Stifling the Story:
One story-time challenge became apparent as I watched different people help me with story-time. This challenge I call ‘stifling the story.’ The solution to this challenge lies in the hands of the storyteller, whether it is a helper or the teacher. The storyteller can present the story with excitement for God or they can simply read the story and drag it out so long that the students get bored with it. The storyteller’s heart attitude about the story comes through clearly as they present the lesson to the children.
Stories read from the Bible and curriculums are neatly organized and typed out for the teacher. The organization is great but it also makes it easier for the teacher to just quickly read through the story without adding any activity, personality or visuals to add excitement to it. For adults, this may be OK but children have short attention spans and can lose interest quickly.
A couple of challenges I’ve seen with these preplanned stories is that they are too short and leave out important parts, they contain words that are difficult or unfamiliar to the children and they can be too long and drawn out for younger children. It is always good for the teacher to go to the Word of God to make sure the important points are covered and to make sure they explain any difficult or unfamiliar words.
For children, a story without action, color, student involvement or visual aids can be a real let down. Children love to be active and involved with the story. There are many ways to help children have fun with your Bible-story time.
Children can help by holding up or adding flannel characters to a flannel graph. Puppets can also add excitement to the story. Also, asking questions about the story will get the children’s attention and they love it when they get answers right or get an opportunity to share about something that happened during their week. These things help keep the children focused and listening.
Overhead transparencies, short listening CDs or DVDs, videos, Powerpoint presentations and a variety of other media can be added to enhance a lesson. In addition, art and craft activities, food activities, drama, dress-up times, object lessons and displaying object or photographs can stimulate interest in children.
Story-time opens the door of curiosity in the mind of a child, and suddenly they have all kinds of questions they want the teacher to answer. A few times I had children ask how babies are made (this question came about when we were talking about Abraham and Sarah having a baby when they were old) and questions about other controversial issues such as drinking, smoking or other activities. These types of questions can put a teacher in an awkward position, struggling to figure out how to answer the questions without upsetting the parents. Words must be chosen carefully and/or leadership should handle these sensitive issues. So be aware that teachers can occasionally find themselves in seemingly impossible situations! Children are not the only ones who learn in children’s ministries!