Bring the Bible to life and keep kids’ attention with these storytelling tips for the novice and the expert.
It can happen in almost any class. Kids are engaged in learning through hands-on experiences, and then it hits. The class forms a circle for story time and the mood sours. Active learning turns into glazed looks and restlessness. The teacher reads through the story in a flat monotone voice. And kids endure one more boring story from the Bible.
Christianity is a story-based faith. The stories of the Bible are crucial to our children’s growth, but we teachers often spend an abysmally short amount of time preparing to teach it. And it shows. If we want kids to grow, we must reform our Bible story preparation and delivery.
Read the story for yourself. What does it say to you? Do you find it interesting? What could it say to your children? What questions would they ask about it? How can you make it interesting to them? How can you help them understand what it’s saying?
Look for ways to connect with kids’ everyday experiences by emphasizing certain aspects of a story. A pastor once told the story of the prodigal son to an urban Bible club. He explained that the boy wasted all his money on things like video games and candy. Another teacher who told this story in a rural setting emphasized how the son ate pig food.
As you prepare to tell any Bible story, work on the elements of good storytelling-characters, point of view, conflict, involvement, and style and delivery.
Dust off the people in the Bible that you discuss in your story and make them real. One man described Goliath as someone more than 2 feet taller than Michael Jordan. He got everyone’s attention. When telling the story of Sarah and Isaac, a teacher dressed as Sarah and borrowed a 6-week-old for his acting debut as Isaac.
One adventurous teacher, let the 5-year-olds act out a series of Bible stories. They wore biblical garb and went outside where a teacher read the Scripture and the children acted it out. An unexpected line came from the 5-year-old Zacchaeus who had climbed a tree. When Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, you come down,” he replied, “I can’t. I’m stuck!”