Learning to Use the Bible

When we teach God’s sacred Bible stories with Godly Play we tell the stories; we don’t read them. We present them as we would share any moving, inspiring, amazing stories we want others to know about. And in our storytelling, we use simple objects that help the children live in the story, imagine it, feel it.

But we also want the children to be able to find and read the story for themselves.

How do we teach our children to use the Bible?

I’m sure other churches use many different methods to teach children Bible skills. Often in our class we’ve managed to include reading the Bible story during closing. It takes an effort to budget time for this, but the kids seem to enjoy reading the story after they’ve explored it, and often choose to mark it so that they can find it again. And while we’re finding it in the Bible to read together (letting volunteers take turns,) we can talk about how the Old and New Testament is divided, in which book the story is found, and whether the book is found in the Books of Law, Books of History, Prophets, etc.

I have a few other suggestions for methods I’d like to try this year.

I’ve made some boards for our classroom, one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. I would put these boards within easy reach of the circle space, where the children sit during the sharing of the story and closing.

During closing, after we’ve read the story from the Bibles and are going through our closing routines, we would take a slip of paper on which someone has written the title of the lesson (Ex. “The Parable of the Leaven” or “The Great Flood” ) Then one of the children would tape the title of the lesson on the correct board, in the correct section.
Let me show you what I mean.

Here are the boards:

Each one has the different sections of the Bible, with a visual of the books included in each section. Even the first graders could begin to look for the book Genesis, for example, on the chart. So if we were doing the story of The Great Flood, we’d take a slip of paper with that title on it (either pre-printed or written out by a child) and tape it under the Books of Law. I’ve counted the stories that we do for the year and have made sure I’ve left enough room for all of the titles under the different sections.

Here you can see that I’ve gone ahead and taped up three stories under the Gospels, to give you an idea how big I make the slips. You can tell by the amount of space I’ve given here that most of our stories come from this section.

Actually this was a great exercise for me, because it made me really look at where most of our stories fall and caused me to consider adding other stories from other sections.

I think this will be more helpful to children than just reminding them that Genesis is in the Books of the Law section, or pointing to a poster with the different sections on it. When the child has to take the title and search for the book and physically put it where it goes, I think it helps them remember more effectively.

Another thing I hope our teachers will want to do this year, especially with the older children, is to mark these sections in the class sets of Bibles, so that when we look stories up during the closing, the children can easily see in which section the books are found.

There are plenty of marking flags on the market. I’ve tried these:

See?

They’re removable, so if anyone objects later, they can always take them off.

My handwriting isn’t beautiful. I could have used printed labels and that might be a good idea for little hands that might struggle with writing on such a small tab.

I can imagine a class of older children working on the labeling together. For the younger ones, it might be better for adults to do the labeling themselves.

Any other ideas for teaching Bible skills within a class of Godly Play? If they fit with the philosophy of Godly Play, I’d love to try them. Email me your ideas and I’ll be happy to share!