Sustain Children – Teacher’s Toolbox
Author: Steve Cannon
Every Sunday School teacher, youth worker, Super Church leader needs a teacher toolbox. Now, this is not a physical toolbox that carpenters and mechanics would use, but mental-filled tools and ideas to be used when working with children.
Enthusiasm is the first tool you need in your teacher toolbox. Enthusiasm is the key to being a successful teacher. Effective teachers motivate their students with an enthusiastic style of teaching. The late John Cooper, a good friend who lived in North Carolina, stated, “Effective teachers must be effective actors, communicating what they know through speech and body and facial expressions.” Do you remember your favorite teacher? What made that person great? If you reflect back, I bet it would be their enthusiasm. Those most effective in ministry are those that are most enthusiastic. The craftsperson’s other tools should include props, role-playing, humor, suspense and surprise, space utilization, voices, and body animations.
Props can be anything from a rock, a piece of rope, a hat, a scarf, anything that would help portray the story or character in which you are presenting. When you bring the prop into play, don’t mention what it is, just begin to use it to tell your story or present your lesson. For example, two spies were spying out Jericho and found themselves in Rahab’s house atop the wall. The guards are coming, and they have to escape. Rahab and the Jewish spies tied a red cord in her window, by which the spies escaped … As you tell of the red cord, use a red rope or scarf, simply bring it out and tie it up somewhere to hang down. Don’t say ‘They used a rope or cord, like this one, just use the prop without mentioning it. It is an attention-getter and not mentioning it will get you far more attention and keep everyone involved.
Humor has to be one of my favorite tools. Note that humor is subjective to the audience. What is funny to adults is not always funny to kids. Kids don’t always get jokes or one-liners unless they are kid-oriented. Mispronounced words or saying things out of sequence is very funny to young ones. Physical humor is also very effective with kids. Seeing someone fall, a hat or jacket on backward, or anyone supposedly smacked with a balloon is extremely funny to the 12 and younger crowd.
Suspense and surprise: build the tension and release it. The famous Bible stories do this all the time. You create a hero, the hero is in trouble, you throw rocks at the hero, and the hero is saved. David and Goliath, Noah, Samson, etc… create the suspense and then the surprise, the deliverance, the healing, the miracle.
In role-playing, don’t just tell a Bible story, act it out. Use the kids as part of the characters or props, or you or someone preplanned can come in with a costume on. Animating your body and voice just draws more attention than one could imagine. Using a silly voice, a high voice, or a low voice, along with the physical movement to present what you’re saying will keep the attention of those in attendance. Before you say it, I’ll say it. You’ll make a fool out of yourself sometimes when you work with kids. 1st Corinthians states that we are fools for Christ’s sake, but wise in Christ.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.”