Sat. Jun 12th, 2021

How do you teach effectively?
By Eleanor Daniel

We learn by doing! Such is the underlying philosophy of 4-H, scouts, and a host of other groups so, why not in the church, too? Children and youth of all ages are active by nature. They run rather than walk. They wiggle. They giggle and squirm. They are bundles of energy, waiting to be challenged by a creative teacher. Children and youth of all ages also learn far more effectively if they are actively involved in the learning process. But how can you actively involve them? These pages will share a variety of ideas gleaned from other teachers across the country. There are dozens of ways to involve pupils in the learning process. Sunday school is an especially good time to try some new things you haven’t used before.

Learning centers
Pre-schoolers learn by touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, and hearing. Learning centers provide experiences and help them to learn. At the learning center a teacher talks informally to each child, teaching through guided conversation. Several learning centers are suggested, but if your room isn’t large enough, choose one or two centers to use. Then change centers from time to time.

Worship center
A worship center can help create a quiet atmosphere for worship. Place an open bible on a low table. Add an offering container, flowers, and a stand-up picture of a child worshiping. Make this the focal point of the worship time.

Wonder center
Use a low table or a windowsill to display some of the wonders of nature. Such objects as shells, stones, acorns, leaves, etc., may be brought for display. Other objects may be displayed as they correlate with the lesson theme for the day.

Active play center
An active play center requires more room than any of the others. It should be supplied with building blocks; toys with wheels, such as tractors, trucks, etc.; and a blanket for making a tent. Be sure to provide adequate adult supervision. Building blocks need not be large, heavy purchased ones. Many can be made from empty milk cartons. For each block use two cartons. Cut the top from each. Slip one over the other. These may then be painted with a non-toxic spray paint or covered with colorful self-adhesive paper. You may place something like rocks or bells inside the blocks, if you wish. These blocks will last quite well, but can also be replaced easily.

Quiet play center
Activities in the quiet play center may include looking at books, putting puzzles together, looking at pictures, playing with play-doh, coloring, and cutting out objects with scissors. Puzzles should contain only a few pieces. Make some of your own with pressed board or plywood. Put out only those puzzles which relate to the lesson theme for the day. Each item used in this center should have a special place to be kept. The children should be taught to put away each object in its proper place at cleanup time.

Housekeeping center
Provide objects that enable the children to pretend they are keeping house. Listen to the conversations and concepts revealed by the children. Guide conversation to accomplish bible truths. Some supplies needed for this center are dolls, clothes, dishes, rocking chairs, stove, sink, broom, dustpan, and telephone. Boxes painted to look like pieces of furniture may be used if child-size furniture is not available.

“Show and tell” center
Encourage children to share something from home when appropriate. A note sent home as a reminder will involve parents also. Guide the conversation to meet the lesson aim.

Music center
Children love music. Equip one center with a record player and records (or a tape recorder and cassettes) which the children may listen to. Include only music related to the day’s theme. This would be a good place to teach children new songs.

Art center
Children also love to draw. You may want to include an art center where the children may draw pictures to express the bible truth. Paper, crayons, finger paints, and easel paints may be included.

Storage center
One church had the custodian build two end standards three feet high, with a three-quarter inch hole through the top of each. Through the holes ran a slender pipe five feet long, the ends capped with rubber crutch tips. On the rack were hung shopping bags, one for each child and extras for visitors. Each child’s name was on his bag. Handwork and take-home items go into the bags. After Sunday school, when parents come to get the children, it is easy for everyone to “get everything” without any mix up. Learning centers can be a real asset in teaching pre-schoolers if they are well planned. The key is to make sure that every center helps to accomplish the lesson aim for the day.

Dramatization
Every teacher wants to educate and hold the interest of his pupils. An ideal learning situation allows the pupil’s imagination to work as a part of the learning process. Story play is a good way to help reinforce the meaning of a bible story for pre-schoolers, primaries, and middlers. The teacher may tell the story while the children pantomime it. Improvise props. Add sound effects. Use costumes. The puzzles should contain only a few pieces. Make some of your own with pressed board or plywood. Put out only those puzzles which relate to the lesson theme for the day. Each item used in this center should have a special place to be kept. The children should be taught to put away each object in its proper place at cleanup time.

Housekeeping center
Provide objects that enable the children to pretend they are keeping house. Listen to the conversations and concepts revealed by the children. Guide conversation to accomplish bible truths. Some supplies needed for this center are dolls, clothes, dishes, rocking chairs, stove, sink, broom, dustpan, and telephone. Boxes painted to look like pieces of furniture may be used if child-size furniture is not available.

“Show and tell” center
Encourage children to share something from home when appropriate. A note sent home as a reminder will involve parents also. Guide the conversation to meet the lesson aim.

Music center
Children love music. Equip one center with a record player and records (or a tape recorder and cassettes) which the children may listen to. Include only music related to the day’s theme. This would be a good place to teach children new songs.

Art center
Children also love to draw. You may want to include an art center where the children may draw pictures to express the bible truth. Paper, crayons, finger paints, and easel paints may be included.

Storage center
One church had the custodian build two end standards three feet high, with a three-quarter inch hole through the top of each. Through the holes ran a slender pipe five feet long, the ends capped with rubber crutch tips. On the rack were hung shopping bags, one for each child and extras for visitors. Each child’s name was on his bag. Handwork and take-home items go into the bags. After Sunday school, when parents come to get the children, it is easy for everyone to “get everything” without any mix up. Learning centers can be a real asset in teaching pre-schoolers if they are well planned. The key is to make sure that every center helps to accomplish the lesson aim for the day.

Dramatization
Every teacher wants to educate and hold the interest of his pupils. An ideal learning situation allows the pupil’s imagination to work as a part of the learning process. Story play is a good way to help reinforce the meaning of a bible story for pre-schoolers, primaries, and middlers. The teacher may tell the story while the children pantomime it. Improvise props. Add sound effects. Use costumes. The story play should then be followed by discussion of the meaning of the story, how the characters felt, etc. Juniors and younger teens also enjoy dramatization. They too may portray Bible stories. However, let them plan their own props, sound effects, costumes, and dialogue. They can handle it well.
Another type of dramatization is the role play. This is especially applicable to juniors and older youth and is usually used to make an application of the Bible truth. Typically, a problem will be presented by the teacher (many of these are included in your lesson materials). Then characters will be assigned to carry out the drama. The characters will be permitted a couple of minutes to plan how they will present the situation. After the presentation, the class discusses the solution presented to the problem. It is quite possible to go back and do the role play over again if that will more strongly impress the central truth upon the pupils.

Puppets
Puppets are excellent assistant teachers. Create a puppet with personality. It may be an animal or a worm or a funny person. But make him and name him.
Puppets can be used to tell the Bible story for the day. Then children can manipulate the puppets themselves to retell the story.
Puppets can also be used to apply the story. Mock situations can be set up with either animal or people puppets. The children can use the puppets to present the solution to the problem.
Puppets may be made quite inexpensively from a variety of materials. Paper Mache’ puppets are especially useful. To make them:
1. Take sixteen pages of newspaper and tear them into strips about an inch wide. Soak the strips in a pan of water at least one-half hour (overnight is better).
2. Add enough cold water to one cup of starch to make a smooth paste. Then add two quarts of briskly boiling water, stirring constantly. Set the paste aside to cool.
3. Tear the wet paper into tiny bits. Drain off the water and squeeze out all you can. Put about a teacup of paste in a separate container to use later. Mix the remainder of the paste with the paper until you have a big ball of dough.
4. Cut a 3” x 4” rectangle of lightweight cardboard (the type used in cereal boxes). Roll the cardboard into a three-inch-long tube large enough to admit one finger easily. Fasten the tube together with cellophane tape. Cover one end of the tube with paper to keep the paper Mache’ from filling it.
5. Use the paper Mache’ to form a head around the tube. After the head is formed, place it in a 150-degree oven for three or four hours to dry.
6. When the head is dry, take small strips of wet paper towel, using some of the left-over paste, and cover the head with the strips until it is smooth and has the shape you desire. Make a ridge around the neck of the puppet so its clothing will stay on.
7. Let the head dry again. Then paint the head and features with water colors or tempera paints.
8. Make clothing for the puppets.
You may also use puppets for older children. Let them write the script and present the Bible story to the rest of their classmates, juniors will enjoy this.

Poetry
Children primary age and older enjoy writing poetry. Let them express the biblical truth in poetic forms from time to time. They can write simple poems or write new words for a familiar hymn. They will have to use their bibles as they work so they will learn, but learning will be fun.

Games
Children love games. Games teach the biblical material quickly and enjoyably. You can make up many of your own games such as bible baseball, bible football, bible tennis, bible soccer, bible basketball, bible beanbag toss, bible spinner games of all kinds, bible password, and bible concentration. Sometimes you can take an old favorite game known by the children and give it a different emphasis in order to get across a bible truth. Be alert for game ideas everywhere. You will enjoy teaching through games—and the children will enjoy learning.

Bulletin boards
Bulletin boards teach too! Plan to use your bulletin board as more than a decoration. Use it to get across the lesson/unit aims. You don’t always have to prepare the bulletin board yourself. Let the pupils do it. This involves them from the very beginning in the biblical teaching for the day.

Inductive bible study
Inductive bible study is allowing pupils to dig into god’s word for themselves—not only for facts, but for analysis and application. Try this exciting learning experience with juniors and older youth. It works this way:

Phase one
Consider the scripture passage in its biblical setting, read it as it appears in the language of the bible. Keep in mind its context and its relationship to the verses around it. Try to get a mental impression of the meaning intended by the writer. Summarize the factual data.

Phase two
This part answers the question, “what does it mean?” The student (or pairs of students) will write a paraphrase of the passage. Caution the pupils against the use of words that might seem to cheapen the divine message. Still, encourage them to say it in a way that would be understood by those of their own age.
Students may compare their findings and choose the best one. They may decide to make use of words and phrases from a number of student “versions” rather than the exact wording of a single interpretation.

Phase three
Give each student a sheet of paper. Ask each one to consider the passage of scripture and to respond to this question: “if I took this passage seriously, what would I do?” A written response will be made by each student. Have responses read in class.

Circle response
Circle response is a perfect way to involve everyone in a class. Ask for an answer or an opinion. Let each pupil respond in turn. He should respond only to the question. Students should not talk to each other during the response, and no one should speak twice before everyone has spoken at least once. After that, open the discussion for general participation if you wish.

Questions in capsules
Present questions in an interesting manner. Get some empty medicine capsules from your druggist. Formulate some questions that will encourage thought among your students. (No fact questions, please!) One such question might be, “do you think the apostle Paul ever felt like copping out? Check 2 Corinthians 10:24-28.” Write the questions on narrow strips of paper. Roll each strip and insert it in a capsule. Tape the capsules under the chairs. Those who have questions under their chairs may serve as team leaders for buzz groups on the questions. Allow time for the groups to discuss and formulate their answer. Then they will present their answers to the entire class for further discussion.

Bible encounter
Divide the class into groups of three or four. For a selected bible section, each group answers these questions:
Who is the author?
What is the author saying?
Why did the author put his story into the bible?
Whom did the author expect to be reading this?
How does the author feel about what he is writing?
What did this passage mean to the people for whom it was written?
What does this passage mean to us today?
Resources like bible handbooks, dictionaries, and explanations should be pro vided. Groups may report orally or in writing.

Brainstorming
Small groups of three or four are formed with one student in each group acting as recorder. The leader poses a problem related to a bible section. “Why did Judas betray Jesus?” “If Jesus were on earth physically, where would he be and what would he be doing now?” Students throw out as many possibilities as they can.
After a time limit, the leader suggests summarizing: as a group, select and report your three most unusual ideas. Or, group your ideas into categories and report what categories you formed. Or, report the ideas your group thinks best.

Guided study
Select the bible passage for the day. Then devise a set of questions—both factual and thought-provoking——for the pupils to use as a guide in studying the passage. Allow time in class for the pupils to work individually or in groups of two or three to find the answers to the questions. After each group is finished, work through the answers in a group discussion.

Artwork
Let the pupils read the bible passage for the day and then depict it in an art form: a mural, frieze, montage, or mobile. This will force them to think for themselves. Each of these forms is suitable for application sections of the lesson as well.

Case studies
Develop a contemporary-problem situation which has several alternatives for action. The situation allows opportunity to apply the biblical teaching for the day. Have pupils decide what they would do. They may work individually or in groups. They may present their solutions verbally, in drama, or through art.
There are hundreds of activities available to teach each age group. The point is that teaching should never be boring to the teacher nor to the learner—not when learning can be so much fun.

Not every teacher is equally effective in using every kind of activity. Some use art well; others prefer discussion techniques. That is when team teaching may be an answer to your needs. It will allow you to utilize the strengths of all of your teachers.

Team teaching occurs when teachers combine their abilities and training in a cooperative effort to provide the best possible learning situation for their pupils. Teachers may take turns presenting the basic biblical information, with each teacher then choosing activities in which he is interested and competent to use to teach the pupils.

For example, one church set this up with a primary department. They needed to take care of pre-session activities for each session plus worship, bible presentation, and crafts. In this case, the teachers rotated pre-session, worship, and bible presentation responsibilities, with each teacher having an activity group of some kind for each session.

Team teaching results in new enthusiasm among the teachers who are able to either do the things they do best or to do new things for each unit of study. Pupils enjoy it, for they have greater variety in learning and come in contact with more people who help them to grow spiritually. It allows for greater opportunity to try many of the activities mentioned, for more people, with a greater variety of abilities, are sharing in the teaching task.

Plan now to inspire your teachers for exciting learning. Plan now to train them to involve their pupils in the learning process. Make teaching exciting in your Sunday school.

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