Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.
Some kids will be perfectly fine sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, those kids are few and far between. In order to keep the interest of most kids, you’ll need to find some way to mix it up from week to week. We’ve talked about several ways of doing that thus far in this series, and there are several more to come. One of the ways that I’ve found to be most effective for me is to simply get the kids involved in the large group teaching. Get them up off their rear ends and make them part of the story. Unlike other methods we have and will discuss, this one doesn’t tend to get “old” as quickly. I think that’s because each week the kids are acting out something differently.
One of my favorite moments thus far was when I was recounting the story of Solomon and the two prostitutes for a lesson on wisdom. When I got to the part where Solomon raised his sword to cut the baby in half, the young boy who was playing Solomon asked, eagerly, if he really got to cut the baby in half – priceless!
In addition to getting the kids moving, this technique gives them a vested interest in the story. Rather than simply sitting there and listening to you drone on and on, the Bible comes to life for them as they step into the story. It makes it more fun in the moment and more memorable after your time with them is done. If they just sit there and listen to you, when their parents ask what they learned about, the kids might not even remember. If you’ve gotten them involved in the teaching, the kids will likely be chomping at the bit to tell their parents what they got to do that morning.
Of course, there are more ways than just having the kids act out the story to get them involved. When we were teaching about the parts of the body, I had the kids demonstrate their unique talents involving their body parts, and it turned out to be a learning experience for me. I had always been told that it was impossible to lick your elbow, but low and behold, one of the little girls in our class was able to do it.
If you’re teaching about Jesus calming the storm, pick some kids to make the sound effects for you. You’ll be amazed how good they are at this. Make human walls of Jericho. Turn them into Gideon’s army lapping water at the creek. Turn them into Jesus’ apostles or an angry Roman mob. I find that there is something they can do for almost every lesson.
It doesn’t always work out, but I try to get at least one kid involved in the lesson every single week, and the more kids I can get involved the better. Some of my favorite lessons are those where every single child becomes part of the story and there is no one just sitting and listening without participating!