Flying to Capernaum
Today’s guest post is by Cara Shelton, co-author of Classic Christianity: A Year of Timeless Devotions.
I love to teach kids the Bible! It’s addicting, really, watching their faces light up when they “get” the lesson. For over 30 years, I’ve been plugging away teaching Sunday School, AWANA lessons, VBS – pretty much whenever they’ll let me up in front of a group of kids at church! The best part is the relationships I build with the boys and girls – they always remember me, and are eager to remind me what their favorite part of the lesson was!
Other teachers have asked me what me ‘secret’ is. What they really want to know is, “Why do the kids pay attention when you teach?” After all, I’m, ahem, more than 20 years old and no beauty queen. Why would they sit there and watch me for …yes…15 minutes or even a bit more?
Well, there are the little tricks that every good teacher already knows. I know I have to compete with video games and cartoons, to some degree, so I’d better be animated and colorful! I vary my voice pitch and tone. I move around a LOT! I use my hands and face to express emotion, to emphasize, to call attention to a point. But, the real bag of tricks comes with an extension cord!
You see, I have a new tool in my teaching arsenal, which has all but replaced my flannelgraph of old! It’s my computer and my Epson Powerlite Presenter. Now I have pictures and maps that illustrate my points, I can “fly” the students to the location of the Bible lesson, and I can give them the background information they need to understand the critical points of the teaching!
Let me give you a few examples. In VBS this year, I used the Presenter and my computer with a wireless connection to “fly” the kids to Capernaum. I simply used Google Earth to make a flight from the front of our church, up, up, and across the whole world, down, down, to tiny Israel, to the edge of the Sea of Galilee, to the little town of Capernaum. I saved it as a “trip” and was able to play it for the kids the next day. Wow. Google Earth had some pictures I used – like the picture of Peter’s house. What did this do for the kids? Well, they realized that these PLACES and these PEOPLE are real. Peter really did exist – and there are remnants from his house!
Every time we visit a new place, we can “take off” from church, and “land” at our Bible destination. We talk about the time Jesus lived, giving historical and geographical context. I look for pictures to illustrate important points. Google Earth has tons of great pictures from all across the region.
But that isn’t the only thing my little Powerlite Presenter can do. I also create illustrations for my Bible lessons. I look up pictures, scan in photos or maps, and search for images that will make the story come to life. What does a fisherman’s net look like? I can show them. What did Soloman’s temple really LOOK like? I have a model all ready to walk through. I simply save the jpg images, tag them with a numerical code that puts them in the order I want them, and download the images onto a flashdrive. I can plug the flashdrive right into the presenter, and use the remote to forward through them from anywhere in the room.
With just a little more work, I can also make up a slide show, complete with music from the region. Burn it onto a DVD, and the presenter will play that as well. Since Epson’s Powerlite Presenter has a good sound system and a mic, I’m not limited as to the size of my audience. I have used it in a single classroom, or in front in the sanctuary, projecting onto the “big” screen.
So, I’ll keep on teaching Bible lessons, teaching about missionaries’ lives, and whatever else God leads me to teach. And I will keep on looking for ways to bring it all to life for the kids whenever I do. Have you noticed that I never once have used the term “Bible stories”? That’s because they aren’t just stories, they are the real lives and real adventures of real people living for Jesus! Technology can help us make it just that real for kids, as well as for the adults we minister to!
How would you use a projector during a teaching time with children? Have you found other online resources that make Bible lessons come to life? I can hardly wait to hear!