#47 – The Use of Visual Aids and Focal Points (Tips For Large Group Teaching)
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.
If used incorrectly, the visual aid can easily become tacky and distracting rather than a useful tool. However, used correctly it can give you a visual focal point for your lesson and give your kids something to easily remember the lesson by. If you do choose to use a visual aid, it should be something that the kids in your ministry are familiar with. An outboard motor or coffee maker won’t resonate with the kids and likely won’t add anything to your lesson. Ideally, you want to pick something so familiar to the kids that they are likely to encounter it in their everyday lives. Your goal in using a visual aid is that whenever kids see that aid in everyday life it would spark a memory of a particular lesson.
Visual aids can range from the very simple (a sword to represent the Bible) to the very complex (a manger scene with live animals to teach about Christmas). Remember, you want to pick something that the kids are familiar with. If you want a boat to use as a visual aid when talking about Jesus walking on water, find a toy boat (or better yet a remote control boat set up in a small pool). This will likely resonate more with the kids than a life preserver or a picture of a yacht. Be creative with what you choose for visual aids. If you’re telling the story of David and Goliath, a sling shot is a choice for a visual aid. If you practice, you could even put on a little demonstration, though I don’t advise getting the kids involved in that particular demonstration! If you’re telling the story of Gideon and his army, you could bring in a puppy to help the kids visualize the soldiers by the river who lapped up the water like dogs. The more creative you get, the more likely the kids are to retain the lesson and remember it when they see that visual again.
A couple of warnings about visual aids are important. First, make sure you check with the appropriate people before using live animals or anything else too far out of the ordinary. Most importantly, if you are going to use visual aids, remember that they are supposed to be a tool. They are meant to enhance what you are teaching, but they should not become the focal point of the lesson itself. That job and position belongs to Jesus alone. Never let your visual age upstage Christ in your lesson!