Easy Template for Building a Lesson – Book

biblical literacyRichard Lawrence in his book, Creative Bible Teaching came up with an easy template for building a lesson. He called it hook, book, look, took (HBLT). It’s easy to remember and contains all the elements for a great Bible lesson. In this post, I am going to talk about the book part of building a lesson.

The hook is done; you have grabbed your class’s attention. Now it’s time to dive into the Bible.

This is the heart of the lesson. This is where we get into God’s Word and discover what it is saying and what it means. As a teacher, it is your job to help your students discover and understand Biblical truth.

Whether you are using a curriculum or writing your own lessons, always remember that the Word is central.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

Sunday School isn’t just about teaching kids Biblical truth. Information is important. Kids need to learn about God, that the Bible is true, that Jesus is the Son of God sent to save us from our sins. But we don’t want to stop there.  The ultimate goal is transformation. Sunday School is about making disciples. Disciples of Jesus are transformed people. Disciples of Jesus are people being transformed into the image of Jesus. A successful Sunday School class is one that reaches both the head and the heart of a student. The most effective way to reach the heart is through the faithful teaching of the Word of God.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

So, when you are building the book part of your lesson, look carefully at the lesson as printed (if you are using a curriculum) and study the Bible passages it is built on to ensure that the lesson is teaching what the Bible teaches.

I will talk more about preparing this part of the lesson in an upcoming post.

Faithful teaching of the Word of God will lead into the third part of this lesson building approach which is the look. What are the implications for the students of what has been taught?

Check out the rest of the series here:

Easy Template for Building a Lesson Series

Easy Template for Building a Lesson – Hook

It’s Sunday morning. You are in your classroom waiting for your students to arrive. You are excited about what’s to come. You’ve prepared your lesson, you’ve prayed, you’ve grown yourself through your study of God’s Word. You are ready to teach.

You’re class starts to arrive. Emma is excited because last night she had a sleep over and 2 of her friends have come to church with her.  Jeremy is mad because his mom made him leave his PS2 in the car. Mark slept in and didn’t eat breakfast and he is so hungry right now. Maddy is trying to figure out what to do if that bully starts bugging her again tomorrow.
To be an effective teacher, your first job is to grab your class’s attention. You need to find a way to get everyone thinking about the theme.

“We must entice them away from their private thoughts to share in this time of learning.” (Creative Bible Teaching, Lawrence Richards)

A hook is so important because it provides a transition for students.

What are the qualities of a good hook?

Lawrence Richards gives 4:

A Good Hook Gets the Attention of Your Class

Your students are all thinking of different things. A good hook will get their attention. A good hook must therefore be interesting. In his book, “Learning to Teach/Teaching to Learn,” C. Doug Bryan said,

“To what is initially interesting, we give our attention; to what we give our continual attention may become interesting to us.”

If we want a class that is engaged and having fun, we need to grab their attention. A word of warning: be careful that you don’t hook their attention on to something trivial or you will lose them. Kids will focus on the wrong thing. So, be careful in your hook to grab their attention and focus it on the central truth in your lesson.

A Good Hook Surfaces a Need

Right from the beginning, you need to show the students that what is about to happen in that classroom matters to them.

“When students sense that the class is related to their needs, they are far more likely to participate in the activities of the class and in the learning process.” (Creative Bible Teaching, Lawrence Richards)

A Good Hook Sets a Goal

With a good hook, students will discover why they should listen to your lesson. Let the class know the direction. This is where you reveal the central theme, the one thing you want your students to learn.

A Good Hook Should Lead Naturally into the Bible Study

A good hook is not distracting to the students. Instead, it should get them excited about what the Bible has to say.

It is also important to keep the hook short. It is a quick, attention-getting transition into the heart of the lesson. Get your students interested and then get into God’s Word.

“A good hook is one of the secrets of effective Bible teaching. When you capture interest, set a goal, and lead your students into the Word, you have a good start on a creative class.” (Creative Bible Teaching, Lawrence Richards)

Once you have hooked your students, it’s time to dig into the Bible. That’s the next stop in our series – Book.

Here’s a list of the complete series.

Easy Template for Building a Lesson Series:

Easy Template for Building a Lesson Series

Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s Saturday night. You’ve had a busy week and you are only now getting to your Sunday School lesson. As you look over the curriculum, it looks like an unsorted pile of Bible verses and life lessons and you need to turn it into something coherent for the kids in your class tomorrow morning. If you fail in this task, you’ll have a bunch of blank faces staring back at you. So where do you start? How do you quickly gain some structure? What’s an easy template to build a lesson around?

Lawrence O. Richards in his book Creative Bible Teaching presents an approach to structuring a Sunday School lesson that has been used by hundreds of children’s ministry volunteers since he first wrote about it in 1970.

“We call it the HBLT approach. That stands for Hook, Book, Look, Took. Don’t worry, we already know it’s a bit corny, but that’s why you will never forget it! It is an easy-to-remember approach to lesson preparation that, when followed, opens up the student to learning Biblical truth and to making meaningful application of the truth in his or her life.” (Creative Bible Teaching, Lawrence Richards)

In this series, I am going to expand on each of the 4 elements in this approach and give practical tips and ideas for using this method of planning a lesson.

Easy Template for Building a Lesson Series

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.


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.


Teacher Training – Understanding Biblical Doctrine

childrens ministry: teaching biblical doctrine

Redemption, Sanctification, Atonement, Forgiveness, Sin, Justification – These are big words that a lot of adults have difficulty understanding. I believe that it is important to teach our children these truths. In order to teach them, we must first understand them ourselves.

“It takes as much or more understanding of a biblical doctrine to teach it to children than it does to teach it do adults. If you understand a thing well, you can usually make it plain for ordinary people and children. But if you are fuzzy in your own understanding, you will generally be overly complex in your explanation.” (John Piper)

I have seen the truth of this statement in classrooms that I have observed. Teachers who don’t fully understand the concept they are teaching end up being overly complicated and lengthy in their explanations.

This is one of the reasons why teachers should be encouraged to prepare for their Sunday School lessons early in the week. Doing so gives them a chance to fully understand a concept they will be teaching on Sunday morning. It also gives them the opportunity to come up with and prepare for illustrations and activities that will help to explain the doctrine or concept.

There are resources available for teachers who are interested in learning about Biblical doctrine. Watch for adult Sunday school classes or Bible studies on this subject at your church. There are some good books also that help teach Biblical doctrine. Consider making a good systematic theology book available to your teachers. One book I highly recommend is called, “Big Truths for Young Hearts,” by Bruce Ware. This book was written by a theology professor. The purpose is to help adults teach children Biblical doctrine. I have used this book a lot – it is helpful first for understanding a concept and second for teaching it to children.

Teachers who have taken the time to fully understand Biblical doctrine will be able to teach it well to their students.

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