One of the issues I have while teaching is that most of the kids have a cell phone or a tablet with them at all times or at least as often as they can get away with. In my church, this is true in classes as young as 3rd grade. My struggle is attempting to teach self-discipline with these devices.
My first attempt was a ban on these devices. In other words put them in your pocket out of sight. However, since technology is so prevalent, I wondered if there was a way to take my students’ love for selfies and turn it around to make something positive out of it. The question, of course, is how to incorporate their self exploration, focus on friends and obsession with technology into the Sunday school class environment in a positive way.
In my experience I found it best to begin with the basics, by expanding on what the lesson is about. To start, roles were assigned to each class member and they reenacted the Bible story verse by verse. You might choose a narrator or participate as the narrator yourself. It was surprising how many students wanted to be the person recording the event, so feel free to share that role and alternate the videographer between scenes.
The kids actually begged to watch the scenes again and again. Over the next several weeks the roles of the students expanded and they acted out the verses in their own words. Of course there were several retakes, but this allowed for discussion as to what actually happened as opposed to what the students wanted to happen or perceived happened.
One of my favorite retellings had to do with the story of Mary at the feet of Jesus while Martha was in the kitchen. The child playing Martha was so skilled at her portrayal of preparing the meal that the actor portraying Jesus felt the need to lecture Mary to get up and go help. That ended up being a great opportunity for additional discussion as to why Mary actually made the correct choice. However, it did take some persuasion for the person in the role of Jesus to act out the scene as it was originally intended. Being modeled after Martha myself, I was able to share my personal struggles with this lesson and that it is important not to focus so much on the many activities that I assign myself trying to work for Jesus but that it is better to focus on what Jesus wanted me to learn about Him.
Don’t worry about the way the video turns out. Even as technology-minded as kids are today, our videos are far from perfect and most of the time we did not save or replay the videos again. We did, however, recently utilize our study on the Passover to put together a video that we showed to our church family and presented as a video created by our kids. I used Windows Movie Maker to make a basic edit and it turned out great. Of course it was less than 2 minutes and the audience was the church family so maybe it would be more accurate to say the video was “endearing.”
But no matter how you look at it, whether we are struggling with balancing activities like Martha or managing our time with technology, the bottom line is turning our focus to the teachings on the Bible, the word of God, which is what Sunday school is all about, right? Have fun with it!
You can also see a list of all of Kim’s blog posts here.