Use these 14 playful ideas to reinforce your lessons about the Word of God.
It’s been a long week, and Saturday night has you scrambling through your lesson plan. Quickly skimming through the lesson, you frown. Hmm… not a particularly interesting one this week. How could you pep it up a bit?
How about words? Big words, wacky words, foreign words, cheering words, staccato words? Use all kinds of words to drive home the big idea of your lesson. Let’s slip and slide through a multitude of words to arrive at our destination—meaningful and memorable learning.
1. Math Word
I once taught a lesson about Jonah. My central point was God’s readiness to forgive over and over again. Throughout the lesson, the class and I said, “God forgives us googol times.” A googol is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.
By the end of our class, the kids said, between giggles, “God forgives us…”
“Five times?” I’d ask.
“No! Googol times!”
The lesson was fun and memorable because the kids loved saying the word “googol.” They won’t soon forget how much God forgives them.
2. Science Words
To illustrate the way the Holy Spirit works in hearts, talk about xylem. Xylem is the part of a plant’s root system that moves materials upward from the roots to the leaves by way of the stems. Explain that just as xylem moves water through a plant, the Holy Spirit moves God’s Word through our lives. The Spirit moves God’s truth from our minds to our hearts so we can actually live out the truth. The Holy Spirit is the xylem in our lives.
To make your lesson even more memorable, bring in a white carnation in a vase. Add food coloring to the water. After several days, the dye will travel up the stem and into the carnation, thereby coloring it. The following Sunday, show children the changed carnation. Discuss how the xylem carried the dye just as the Holy Spirit carries God’s truth.
3. Make-Believe Words
Let your class get really creative. Perhaps your lesson is about the names of God. Have your class make a huge poster of their names for God. Encourage kids to combine words and thoughts based on their knowledge and experience of God. Some examples are heart-fixer-upper, happily-dappily-loveful, sunny-joy-rageous.
4. Foreign Words
Dust off your old Spanish book and give your main point in Español. Or if your first language is Spanish, try this with German! Teach your class the foreign words. For example, have kids say “Mi amigo Jesus” (my friend Jesus) whenever you say Jesus’ name during class. Have kids continually repeat the words with you as you go through the lesson.
5. Sign Language Words
Children love to learn and use sign language, so use it to reinforce and teach your lesson. Perhaps your lesson is on Christ’s healing of the deaf man. Check out a book about sign language from the library. Find out how to sign “Jesus is our healer.” Have kids periodically sign that sentence with you until they have it down. Challenge kids to sign this to their parents on the way home from church.
6. Theological Words
With one class of fourth-graders, I went through some of the doctrines of the Bible. Sound too deep? They loved it. They felt so smart knowing what Christology and angelology meant. Of course, we had to review the words frequently to help kids remember them.
7. Onomatopoeic Words
“What?” you ask. Onomatopoeias are words such as buzz and tinkle. They’re words that sound like the concepts they stand for. For instance, if your lesson is about Joshua and the battle of Jericho, your repetitive onomatopoeic teaching phrase could be “Boom! Boom! Boom! If God is for us, who can be against us?”
8. Alliterative Words
Use a phrase that contains the frequent usage of the same initial sound. If your lesson is on Satan, try the phrase, “When Satan slithers secretly, scram!”
9. Rhyming Words
Rhymes are a great memory technique. Just think of all the nursery rhymes you still remember. Rhymes are easy to create and help facilitate memory. If your lesson is on loneliness, repeat frequently as a class: “When you’re lonely or you’re blue, turn to God—see what he’ll do.”
You may be surprised to learn one day how that simple little phrase helped a child all through life. Or you may be surprised how the phrase comes back to you.
10. Word Pictures
Use word pictures to verbally illustrate a truth. For example, if you’re teaching a lesson about the importance of a clean thought life, choose 2 Corinthians 10:5 as your theme: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The word picture I’d use with this verse is a lasso. (It would be great to bring one in.) Explain how lassos are used to bring cows into captivity. Tell your kids to close their eyes and imagine a cowpoke lassoing a steer. Then have kids imagine what it’s like to lasso a bad thought. You may even want to have kids draw cartoons of themselves lassoing bad thoughts.
11. Commerical Jingles
Think of all the commercial jingles you know. Why do you remember them? The repetition and the song make them unforgettable. So transfer those principles to your class.
If your lesson is about experiencing and enjoying the Lord, your key verse could be Psalm 34:8: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” What jingle could you create with the famous Campbell’s Soup slogan?
Commercial ideas are endless. Just pay attention when you watch television. You’ll be amazed at the ideas you’ll get for teaching memorable lessons.
12. The Perfect Cheer
Make your key point into a cheer. Kids will absolutely love it. The key is to keep the cheer short with easy-to-remember motions. A cheer is a great wiggle tamer and teaching method. For a lesson about Moses parting the Red Sea, teach your kids this cheer:
Give me an M! (M!) Give me an O! (O!) Give me an S! (S!) Give me an E! (E!) Give me another S! (S!) What’s that spell? (Moses!)
Moses, Moses, standing at the sea! O-b-e-y-i-n-g! First come the signs! Then comes the chase! Then splits the Red Sea… Everybody race! Go-o-o-o, Moses!
13. Interactive Songs or Phrases
Reinforce your main point by using a song or phrase with parts. For instance, use an interactive song to the tune of “London Bridge.” You sing the first part, and kids sing the part in parentheses loudly.
Jesus Christ forgives my sin, (Forgives your sin, forgives our sin.) Jesus Christ forgives my sin. (He’s my Savior!)
Have fun teaching your lesson on the great forgiver of all time—Jesus Christ. Then sing this song often throughout the class. Help the kids learn both parts of the song. Enjoy using your creativity as you experiment with a variety of words.
14. Staccato Words
Also keep in mind that when using words, you have different ways of delivering them. Say some words short, or staccato, and others are drawn out. You can also vary the volume. These simple changes will keep your words interesting and just plain fun.
Lisa Cowman ministers to children in Norwalk, Ohio.
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