Parents of preschool children and preschool teachers are prepared for children who get the wiggles. For a wide variety of reasons, there are now also many older children and teens who have trouble sitting still in class. Whether it’s from lack of self control, a physical condition or their preferred learning style, adding movement and touch to your class or your home Bible studies will help these children learn better.
Unfortunately, in many cases the movement provided as suggestions in curriculum is shallow and doesn’t add much meaning to the subject. Allowing children to run around a room for fifteen minutes popping balloons and then saying “This is how Jesus pops our sin”, isn’t really teaching these active children anything.
The good news is that there are many meaningful ways to give children who need to move to learn, the extra help they need to understand the Bible. If you are looking for ideas, check under hands-on learning or project based learning. Whenever possible you want the activity to have a very strong connection to the Bible story or concept.
If you are studying about unleavened bread and Passover in your house for example, find a simple recipe for unleavened bread and have your child help you make it. We have even done this activity many times at Church. Just make the bread towards the beginning of class and let someone bake it in the church kitchen while you continue the lesson.
Learning about David and Goliath? Make an ancient sling out of leather scraps and use a pingpong ball for a stone. Let your movement learners see if they can hit a “lion” (target) like David. Have items similar to what was mentioned in the Bible? These children will understand the Bible a lot better if they can touch the fig and taste the fig – not just hear about it or see it.
Learners who need movement or touch to learn, also sometimes memorize best when moving. If you have ever watched the National Spelling Bee, these are often the kids drawing out words with their feet or doing some sort of little dance to remember. Have your child make up movements to go with memorizing scripture. Teach them ASL (sign language) and have them learn scriptures in ASL.
If you discover a child is truly just lacking in self-control and is not a “physical” learner, now is the time to work with him on more appropriate behavior in a learning/work situation. Your intervention will make him more employable in the future. Remember though, to some extent, all children learn better when they can use all of their senses. It will enhance any child’s learning of the Bible to use some of these ideas. The truly “physical” learner will benefit the most from these extra activities.
What are the most meaningful hands-on activities you have seen used to teach the Bible? I would love for you to share your experiences to help others working with “physical” learners.