How to study Bible with children

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A few weeks ago we had a fantastic workshop by Aleta Samford on how to teach Bible class, or simply the Bible, and how to have that enthusiasm for the Scriptures and teach as Bible teachers and mothers.

Needless to say a good teacher of the Bible is someone who reads the LIVING WORD of God and applies it into her life, someone who is eager to share with others, starting with her own children, that what she has learned from the Scriptures.

Charlotte Mason inspired people like me call books that aren't twaddle living books, but I want to clarify that in truth there is only one living book, the Bible, the others are wholesome or sometimes referred as living, but the word has a different meaning, they are books that "come alive" and that are written from a first source, and that contain language and stories that shape the character and teach you. The Bible does all that and MORE. To me and many others is our code of conduct, we follow the Bible literally, without adding or taking away anything. The Bible is our back spine for history, science, geography (when it speaks on these matters), and the INSPIRED WORD OF GOD. We don't worship the Bible, but we worship the God the Bible tells us it's the Only True Living God, and we worship and live as a constant strive in the manner the Bible tells us to worship and live.

Back to how to study and teach the Bible at home or with a group of children, Aleta brought a book to our attention called
THE SEVEN LAWS OF TEACHING. I'm quoting and restating what Aleta presented that day here in blue: 

Illustrated Bible and two Bible dictionaries of words
and people and places that I bough for little this past summer.
1. The law of the teacher. We need to know our material to present well. Read the Bible story from the original and from the Bible you are using with them. Know the details. Prepare with time, know your students, communicate the lessons with the parents if you are teaching a group. Plan well. It shouldn't be too laborious or dreadful but exciting to read ahead and prepare for the lessons. 


2. The law of the student. As parents we need to be sure our children are taught the habit of attention, of listening and obeying. If they don't listen and obey us how do you expect them to listen and obey God. As a mother I know my responsibility is to prepare my children to receive the teachings with a good heart.


3. The law of the language. Aleta stated that when she teaches a Bible class she doesn't use for decoration any secular theme, neither talking animals. Fantasy has its place as fantasy when we read tales. The Bible teaches truths, and she recommends we present them as such, with a not watered down language, but remembering that words have more than one meaning, and listening for the children feedback to see if they are being understood. Minding the age and particularities of each group.


4.The law of the lesson. Present the lesson through truth already known, making the most of the students' knowledge and experience. Begin with simple concrete facts, lead to the abstract. Encourage them to state what they know. 
When you prepare the lesson, read the Bible text twice at least and with attention to details. Ask yourself the six W questions (who, why, what, when, where, how). Relate every lesson to their experiences and prior lessons too. 



5.The law of the teaching process
. This was very exciting to hear, that John Milton Gregory also pointed to the fact that the students need to discover the truth themselves, that it is insulting to mull it, masticate it, and lecture the lesson on their behalf. They need to think by themselves, and we should use as many senses as possible, and as Aleta wrote TELL HIM NOTHING HE CAN LEARN HIMSELF.


6.The law of the learning process. The pupil must reproduce in his own mind the truth to be learned. Teach them to ask: a) What's happening?, b) What does it mean?, c) How can I say what I mean in my own words?, d) Do I believe what the lesson tells me? Why?, e) What is the good of it -how may I apply and use the knowledge the lesson gives?

We shouldn't forget to ask students to express the lesson in their own words. We should make students independent investigators, cultivate in them the habit of research. Test often their conceptions to see if they are getting it, help them develop a regard for truth as something noble and enduring, and don't leave them consciously confused. Never fail to guide them in making practical application.



7.The law of review and application. "All that has been accomplished lies hidden in the minds of the pupils, and lies there as potency rather than a possession" (from The Seven Laws of Teaching pg. 115). Review is more than repetition. It serves us to confirm, perfect, render knowledge ready and useful. No teaching is complete without the review. When reviewing, bring old knowledge into fresh light.

The subconscious continues to work with the knowledge gathered (the same way as in your preparation of the lesson).

To get ready to teach recollect some simple visuals. I use an illustrated Bible, images from a Bible dictionary will come in handy too. I also have cards from the Drills CD and they include fourteen cards that depict the Bible time line in an easy yet powerful way.

Think of a timeline in nine or ten easy sentences:
* God had a plan before he created the world
* First Fathers (Adam, Noah, Abraham)
* Moses
* Judges
* Kings that take and loose the Land
* Homesick heroes (Esther, Daniel)
* Home again heroes
* Bible Silence
* Christ is born
* God's plan for YOU.

This is how I approach Bible study at home. We have started chronologically not long ago, and currently we are learning about Moses.

- I present them with the timeline, they recite with me, some days they put it in order themselves.

Prior to the lesson, read the Bible story from the Bible you'll read and from yours. I use KJ or NKJ and the Spanish Bible I'll be reading. Get soaked in the details and descriptions. You can even ORALLY tell them the story with your own words versus reading it or before reading it.

- Have an opening prayer specific to the lesson. Sing a song that goes with the lesson before and/or after. For older children, hymns that tie to the lesson are great to learn in context.

Have a card or picture for the story, ask them to place it where it falls in the time line. Show it to them, ask them to describe it to you. You can show them the picture from your illustrated Bible as well. Older children enjoy the art that some illustrated Bibles have even if you are reading from your KJ Bible.

During and after presenting the lesson, ask a few questions or allow for their comments, do not talk for long without their input.

I like having small pictures of the characters of the Bible. They like to put the couples together, their children underneath, and this is great for review to start solidifying the genealogies and making connections.

- When teaching more than your own children, or even at home, it is nice to give them a picture, a card, and to have their attention until it's their time to stand up and place that on the flannel board, or under the wall timelime, or on the kitchen table.

Instead of lessons that seem disconnected and out of the blues, placing things in a timeline, and reviewing the family tree or the relationship between the characters involved in the lesson helps them for example to see Moses as the one who will carry on the promise of LAND that God made to Abraham before, instead of a different, new and disjointed story we are learning about today. Aleta commented how her students, after having studied and having become acquainted with David, their hero who killed lions and Goliath, they were devastated when they learned about his sin with Batsheva. This happens to me as an adult. I have many dots not connected yet that I'm trying to fill in context studying more. Today I need to research if there is any information about how long Moses might have been nursed and cared for by his mother before he was sent to Pharaoh's daughter.

It is amazing and fascinating all the history, geography, about other cultures and more that we learn through the Bible. I believe we fail sometimes to put the BIBLE at the head of our academic studies in order and importance, to recognize it as the Book that tells us the story of mankind not just what we read "during church" or in an non disconnected manner.

 - Allow them to illustrate and draw the lesson while you read it or tell it or after. Telling a story with pictures it's not a thing of little ones but of all ages. I join my daughters at times with this.

- In a group with several children, have them act out the lesson. This is is what I enjoy the most in a class with several students.

- March to simple made up tunes such as:
  * Potiphar believed his wife...Potiphar believed his wife
  * And he sent Joseph to jail....and he sent Joseph to jail.

- Next day do not forget the LAW OF REVIEWING what was covered the day before. Do not move too fast. LESS IS MORE. Do not drag and make it too the same, drill type.

Most of the days we start reviewing the books of the New Testament:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Acts and a letter to the Romans,
First and Second Corinthians,
Galatians and Ephesians,
Philippians, Colossians,
First and Second Thesalonians,
First and Second Timothy,
Titus and Philemon,
Hebrews, James,
First and Second Peter,
First and Second and Third John
Jude and Revelation




We also have a song for the Old Testament to the tune of I'm a little teapot:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus
Numbers, Deuteronomy, sing with me
Joshua, Judges, then we have Ruth,
I love God's Word, that's the truth,
First and Second Samuel, first and second Kings,
first and second Chronicles sing with me,
Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job,
Psalms and Proverbs, nineteen more to go,
Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon,
Old Testament books, sing with me the song
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezequiel,
Daniel, Hosea, then we have Joel,
Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah
Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah,
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi,
Thirty nine books, yes you're right.

We may work on the 12 tribes of Israel:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi
Judah, Isachaar,
Zebulon, Naphtali,
Gad, Dan, Asher,
Joseph and Benjamin,
twelve tribes of Israel.

And later we'll attack the apostles and the judges. There are songs for the tribes and judges, and to go with the Bible timeline in Aleta's book, sing with me the story.These memory work is ongoing, and it's learned little by little. But a month of regular practice will bear great fruits.

We have also worked on memory verses, and we might do it again. But I've seen that they forget them after they learned them for the lesson (which it's not necessarily bad, there is value in memorizing a verse that goes with a lesson for that week). However, I like them to learn what I've shown above, amazingly enough it will help you recognize the twelve tribes as the Leah's ten sons, and the two younger and favorite ones from Rachel. Or to see that Samson was a judge, Joshua too, and to immediately situate those events as happening before the time of the kings.

For memory work I also like to read a psalm or proverb in its entirety for a month or two. I haven't memorized this much yet, neither the girls, but some psalms and chapters in certain books are very familiar if we have done this practice, so this is something to grow into for sure. We also learn hymns from memory in addition to any songs that tie with the lesson.
I was devastated last year when everyone in my oldest daughter class could recite the NT books and she couldn't. I know I shouldn't compare, but that feeling of having failed in a situation where everybody else's children could do something mine couldn't made me feel very uneasy and down.

I thank the mature lady that had no shame in telling me about this so that we (I didn't know the books by heart either) learned them together. I never thought five year old children (and even three years old children) could learn all this but they can. We are ALWAYS improving our study and memory work. They don't know the OT fully yet, they get stuck a bit but the oldest is almost there. We haven't been doing the psalm or proverb reading lately, we need to improve in this area. We are ALWAYS refocusing and back to the task and joy of learning all this. Do not look at what they don't know or you haven't done. Look at what you want to accomplish and start with one small step at a time.  
* I do not receive any commission for showing any
of the products you see in this post. All are things I have
and  work for me. I encourage you to look at what you
 may use in your case, and the best deal for you. 


19 opinion(s):

wonderinthewoods said...

Silvia, for me my faith is so simple that I cannot imagine doing this much studying and memorizing. I read the Bible stories to my kids, but not from the Bible. H's favorite is David and Goliath in the William Bennett book. We are not memorizing scripture either. I don't know how you make sense of the context of the Bible and where you research additional information such as Moses' time with his first mother.

I ask myself do my children love God? Are they learning God's virtues? I will not let Bible studies or even church (if it is tedious or boring) to get in the way of their love of God.

I hope you know what I'm trying to say. I think if a child enjoys these studies and it is fun for them, then great! If not, I would not do them or for a very short time per day.

My very liberal 2 cents. :)

I hope you are enjoying everything. I sense a reluctance toward other books in your recent posts and on our friend's blog too.

Hugs, Cori

Silvia said...

Cori, as we were reading and learning about Moses, my oldest daughter asked at when did Moses left his mother and went to live with Pharaoh's daughter, that is why I said we will research that.
I don't do this because it's "fun", we learn about the Bible because I believe it's our main focus in life, and my daughters do not resent it or experience this as tedious or boring. Attending services it's not part of our entertaining but it's not a chore either, it's a way of nourishing our souls and developing a relationship with God.
I appreciate your comments ALWAYS, you know that too ;-), even if I do have a different understanding of God and life.
As for reluctance toward other books, I'm totally clueless here...ah, wait, I think you may talk about the fables and Greek myths in Ellen post.
Some books I disapprove, yes, and some I do not use at certain ages. We all have a threshold of accepting and rejecting based on our believes, even if some seem broader do not think we are restrained, bored or resented for not reading some books, or not participating in certain activities.
And yes, I guess you can say I'm conservative, LOL. I'm not hiding it, but we laugh and enjoy too, you know that!
(BTW, I just saw your knitting and it looks formidable, as neat as the baskets. And you won't believe it, the poem you posted about with that cute pic, we've read it TOO). I'm not posting the pics and fun in this blog, you know my private one, there is where I'm posting more personal. This one may be looking too aseptic, but it's not.
Hugs,
s

Silvia said...

"I meant AT WHAT AGE" did Moses go back to Pharaoh's daughter.

wonderinthewoods said...

Silvia, I'm referring to our recent conversations on Books for Breakfast and after. ;) Yes, I know we have different approaches and this is OK. I guess I'm just trying to say that my focus is loving God and teaching them to pray. H watched a Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible video, which is made for kids!, and then he would not pray aloud after that because he was afraid it was against the law and he would be killed. :( He still does not pray aloud but talks about God and tells me what he says to God.

Silvia said...

Ah, yes, the conversations on Books for Breakfast, LOL. That's right. I believe there are some books and literature I won't read myself or to my girls, but that to me it's of no limitation or deprivation. There are clothes I don't wear, foods I don't eat, activities I don't engage in and that's life, choosing and acting upon your believes.
Cori, I have no idea of that video, I'm sorry if it impacted H wrongly (praying against the law? That's certainly strange. If it was about heroes, I'm guessing it may have been about Daniel whose life was threatened for not bowing down to the king but for praying to His Lord, but that doesn't mean praying is against His law, but it can be against the law of the land at that time that's why Daniel broke it. But that's a guess).
For our faith we learn from reading the Bible, and I read "if you love me keep my commandments", which for us it's not a contradiction or a traumatic experience.
As I said I'm not postmodern, relativistic, or have situational ethics. I believe in an unchanging, absolute, only true God. My way of respecting people doesn't include to tell them what they think it's right for them and what I think it's right for me in matters of faith. I believe in one Truth, revealed in the Bible to us, and my respect for those who don't believe this it's to present them with this message, and to also back off if they don't want to hear it, and to not feel superior to them because it is not me who is righteous or perfect but Christ our Lord.
I know this may be very overwhelming, or come across as very harsh or strong, but I'm only writing because you know me and you know I'm typing with love and respect and not with pride or chastisement. I'll just close this by saying my girls like to hear the Word being read, talk about it, and what I wrote in this post is what we do (not every day everything) and works for us that's why I wanted to share with anyone who wants to take from it anything or everything.
Hugs,
s

Amy in Peru said...

Silvia,
From this post one might think you had a whole classroom of kids! You guys do a LOT with Bible! :) Is that the overacheiver in you coming out again?! heheh. ;)

We are alas quite a bit more relaxed in this area as far as what we DO, though I think we consider this area just as important as you do! :)

We read aloud straight from the Bible and Bible story books (in English and Spanish), at some point my kids learn the books of the Bible by song as well. We do work on memory verses as a family in a methodical but relaxed SCM sort of way. Just now, Micah and I and the older boys (12 & 11) have decided it was time to learn by memory longer passages, they're working on the book of James and have the first 5 verses so far (in Spanish).

:)

amy in peru

Silvia said...

Amy, I think I didn't express myself correctly.
My post is a mix of what I do at home and what I do on Wednesdays and Sunday class with a small group of children, but a group indeed. And also over a period of time, not in ONE day.
Basically we start off with the story, the timeline cards take us a few minutes, only when I introduced them first it took a bit longer. The recitation of the OT and NT books can happen anywhere (such as when they are swinging, in the car, sometimes before our Bible time), the rest is the development of the story with their questions, comments, and our bunny trails. I'm not justifying myself (you all are friends and I know I don't have to ;-), but I assure you my girls LOVE their Bible study, they don't get tired of listening to the stories, or illustrating somethings, etc. And if they ever moan or something during the "routines" I just cut it and move on with the story, that never fails. We stay from 10 to 20 minutes depending on the day. Our classes are 45 minutes, and then yes, we sing, act out, move some, for 45 minutes without preparing well are long (ask me how I know, LOL).
Hope this makes more sense, and despite of me being an overachiever, I have developed this inability to push, force or lecture children when teaching. The more I live the more I can't sit down and demand what is not right or in the right way, it just doesn't make sense anymore. That is why I over plan but don't overcook my girls.

No Ordinary Me said...

What a wonderful post full of wonderful help! Thanks!!

Kim said...

Thanks Silvia for all of these wonderful tips and suggestions for Bible study! I strive to make the study of our Bible and memorizing God's Word the core of all we do during the day. And the timeline pictures are great and seem very helpful :) It's amazing how much 3, 4 and 5-year-olds can memorize! When my son was 3, he began memorizing the lyrics to the Bob the Builder song and I told myself that if he can do that, he will surely memorize Scripture! So we began with Psalm 23, one of my favorites, and within 8 months he AND I had memorized the entire Psalm from my version of the Bible, the New American Standard. Yes, it was a long process but we would sing the verses together and he made it! He has memorized so many other verses too and now we're on to Psalm 100. I love it because I'm memorizing so much Scripture along with him, in addition to Bible stories and historical events, that I never learned as a child.

The other benefit of memorizing Scripture for us has been character training and obedience - my son clearly sees that God is commanding obedience from children by memorizing Ephesians 6:1-3 and that he is commanded to love God and those around him as we memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 and Mark 12:30-31. It's the standard by which we live and that will not change as my son grows older. And when the time comes for my son to be called out by God and to believe the Gospel, that Christ died for his sins and rose again so he could have new life, then he will have a treasury of verses hidden in his little heart and will be on his way to walking closely with God.

As for the other commenter stating that she won't allow Bible studies or church, if tedious, to get in the way of loving God...it is through these things among others that children come to love God. If children see their parents spending time in God's Word, getting to know Christ, talking about Christ, living out the life Christ has commanded, they will see that and want that too. One cannot know the true God without knowing Christ and one cannot know Christ without reading the Bible and learning of HIM from the only Living Book.

Silvia said...

I'm glad it helped, No Ordinary Me (Chrissy). It's just ideas, as for how to cater them to your own situation, that is, my friends, the fine art of teaching and learning.
And Kim, I'm glad if it inspired you too. That you say you can memorize all that it's also very inspiring, for if you don't try it will remain a mystery to how young children will be able to do this. As you say, MODELING is the key, I agree. And memorizing has value to me. It will be bad if that were all we do, true, but there is a sense of accomplishment, some later connections, and the discipline the process of memorizing entitles (whether a poem, a psalm, a group of verses, a song, number facts, states and capitals, the names of the judges...) is worth in itself, imo. Lately with all the emphasis on reasoning, memorizing has gotten a bad reputation, but it still has its place. Again, the balance to how much, how early, how often, that's what we have to figure out ourselves.

Kim said...

Thanks Silvia for all of these wonderful tips and suggestions for Bible study! I strive to make the study of our Bible and memorizing God's Word the core of all we do during the day. And the timeline pictures are great and seem very helpful :) It's amazing how much 3, 4 and 5-year-olds can memorize! When my son was 3, he began memorizing the lyrics to the Bob the Builder song and I told myself that if he can do that, he will surely memorize Scripture! So we began with Psalm 23, one of my favorites, and within 8 months he AND I had memorized the entire Psalm from my version of the Bible, the New American Standard. Yes, it was a long process but we would sing the verses together and he made it! He has memorized so many other verses too and now we're on to Psalm 100. I love it because I'm memorizing so much Scripture along with him, in addition to Bible stories and historical events, that I never learned as a child.

The other benefit of memorizing Scripture for us has been character training and obedience - my son clearly sees that God is commanding obedience from children by memorizing Ephesians 6:1-3 and that he is commanded to love God and those around him as we memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 and Mark 12:30-31. It's the standard by which we live and that will not change as my son grows older. And when the time comes for my son to be called out by God and to believe the Gospel, that Christ died for his sins and rose again so he could have new life, then he will have a treasury of verses hidden in his little heart and will be on his way to walking closely with God.

As for the other commenter stating that she won't allow Bible studies or church, if tedious, to get in the way of loving God...it is through these things among others that children come to love God. If children see their parents spending time in God's Word, getting to know Christ, talking about Christ, living out the life Christ has commanded, they will see that and want that too. One cannot know the true God without knowing Christ and one cannot know Christ without reading the Bible and learning of HIM from the only Living Book.

Amy in Peru said...

Silvia,
From this post one might think you had a whole classroom of kids! You guys do a LOT with Bible! :) Is that the overacheiver in you coming out again?! heheh. ;)

We are alas quite a bit more relaxed in this area as far as what we DO, though I think we consider this area just as important as you do! :)

We read aloud straight from the Bible and Bible story books (in English and Spanish), at some point my kids learn the books of the Bible by song as well. We do work on memory verses as a family in a methodical but relaxed SCM sort of way. Just now, Micah and I and the older boys (12 & 11) have decided it was time to learn by memory longer passages, they're working on the book of James and have the first 5 verses so far (in Spanish).

:)

amy in peru

Silvia said...

Amy, I think I didn't express myself correctly.
My post is a mix of what I do at home and what I do on Wednesdays and Sunday class with a small group of children, but a group indeed. And also over a period of time, not in ONE day.
Basically we start off with the story, the timeline cards take us a few minutes, only when I introduced them first it took a bit longer. The recitation of the OT and NT books can happen anywhere (such as when they are swinging, in the car, sometimes before our Bible time), the rest is the development of the story with their questions, comments, and our bunny trails. I'm not justifying myself (you all are friends and I know I don't have to ;-), but I assure you my girls LOVE their Bible study, they don't get tired of listening to the stories, or illustrating somethings, etc. And if they ever moan or something during the "routines" I just cut it and move on with the story, that never fails. We stay from 10 to 20 minutes depending on the day. Our classes are 45 minutes, and then yes, we sing, act out, move some, for 45 minutes without preparing well are long (ask me how I know, LOL).
Hope this makes more sense, and despite of me being an overachiever, I have developed this inability to push, force or lecture children when teaching. The more I live the more I can't sit down and demand what is not right or in the right way, it just doesn't make sense anymore. That is why I over plan but don't overcook my girls.

wonderinthewoods said...

Silvia, I'm referring to our recent conversations on Books for Breakfast and after. ;) Yes, I know we have different approaches and this is OK. I guess I'm just trying to say that my focus is loving God and teaching them to pray. H watched a Greatest Heroes and Legends of the Bible video, which is made for kids!, and then he would not pray aloud after that because he was afraid it was against the law and he would be killed. :( He still does not pray aloud but talks about God and tells me what he says to God.

Silvia said...

Cori, as we were reading and learning about Moses, my oldest daughter asked at when did Moses left his mother and went to live with Pharaoh's daughter, that is why I said we will research that.
I don't do this because it's "fun", we learn about the Bible because I believe it's our main focus in life, and my daughters do not resent it or experience this as tedious or boring. Attending services it's not part of our entertaining but it's not a chore either, it's a way of nourishing our souls and developing a relationship with God.
I appreciate your comments ALWAYS, you know that too ;-), even if I do have a different understanding of God and life.
As for reluctance toward other books, I'm totally clueless here...ah, wait, I think you may talk about the fables and Greek myths in Ellen post.
Some books I disapprove, yes, and some I do not use at certain ages. We all have a threshold of accepting and rejecting based on our believes, even if some seem broader do not think we are restrained, bored or resented for not reading some books, or not participating in certain activities.
And yes, I guess you can say I'm conservative, LOL. I'm not hiding it, but we laugh and enjoy too, you know that!
(BTW, I just saw your knitting and it looks formidable, as neat as the baskets. And you won't believe it, the poem you posted about with that cute pic, we've read it TOO). I'm not posting the pics and fun in this blog, you know my private one, there is where I'm posting more personal. This one may be looking too aseptic, but it's not.
Hugs,
s

lovinteachin said...

I really like your blog and this page gave me some great ideas to try with my own girls. Thanks!

SilviaBlogs said...

I'm glad to hear that. And please do not be intimidated by all this information. Remember I do not do ALL this every single day at all. We mainly read the account, practice some memory work during the week, and most things are long term goals that we practice little by little.

warmly,
silvia

HomeGrownKids said...

Loved this post Silvia,
Good mix of ideas and tips for people to use in their family life :)

Silvia said...

Thanks, HomeGrownKids... as I said in the comments, I did not intend to overwhelm or give the impression that we DID all this, or that we are super examples of memory work as well as content understanding and application... I mean that it pays to prepare a bit, to learn with them, to use several resources, and to be a bit 'ambitious' so to speak, with memory work, map and Bible facts... it's not that difficult. And illustrating the lessons is something MOST if not all children and grown ups like.

Since this post, I've added Catherine Voss's Bible for Children, it's great. http://www.amazon.com/Childs-Story-Bible-Catherine-Vos/dp/0802850111/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315167754&sr=1-1

Thanks for stopping by!

 

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