Teaching ideas 11 years and up

Choose one teaching idea from each section of the drop-down menu to build your own dynamic 5-part Bible lesson.

Introduce
  • Generate anticipation Share 3-5 true/false statements relating to themes or events that encourage discussion, e.g. statements about Mount Sinai, Moses and the cloud on the mountain in preparation for reading the 10 Commandments. 
  • Predict the outcome Pose a problem and ask students to predict a character’s response or to predict what may happen next, e.g. The Lord gave Moses the power to do miracles. Will Pharaoh be able to do them too?
  • Similar situation Have students think about a time they might have been in a situation similar to one that is in the story for the day, e.g. wanting something (Hannah wanting a child) or facing a difficult task (David and Goliath). Share their thoughts with a classmate or with the class.
  • Contrast charts If reading a story relating to friendship or promises, e.g. David and Jonathan stories, or Jepthah’s vow, set up a chart (e.g. Good friend/Bad friend, or Good promises/Bad promises) and invite students to brainstorm words that describe each kind of person or promise.
  • Key words Tell the children one key word in the story, e.g. ark, ephod, drought or leprosy. Brainstorm what the word means, and write down student responses to activate prior knowledge.
  • Show a picture Many pictures are available online. Make a picture more interesting by showing only part of it and having students guess what it might show. Slowly reveal more of the picture until all of it can be seen.
  • Visualize the setting Have students close their eyes and describe the setting, customs or events that they will hear about in the story.
Read
  • Props Gather props to show the children as the story progresses e.g. a staff, piece of clothing, pitcher, oil, etc. This can help bring understanding to the story. Choose whether to spark interest by sharing props ahead of time, or keep them hidden to retain interest later in the reading.
  • Book-in-hand theater (some preparation) Prepare a script by downloading the text from a site such as biblegateway.com and pasting into a document. Use colors or a variety of fonts to distinguish different characters in the story. Add character and narrator names. This process will probably take less than 15 minutes. Print a copy the script for each student. Introduce the story. Give a few basic staging directions e.g. where a house, stream or mountain might be. The children will read the story as a play and act it out as they go. If the children enjoy it, repeat the reading and change readers for different characters.
  • Jigsaw reading is a good method for reading long stories, e.g. Daniel. Divide the story into sections. Assign a section of the story to each group of students. Each group reads independently, and then groups get together as a class. Each group tells the class their part of the story.
  • Reading buddies Divide the class into groups of 2 or 3. Students take turns reading the verses in their small group. When everyone has finished reading, discuss the story with the entire class.
  • Silent reading Give students a reading question, e.g. who helps David? Each student reads the story silently, and then students discuss their answers.
  • Vantage points Assign each student a vantage point to focus on while reading the story e.g. the characters, what the Lord or His representative is telling people, problems and their causes, feelings of the people involved, etc.

 

Understand
  • Attribute web An attribute web depicts the qualities or attributes of a person. Develop a web by starting with a name in the center. Add to the chart as students identify the person's qualities. Extend the web further by listing examples from the story.  
  • Attribute chart Choose a character in a story and list his or her attributes. Provide evidence of the attributes from the Word.
  • Feeling chart Create a chart showing events that happen in a story and the feeling or response of various characters to the events. List 3-5 key events in a story on the left side of a chart, list the characters in the story across the top of the chart. Note the feeling or response of each character to each event.
  • Actions chart Note actions of characters toward each other e.g. David and Saul.
  • Venn diagram Compare 2 events, 2 characters, 2 stories, etc. Draw two overlapping stories. Note differences (in each circle) and similarities where the circles overlap.
  • Comparison Compare the main character in a story with another person in the story or another person in the Word e.g. Joshua and Jesus, Elisha and Jesus, good king and a bad king, etc.
  • Discuss the story using a pair-share, small group or whole class format. Lead a discussion to connect previously learned ideas that students could not connect on their own. Help students identify the most important part of the story; the lesson being taught; what it means in our own lives; different (better) decisions that could have been made by people in the story; consequences of poor decisions. 
  • Debate Discuss the story using a debate format.
  • Vantage point Class members or smaller groups in a class look at the story from a unique perspective. One person looks from the point of view of a person in the story; one searches for the Lord's message; one identifies problems; one illustrates the story; one looks at the geographical location or specializes in something else relevant to the story.
  • Draw a main character, a person with whom a student relates, a symbol in the story, or an important object in the story.
  • Design a picture or other form of art to illustrate a concept. It does not need to be completed during the class.
  • Map the land of Canaan. Repeat the activity until students are able to draw the land of Canaan from memory. Note coastline features; the placement and shape of the Sea of Galilee (heart) and Dead Sea (a pickle with a bite taken out of it).
  • Story map Use pictorial symbols to illustrate events in a story that take place at various locations.
  • Journey map Trace the journey of a main character e.g. David’s flight from Saul.
  • Large scale map Use rope (indoors) or chalk (outdoors) to outline a map of Canaan. Include main cities (optional: make standing signs) and walk the routes taken in the story. Use sturdy tape or paint to make a more permanent map in your Sunday School space. Use it again and again.
  • Sequencing Arrange pictures or story cards showing people or events in the order they appear in a story.
  • Use your setting Use the outdoors to measure out the Tabernacle of Israel, set up a tent or re-create the burning bush by tying colored fabric strips to a bush.
Respond
  • Story board Divide a piece of paper into 8 rectangles. Use one rectangle for each of the following: Story title and student name; main character; setting (time and place); situation; problem/antagonist; conflict; resolution; end—wrapping up loose ends.
  • Scramble Give students a printed list of key words that includes people and key events from a story. Have them cut the words apart, then rearrange them into groups that seem to make sense. Discuss.
  • Disclosure game Write a series of clues. Read them one at a time, having students raise their hands when they have identified which judge, prophet, king, etc. is being described. Keep giving clues until most hands are up.
  • Who am I? Put the name of a character on the back of each student and have them try to figure our who they are by asking questions that can be answered by saying “yes” or “no”.
  • Time line Make a mural illustrating major events on a time line e.g. inventions which enabled the spread of the Word, progression of kings, or events in the Word. Cut out or draw pictures of major events and place along time line.
  • Crossword puzzles and word searches Create your own using a website online. Enter keywords from the story. Make the activity simple or complex depending on the ages of the children.
Remember
  • Bible baseball Draw a baseball diamond. Players answer questions about the story. Players advance 1-4 bases depending on the difficulty of each question. Players are out if they answer incorrectly. Correct answers may bring teammates home. Each run is a point for the team.
  • Categories game Review a story or do a periodic review playing this game. Divide the class into 2 teams. Divide questions into 3 categories: Old Testament, New Testament, Writings for the New Church. Toss a coin to determine whether the question will be easy or hard (Easy = which part of the Word contains the books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? (New Testament) Hard = Name 4 books in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Keep score of correct answers. If students do not know the answers, tell them, so that they will know next time.
  • 20 questions Teacher thinks of a person from the Word, incident or book of the Word. Students are invited to ask 20 questions to see if they can discover the answer. Teacher gives yes/no answers.
  • Students make up questions Students write up a question about the story for other students to answer.
  • Adapt a commercial game Look for games that are fun for children, but which could lend themselves to Bible stories e.g. Pictionary. Students will illustrate stories or characters from the Word while others guess what they are drawing. Teams advance with correct guesses.