Helping Kids Grow in Bible Knowledge

"Serving in our church’s children’s ministry for almost two decades has taught me that not only does “a cheerful heart do good like medicine” but that we also learn more when it’s given with a dose of fun." ~ Rachel Stallard
When my son, Kyle, was 3 years old, I walked in to find a line of his stuffed animals placed the length of my bed, leading to a big stack of pillows. 

Thinking our only child had finally learned to take turns in Mother’s Day Out, I got behind Toothy, the T-Rex, and asked what we were doing. Kyle replied, “They all went to Heaven and now they’re waiting to give Jesus kisses.” Yep. I still cry thinking about it & he just turned 20.

Watching children at play has always been the best way I’ve found to know what’s going on inside their little heads - and often inside their hearts. Serving in our church’s children’s ministry for almost two decades has taught me that not only does “a cheerful heart do good like medicine” but that we also learn more when it’s given with a dose of fun.

You don’t need a lot of supplies to teach your kids Biblical truths. A willing spirit, a bit of imagination, and some very accessible dollar store supplies can take you a long way. Below are a few ideas to help you get started, then let the kids take it from there. You’ll be floating down the Nile in no time! (Figuratively, of course).  

God created the world; 
and made us to be creative too.

Encourage your budding engineers to build something. The world is a big place - and so are refrigerator boxes. Whether it’s a chariot for Queen Esther or a ship from which to throw an errant Jonah, a box makes a great time travel machine.

If you need something bigger than a box, take in the whole room with a blanket fort. These make great caves to hide David and his rag-tag army. They can also double as the Israelites’ tents. This is especially popular when snacks are involved — like manna, which in my mind has to be similar to vanilla wafers. Or crackers. Since nobody really knows, I think this one can be left to the grown-up’s discretion.

If your student needs more structure, I have enjoyed introducing plastic building blocks into the conversation. When Kyle was young, a friend who was moving across the country gave me her older daughters’ Lego® set, assuring me, “You’re going to need these.” They have been a staple in the children’s Sunday School classes ever since.

One of my favorite memories was when a group of 1st grade boys spent a month re-creating Easter scenes. I had to step in when I saw a band of angels being recruited on a secret mission to rescue Jesus off the cross. While acknowledging that is exactly what a Jedi knight would do, I explained God had a different plan and we had to trust it. It was a great day of rejoicing the next week when we got to bust open the tomb. Another one of my favorite stories was when the four men brought their crippled friend to Jesus and he was lowered down through the roof. Building blocks were made for this kind of scenario!

For older students, building is also good for applying measurements to scale. From re-creating Solomon’s temple, to making space for the animals in Noah’s ark, paring down cubits is a great way to find that the Bible is written by the ultimate architect.

Hide God’s Word in their hearts (Psalms 119:11, NIV). 
Whether your little ones are just learning the fine motor skills of making letters or you have older ones working on their penmanship, there is a freedom of expression found in sidewalk chalk. Relatively cheap and easy to clean up, by allowing kids to write or illustrate Bible verses in the driveway they are able to work on hand-writing, drawing and spatial relations.

If the weather is not kind, take your artwork inside. Local printing presses sell the endrolls of their spools before they are completely used up (picture the last bit of toilet paper on a roll, multiplied exponentially.) You can cover the walls with blank newspaper and make your own murals, timelines or wall art. Newsprint is super absorbent so you may need two layers if you use markers. However, it saves on your walls, while giving your budding artists the largest canvas possible.

For something more permanent, let them write and illustrate their own books. A pack of tabloid-size paper (11x17 inches) makes for a reasonably sized book that they can return to often as they learn to apply scripture. You can also buy a spiral journal and let them decorate it as they wish. Don’t throw this away. They will enjoy looking back on it as they get older.

Be doers, and not hearers only. (James 1:22, ESV) 
Make them move. Sitting down and telling a story is a good place to start, but you still want to know that they understood it. Find Bible stories with action and do your best to re-create these moments, even if that means doing extra research. For example, one of our favorite Sunday School activities on a sunshiny day was Marching Around Jericho. In preparing for our lesson, I discovered scholars thought it was a mile around the walls. We couldn’t stage 13 miles in an hour, but I did draw out an area large enough to be a challenge by “Day 7.” As we made a lap, then returned to our base for pretend sleeps between our trips, it became apparent how important it was that the Israelites obeyed God. The fact they had to remain completely quiet on each lap around was an added obstacle.
At our house, stuffed animals became essential characters in all of our stories. When the bears weren’t up to some kind of mischief (usually a re-enactment of something Kyle had gotten in trouble for earlier that day), they were called upon to act out our Sunday School lessons. One of my favorites were the three stuffed lions we used to tell the story of the prodigal son. Shaggy and Kabaggy were the perfect examples of sibling rivalry as papa lion, Jude, tried to teach his sons about unconditional love and forgiveness.

Being a boy mom has taken me places I never would have gone by myself. In particular, I have come to appreciate the book of Judges. I’m assuming I had skimmed over Ehud, the left-handed Benjamite, in the past because that one caught me off-guard. But now that I teach young women, I realize the lessons are no different. They need strong Biblical role models too. As I looked for a way to relate to our youth girls’ Sunday School class, I sacrificed one of my Wonder Woman collectibles so we could have a meaningful discussion on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). It’s been a few years, but I still get regular texts from the girls about suiting up for battle. And every fall, we have to compare new boot photos as we talk about lacing up to carry the Gospel of Peace. Making the armor our own has made a difference in how we mentally prepare for the enemy.

Recently, I began teaching a group of American Heritage Girls at our church. Ranging in age from 5 to 10, we had to explain Jesus’ lineage as delicately as possible. Focusing on the five women listed in Matthew 1: 1-16, we made a family tree using Fashion Plates® (Another fun discovery from my past that I didn’t know still existed!). Even though the girls’ clothing choices for Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary were each different, they all had the same great, long-flowing hair. It made me realize they might understand how genetics worked after all.

The most important thing about teaching children about the Bible is to actively look and listen for everyday moments you can use to remind them of how much God loves them; and how we can love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, body and mind - even in our play.

Blessings Soul Friends,


Rachel Stallard is a freelance writer living in Kilgore, Texas. Her day job is working around students at Kilgore College.  She enjoys reading stories of inspiring women and plans to someday write a book. 


Download this free printable Scripture Reading list with 31 verses about 'legacy'.

No Comments