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Inspiring Ahhh!

Jennifer Hooks


Textures and textural sensations are often overlooked as one of the best ways to grab kids' attention and get them thinking. Imagine what preteens would learn about the clothes Jesus and his disciples wore when challenged to make their own clothing using muslin scraps, thread, and sewing needles. Kids could try to fashion their own sandals using leather and leather laces.

Kids' experiences in your classroom are influenced by what they touch. If you only have them touch a desk top, pencil, and paper, you're missing out on a great opportunity. Leave kids with a powerful impression when they hold nails like those that may've held Jesus to the cross, or a rope like the one that Joseph may've used to lead the donkey Mary rode on.

Textures can be more than just props -- you can incorporate them completely into your lessons.

• Feelings -- Blindfold kids and recount a biblical event using only textures.

• Special Because -- Challenge kids to find or bring items that have personal meaning.

• Hot or Not -- Use temperature control, fans, humidifiers, and more to create an environment similar to the one you're studying so kids can feel on their skin what you're talking about.

• Without -- Invite kids to remove their shoes for one class to imagine what it might feel like to be poor or transient.


Sounds, much like smells, instantly grab kids' interest and attention. Whether you want to spark enthusiasm, get kids moving, or create a somber mood, sound can help create an experience that fills kids with awe.

One of my most memorable classroom experiences was centered around the anxiety we felt due to a sound. Our preteen class crawled into a black "cave" (a black tarp thrown over chairs in a darkened room) to imagine what it might've been like to be Daniel in the lion's den. In the darkness, our teacher retold the story in hushed tones and then said, "Imagine what it would be like to sit in the dungeon, waiting for the lions to eat you, all alone as the seconds tick by. Let's imagine it." Then we heard the sounds of a timer -- tick, tick, tick, tick. We sat in silence, easily able to imagine how it would've felt and what we would've done. It changed our perspective.

Give your classroom experiences the wow factor by capitalizing on the power of sound.

• Get Moody -- Use music to involve kids in the lesson. Play snippets of a variety of songs to introduce different moods.

• Play Along -- Let kids become part of the atmosphere -- by using their voices to sing, provide sound effects, and enhance lessons.

• Shhh -- Silence is powerful, too. It can incite kids' curiosity and establish authority.

• Snap Along -- Musical instruments can be elaborate or simple. Kids snapping their fingers or tapping on the table with a pencil is as effective as a mini-ensemble and just as fun.

Jennifer Hooks is managing editor for Children's Ministry Magazine.


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