Tips for Sunday School Teachers
The lessons and activities
provided on this site are designed as a list of options. You are not expected to
use every activity, all the memory verses, or all the discussions. My hope is
that each lesson has options for you to choose what is useful to your class.
Furthermore, you will probably need to
customize the information provided for your group's age level, background
Below are some major teaching lessons I learned the hard
If you don't know it, they won't learn it
I learned this when teaching
primary children the
books of the Old Testament. It had been a while since I had reviewed them.
When the kids discovered that I didn't know them forwards and backwards, it
totally drained their motivation to learn them. This principle applies to
the lessons as well. That doesn't mean you have to be able to answer every
off-topic question they ask. It's a great example to say, "I'll have to look up
the answer to that". But if it's part of the lesson you expect them to learn,
you'd better know it.
Get your mind thinking early
My other great lesson has been to start early in preparing. Not just because
it's easier, but because your mind will mull over the lesson even when you're
not actively working on it. So if I'm preparing a lesson and can't think of an
appropriate craft, my brain works on that problem all week until it comes up
with something. If I start the night before, I don't think of the perfect
activity until it's too late.
Teach from the Bible
My third suggestion I borrow from a book I read by Bobbie Miller (Stairway to
Teaching, Miller Publications, 1972 ). She emphasized teaching from the Bible,
literally. Rather than having your class book or notes on the desk and teaching
from that, have your notes in your Bible and teach from it. I was mortified one
night when my class came together and one girl asked, "Why do I have to bring my
Bible, we never use it?". The thing was, she was right. From that night on, I
picked out pertinent (and easy to read) verses from the lesson text for the
students to take turns reading.
Get them moving
Incorporate movement into the activities as much as possible. Kids will move
during class. It's much better to control that movement than to let it happen
"their way". So I've altered typical class
review activities to incorporate movement. My students' favorite is
true and false. I have a true sign on one wall and a false sign on another
wall. The kids stand in the middle. If the statement is true, they stand by the
true sign; if it's false, they go to the false sign.
Have them live it
Another great way to get younger students to remember a lesson is to have them
act it out. This doesn't have to be some great production with scripts and
clothes. It helps to have one or two simple props. Kids have a terrific
imagination. Just feed the lines to them as you read through the story. (Hearing
the lines twice just emphasizes what's happening). Again, this incorporates
movement, makes the lesson more real, and helps reinforce it in their minds.
You don't always have to do the whole lesson, just one scene can make a
difference. In teaching the temple to students, I have them each take turns
being the High Priest going in the Holy of Holies alone. (I draped a cloth over
a line for the veil). They just didn't get it until they did it. And you can
tell if the kids "get it" or not. They question what they're supposed to do and
you can test whether your language is clear to them.
Use a template
As you can probably tell from my lessons, I use a template to prepare each week.
I don't always use each activity, but having them ready lets me
customize the lesson to the kids who come. It also gives me a base from
which to alter the activities. Some weeks instead of true and false, we'll do
wise and foolish, or obedient and rebellious. I use various
with the questions. The template leaves the bulk of my creativity for the crafts
and activities, which are the hardest part for me.
Have a point
Keep the application firmly in mind when creating the lesson and activities.
Make sure the lesson teaches it, the memory verse reinforces it, the activities
review it, and the children know it. Focus. Don't try to include everything
related to the issue.
While the students are coloring or doing worksheets, I'll often
just talk about the discussion points to see if they got it. This
gives them a chance to ask application questions in a more
Let the students know up front what the class will entail. Give
students a reason to listen to the lesson. Tell them up front that
you will be reviewing. Use activities like the
Listening Game to encourage active
listening. Ask questions during the lesson. Encourage discussion.
Keep in touch with your students
Find out your students' birthdays. Buy, make or e-mail cards for
them on their day, when they are ill, or just to encourage them. If
they have e-mail access, send them homework reminders, encouraging
verses, or birthday wishes. Snail mail assignments to absent
students, or to all of them. Written reminders will assist parents
as well as youth. Keep a written prayer journal, and follow-up. Go back to previous prayer requests and find out how they are progressing.
Depend on God
Remember that God will support you as you do His work. He will
provide the resources, the time and the talent, since you have
offered your will.
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