Build Your Own Lesson

There are two ways in which to begin building your own lesson:
  • Moving from the Spiritual Point to the Activities–Begin with a key Scripture verse, story or key point that you want to convey such as Psalm 56:3 or “You can trust God.” Then using the “Search” box in the right-hand column, you can search for that verse or key word and then use the resources available to assemble the lesson that will best meet the needs of your students.
  • Moving from the Activities to the Spiritual Point–Begin with an activity that you know your students would enjoy and then pull from it spiritual applications that will best fit the spiritual needs of your group. For example, if you know that Dodge Ball (with safe, foam balls) is a game that your students would enjoy, what can it teach that your students need to hear? What do your students need to “dodge”? What does God not want them to dodge? What verse can best convey this point? (i.e., “flee from sin” in 2 Timothy 2:22).

Both of these beginning points are effective, but after you choose the starting point for your lesson (spiritual point or activity), then you will want to create a lesson outline. Many of our lessons follow the basic pattern below:

(1) Engagement Activity—Children should be engaged from the moment they arrive in your room. Have something ready for them to do. This doesn’t have to tie into the lesson because it should only last a few minutes at the beginning as the kids arrive. For example, give them a color sheet or some Play-Do or a puzzle or challenge them to build a tower of cards or have a long jump rope ready and have two leaders swing it while the kids jump in and see how many times they can jump. For preteens, tape off a four-square area in your room and let them play as the others in your class arrive. Let this time be fun and change it about once a month, but be careful not to ever let this engagement activity run too long. At a certain time or when you think most of your students have arrived, tell your kids to quickly put everything away and then begin your lesson.

(2) Opener—This is usually a fast-paced, interactive way of introducing the theme for the day. An illustration and even a game can be an opener. For a lesson on “Sharing the light of Christ,” you might turn off the lights and then ask your students to turn to Matthew 5:16 with the lights off. “You had trouble because you needed a light so you could see. You needed a light to show you the way. Did you know that Jesus said that if you are a follower of Him that you are the light of the world? Let’s take a look at our story for the day.” Or, if you are sharing about how Jesus understands, you could play the “Opposites” game. Tell your kids to say the opposite of what you say, “Up (Down), Happy (Unhappy), Here (There), Over (Under), Sit (Stand), Over-sit (Understand)…Today we are going to talk about how Jesus understands…”

(3) Review—What did you talk about last week? Did you give the kids a challenge? What did they do with the challenge? (See the SpyKids Mission booklet for a great and fun way of giving 2nd-5th grade students a challenge each week.) Who remembers last week’s Bible Verse? Bible Story?

(4) Bible Story—Avoid lecturing to your children. The Bible is the most exciting book in the world and our students need to understand this. Involve them in the Bible story. There are several ways to do this. For example:

  • SAY: “In Mathew 5:14-16 Jesus taught his disciples that they are the light of the world. Everytime I say, ‘LIGHT’, say, ‘THAT’S ME!’” Give them a key word for which to listen and a response to give, something to say or to do such as standing up when they hear the word “stand” or touching two walls and quickly coming back to the group. Giving them a key word or words for which to listen will help them to tune in, especially to longer Bible passages.
  • Let your children act out the Bible story. Give them costumes and wigs or if you want to keep things simple, give them signs with their characters’ names to hang around their necks. Then guide them through the story. For example, if you are teaching the story of Good Samaritan, you could choose a couple of thieves, a “man on the road,” a Levite, a priest, a Good Samaritan and even a donkey! Kids learn the best when they are an active part of teaching the lesson.
  • For more familiar Bible stories, let the kids tell you the story and ask guiding questions and add in anything that they might be missing. For example, “Tell me about Noah…that’s right, Jenny, he built an ark, but why did he build an ark? …well, why did God tell him to build an ark? Did you know that God said that things on earth had grown so bad that He regretted making Man? So, why did God choose Noah? That’s right, Johnny, because he was a righteous man…

(Teaching Point: When you are telling the Bible story, even if you are not reading it out of the Bible, have your Bible open. Children need to understand that what you are saying is coming from God’s Word.)

(5) Lesson Activity—This should illustrate or teach your main purpose in sharing the Bible Story. This is also a great way to show how the story applies to the student’s life. During these activities try to answer the questions, “So what does this mean to you?” For example, if you are teaching about Jesus saying that you are the light of the world, you might give a 6” candle to each student, melt some old crayons with which you can help them to write their names on their candles. The point here is not just, “You are the light of the world,” but “You have a light that you can shine to others.” How can you share the life and light of Jesus tomorrow at school? Who is someone you know that you think might need to see the light of Jesus?

(6) Key Verse—Sometimes you choose the key verse because it is the main point you want to make. For example, Psalm 56:3, which talks about trusting God when you are afraid, might be the core of your lesson and everything else comes back to this one idea. However, if you have built your lesson around a theme such as “Dodge Sin,” you will want to choose a verse that backs this up, such as 2 Timothy 2:22 where Paul writes about fleeing youthful lusts.

Furthermore, there are a variety of ways to teach a key verse:

  • Use hand motions that you or your kids make up (A sign language dictionary can be a great help with this.)
  • Have them search the room for words or letters from which to build the verse.
  • Have them guess missing letters to the verse.
  • Introduce the verse and then have them use it in an activity. For example, during the Christmas season, you could have them write the words of the verse on different slips of paper and then loop and tape the slips together to make a Memory Verse Christmas Chain.
  • Repeat the verse often. Challenge them to memorize it. Offer to give them a sticker or a prize if they can say the verse when they come through the door next week.

(7) Lesson Activity—This segment might be an activity that is a part of your Key Verse or another way of re-affirming your point for the day. This is also usually the best place to put a craft activity. Always put the “meat” of your lesson up front. This way, if someone leaves early or if you run out of time, you are cutting out activities and not the main teaching.

(8) Prayer Time–Use your prayer time to teach your children how to pray. Consider the following suggestions:

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