Children at home: Good stories with good questions
Our head of children and youth, Sam Donoghue, gives some tips on Biblical storytelling with your children.
Over the next few weeks we will suggest some simple activities for you and your children, which should take no more than ten minutes to complete. We want to help you build some simple routines that will sustain your faith and that of your children. We are very conscious about how much will have just landed on you from school – the last thing you need is for us to add to that.
This week, all we suggest is that you read a Bible story and have a chat about it. Nothing more. Below are tips on choosing a story, and some great questions that will lead to great conversations. Finally, we’ll add ideas as to what to do with those questions.
Choosing a story
Firstly, choose a story you like, be released from the lectionary and don’t start with something from the Old Testament that scares you! If you have it in a kids Bible, use that, but otherwise just use a Bible app and read it from a friendly translation (Like The Good News or the New Living Translation). If you are totally stuck, parables are great (don’t be afraid to Google ‘parables’ to help you find them). Jesus told great stories, and many will be familiar when you get going.
Telling the Story
Do your best to read it well, but be yourself. Here are some tips:
- Have a little practice: rehearsal is too strong a word. Just try and be familiar with it and be ready for any unexpected long word or rude bit you’d forgotten is there!
- Use a big font: If you’re reading from your phone a larger font will help
- If you’re feeling confident: try and use your voice to bring interest, impressions of the characters might be too funny!
Questions about the story
What we are looking for here are simple, open-ended questions to help you all think, ideally without right or wrong answers. This way you can all chip in ideas and benefit. You should too, but let the kids go first. Here are some great ones to which I am indebted to Jerome Berryman:
- What was your favourite part of this story?
- What was the most important part of this story?
- I wonder: if you were in this story, where would we find you?
Dealing with ‘those questions’
It’s amazing how we fear questions about faith, but perhaps not so much when they are about anything else! The big takeaway is to relax – you don’t need to solve everything and answer everything. Some more tips:
- Always affirm the question, thank them for asking
- Ask why they ask; this is a great way of launching a conversation about the question rather than trying to sort it out with an answer
- Ask them what they think. It’s ok to wonder together about stuff and it’s ok to say you wonder too.