Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

Introduction ...
Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

Because of thi...
Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

   How a child...
Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

   practices k...
Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

       • Am I ...
Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

Phase III: Se...
Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

   walk like C...
Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way   CCI Latin America

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Individual Notes Teaching The Bible To Young Children Workshop


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Handout given to teachers being trained to teach young children the Bible (3-9 yrs.). They contain the rationale supporting the effectiveness of using Sonja Stewart's approach to teaching children the Bible.

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Individual Notes Teaching The Bible To Young Children Workshop

  1. 1. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America Introduction to the Workshop The fact that you all are here is proof that you are more than convinced about the importance of the spiritual formation of a young child. It is unnecessary to preach to you all on this subject. It would be like standing in front of a soccer team to convince them of the importance of playing soccer, because, they are already convinced! Nevertheless, it is necessary to equip you all with the arguments to convince others that are perhaps not that convinced. This workshop will not only try to give you new techniques to teach the Bible, we will try to achieve something much bigger: We want to challenge you to consider how we can accompany small children in their spiritual pilgrimage. To get to know God is a life time process, the child begins to form his or her first images of God between two to three years of age and will pass the rest of his or her life reforming, redefining, extending its concept and relationship with Him (Stonehouse, 1998). Sometimes, the church suffers of blindness with respect to the importance of childhood. Consider how the problems of the congregation are discussed, the deficiencies of the adult are talked about, without making the connection between how they were raised as children and therefore how they function as adults. Importance is not given to the formative processes of childhood when considering the causes or solutions for the problems of the adults. If we want a church constituted by safe and sound adults 20 years from now, we have to begin by accompanying the children of today. The church needs a new paradigm on the importance of childhood. It is said that between 4 and 14 years of age there is a time window in which the child is very receptive to the gospel (see figure 1 below, Staal, 2005, 20). Let us not allow this window to close without taking advantage of it (Barna, 2006). Figure 1: Probability of asking Jesus to be his or her Savior Children are constructing the foundations on which they will base their life and their faith. They are being formed by means of what they experience at home, school and their community of faith. It is not enough with teaching them one or two Bible lessons per week at Sunday School. Our concern and interest for the formation of children forces us to recognize the fundamental role of family, as well as school and church.
  2. 2. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America Because of this during this workshop we will try to prompt you as an educational organization to question what you have always done with children. We encourage you to begin this process with the following questions (Stonehouse, 1998): • Is what we do a perpetuation of what we have always done? • Have we questioned ourselves… what we do is effective to the formation of the faith of our children? • Many of us have invested a lot of money and effort in providing interesting and creative programs, but, do they have a reason beyond that of entertaining and amusing them? • Do we understand correctly how the faith of a child is formed and how the adults can accompany and support the child in his or her pilgrimage of faith? • What is the process of the spiritual formation of a child? • When do children begin to think about God? How do they get to know Him? • What have we learned on the faith of a child and how it is formed? • Does the image a young child has of God make a lasting difference? • What can the church do to help parents to provide family experiences that help children in their spiritual formation? • What do children need to experience in the life of their church? Notes:
  3. 3. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America Teaching the Bible to young children First demonstration Second demonstration Goal of the class: What does the teacher intend to achieve with the students? Methodology of the teacher: What does the teacher do? How does he or she interact with students? Behavior of the students: What do the students do? How do they react to the teaching? What is it that the student learns? Additional observations For further reflection: What does the teacher assume, suppose or believe about the way a young child learns? What about the teaching/learning process?
  4. 4. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America How a child learns through the “Bible recess” method We are going to explain why the “Bible recess” method is so effective to teach the Bible to young children (The phases of the Bible recess are based on the method called “holy play” in Stewart’s and Berryman’s book, 1989 and Stewart, 2000, being Phase IV an addition added by me.) The theory found next was taken from Catherine Stonehouse’s book, 1998, [Joining children on the spiritual journey: Nurturing a life of faith]: Phase I: Preparation for the Bible Recess Phase II: First narrative (the teacher moves the figures) Phase III: Second narrative with “I wonder” questions while children move the figures Phase IV: Children tell each other the store with the aid of the figures Phase V: Children respond to God through art (centers) Phase VI: Children memorize the verse and pray. Phase: I: Preparation for the Bible recess Use of a calm environment similar to a church service and creation of a quiet space: Often at church we try to compete with the environments of the world that offer the child a lot of noise, a lot of fun, a lot of activity and movement. But the child also needs a quiet place in which he can meet with God. When I watched fourth graders arriving, so active, I wondered if this environment was going to be too calm. It watched Juan, fighting to be quiet, his body in constant movement and I asked him what he liked the most about church, he answered: I like the way in which you all give us time to think. Our society is addicted to stimulus and considers that we have to have children in constant movement and activities, but children also need a place where they can discover the peace that gives tranquility and quietness. Use of the floor to put everybody at the same level, including the teacher: Consider how great is the joy of a son whose mother or father sits on the floor to play with him or her. In the same way, during Bible recess also the teachers sit beside the children for “playing” with them and recreating Bible stories. Phase II: First narrative (the teacher moves the figures) Use of Bible stories: Through stories children learn about creation, interpersonal relationships, and relationship with God, they get to know the Bible characters. In the package of Armor of God Paty Garza uses stories where the use of each one of the pieces is seen to make their application concrete. The other packages tell stories of the Old and New Testament. In addition, once the principles of Bible Recess are learned they can be applied to almost any narrative of the Bible. Use of the “story telling” method not to give small sermons or talks: The discoveries made through play and experiences in which the child participates directly are more transforming and exciting than the lessons in which the adults say to them what they must know. This does not mean that the adults should never communicate important information to them. It means that we do not have to depend on the lecture method as our main contribution to the development of the child. For example, if this month the value that the school wants to teach is kindness, we begin by asking ourselves how we prompt the child to experience the value first; then we can ask the what would be the best way to talk about this value. Because of this, all the school staff
  5. 5. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America practices kindness on a daily basis, with the students and with the behavior that they demand from classmates. Soon, having lived kindness, children will be ready to speak of it. But, typically we are satisfied with “speaking of a certain value”, or giving a talk about it. Use of conjecture when telling Bible stories: One of the goals of Bible recess is to stimulate a sense of awe, curiosity and imagination when approaching Bible stories. Awe prompts us to be still while contemplating what amazes us. Considers the way a child remains quiet to contemplate a butterfly or an insect. Curiosity takes time and an object worthy of exploring. If in Bible classes we are set on entertaining or amusing them with many activities and movement, in what moment are they going to contemplate the deep truths of God? With the use of conjecture we want to stimulate children to use their imagination, we want to attract them to participate in the story with their “intuitive” intelligence (based on images, sensations and movements). Look at the difference between telling everything (this is a fence, it forms a sheep fold or corral where the sheep live…) and to urge them to imagine … (what would this brown thing be? Could it be a way? What can it be? Use of techniques so that children ask questions The child begins to form his or her first images of God between two and three years of age. Therefore, when he or she comes to Sunday School or Elementary School, he or she comes with his or her first images of God already formed. A way in which we find out what are these images is listening to their questions. That is why we want to stimulate them to ask questions, not overwhelm them with so much information that they do not feel the need to ask questions. A good teacher discovers what it is that the child is thinking by means of listening and analyzing his or her questions. Then, the adults can help in refining and reforming their image of God through answering their questions -even those that seem to be of little importance. Questions show many things: (a) That their mind is active; (b) That it is a teachable moment and the student is willing to learn. (c) That the child wishes to talk about God. When a three year old child asks: Where does God sleep? We have the privilege of responding: Guess what? God never sleeps. God is different from us and He is always guarding us and taking care of us. This is wonderful, isn’t it? It is important to answer the questions they ask and not to respond with an answer bigger than their question, an answer for which they are still not ready. Sometimes the best answer than you can give to a question is: What do you think? This answer will help us discover what he or she really wants to know. Let us allow the questions of children guide us step by step on what it is that they need to know about God. A technique can be to invite them to make a drawing of God, through drawing, children can express concepts that they cannot put into words. Later, invite them to tell you about what they drew. The teacher or the parent can understand God better, according to the child. If children are not asking questions, take time to analyze your class: • I am speaking too much? • Have I created dynamics in which I ask the questions and they answer them? • Have I created an environment in which they do not feel secure to ask, is there fear of ridicule or rejection?
  6. 6. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America • Am I using conjecture or telling so much that they do not feel curiosity of knowing more? “I already know this story .....” what to do? The most frightful words for many teachers are: “I already know this story”. They feel discouraged and do not want to continue and because of this they try to tell new stories every time. But Bible stories are crucial to the spiritual formation of children of any age. During every season of our life we can learn something different from the story of God. We take the example of the Good Shepherd Parable. What makes an impression to children 3-5 years old about the story of the Good Shepherd is that He knows them by name. I follow Him and he guides me. I am safe in the fold, He protects me. If I get lost, the good shepherd will go looking for me and He will carry me in His arms. Then, the 6-11 year old children ask themselves: How many times can I get lost and he will still find me?, (in other words, Am I loved?) They ask: who took care of the other sheep when He left to look for the lost one? Later on, young people between 12-18 years old, who are looking for their identity, ask themselves, what does it mean that the Good Shepherd knows my name? They recognize that they hear more voices than just the one of the Good Shepherd and they ask themselves, which voice will they follow? Older people of 18 years of age, are in the stage of looking for intimacy, feeling loved and loving, and they wonder, is it possible that the Good Shepherd knows me completely? Will I trust Him? Why was I born? What is my purpose in life? Example: No Miss, I already know this story of Jesus entering Jerusalem… I also know it Jimmy, but we are going to discover new things this time using our imagination. We are going to enter this story and imagine that we are there, standing next to the road on which Jesus rode a young donkey. What will we see in the eyes of Jesus when watching the multitude? What was the disciples´ behavior like?, What were they thinking? Where are we standing among this multitude? Would we be as as close to Jesus as possible, shouting and putting on the ground our palm tree branches so that the young donkey stepped on them? Or would we be apart, watching in silence from a distance? … We must shake the dust of our imagination and enter the story together with the children. The use of our imagination helps us feel the drama of the moment, the emotions and sensations, Scripture will come to life. Remember, if the Bible is boring to us, we will transmit this to the children that the Bible is boring. But if stories are real for us, children will feel our excitement and they will join us, through their imagination, to enter the story. They will learn to love the God that they find there and will want to return over and over again to keep on knowing Him. He will never sound boring to them!
  7. 7. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America Phase III: Second narrative with conjecture questions while the children move the figures Use of figures to tell the story: Children during their stage of intuitive intelligence think through manipulating objects and playing with them, not only watching. They need a place where they have the freedom to manipulate objects without fear of breaking something and then be punished. The figures are black and white photocopies, they do not have to be expensive or have a lot of detail and it is not necessary to color them. There are places that have made the figures in wood or compressed cardboard or have laminated them. They are their toys during Bible Recess, and through manipulating the materials children will be able to do in a motor-sensory way what they can not do yet with abstract thoughts. They work with theological concepts and discover the connection between Bible stories and their lives. In the process of manipulating the objects, recreating stories and drawing their impressions of the story, they discover meaning and understand things that are not yet within their possibilities of being articulated with words. It is very important that the teacher demonstrates how to use the figures, putting they away with care and handling them with respect, teaching them through example how to play with the materials during Bible Recess. Phase IV: Children tell the story to each other using the figures Use of interaction between classmates to tell the story to each other In the traditional context of formal education, teachers discourage conversation among classmates, being satisfied with the children when they respond to the teacher mainly, who is the one in control. Nevertheless, children need to interact with their classmates as much as with their teacher. This method teaches the skill to listen to one another, to not only pay attention to the teacher but also to their classmates, besides taking turns to tell the story. Use of figures so that they retell the story: Why was Cesia, a 2 ½ year old girl, able to tell her mother the story of the Good Shepherd, although during the lesson she did not say a word ? Because Cesia is in what is called the” intuitive intelligence” stage and she learns through her five senses, sensations, and tact. The famous educator Jean Piaget calls it: “sensory motor” knowledge “. ”, she could not tell the story with words but she could do it retelling the story with the figures that the teacher used to tell it. “The motor-memory” of the young child is very effective. Children remember the things that they do; they process concepts kinesthetically, concepts they could not process only using words or thoughts. Because of this, with this methodology, when the young child sees that the story is told with figures and then he tells it again moving the figures himself, and then once again he tells his classmates, he retains it in his memory. Adults are mistaken when they assume that because the child knows the words of a story or memorizes the Bible verse, he understands the meaning and can reason or think like them. Although young children can have a great vocabulary, they still need to process the concepts in active form, with actions. My son Victor, when he was 4 or 5 years old, during our family devotions, he would jump on the bed and say: Teach me how to make this verse. Then he jumped to the floor shouting: Look, look at me, it says here that we have to
  8. 8. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America walk like Christians, look at me, this is the way Christians walk… while he took firm steps with his head high, right Mom? Besides, repetition (4 times) gives them some “mental exercise” and helps them to remember and retain the story. Phase V: Children respond to God through art (centers) Use of a time to “work” with the Bible story so the child responds to it: After telling the Bible story, time and relevant materials are provided for the child so he can respond or react to God. Often, some part of the Bible story will capture the attention of the child because it relates to a need that they are processing but they cannot articulate in words and concepts yet. Examples: • After the parable of the Good Shepherd, a 6 year old girl, Katia, built a fold on a sheet of paper and filled it with sheep made out of small cotton balls. • The 8 year old child, Jose, dramatized a story with the laminated figures. The Good Shepherd fought with the wolf and won. Katia focused in the security of the fold and Jose in the victorious strength of the Good Shepherd. Each one needed to process a different aspect of the same story, and the fact that a small child can concentrate on a single thing worked well for them . Unless the children are abusing the materials, the teacher does not interfere nor tries to direct the “work” of the child. Use of centers to respond to Bible story: One of the great discoveries of Maria Montessori was that an internal motivation grew within children when they could choose the activities on which they wanted to work and when were provided with time blocks to immerse themselves in work. After Bible story, in the context of Sunday or primary school, they are allowed to choose from different centers. • One with materials related to the story that was just told (seeds and dirt in the case of the Parable of the Sower, or a sand box and pieces of fabric (tents) for a story of Exodus) • A center where the figures of Bible stories previously told are kept in trays. • A center with materials they can use to draw like blank paper, construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons or markers, etc. Phase VI: Children memorize the Bible verse with understanding supported by the decoration and pray.
  9. 9. Workshop: Teaching the Bible to young children in a creative and non-traditional way CCI Latin America Bibliography Barna, George. 2006. How to transform your children into spiritual champions Lake Mary, Fla.: House Creation. Stewart Sonja M. and Berryman, Jerome. 1989. Young worship children and. Louisville, Ky.: Westminister/John Knox. Stewart, Sonja M. 2000. Following Jesus: Worship dwells about children and. Louisville, Ky.: Westminister/John Knox. Stonehouse, Catherine. 1998. Joining the children on spiritual journey: Nurturing to life of faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Bridepoint Book, Baker Books.