Sunday School Teaching Methods

Goin' A.P.E. Sparking Your Creativity | By Sarah A. Keith

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Creative Spark Teaching Methods

Make every minute count! 
*Infuse your Bible lessons with creative teaching techniques.
*Motivate children to listen, learn, and enjoy class time. 
*Teach according to your students' abilities—their God-given bent.
*Enhance your existing programs.
*Create effective and engaging lessons.
*Use exciting Bible memorization techniques.

Some people believe Proverbs 22:6 is a promise from God that if we do our jobs well—as Christian parents or educators—our children will eventually follow him. Others interpret it has to do with recognizing the God-given abilities or bent of our children, and then fostering those skills and gifts, so that when they are old, they will not depart from them. Ted Hildebrandt, of Grace Theological Seminary, suggests it has to do with initiating a late adolescent into his official capacity and responsibilities of society. "According to his way—or in the way he should go—meant according to the standard and status of what would be demanded of him in that culture." 

Because some of us learn in different ways—visual, auditory, verbal, kinesthetic (touching, feeling, moving), solitary or social—the Active Participation Experience (A.P.E.) provides children with a method of learning Biblical truths according to their bent; and I believe this is in keeping with the intent of Proverbs 22:6. I also think there are fundamental strategies children's ministers and teachers can do to spark their own creativity to enhance their Bible lesson time.

We are made in the image of a creative God. 

". . . He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship...and the ability to teach others...He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers" Exodus 35:31ff .

A.P.E. FUNdamentals

1) Pray for wisdom and creativity to determine your Bible lesson and the ability to implement it. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18
2) Discover the needs of your children. (Salvation? Christian growth? Character development?) Knowing this will help to develop your topic, theme, and method.
3) Be willing to discover new ideas. Spend time learning new art methods, crafts, and game techniques.
4) When preparing a lesson, ask yourself, How can I associate this Bible truth with an activity or game? Sometimes it works backwards too. You may see a game or an activity that reminds you of a portion of Scripture. You can then use it or modify it to teach a particular Bible point. Seeing God in Everything is a fun game that encourages this skill. 
5) Study the Scripture and historical background of your theme. Successfully using the A.P.E. Method requires equipping yourself with knowledge of your subject in order to connect it with an activity that children will understand. For example, a word study of sin reveals the meaning to encompass missing the mark of God's perfection. Thus, a logical connection to a game would be one involving a target.
6) When developing your lesson, allow time for your thoughts to stew—to think on it, sleep on it, dwell on it. However, this requires advanced planning and prayer.
7) Come prepared! Make the most of class time. Every activity—whether it be a game, craft, or skit—should reinforce the Bible lesson, and should not just "fill time." If you don't have time to prepare in advance, you probably shouldn't be teaching.
8) Allow the child in you to come out and play. Be enthusiastic! The word enthusiasm is from the Greek word meaning en (in) and theos, in God, meaning to be filled with the divine.
9) Love the children in your charge. Be sensitive to their attitudes and feedback. If an activity isn't working,  change it up or try another approach.
10) Brainstorm ideas with other teachers and teach what you've been taught.

Using the A.P.E. Teaching Method

By including the following learning styles in your Bible lessons: visual, auditory, verbal, kinesthetic, solitary or social, you will address the natural, God-given bent of the children you teach.

1) Act it -- (visual, auditory/verbal, kinesthetic, social) use prepared scripts, write your own or narrate Scripture for children to pantomime while you read. (For example, if you were to read Exodus 3:1-6, the passage pertaining to Moses and the Burning Bush, you could choose one child to pantomime Moses' part and a few more children, or the rest of the class, to pantomime the burning bush. Begin with the children kneeling in a tight circle to represent the bush. Then, when you read the word bush, the children acting that part must jump up and wave their hands above their heads to represent the flames.) Video taping your skits provides visual and auditory reinforcement of the lesson, and kids love watching their performance. You'll also provide a Living Bible memory-maker for your church! Find more Bible skit ideas.

2) Draw it / Build it -- (visual, kinesthetic, social or solitary) design a paper quilt, banner, wall hangings, storyboards, picture booklets, woodcarving, clay moulding, block printing, etc. Find more craft ideas for Sunday school and children's ministry.

3) Memorize it -- (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, social or solitary) create your own hand motions, use American Sign Language or play memorization games. If God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, then Scripture memorization should be at the forefront of children's ministry. After all, we are instructed to hide God's Word in our hearts so that we don't sin against him. Check out our our Bible Memorization ideas in Bible Games Explosion.

4) Write it -- (verbal, solitary) have older-aged children translate a passage of Scripture in their own words or have them write scripts to be acted out during class time. Our Bible curricula and Sunday school lessons contain many enrichment ideas to reinforce the lessons.

5) Play it -- (visual, auditory/verbal, kinesthetic, social) the use of active or low energy games to express a Bible point, whether they be original or a modified version of an existing game, is one of the most effective ways to engage children in lesson time. Find more Bible game ideas.

6) Make n' Eat it -- (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, social) Children love to "cook." Involving them in food devotions is a wonderful way to get their attention and keep them coming back for seconds! For example, the picture on the right is from a food devotion in Super Heroes of the Bible, the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den. Using round crackers, cheese in a can, thin pretzel sticks, raisins, and oat cereal, children "cooked up" lions they could devour. Most of our Bible curricula includes one or two fun and tasty food devotion ideas to accompany the lessons.

7) Sing it -- (auditory, verbal, kinesthetic, social or solitary) no other method of learning engraves God's Word into our hearts than does a song! It's also fun to help children create a rap to memorize Scripture!

Make every minute count! Class activities should never be used just to fill time. provides over 2000 pages of free and pay-for-use Christian crafts, games, skits, food devotions, and Bible curriculum to help children learn about God according to their bent! 

Finally, make sure to grab our "Creative Process" graphic, below, and then copy and share it with those in ministry. Reference this page link too!

Copyright 2009/2018 Sarah A. Keith
If you use this resource, then please support the site.

Sarah Keith is the president and founder of Ms. Keith has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Religion from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She brings over twenty-five years of teaching experience to children's ministry. She writes and illustrates faith-building, hands-on Bible curricula for teachers of children, kindergarten through fifth grade—distributed to and used by ministry professionals worldwide.


children's ministry creative process

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