tool as well. One curriculum we used suggested keeping a prop from each week in a pillowcase or sack. At the start of each week’s class time, the teacher would pull out 2-3 objects (one at a time) and ask students to remind him about the story that goes along with that prop. Kids loved helping to retell each story and this helped newcomers feel a sense of common ground as well. If you’re going to have the kids retell the story, keep their narrative to a minute or less (use a simple sand timer to keep track). Otherwise, the other kids will start to get distracted, unfocused, and restless (yikes!).
- Actions: Some kids learn better by moving, so why not throw some fun movement into story-time? One of my favorite resources for this sort of thing is the “Forget Me Not Bible Story Activities” book. Of course, you don’t need an extra book to do this — usually there’s some kind of action in the story – just read the passage ahead of time to find it. For example, in the account of the 10 Plagues (Exodus 7), you could have the kids jump like frogs, buzz like gnats or even cross their arms and say “NO!” like Pharaoh.
- Story Bible: Want to take it easy? Grab a story Bible and read the day’s lesson. Afterwards, encourage kids to make their own “Story Book Bible” complete with Scripture and pictures. There are some really great ones out now and the pictures and easy wording keeps kids engaged. Some of my favorites include:
- Story Book: Want to focus on just one story? Grab a story book the day’s Bible story. Golden Book has multiple titles to choose from, but there are new ones coming out every day, so look around.
- Puppet Show: Everything is more fun when you make a production out of it. Recently, I read about a family’s reenactment of the Ruth story and thought it was a great way to make the Bible come to life for kids.
- What’s Missing? When you get ready to tell the story, let your child know there will be a QUIZ GAME at the end. Be sure you mention the word GAME as this will automatically produce feelings of fun. 🙂 When you’re done with the story, start to tell it again, but pause at key events (or names) and have your child fill in the blank. Of course, adding candy to the mix might up the enthusiasm quotient.
- On Location: Everyone loves a field trip, right? Take your Bible story to a whole new level by telling the story “on location”. Are you learning about Zacchaeus in Luke 19? Gather around a tree and tell the story. As a bonus, you could have man sitting in the tree before the kids arrive.
- Engage the Senses: As you read through a Bible story, imagine what it would have been like to be there. What would you have heard? Seen? Perhaps tasted or smelled? Recreate those experiences for the kids! Learning about how Jesus fed the 5,000 in Matthew 14? Cook some ready-made rolls and fish sticks for dinner! Amanda from OhAmanda.com tells about making potpourri with her kids as they learned about Mary anointing Jesus’ feet.
Mostly, just have fun with the Bible. It is chock-full of fabulous stories, so the hard part is already done for you. Now you just have to build onto a great foundation! You can do it — stay in the Bible yourself and you’ll be surprised at all the opportunities you have to talk about this great book!