To Wiggle or Not to Wiggle
One primary age curriculum I used revealed a challenge that is common in classes, especially those with children. The challenge of “wiggles” is a never-ending battle because children were made to wiggle, and keeping them from doing it is impossible!
This class consisted of eight to twelve primary-age students and two kindergartners who came to class with their older siblings because they were fearful of going to class by themselves. The older brothers helped their younger siblings with the lessons. It seemed to make them happy, and it made me smile to see them helping each other and learning about Jesus.
When I first began using the curriculum, the challenge appeared. Each lesson began with a memory verse and a Bible story. Then it continued with a fictional story to present the application of the material learned in the lesson. By the time my students got through the memory work, the first story, and discussion about the Bible Story, they were extremely restless in their seats. I knew they would not be happy if they had to sit through another story! Therefore, I decided to do an activity with them instead.
From that day on, I always planned a Bible-learning activity that reinforced the lesson. By adding activity time, the students learned through “doing” rather than just sitting and listening. Though the children knew they had to work through the Bible story time, they knew they would be able to do a fun activity afterwards. The children were excited about coming to class because they always wondered what activity I had planned for the day. Also, by having activity time it gave the students time and opportunity to quietly visit and get to know one another.
The problem with the curriculum was that it did not fit the attention span of the students. As a result, the students were getting bored instead of enjoying learning God’s word. This boredom inspired talking, poking each other, leaning back on their chairs, and other forms of misbehavior.
One great way to overcome this “wiggle” problem is to include Bible-teaching activities and student participation as a regular part of your weekly lesson. These activities provide active learning experiences instead of only sitting and listening to someone else speak.
Bible-learning activities can include a variety of things as long as they apply to the lesson being taught. Through the activity, the power of the Holy Spirit will implant something from the lesson in the student’s mind. If the activity plants a “memory” in the student, they are going to remember the lesson better.
Some examples of Bible-teaching activities can include object lessons, educational games, scripture-memory activities, art activities, puzzles, hidden pictures, mazes, coloring activities, paper crafts such as making greeting cards, origami, food crafts, nature crafts and walks, field trips, and any other activity that reinforces the Bible lesson.
Some valuable sources of activities can be found on the internet, in Christian bookstores, and even in the activity books found in supermarkets. These are wonderful tools for enhancing the lesson so long as they add to the lesson and are not “time fillers” or “time killers.” (See the previous article entitled ‘Time Fillers, Time Killers, and Time Redeemers.’)