Creative Teaching Techniques
By Becki Geirtz
I. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words!!!
A. We live in a visual society
i. We are competing for the attention of a generation that constantly has complex visuals.
ii. People remember only a small percentage of what they hear. They will remember a greater percentage of what they see and hear. They will remember the most from things they experience.
iii. Our teaching should be communicated visually as well as through sound, and give opportunity for hands-on experience as often as possible.
iv. Make a commitment that whenever you communicate, you will use something visual to reinforce what you are communicating EVERY TIME you teach!
v. Have your games, crafts, and snack go along with your theme to reinforce your teaching.
B. Object Lessons: If you incorporate Object Lessons, it will enhance your lesson.
i. Using visuals will intensify your presentation.
1. Use objects whenever you can (i.e.: Chains or ropes when you talk about bondage; Water when you talk about baptism, etc.).
2. If you are teaching a lesson that has several points, have several objects.
ii. How to incorporate an object into your lesson:
1. Practicing using the object so you are comfortable with it.
2. Be sure that the use of the object is obvious. If it isn’t, be sure to explain the significance of the object.
C. Illustrated Stories: An excellent way to communicate your point.
i. Monologue: A story told by one person. This is a great time to use a puppet.
1. The character that is speaking can be a part of the story itself.
2. The character who is speaking can be an outsider, observing the story.
3. These are best when you are in a costume of some sort.
4. Practice thoroughly so you can tell the story with ease and can remain completely in character.
ii. Drama: A story acted out using more than one person or a full presentation. Use kids – they love to act! Costumes should be used whenever possible.
1. Role Play: Set up a situation and have members of your audience play out the drama impromptu. (There are great idea books out on this topic.)
2. Dramatic: Use this when you have time to practice and want to make a large impression.
3. Skits: You can use skits to draw a correlation to your topic. These do not have to be thoroughly rehearsed, bur each person should be familiar with his/her part.
iii. Drawing or Sketch of a Story: A story that is drawn as the story is being told. This is an excellent way to tell a dramatic story.
1. Find a story that makes a vivid point. It is best if the story is not too complicated so that you can tell it effectively and the audience is not burdened with too many details or characters.
2. If you cannot draw freehand and tell a story at the same time, draw (of have someone who is talented draw) a light sketch of the story on a large piece of poster board or paper. You want this to be almost invisible to your audience.
3. Rehearse the story completely. You cannot read the story & do this at the same time.
4. As you tell the story, use heavy marker or color and draw the lines of the story.
5. The audience will be completely engrossed in your story and will watch your picture evolve as they listen to the story.
6. Time the ending of your story with the finishing of the drawing. Be sure to draw the finishing touches or the part of the picture that coordinates with the main point last.
7. If the story is in black and white, you may want to add color to one object or main line at the very end to highlight your point.
iv. Audience Participation Stories
1. Pick a story that has lots of sound effects (i.e.: Noah and the ark).
2. Designate some people to be rain and some to be thunder. Whenever you say the word “rain”, they will make the sound like “shh”. Whenever you say the word “thunder”, they will clap their hands one time loudly.).
3. Rehearse the story so you can tell it with ease.
4. To avoid confusion, give complete instructions to the group before beginning.
5. Have a surprise ending! This will keep everyone intrigued and listening.
v. Make Up A Story. Don’t be afraid to make up a story to go along with your topic. Try to make it fit into “today’s world”.
vi. Resources For Illustrations
1. There are many books available that have Biblical illustrations.
2. Sources for stories:
a. Books by Paul Harvey – the rest of the story
b. Chicken Soup for the Soul books
c. Reader’s Digest
d. Children’s books that teach a simple, main point ~
i. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
ii. “I’ll Love You Forever”
iii. “The Bible Animal Storybook” by Mack Thomas
e. Keys for Kids by Children’s Bible Hour, Grand Rapids, MI
f. Joan ‘n’ The Whale and Other Stories You Never Heard in Sunday School by John Duckworth (This is great for teens and young adults!)
3. Keep a file of stories, illustrations, and reference books for use. File quotes, stories of historical events, and stories that reinforce values. You probably have received some great stories via e-mail. Keep copies, they come in handy!
II. Prepping For Success
A Read and pray over your lesson two or three weeks beforehand. If you teach every week, read the next lesson over on the Sunday before.
B Brainstorm! Brainstorm! Brainstorm!
i. On a sheet of paper write the main point (use a separate piece of paper for each point).
ii. Write anything and everything you think of about the main point, such as: personal stories of yourself of others, stories or poems from a book, a related thought, objects you could use, a picture from a magazine, newspaper, etc. EVERY THOUGHT IS VALID! Write it down, you never know how it could be useful!
iii. If you are not very creative or if you are having difficulty with the lesson, ask someone else to Brainstorm with you. You may use their idea or their idea may spark an idea(s).
C Prayerfully decide which Brainstorm idea will be most impactful for that particular lesson.
D Too much of anything is not good so you do not want to use the same type of visual all the time (i.e.: A drama every week). Be sure you are constantly mixing it up to always keep your class on their toes.
E Keep your visual balanced with your topic (i.e.: Don’t do a funny skit for a very serious lesson such as the Crucifixion).
F If you are using other people, get their part to them a couple weeks before if possible. Follow-up with them to be sure they are comfortable with what they will be doing and clearly communicate what will be happening before and after their part so there is no lag time in the lesson.
G Materials. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on materials, objects, costumes or supplies! Here’s a few ideas:
i. Always check clearance isles when in a store.
ii. Go to resale stores and garage sales.
iii. After Halloween is a great time to buy costumes and objects you can use in your lessons. They go on clearance. It’s also a great time to buy them in resale shops, etc. as they reduce them as well.
iv. Let family, friends, or your church body know what you’re looking for.
v. Ask stores to donate items. January is the best time to do this because most of them are allotted a certain amount that they can “donate”.
H Be Excited!!! If you’re not, they won’t be either!
I Give it your all!!! Anything worth doing is worth doing right. We have an awesome responsibility to not only teach our children Biblical truths, but to instill in them a love for the truth and the things of God!
J Challenge them! Each week challenge them. This could be something to do at home (pray each day, compliment 1 person each day, etc.) or it could be something to do at church (go to the altar, give their all in worship, pay attention to what is being preached and you’ll be asking questions about the service next week, etc.).
Brainstorming Ideas for Teaching
Creation Story: Go in the woods, or bring creation into the classroom (stuffed animals, plants, etc.)
The Fall of Man: This is a great opportunity to do a drawing or sketch in black & white. By the end have the page colored almost all black.
The Tower of Babel: Get several foreign language tapes from the library. Borrow tape players and play all the different languages at the same time to show the chaos and confusion.
Noah: Have a spray bottle as it begins to sprinkle, flash the lights for the storm (NOT for toddlers).
Jacob lies to his Father. This is a great Story to act out! Have animal fur for arms (or fake fur from the fabric store). Heat a can of stew.
Joseph: For toddlers make a smock for each child. My mother used to do this and let them take it home – – a lesson they will remember. You only need about 3′ x l’ per child with a hole cut out for the head. Wal-Mart is a great place to get clearance material, usually for $1 per yard.
Samuel: This is a great opportunity to have a child act it out impromptu. (A more
serious child would be better for this than the “star of the show” child).
Samson: Have the story or parts of the story acted out. Samson should have a longhair wig. For an impact ending, have fake blocks, large building blocks, or some type of quick construction stacked up on both sides like a column so he knocks it down. You could label the blocks with things such as “Pride”, “disobedience”, “lust”, etc. and as Samson demonstrates these things, the columns can begin to stack until they’re high and He’s trapped between them. Make sure whatever you use that it will knock down easily and make a loud noise!
Miracle of the Fishes and bread: For snack give each child a ~ tsp of tuna fish and a crumb of bread (as tiny as you can cut it). Ask them if they are full. Tell them this is the best we could break it down to share with all those people, but the Bible says all the people were full and there were baskets left over!
Miracles: Have someone come into your class and give their testimony of healing!
The Good Samaritan: Have the kids act it out. Let them bandage the person and help him!
Judas’ Betrayal: Make up a story about a child who had a very close friend – – they did everything together. One day their friend turned on him, told lies about him, and got him put in jail and killed! Ask them how that would make them feel. Then go into the story of Judas and Jesus.
The Crucifixion: For blood you can use red-colored Kool-aid mix and just enough water to make it as thick as blood (or buy fake blood). As you talk about pounding the nails in his hand, pound a nail into a piece of wood. Have a crown of thorns to pass around or a rose with thorns (cut the flower head off). Have a sword. Have a curtain to rip (make sure it will rip easily and make a loud noise) for the curtain that was rent in the Holy of Holies).
Story of Saul: This is a good opportunity to have someone give their personal testimony of salvation & how Jesus changed their life (especially someone who came from another denomination).
Paul and Silas: Have the kids make paper chains for craft. Have different things that kids struggle with on them (i.e.: lying, swearing, cheating, disobedience, anger, etc.). At the end of the lesson have them put their chains on and begin to sing (“Praise Him for the Victory” is a great one!) and let them break the chains as they begin to worship!
Job: Playa game using play or monopoly money. Make cards that say things like: God, Spouse, Children, Friends, house or farm, toys, health, computer, car, etc. Give each child one of each card and the same amount of money. When you teach the story of Job, whenever something bad happened to him, they will lose the same thing or something similar (i.e.: When he gets sick, they will lose their “health” card. When his livestock, etc. are lost they will lose their toys, computer, cars, etc.) The point is at the end they should only have 1 thing left – a card that says “GOD” or “JESUS”. Ask them how they felt about losing things. Ask them how they think they would feel it the cards and money were real. Discuss how that if we lose everything, God will always be there and if all we have is God we are richer than anyone who does not know God!
Fiery Furnace: Make a furnace out of a refrigerator box (or something similar). Cut out some small holes or vertical lines and cover them on the inside with red, yellow, and/or orange tissue paper (or colored transparency sheets or something similar that light can shine through). Put a lamp with a red light on the inside (if you can get a strobe light- that you can turn on a solid color – or something that will “flicker” it will give a stronger effect).
Esther: Don’t have a snack that day to represent the Jews fasting and praying for Esther (may be a good time to spend in prayer for Missions, Tupelo, the war, etc.)
Haul of Fish Miracle: Let the kids fish to see how difficult it really is – so they can see what a miracle Jesus performed. Here’s some ways you can do it:
1. If you have a lake, pond, etc. near by – give them an actual rod and let them try to fish.
2. Go to a dollar store and get some kind of fish and fishing poles (magnetic, hook, etc). Put the fish in water (the larger the container the better) and give them a short time to “catch all the fish”.
3. Get a tank or something and put real goldfish in them and give them a short amount of time to try and catch them with nets or little mesh “strainers” (you can get these from the dollar store).
Lepers: Get a fake hand and have it fall off. Fix a shirt so your hand cannot be seen (off-set your shoulders to compensate so your arms will be the same length) and when Jesus speaks to the one leper and he is made whole – have his hand appear.
Prodigal Son: Make some “Pig Slop” for snack (Mix corn husks or baby com, tuna fish, and anything else that will stink a little (not too overpowering though – you don’t want to make anyone lose their breakfast!) with some Jell-O – have it prepared in a bucket or piece of gutter or something. Ask who wants snack (hopefully they will all say no once they see it). Ask them “Why Not??” Ask them how many days of not eating do you think it would take before you would be hungry enough to eat this slop? Well, in our story today someone was faced with that decision….. (Go into the lesson).
Stephen being stoned: Use wadded up pieces of newspaper (about l/2 pg-1 pg) for stones – have the kids “stone” Stephen.
This article “Creative Teaching Techniques” by Becki Geirtz is excerpted from the Children’s Ministry Conference 2008.