Another write up of one of the 7*7*7 presentations (7 topics, 7 speakers, 7 minutes) at the recent Anglican Schools Australia conference in Hobart.
My goal as I teach junior school kids in chapels and RE lessons is to inspire them with the awe and wonder of God’s word. Especially with the wonder of the incarnation and salvation work of Jesus.
In my 10 years as a Chaplain I have fallen for some ways which I think in retrospect were not very inspiring. The main one of these is using videos- short, YouTube- type videos by default. Now there are plenty of good videos out there. But I reached a time when I had almost made Youtube my second authority on teaching, after the Bible. This meant I ended up using plenty of B-grade videos.
The screen saturation of our kids today has also challenged me to show them another way.
So while I still use videos when they are Biblically accurate and good quality, I try to teach with enthusiasm and creative in other ways.
With narrative passages I try to tell the story well. In a recent series on King David I made sure I shocked the kids with David’s sin with Bathsheba, hopefully in an age-appropriate way!
In a recent RE class in Year 2, part way through telling the story of Mary and Martha, I got the kids to suggest who they think Jesus would have been happy with, and let the surprise slowly sink in that it was actually Mary- talking with and listening to Jesus, rather than the busy Martha.
Another method to have the kids engaged with what is going on is through acting out the Bible story.
For non-narrative Bible passages I try to find wow- factor illustrations, games or stories; modern- day real-life people living out responses to God’s word.
One of the best I’ve come across for showing how Jesus deals with our sin is this.
For this you will need:
– Sodium Thiosulphate (Chlorine neutraliser- readily available from pool shops)
– iodine (such as Betadine- from a chemist)
– water in a clear jug
– mixing spoon
Into your water throw in some iodine (“sin”). Chat with the kids about how to clean the water- what if we water it down? Try really hard?
Then put in a Tablespoon of Sodium Thiosulphate (this is your “Jesus”). This will gradually make the water totally clear again. (May need a stir).
An example of a person living out their faith is Daniel Flynn from Melbourne. At the age of 19 in response to Jesus’ call on his life he dreamed of selling bottled water and using all the profits to provide clean drinking water to the world’s poor. Thankyou products have now grown to be available in all major supermarkets and include a variety of health and hygiene products that support health and hygiene projects in developing countries.
For games that illustrate what I am trying to teach the kids, I often use ones from a number of books I have acquired over time, or websites such as these: youthgroupgames.com.au, sermons4kids.com.
So let’s get creative and wow the kids in our schools as we teach them about Jesus.
Reverend Mark Holland has served as the Junior School Chaplain at The Hutchins School in Hobart since 2010. Prior to that he was an Anglican church-based Children’s and Youth Minister in Hobart, and a Town Planner and Lobbyist.