Remember that old quotation, “Never judge a man unless you walk two moons in his moccasins.” True as it may be, asking children to step out of their life and into one of a Biblical character is like asking them to become part of a fairy tale.
The Bible is full of interesting narratives, but unless the children understand the feelings and the problems facing these characters, the stories have no meaning. One of the biggest jobs of a Sunday school teacher is to make children understand what the Biblical characters were experiencing. The difference in dress, the difference in the times and travel only add to the problem. One of the best ways to overcome these difficulties is to have the children become that Biblical character. A costume box does more to accomplish this than all the lessons in history.
The mere suggestion of a costume is all that is necessary to work its magic. A remnant, sixty inches long and twenty-five wide is ideal, but children‘s imaginations spring to life with much smaller pieces. The women wear these over their head so that it serves as a headdress and a shawl, while the men wear a smaller version on their head, held in place with a kerchief, and the standard size draped over a shoulder. A shepherd’s staff is a favorite part of a costume and extended canes are not too difficult to create. Styrofoam Christmas canes also work when they are extended and the red stripe hidden.
Before the children enact the story they have just heard, it’s imperative to talk about the problems the characters are facing. Many of these were not even mentioned in the story. Water for example. In many cases they had to bring enough water for the journey. If they were hungry, there were no McDonalds to satisfy their appetites, and food for the entire journey had to be carried with them. They also needed blankets for sleeping under the stars. But they couldn’t pile all this into the trunk of a car and drive off. A myriad of supplies were loaded onto a donkey, if they were lucky enough to have one. Otherwise, they carried everything themselves.
Creating a Bible Skit
As the children enact the story, you will begin to see in their walk, their stance and their voice, that they are experiencing some of the emotions shared by the character. Rather than have them memorize the dialogue, let them use their own words, and you may be surprised by the results. Don’t be afraid to prompt them with a few words now and then to keep them on track.
One teacher explained that the results were so outstanding they invited the class next door to come in and see a repeat performance. “The guest class enjoyed it so much,” she said, “that they enacted their Christian skit the following week and invited us.”
There are many ways to fill a costume box at little or no expense. Pay a visit to the local thrift store; find sheets and curtains and drapes to be cut up. Contacting drapery companies is also a good starting place. Most are willing to save remnants for a good cause, and to the average business man, any church event fits this category. A thank you note from you with pictures the children have drawn of themselves wearing a costume will cement a good relationship. And in this day and age, an email with pictures taken on a digital camera of students playing the part in costume is worth a thousand thank you notes. Avoid prints, but stripes, like Joseph’s coat of many colors, will work for the wealthy or royalty.
The costume box itself should be special enough to be a featured object in the room. It’s not necessary to buy the plastic storage kind sold by most stores after Christmas. A cardboard box from a grocery store will be perfect if it’s covered with pictures of Bible story lessons, and a big gold star on top gives it a final touch. You’ll find your costume box is invaluable in teaching a lesson and making your Bible characters believable. In addition, it will give every child hours of pleasure as they dress up and relive those Bible stories until they know them by heart.