I have hidden Your Word in my heart… Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
The children were huddled together in little clumps around each table, talking excitedly among themselves as they began the activity. On the otherwise empty table were several chocolate pudding cups and a package of wet wipes. This lesson was about to get very messy and very memorable.
Too often churches rely solely on a lecture-based lesson in children’s ministry. While you may have been taught that way when you were a child, it’s not too difficult to agree that it may not be the best method. God created children (and adults!) to learn best using the five senses – smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing. Studies show that the more senses involved in a learning situation, the more likely the child is to retain the information.
Whether you are choosing and preparing the lessons or simply implementing them, you can help the children you’re serving hide God’s word in their hearts more completely. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What will the children see that will help them remember this truth?
- What will the children hear that will help them remember this truth?
- What will the children taste that will help them remember this truth?
- What will the children smell that will help them remember this truth?
- What will the children touch that will help them remember this truth?
Aim to be able to engage at least three of the five senses during the lesson. If you’re teaching about the lost sheep, that might mean bringing in a small piece of wool to pass around or downloading a sound clip of a sheep bleating. Often, we default to telling a story as the hearing portion, but there are some great songs out there that might help cement the biblical lesson. Be creative and don’t be afraid to get a little messy!
When it comes to memorizing Scripture, use fun hand motions, or say the verse multiple times using different voices. (One of my favorite memories is of a teacher in the 4-year-old class who was from England. Those kiddos would come out saying their verses with perfect accents.) Try finding a few pictures that represent key elements in the verse, and have the kids put them in order as they repeat the verse with you.
God invites us to experience Him, and there is no better way to help our children do this than by experiential learning using the five senses.