Teacher Training Video – Focus on Scripture

2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Tips for Making the Bible Central in your Class:

  1. When preparing your lesson, read through the Bible passage carefully.
  2. Then, be careful to teach what the Bible says, not what you want it to say.
  3. Ensure kids are using and reading their Bibles every lesson.
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Books of the Bible Song

I am always looking for ways to teach about the books of the Bible and for kids to interact with the books of the Bible. Ultimately, I want kids reading their Bibles because that is how they can build a relationship with Jesus and learn more about Him.

Knowing and being comfortable with the names of the Bible books and where to find them in the Bible helps kids. Reading the Bible is not such a daunting task if kids understand how the Bible is put together and are familiar with the books in it.

Phil Joel on his album, Deliberate Kids has written a song called “Old Testament (AKA The Ice Cream Song).” I think it is a fun way for kids to learn the books of the New Testament.

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Activity and Game Ideas to Teach the Books of the Bible

In my post Teaching Bible Skills – Finding Books of the Bible, I said that I would give you some ideas for activities and games that will encourage kids to learn the books of the Bible and become familiar with the order of books in the Bible.

Here are some of my favorite activity and game ideas:

1. Games With Popsicle Sticks

Write the books of the Bible on popsicle sticks, one on each.

Pile them on the table and tell your class that they have 1 minute to find as many New Testament (or Old Testament) books as they can.

Separate New Testament from Old Testament and have your class put the popsicle sticks in order.

Have a relay. Pile the popsicle sticks on the floor and line the kids up on the other side of the room. Have them race to put the popsicle sticks in order; or find just New (or Old) Testament books and then put them in order. You can also have them looking for boos from certain sections – Pentateuch, History, Epistles, Poetry. Depending on the skill level of your class, you can let the kids use their Bible’s table of contents.

Hide & Seek – let a couple of kids hide some popsicle sticks around the classroom and then have the rest of the class find and put in order.

2. Bible Bingo

This is a fun activity that kids love!

For younger kids (Gr. 1-3)

Print enough copies of the blank Bible Bingo template (pictured at the right) for your class and fill each in with books from the Bible ahead of time. (Make sure each child’s game sheet a little different). You can focus on Old Testament or New Testament or the whole Bible. Make a master copy so that you don’t have to fill in new templates each time you want to play. You can also print a filled-in Bible Bingo template. You can play with bingo dabbers, highlighters, or markers.

Pass out to your class and explain how to play. Tell them that you will call out a book of the Bible – if you are focusing on a certain part of the Bible, make that clear at the beginning. If they have that book on their bingo sheet, highlight it. When they have 5 in a row, tell them to call bingo.

Use your Bible when you play this game. Even if you don’t need to refer to the table of contents, it is good for the kids to see you with the Bible. It helps them make the connection that these book titles (some are unusual and strange) are books from the Bible.

For older kids (Gr. 4-6)

Print enough copies of the blank Bible Bingo template for your class. Gather bingo dabbers, highlighters, or markers.

Pass out the Bible Bingo sheets to your class and explain how to play. Tell them to use their Bible’s table of contents and fill in the bingo sheet. Let them know if you are focusing on Old Testament or New Testament. Tell them that you will call out a book of the Bible. If they have that book on their bingo sheet, highlight it. When they have 5 in a row, tell them to call bingo.

Use your Bible when you play this game. Even if you don’t need to refer to the table of contents, it is good for the kids to see you with the Bible. It helps them make the connection that these book titles (some are unusual and strange) are books from the Bible.

Variation

Here is a Bible Bingo game that adds in the challenge of knowing the divisions of the books. Print enough copies of the blank or filled-in Bible Bingo template for your class. Also print a copy of the Bible Bingo Leader Strips. You may want to print these on card stock and/or laminate them so they last longer.

Pass out Bible Bingo game sheets to your class. Put the leader strips in a basket or just in a pile on the table. Tell the kids that you will choose and read a strip. They can highlight a match on their Bible Bingo sheet. Explain, “If I say ‘Gospels & Acts,’ they you need to look for Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Those are the books in the Gospels and Acts part of the Bible.”

For a younger class or in order to play a shorter game, you may make a rule that kids can highlight any matches on their sheet to the clue you called out. For an older class or to play a longer game, you may make the rule that kids can only highlight one match to the clue you called out. This rules allows the kids to use some strategy during the game.

So, for example, if you are playing by the first rule, if you call ‘Minor Prophets’ kids can highlight any of the Minor Prophets on their Bible Bingo sheet – Malachi, Haggai, Jonah, etc. If you are playing by the second set of rules, they would have to chose one of those options.

This is a fun way to get kids interacting with the books of the Bible and putting them in context by using the divisions as well.

 

3. Old & New Testament Game

Attach the Old & New Testament signs (print in color or print in black and white) to opposite walls of your classroom or play area. Have the children stand in the middle. Call out a book of the Bible and have the children run to the sign of the testament they think it’s in. This game can be played for points or not; if you want to make it a little more competitive for older kids, you could make it an elimination game if they get it wrong.

Using index cards, print one book of the Bible on each card. Put them in a pile on the floor in the middle of the play area. Attach the Old & New Testament signs to opposite walls of your classroom or play area. Tell the kids, when you say “go” they should grab a card and take it to its correct location. All kids play at once. The goal is to see how fast the class can divide the cards into their correct testaments.

4. Books of the Bible Poster Game

Print off a copy of the books of the Bible strips onto cardstock. Laminate if desired. Cut out and add magnets, tape, sticky tac, paper clips or Velcro to the back of each book. Using a poster board, title it “Books of the Bible.” Add sub-titles, “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” Add numbers 1-66, separating the Old and New Testaments. For a variation, make a poster for Old Testament and a poster for New Testament. For an added challenge add the divisions of the Bible. An option would be to make two identical sets of whichever variation you are using for team play.

Attach the poster to the wall or put it flat on the floor. Lay the books of the Bible strips on the floor. Line the kids up. On go, the player picks up a book and races to the poster and places it wherever they believe it goes. The player returns to the start line and tags off the next player. They take their turn, playing as before. In addition, if a player believes a book placed previously is incorrect, he or she may change it. Play continues until all the books are placed correctly.

Playing in teams and racing to be the first team to place all the answers correctly increases the fun!

Note: You can adjust this game to the skill level of your class. Put some books on the poster ahead of time to give the kids a jump start. If you want to give your class a serious challenge, leave the poster blank.

Note: These pictures are examples of what the posters can look like (The New Testament poster is missing number 19 which should be with General Epistles). The actual posters should be bigger (poster paper size). Have fun making these posters or even better make it a class activity to make posters for Bible games!

For more ideas visit the books of the Bible free resources page.

 

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Teaching Bible Skills – Finding books in the Bible

I believe that Bible skills are important. I believe that it is part of our job as children’s ministry volunteers, as Sunday School teachers to teach our kids Bible skills. This is the first in a series on teaching Bible skills. I hope you find it helpful.

Finding Books in the Bible

Our goal is to make disciples. Disciples of Jesus know their Bibles, love their Bibles, and read their Bibles. Becoming familiar with the layout of the Bible is an important part of this process. Knowing the books of the Bible and where they are to be found in the Bible is a skill our kids need to be taught.

Preschool

Preschool children either can’t read or are learning to read. Children of this age are eager to learn and we should not miss out on the opportunity to begin teaching them Bible skills.

In Sunday School, there are a number of different ways to begin to teach the skills of finding books in the Bible.

1. Encourage your class to bring their Bibles to Sunday School

This is the first step if you want to teach your class how to find books in the Bible. Preschool children may have an actual children’s Bible, or they may have a children’s storybook Bible. Either way, encourage them to bring it to Sunday School and then have them use it.

2. Look up the Bible passage for the story you will be teaching

Take a few moments at the beginning of story time and help the children find the story in their Bibles. First, tell the children what book of the Bible the story is in. In order to help them put it in context, also mention if it is the Old Testament or the New Testament. (“The Old Testament has the books at the front of the Bible. The New Testament has the books near the back of the Bible.”)

Children this age are learning their alphabet, learning to print their names, and learning to read. Once you have told them the book the story is in, encourage them to figure what letter of the alphabet the book starts with. Use that to help them find the book.  For example, the lesson is on Jesus feeding the 5000. Tell the children, “Our Bible story today is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew is the first book in the New Testament, so it is going to be found near the back of the Bible. What letter of the alphabet does Matthew start with? M. Look for the letter M at the top of the page.”

Most Bibles have the name of the book at the top of the page. Encourage children to look for their letter of the alphabet here. This exercise does take a few minutes, but I have noticed children are eager to use their emerging reading skills and show great pride when they have found the book. Once they have found it, point to the name of the book. Ask them to show you the first letter of the word. Then tell them, as in our example, “M is for Matthew.”

For children with storybook Bibles, help them find the story and then remind them what book of the Bible this story is found in. Some Bible storybooks have the reference for each story at the beginning. Show them the reference and make the connection to the book of the Bible.

Elementary

1. Encourage your kids to bring their Bibles to Sunday School

Tthis is so important. You may want to use incentives to encourage your kids to bring their Bibles. We want it to become a habit. A huge incentive for kids to bring their Bibles is when they actually use them. So, encourage your kids to bring their Bibles, and then make sure you have the kids use them in class.

2. Have extra Bibles available

Have a few age-appropriate Bibles ready for visitors or kids who don’t have a Bible or who forgot to bring theirs.

3. Plan to have the class look up at least one Bible verse or passage during Sunday School

Having the class look up a Bible passage takes time – usually more time than you expected! So, always plan out what you are going to have the kids look up. For younger kids, it is best to have the class look up the same passage. As the kids get older and more familiar with their Bibles and better at reading, you can have the kids look up different passages. Give the reference and then encourage the kids to help each other and to share discoveries. As the kids are looking up the reference, talk about whether it is in the Old Testament or the New Testament; whether it is before or after particular books. These questions help the kids to consider context.

4. Make use of the table of contents

Teach your kids how to use the table of contents in the front of their Bibles. The table of contents is a great tool. It shows how books are divided into old and new testaments. Show the kids how to find a book in the table of contents and then to use the page number given to find the book in the Bible. Help the children to understand that different Bibles will have different page numbers.

5. Plan games or activities that will give the kids a chance to develop their skills in finding books in the Bible.

Bible drills – Bible drills are a great activity. They are a fun way for kids to get to know their Bibles and to become familiar with how the books are ordered in the Bible. The rules of a Bible drill are simple. Children will hold their Bibles up above their heads. You will say a Bible reference. Ask the children to repeat it and then say, “go.” The children will lower their Bibles and look up the reference. Once they have found it, they should stand up.

Books of the bible games – There are many different game ideas that will help the children become familiar with the books of the Bible. In an upcoming post, I will give you some ideas for activities that kids will find fun and engaging and that will ultimately help them develop Bible skills.

6. Older Elementary children who have the Bible on their phones or tablets

You may have children in your classes, especially older children, who carry cell phones or other devices. They may choose to use these instead of a hard copy Bible. There is nothing wrong with looking up Bible references on these devices. Children may actually tell you that it is easier, because they just have to enter the search information. As teacher, you will have to institute some class rules for use of these devices in class. Although it is great that they have access to the Bible on these devices, they also have access to other programs as well that could cause a distraction or loss of attention in class. When you make rules about using devices in your classroom, include your class in the discussion.

 

Learning to find books in the Bible and becoming familiar with our Bibles is not an end in itself. It is part of the discipling process. Our goal is to make disciples. Disciples love Jesus! We get to know Jesus and how to follow Him through our Bibles. Teaching children to know and love their Bibles, then, is an important part of the disciple-making process. Teaching Bible skills will help our children get to know their Bibles and more importantly, get them reading their Bibles and getting to know God, who is the main character in the Bible.

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Why Biblical literacy is an issue that every Children’s Ministry leader needs to address

biblical literacyI read some articles and blog posts the other day that were centered on the issue of Biblical literacy.

One blogger I read said they were concerned that a focus on Biblical literacy would mean making a relationship with God less important. In another article, the author calls Biblical illiteracy a crisis and “the most dangerous threat to the viability of the Church in America”.

What is Biblical literacy?

Biblical literacy is knowledge of the Bible. But it’s about more than just having memorized all 66 books of the Bible and knowing the 10 Commandments. Someone who is Biblically literate understands the big picture story of the Bible. The Bible is not a book of stand alone stories; it is one big story – the story of God and His people.

Biblical literacy is hugely important. We need to know the Bible because that is where God reveals Himself to us.

In his book, Revolutionary Parenting, Christian researcher George Barna states that most of our children are Biblically illiterate and that more than half believe Jesus sinned just like us when He was on earth.

Biblical literacy is crucial for our kids because the Bible is where we get to know God. God chose to reveal Himself to us primarily through His Word – the Bible. Our kids need to know the Bible. Not so that they know that Zephaniah comes before Malachi, but that they understand that the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Zephaniah keeps His promises. As they read and are taught how everything fits together and begin to understand the chronology of the Bible, they will see that over and over again, God keeps His promises. And maybe they will come to trust our faithful God. They will see that God is holy and that people are sinners. They will see that our holy God made a way for sinners to be saved because He is loving and merciful and gracious.

If our main goal is making disciples, Biblical literacy needs to be an important part of our educational strategy. We want kids to know, love, and follow God. The primary way our kids will get to know God is through the Bible.

So teach your kids to love their Bibles! Encourage your kids to be reading their Bibles; help kids understand how to navigate their Bibles; encourage them to become familiar with the books of the Bible. Not just so that they can say they have memorized all 66 books of the Bible, but so that they can get to know the God of the Bible.

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