Creative Bible Learning
- Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Understanding God's Word is a key focus in homeschooling. This article offers creative ways to study God's Word. Most of us are familiar with the three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. You've probably noticed that not all members of your family have the same learning preference. So it's important to teach our children using various styles. Research also shows that we learn better by involving more of our senses. More is retained if a child sees and hears than if he just hears. More is retained if he learns by doing, rather than only hearing. As home educators, we've discovered that we learn the most when we try to teach others. This is also true for our children. These Bible learning activities can help our children solidify and express what they are learning from God's Word.
A Chapter a Day
Here's a creative way to read and discuss the Gospels and Acts with your children. Give each person a pencil and paper. While you read one chapter aloud, they draw or write something from that passage. Afterwards, each person shares his drawing and something he learned about God in that chapter.
This format gives your children a directed activity while you read. They can listen better when their hands are busy. It encourages originality. They can focus on drawing one point in the chapter, or several points. This process gives a sense of suspense--no one knows what the others are drawing! My children covered their papers as they drew, so no one could sneak a peak or copy. We were all always eager to see what each had drawn.
This process will reveal much about your children. One of my sons usually drew detailed pictures of specific items, like a whip or a Roman column. Sometimes we would challenge him, saying, "That wasn't in the chapter!" Then we'd check the chapter, and sure enough, it was there and he noticed it. Sometimes I wondered, "How can he pay attention to what I'm reading when he's so engrossed in his drawing?" But I learned that he was better able to concentrate on all that was read if he was drawing. My daughter usually picked out key words from the chapter and drew them in unique designs. Her paper gave a chapter summary at a glance. When she drew pictures, they were stick figures. My other son made up cryptograms (combining pictures and letters). Then we had to figure out what he meant! For example, 'Peter walks on water' might be a sketch of a man, followed by footprints over H2O. He often made up several cryptograms for one chapter. I would look at his paper without a clue of its meaning and think, "What does this have to do with the chapter?" But each time it tied in. Their daily drawings were amusing and eye-opening.
Our discussion about God followed. My role was to link together what each one shared and help them see a bigger picture of God. I asked many questions. Can you think of another time when God did something like that? What was similar or different? The more actively they participate, the more they absorb. Their insights into God's character often surprised me. As we read and discussed the Gospels in this way, God clearly revealed Himself to us. We ended our time together thanking God for teaching us.
'I AM' Verses
The goal is to understand more about Jesus by reading and discussing the 'I Am' verses in John's Gospel. However, the starting point is Exodus 3:15. Read from the beginning of chapter 3 to put this verse in context. Moses asks God what to say when the people ask His name. God says His name is 'I AM'. How is that different from 'I was' or 'I will be'? How is it better? Notice that it's present tense. God is always right now, in the present moment. That means He has been 'I AM' in the past and will be 'I AM' in the future.
Now turn to John's Gospel. First read John 8:52-59. The Jews are arguing with Jesus. Notice how Jesus describes Himself in verse 58. What is He saying? "I am the same God as the God of the Exodus. I AM." Why do the Jews try to stone Him? He is claiming to be God!
Study each 'I AM' verse in John (6:35; 8:12; 10:7-9; 10:11,14; 14:6; 15:1,5). Get the context by reading the surrounding verses. Use visuals from around the house (door, bread, light). And ask your children lots of questions: Why do we have doors? What are they for? How can Jesus be a door? Get them to think and consider deeper meanings. Take your time with this. Only discuss one 'I AM' passage per session.
When you have studied each of them, give your children an assignment to make something that illustrates each of the 'I AM' verses about Jesus. This lets them use their creativity and cements what they have been learning. It might be a poster, a booklet, a mobile, or something you never imagined. Give them a few days or a week to work on this. Then each one can present what they've made as you review what you've learned together about Jesus.
These methods take more time than simply reading the Bible. However, they will bring deeper understanding of God's Word for your children and create great family memories too.
Linda Joyce Heaner loves helping others understand God's Word. She and her children have enjoyed lively Bible discussions throughout their years of homeschooling. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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