Sunday school is a great rostrum to teach children the 'Word of God'. Children have a teachable spirit and readily absorb the information presented before them. In fact, when I once went to teach some children, I was taken aback by their eagerness to learn more about Jesus Christ and other Biblical stories. However, I also realized conducting Bible study lessons for children is not child's play. It involves a lot of prior preparation on the part of the teacher. Being a Sunday school teacher is a calling, and requires commitment and one has to realize the responsibility behind this title. Sunday school teachers act as links between God and His beloved tiny tots. It is the role of the teacher to present God's word in the simplest and most comprehensible manner possible.
Bible Lessons for Kids
Bible study lessons for kids can be categorized in various ways. One can have lessons from the Old and New Testaments, or lessons on Jesus Christ's miracles and parables, or exclusive lessons on the women in the Bible, etc. One could set up a timetable, wherein all four Sundays of the month can be allotted to each of these four categories. For the fifth Sundays in the year, one can plan surprise activities or quiz competitions for a change. The routine will help children analyze the Bible and its content. They will know on which Sunday what to expect, and will be mentally prepared for a lesson on Old or New Testaments, etc. However, this is not a hard and fast rule and is just a suggestion. Depending on the age of the class, one can mold the lessons for the children. Bible study lessons should be blended with games, craft activities, songs, role-plays, etc. in order to help kids imbibe the lesson. Incorporating games in Sunday school activities is always a good idea.
Lessons from the Old Testament
The Old Testament comprises several wonderful accounts highlighting God's everlasting love, faithfulness, grace, mercy, as well as His wrath and punishment. The number of such accounts is numerous and it is impossible to give the entire lesson plan here. However, below are some examples of stories that can be taken up in class.
The story of creation is a great way to start off with. Narrate the creation story of how God created nature, animals, birds and man in 6 days, and then created Eve. After the narration, have the kids prepare a collage of their perspective on the creation story. Provide the kids with large sheets of construction paper and lots of newspapers. Ask them to tear pictures with their fingers and glue them to the construction paper.
Narrate Noah's story and tell children how Noah and his family were saved by God because of his faithfulness. Bring out the point where Noah is jeered at by his friends, while building the ark. Ask the children, if they will remain faithful to God, even when their friends ridicule them. Ask them what they would do if they were in Noah's shoes and how would they face the ridicule of their mates?
Abraham's story is another fascinating Bible account. From this story, one can bring out how God is faithful to His promises, and though our prayers seem like they aren't being answered; do not get discouraged. God's answer is on the way! Older kids can be told the story of Abraham and Lot as well.
From Joseph's story, one can bring out how young Joseph was ill-treated by his brothers and sold to slaves, and how God brings good out of Joseph's hardships. Forgiveness can also be brought out, when Joseph forgives his brothers who mistreated him. Here an activity can be included, wherein the children can be provided with coat cutouts and various pieces of colored fabric. They can paste assorted bits of fabric to make their own Joseph's coat.
Moses is an amazing character and my favorite hero from the Old Testament. There is always something new to learn from his story. Highlight how Moses was afraid of public speaking and leading, and how God chose him to do great things for Him. Explain to the kids how it does not matter, if we cannot do something. It is God who gave Moses the courage and leadership quality to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and the same God will use us no matter how shy or incapable we are, to do great things for Him. Ask each child to mention something they are intimidated of. Then ask them to repeat Philippians 4:13, which says 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me'.
The list of characters from the Old Testament can just go on and on. There's Cain, Abel, Isaac, Jacob, Esther, Ruth, Jonah, Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, David, Solomon, etc. For stories about women in the Bible, one can teach about Eve, Rebekah, Tamar, Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Jochebed, Jezebel, Deborah, Esther, Ruth, Naomi, Mary and Martha and many more. Each story can be clubbed with some craft activities to help make Sunday school fun.
Activity: Who Am I?
Once the kids are familiarized with the different Bible characters, then one can play Who Am I? For this game, a strip of paper is to be pinned onto the back of a child. This child does not know which Bible character he or she is. The others in the class can see it, but they have to keep their mouths sealed. The child is to ask different questions like:
- Am I a character from the Old Testament?
- Am I a male?
- Did I fight battles for God?
- Was I put in prison?
- Did I cross the Red Sea?
- Did I enter the promised land?
The child can ask only 20 questions, to which the other kids can only answer in 'yes' or 'no'. No long explanations, so the questions have to be asked really carefully. This game is a lot of fun, and makes kids rack their brains for detailed information about the characters.
Lessons from the New Testament
Birth of Christ
Children love listening to the story of baby Jesus and the three wise men. Narrate the story with the help of picture aids. You could also prepare a PowerPoint presentation, with each scene of the nativity play on a different slide. This way you don't need to take printouts and can also save the presentation for a different class in the future. You can also bring cutouts of the different characters in the nativity play for the kids to color in class. At the end of month, you can organize a class nativity play.
Story of the Prodigal Son
The unfathomable love of God can be brought out beautifully through the story of the prodigal son. Make the story relevant by explaining how each one of us runs after materialistic things and strays away from our Heavenly Father. Share how God still waits for us to run back to Him, because His love for us is unimaginably great. Getting the kids to memorize Bible verses is a very good habit. The faster they learn to memorize scripture, the better it is for their future. After all the Psalmist does say, "Your Word have I hidden in your heart, that I might not sin against you". After narrating the story of the prodigal son, have the kids memorize the verse; John 3:14 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life'.
Calming the Storm
This is a great story to explain faith in the Bible. You can either narrate this story from the Bible or Sunday school lesson books, or else get a YouTube video and play it in class. After the story has been narrated, have the children talk about some storms in their lives. Then ask them if they would decide to trust Jesus with their storm, and allow Him to calm it.
Five Loaves and Two Fish
After narrating this Bible story, contemplate how the little boy shared the little that he had. Explain how God has given each one of us some talents. It may seem small and insignificant in our eyes, however, God can use that small talent to do great miracles for Himself. All we have to do is give ourselves completely to Him and say that we are willing to give Him the little we have.
Contemporary Lessons: The Cinderella Story
Some of Jesus' miracles and parables can be taken up in the form of role-plays or skits. Moreover, other New Testament characters like the twelve disciples, Paul, Timothy, Titus, Aquila and Priscilla also need to be introduced. These stories are all well accepted when children are hearing them for the first time. However, while dealing with students beyond the age of 10, who are well versed with these stories, the job gets tougher. Now, the Sunday school teacher's job is to present the same story in a different, more interesting manner. Praise God for the fact that His Word is a never-drying fountain. He reveals more of Himself through each episode in the Bible, even if we've heard the same story a million times. Each story is like a diamond with thousands of facets. As a Sunday school teacher, one needs to pray and ask for fresh revelations.
Always combine a Biblical story with teaching relevant to the current lifestyle of the children. Help them relate to the characters and not feel distant. I was reading this wonderful book yesterday: Princess to Princess: Your Inheritance as a Daughter of the King by Kathy Collard Miller. The book spoke about using the Cinderella fairy tale to teach us more about being a Christian. It's strange isn't it! Imagine using a fairy tale as the base material, to teach kids more about Jesus. But the book brought it out beautifully, which made me think that we can use this in class.
I will explain what the book brought out. In the book, the child was asked to relate Cinderella's story to Christianity. The comparison went like this:
- Cinderella was often bullied by her step-mom and step-sisters. They showered her with all sorts of negative comments. This was compared to how the devil works through the people we come across, or by planting negative thoughts in our own minds, thereby, making us feel miserable about ourselves.
- Cinderella was oppressed by her family members. She wasn't allowed to attend the ball. To ease her suffering, the fairy Godmother arrived. This was compared to how God sent Jesus Christ to save us from the clutches of the devil.
- The pumpkin, mice, etc. utilized by the fairy godmother to make the chariot and horses, was compared to the different gifts and talents we possess, which are utilized by God for His glory.
- The slipper left with Cinderella was compared to the seal of the Holy Spirit, which is given to us as a deposit; guaranteeing what is to come.
- The royal wedding was compared to the time, when we will meet Jesus face to face and be His bride, and live happily ever after.
I found this analogy very exciting. One can try the same pattern with other fairy tales like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Rapunzel, Little Mermaid, etc. One can even have a princess day, wherein the children are taught how they are God's little princesses, along with a costume party. The above ideas were just a drop in the vast ocean of lesson ideas that can be conducted. Bible study lessons for children can be made as interesting as one desires. Christian movies can be shown to get different points across. However, one should not forget the reason why all this is being conducted. The focus must be Jesus, and as a teacher one should ensure that the children are drawn closer to the Lord. God Bless you!