|Teaching kids about God. Photo by Cathy|
So one lesson last term I took in a big bowl of minties to my Scripture classes.
Activity one - everyone got a mintie with strict instructions not to open it or eat it. The kids had to balance their mintie on their head while I started the lesson. If it fell off their head they were out of the game and it was a competition to see who could balance it for the longest. When it had gone on for too long I got the final contenders standing, turning circles and doing star jumps until we had a winner. Everyone still had to keep their mintie wrapped and on the top of their desk. All the winner got was the glory, which is a lesson in itself for some kids.
Activity two - reading the Bible passage for the day. Three children came out the front to read. Each child had to read two verses of the six verse passage while balancing a mintie on their head. Then three more children had to read the same passage (two verses each) while balancing two minties on their head. As the passage was about being kind to one another, they got to keep one mintie and give the other away to a friend. Then three more children had to read the passage (two verses each) with an unwrapped mintie poised between their teeth. Without dribbling. Easy way to get the children to hear the passage three times without getting bored, although the third reading was less clear than the first two renderings...
Activity three - two children up the front (a boy and a girl or one from each side of the classroom for a bit of competition) seeing how many times they could throw their mintie up in the air, clap and catch it in the space of 39 seconds (because there are 39 books in the Old Testament.) This was helpful for giving the kids a break midway through the discussion about the passage.
Activity four - at the end of the lesson, as the grand reward, eat the mintie and do the old tearing the mintie wrapper competition to see who can get the longest strip. In only a minute because time is short in a 30 minute lesson.
No book work done that lesson. But lots of Bible reading and discussion. And the children remembered the content of the lesson the following week.
Warning: Minties are very chewy lollies. I wouldn't use them in classes with young children who have mouths full of wobbly teeth. And always get permission from the classroom teacher before doling out vast quantities of lollies.
At about the same time my Sunday School class was also getting a bit tired so I brought along a big bag of marshmallows. Marshmallows, because I have a couple of young children with lots of wobbly teeth in their mouths. We spent some time practising memory verses with marshmallows balanced on our tongues. You could do the "fluffy bunny" game by seeing how many marshmallows you can fit inside your cheeks and still speak/recite your memory verse but this seems such a scurrilous waste of marshmallows to me.
Then a little later on we switched out all the lights in the hall (evening a.k.a. 5pm church) and roasted marshmallows on satay sticks over tea light candles. While we were sitting around our "campfire" we chatted about what we'd been learning during the term, about what it is like to be a Christian, about prayer and lots of other good things. We reconnected as a group and it has been so much better ever since.
Moral of the story - sometimes you just have to pull out something out of the ordinary to shift things back to where they work best. And it can take a surprisingly simple gesture to do so.