I'm getting this out a little bit early this week, since I'll be travelling over the weekend. Hope you enjoy it!
I don't know about you, but I am always looking for creative ways to tell a story in Children's Ministry! After many years of experience, we all have our favorites...not so favorites...and the kid's favorites to share. LOL
Storytelling's purpose in our sessions is extremely important! Let's face it, that's usually the best way to teach the main point of the day - with a Bible Story, a personal experience, or even just a made up story that the kids can relate to.
So how do we do it in such a way that we don't bore our kids to death?!
I've decided to share some of the ideas we have found that hold the children's interest, and help to get our point across. Let's go! :D
1. DRAMA Kids LOVE drama! Actually...adults do too! When there are characters dressed up on the stage, acting out the story, it's really difficult to lose their attention. So what happens when you can't find enough staff or volunteers? Here are some options: a. Teens that like drama - no need to word-for-word memorize! Let them hold a clip board and script. Just be sure they are familiar with the story, so they don't have to read it completely.
b. Monologues - if you have a volunteer that is very expressive, let them tell the Bible Story from a "first person" perspective. Make sure they have an appropriate costume! This makes it much more believable.
c. Older Children - if the story is simple enough, you could print out the script and have your older children in your class act out the story.
2. GROUP PARTICIPATION
I have found that getting the most unruly child involved in telling the story, will keep their attention and make it a great experience for them.
Gather a few costumes and props, and as you tell the story, dress up your characters chosen from the class, and move them around on the stage to visualize the story.
If there are small specific lines that could be spoken, write them on cue cards, and hand out to your child volunteers.
We have a puppet stage always set up in our Children's Church area. Sometimes, we will simply take the Bible Story/lesson, and have a puppet tell it, instead of the teacher.
Another option for puppets, is to have a puppet interact with the teacher, as she/he is teaching the story. Ad lib can be very humorous...or an awful mistake! So be sure that you have a direction you are heading, to keep the lesson on track.
4. OUTSIDE VOLUNTEER
Sometimes, the story/lesson doesn't really need a bunch of drama or puppets, etc. but you may want to ask a "special speaker" to come and share the story with your children. This could be a young minister, young adult, Pastor's Wife, elderly saint...whomever you feel could get the story across to the children, while holding their attention. Don't feel you have to stick with your current staff!
5. GROUP "ACTIONS"
Split your children into groups, and have them do specific actions along with the story. Example: For any stories with a storm, you can assign a group to be the rain, thunder, wind, etc. Example 2: For animal stories, assign groups to be the animal sounds on cue. Just be sure to practice their cues before beginning, and also show them what sign means to be quiet. :D
6. GROUP MOVEMENT
Sometimes, when I have a particularly antsy group, I like to add movements to the story. This can be as simple as waving arms for trees, walking in place with the multitudes, rocking on a boat, etc.
On the other hand, sometimes the story just doesn't have much for movements that can be added, so I make up my own! LOL If I am teaching on repentance, I may say that everytime I say the word "repent", the children need to move one seat to the left. Of course, sitting in a circle works best for this. You could also use the word "Jesus" to stand and "love" to sit down. Be creative!
7. CRAFT / SNACK
If there is a fun craft that you can make to represent the story, it can be nice to give them each step to accomplish, as you tell the story. Of course, this depends on the age group you have, and how many staff you have to help the process! But keeping their hands busy while listening, can really help some of your children.
Building a snack is always really fun! Design a snack that depicts the story, and have them "build" it as you talk. I know I've used this example in past blogs, but we have used The Road to Emmaus to do this. ie: graham crackers for the road, icing for the pathway, crushed oreos for the loose dirt, gummy bears for the people. Once the story is done, they can enjoy their snack!
If you are good at drawing, or even if you aren't...(that's me! LOL)...drawing on a white board, while teaching will keep their attention. Just plan ahead for what you are aiming. You can learn a "trick" drawing that is actually drawn upside down as you talk, keeping them guessing. Then flip it upright at the end, and listen to them ooooh and aaahhh! But if this is too in depth for you, you can draw a simple stick figure drawing, but only draw one line at a time. The kids will keep watching to see what you are doing, even though you are taking a long time to do it! :D
9. OBJECT LESSONS / SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS
Sometimes, if you are using a curriculum, it will suggest an object lesson. But if not, there is a wealth of ideas online. Once you start learning to use them (if you haven't already), you will find that you can start coming up with ideas on your own! Try to look at every item you see as an object to teach a lesson. I know someone that likes to collect McDonald's Happy Meal toys, because they use them for object lessons. Think outside the box!
10. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
For this, I mean personal stories. Use your own stories to share and teach the children the theme for the day. When your stories are personal, you will find that you can really get "into" the story telling. When the teacher has tears in his/her eyes, and really feels the story, the children can tell! And that will attract their attention, and keep them focused on what you have to say. Bring objects to support your story, and the children will relate to that. Simply holding an item and moving it around in your hand...you'd be surprised how much that will help your kids stay focused!
Here's an example of a story I told my children a few months ago...in short form.
My theme was "Choose Joy!"
First I gathered some items: a small suitcase, hair spray, sheet music, Bible, a jacket, my black formal, floor-length gown, and my violin, etc.
(This is paraphrased for length of this blog.)
"As you kids know, I have been playing violin since I was 4 years old. That's a LOOOONG time! When I was 13, I was finally old enough to audition for the GA All-State Orchestra. I had waited so very long!!!! I practiced for hours and hours...in fact, my teacher required me to practice two hours every single day! :-O The day had finally arrived, when I would audition at the district level. They led me into a room where a few people sat at a table with pens and paper. I played the required sections, and was led out to the main hall. A few days later, I found out that I had passed! I was so excited! Buuuuut....that meant I had to now audition at the State level. Yikes! The practicing began again....hours upon hours I practiced...finally the day arrived. This time around was a little bit different. They led me into a room where there was a music stand...and....a black curtain! I could hear pencils and whispering behind the curtain, as I played the selected sections. Whew! Talk about scary! Once again, I was led back out to the main hall...and a few days later....I got THE CALL! I had made it into the orchestra! And not "just made it"...I had made the 3rd seat in the violin section! This was huge, because I was one of the youngest violinists in the Junior Orchestra.
I was so excited! That's all I could think about! I practiced and practiced some more. Pretty soon we would be headed to Savannah for a few days of rehearsals. THEN, we would have a final performance. WOW! This was exciting!
(Here I opened the suitcase and discussed what I may have to pack.) ....and lastly...in order to perform at the final concert, I had to have a floor length, black formal gown! I chose a pattern, and sewed my own! (Here I pulled out my actual gown...that is now over 30 years old. LOL) Held it up and let them oooh and ahhhh over the gown.
Well, I got my dress finished, I had practiced everything I could practice, packed my bags....and then it was only one day away. I was so excited!!!!!
Then.....the phone rang. In Wisconsin, I had a 4-year-old cousin that had surgery that day. It was a scheduled surgery and everything had gone well.....until now. Because of a mistake with the anesthesia, my cousin was brain dead....and she died that day.
Wow! We were all in shock! I just couldn't believe what had happened...I mean... we never imagined it to be so!
Then, reality hit. Now, we were needed in Wisconsin, and we were supposed to be leaving for Savannah the next day!!!! Surely, I wouldn't have to go to WI. Surely, I could take my planned trip...I mean...I had been working towards this all year!
AND to top things off, if you have been selected to be in the orchestra, but end up not going, you are disqualified to participate the following year!
Would this truly ruin 2 years of my GA All-State Orchestra participation?!
Here's where the Lord had to speak to me. You see, I could choose to pout and be mad and selfish (because after all, I deserved to go!), or I could CHOOSE JOY, and be ready to comfort my remaining cousins in the loss of their little sister.
Needless to say, I had to choose what was greater! I had to choose to be joyful, even in this situation...even though it wasn't fair...even though it was hurtful...AND even though I may not get to play in the orchestra next year either!
But....because I CHOSE JOY! Jesus stepped in! After explaining the situation to the leaders of the GA All-State Orchestra, I was allowed to participate the following year. He blessed me, for choosing what is better!
So, I packed away my new gown, and sent my orchestra music back...but even though I was sad, I chose to have a good attitude, and minister to my hurting family, instead.
What are you going through that is really hard? Is there something in your life that isn't fair, and you want to pout and complain? Why not CHOOSE JOY, and see what Jesus will do!
OK, that was a little bit longer than planned...LOL...but hopefully, this will get your creative juices flowing, so you can use YOUR OWN stories, to relate to your children, and teach them the lessons of life.
I hope this has been helpful to you today, as you prepare to minister to your children again soon. Try choosing a new way to teach your lesson...and then come back, and tell me how it went! I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sara Vojtasek & Joel's Vision Ministries