Back to basics: storytelling
It might be that you’re a great storyteller, but equally, you could really struggle with telling a Bible story with children. If you’re in the latter category, here are five top tips to help you:
1 Don’t just tell a story
There are so many different ways to help children engage with Bible stories, we should think beyond just telling the story and engage other learners as well as those who learn by hearing. Use food for stories where meals are taking place. If a character goes on a journey, then take the children around your space, stopping at different points – you could even take luggage with you! Use a parachute for stories that take place on or around water. Engage the senses with touch, smell or sound.
2 Use your imagination
Even if you have nothing but a few chairs and a table, use them to tell a story. If you say that this table is Capernaum or those chairs make up a boat, then the children will imagine along with you. Throw a piece of grey fabric over a table and it’s a big fish. Make a twisty corridor out of chairs and it’s the road from Jerusalem to Jericho!
3 Know your story well
It sounds an obvious thing to say, but there’s nothing guaranteed to lose the attention of the children more than forgetting wh
Cheap joke, but make sure that you know the story you’re telling. Practise before the session. Read the story in the Bible, don’t just tell it from what you remember – often we embellish stories with details we think are in the text, but actually aren’t!
If you’re confident telling the story, then children will be drawn into the narrative!
4 Have everything you need close at hand
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to use to tell the story and what you need, make sure you have everything close at hand. Just as forgetting the story spoils the flow and breaks the children’s attention, so wandering off to find a prop halfway through a story can equally disrupt things. Have everything in a bag or a box, particularly if you want to keep the children guessing as to what is coming next.
5 Don’t move on from the story too quickly
Often, when we tell a Bible story to children, it’s the first time they’ve heard it. Give chance for children to dwell in the narrative for a while, without rushing onto whatever you have planned next. Tell the story again, this time asking the children to help you to tell it. If you used props to tell the story, let the children play with them, and so play with the story. Children regularly find meaning and revelation in this play, and this discovery can be significant in their faith development.