Every Sunday School Room Needs A Costume Box!

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. 

Bible Lessons – Influential Women in the Bible

In biblical times, women were not considered to be influential as a whole. That doesn’t mean there weren’t many great influential women in the Bible! Some were royalty; some rose out of poverty, and they made their way into the Books of the Bible due to heroic acts or having shown great virtue under duress.

There are stories or honorable mentions of nearly 180 great women in the Bible. If you want to celebrate some with your students, here’s our list of Twelve Great Influential Women of the Bible from the Old and New Testaments whom kids should know, all of whom make for great study:

Sarah – Wife of Abraham, she is best known for bearing Isaac at the age of 90 and being a great mother. Isaac was distraught at her death and only consoled by meeting Rebekah, whom he married. But it wasn’t all good. Impatient for a child in her earlier years, Sarah forced her husband on Haggai, their maid, who conceived Ishmael and later was banished from Abraham’s employ.

Rahab—Her tale begins with Israel’s as a nation.  Joshua sent spites into the walled city of Jericho having decided it would be the first city that the Hebrews invaded after 40 long years in the desert.  Word had gone out that the Hebrews has some strange and powerful God on their side, and the city was afraid it would be conquered. Rahab was the only citizen with the forethought and nerve to help out the Hebrew spies.  In return, they gave sanctuary to her and her family. 

Ruth – A young, pretty widow who could have opted to marry again quickly, Ruth instead chose to stay with her distraught mother-in-law, despite a threatening famine. The two concocted a plan for Ruth to capture the heart of kind-hearted Boaz, a distant relative and wealthy farmer, who eventually married her. Ruth is known for her loyalty, hard work, and risk-taking.

Deborah stepped into the history of Israel at a time when the nation had been so beaten down by Jabin, the King of Hazer, that their spirit had been broken, and they existed in a stupor of indifference.  Deborah, a judge and prophetess, against great odds, set out to free Israel from this bondage. She and sidekick Barak formed an army of 10,000 men and gave Israel back their freedom and their spirit.  For Israel this was a grand triumph, and Deborah, the wife of Lapiodth was responsible for this amazing victory.   

Esther – Esther was raised by her uncle Mordecai.  King Ahasuerus married Esther.  Mordecai urged Esther not to tell the king that they were Jewish and Esther kept this secret. Matters came to a head when the wicked and scheming Haman had the king issue a decree that all Jewish people in the land be executed.  The king signed and gave it his seal of approval.  Esther, at grave risk to herself, intervened.   As a result of her careful handling of the situation, Haman was hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai, and the decree was never carried out.

Abigail was the wife of Nabal.  The name Nabal means fool, and in addition to that he was spoiled and insolent.  When he insulted David, he put his life and that of his entire family in danger.   It was because of Abigail’s sharp mind and careful planning that their lives were spared.   After Nabal died, Abigail became the wife of David.  

Mary Mother of Jesus resided in NazarethWhile she was engaged to Joseph, the immaculate conception took place and the archangel, Gabriel, appeared to her in a dream, telling her to name the baby Jesus and that he was the Messiah.  After delivering in a manger, being exiled to Egypt, and living what would consider a tough blue-collar life in Nazareth, Mary become one of Jesus’ foremost supporters through his ministry.  Jesus worked his first miracle of  turning water into wine at her prompting, and she was at his crucifixion, whereas some of the disciples were not. In some parts of Christendom she is considered “Holy Mary, Mother of God.”  Others relate to her humanness and God’s implied love of the masses because of her.

Elizabeth was a cousin to Mary and married to Zacharias.   They were childless and were growing too old to have children.   When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and said he would have a son, Zacharias raised doubts.  The angel made him mute until John’s birth.  During Elizabeth’s pregnancy, her cousin Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came to Hebron in Judah to visit and stayed for three months.  When Elizabeth’s baby was born, Zacharias was finally able to speak again and said the baby’s name would be John.

Mary Magdalene – A business woman and friend of Jesus, she was the first to reach Jesus’ tomb at the resurrection and take the angels’ message back to the disciples that He was alive.  Legend has been unkind to her, often identifying her as a prostitute, though there is no foundation which would confirm this.  She was a business woman with an astute sense of godliness.

Mary and Martha of Bethany – were sisters of Lazarus and all three were close friends of Jesus. When he and his disciples came for dinner, Mary listened to Jesus, and Martha grumbled about doing all the work.  Jesus told Martha not to worry about unimportant things.   At another time, Martha and Mary sent for Jesus, because their brother Lazarus was seriously ill.   By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was dead, and Jesus performed a miracle by bringing him back to life.  Due to the dinner story, Martha has become famed for her hospitality and Mary for sitting by Jesus and absorbing everything he said.

Lydia – Like many women of the epistles, there are only brief mentions or short tales.  But Lydia’s was distinct in that she was a business woman, and it is through her we see our doctrine that we make the choice but God saves.  “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul,” reads acts 16.  She was very hospitable to the apostles, insisting they stay with her after her heart was opened to the great news of the gospel.

All were influential. 

Other influential women in the Bible span the Old Testament, Gospels and New Testament epistles. But these should give your students a start through great stories or great mentions from the Apostles themselves!

The Many Hats of a Sunday School Teacher

 

Teaching Sunday School
Teaching Sunday school can require you to play many different roles…

When God leads a child with a problem to you for guidance, the teacher cannot run away or hide any more than Jonah could, and she should never be afraid.  All the time the teacher has been preparing lessons, she has also been learning or reaffirming her faith, and God will not give her a job bigger than she can handle.

As one teacher said, “When the unexpected happens with one of my students, I know that the Holy Spirit has led the child to me, and that the same spirit will help me find the right words to help.  I may not be moving multitudes, but I know it’s no accident, and it’s my job to deal with it.   

Many teachers agree that they see God’s hand in these situations as well as the outcome.  

“I looked up one Sunday as I was getting ready to leave after Sunday School,” one teacher said, “and there in the doorway stood Dora.   Dora was in fourth grade now, but she had been in my pre-school class for three years, and it was not uncommon for her pop in to chat. Dora’s mother had been in an automobile accident and was on the church’s prayer list.  I knew by the child’s face that she was frantic with worry about her mother, and I also knew that her mother was a single parent.   When I asked how her mother was doing, Dora shook her head.

“’She’s in intensive care.  I’m staying with Mrs. Cox until my grandmother gets here.   She’s flying in this afternoon, but she won’t have a car, and it’s too far for us to walk to the hospital.   Beside’s, mother’s in intensive care and children aren’t allowed in there—not even to see their mother unless they’re sixteen—‘” 

Words spewed from Dora’s mouth so fast and for so long, that the teacher realized the child was desperate.  When tears welled in her eyes, she knew Dora was on the verge of falling apart.        

“Tell me,” the teacher said, trying to turn Dora’s thoughts from the tragedy to solutions, “How is your grandmother getting from the airport to your house.”

“In a taxi.”

Knowing how expensive that was, the teacher shook her head and took charge.   “I’ll pick your grandmother up, and you can go with me.   First, we need to talk to Mrs. Cox.”

The teacher explained that she knew the Holy Spirit had led Dora to her, and before anything else, she should comfort the child. 

“I said a simple prayer,’ because I thought she would remember it and use it herself. “ the teacher explained, “and I could almost hear the Holy spirit telling me what to say.”         

For a month a lot of that teacher’s time was given to driving that grandmother to the supermarket and the hospital, and she said she felt the presence of the Holy Spirit at every turn.

“But the day Dora’s mother left the intensive care unit and they saw each other for the first time, was one of those moments I will never forget.   The expression on their faces, when they hugged each other made me thank God and thank the Holy Spirit for permitting me to be part of such a wonderful experience.” 

Sunday school teachers are often asked to wear many hats, but they should never be afraid to take the challenge.   Not only will these unexpected experiences feed their soul, but working with the Holy Spirit is an experience to be treasured, and one they will never forget. 

12 Surprising Christmas Bible Facts for Kids

Christmas has become so commercialized that children are often confused about what is part of the Christmas story and what is myth or fable.  Most children know about Jesus being born in a manger, but many think that Santa Claus was there too!  Below are some Christmas Bible facts for kids that will help make clear what Christmas celebrations are from the Bible.  

In the entire Bible, the birth of Jesus is only told in two places, so all Christmas Bible Facts for Kids comes from these sources.   The first is Matthew 1 & 2, and the second is Luke 1&2.  Luke 2:8-16 is the beautifully written passage about angels appearing to the shepherds outside of Jerusalem.  It is included in many Christmas performances and will keep most kids on the edge of their seats—hence it is a great thing to read in Sunday School!   

Along with that special reading, here are some interesting Christmas Bible facts for kids that you can present:

  1. Joseph was Mary’s husband, but he was not Jesus’ father!  God was.  However, Joseph was a descendant of King David.
  2. John the Baptist wasn’t just born as Jesus’ friend. He was Jesus’ cousin!   Mary’s cousin Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist about six months before Jesus was born.
  3. Jesus and Mary did not live in Bethlehem.  Mary was from Nazareth.  The couple went to Bethlehem because the law said they had to take part in a census, where every man had to return to the place of his birth.  Mary went with him.
  4. Jesus was born in a manger because there was something like a convention in town!  The census had brought all sorts of people into Bethlehem and the inns were all filled up.    
  5. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes.  It was a tradition back then to wrap all babies in strips of cloth to help straighten and strengthen their bodies. 
  6. The shepherds saw Jesus that very night.  The angels told them that the baby had just been born, and they came to manger behind the inn like the angels told them to. 
  7. The wise men probably did not visit Jesus until later.  Some traditions say that it may have been up to two years later that the wise men came and that for some reason, Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem that whole time.  The reference to the wise men seeing Jesus in Matthew 2:11 says they found him in a “house.”
  8. The wise men were called Magi in the Bible.  Magi was the Greek word for “magic,” but the term meant a very wise person who understood astrology, chemistry and philosophy.  
  9. Before visiting Jesus, the Magi duped Herod, the evil king!  The Magi came to Herod when they were looking for Jesus.  Herod said he thought the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem and to report back to him where Jesus was.  He said he wanted to worship Jesus, but really he wanted to kill him. (He was afraid of Jesus taking his place as king someday).  The wise men sneaked out of Jerusalem and never let Herod know!
  10. The Wise men gave Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold is a symbol of both royalty and purity.  Frankincense is a symbol of suffering.  Myrrh is a symbol of worship and holiness.
  11. There were a lot of angels visiting during that time!   Elizabeth’s husband Zecharia was visited by Gabriel, the famous angel, who then visited Mary.  Gabriel told of the blessed sons which would come to both Mary and Elizabeth.  The night of Jesus’ birth, shepherds outside of Bethlehem were visited first by an angel, and then by a whole host of angels that sang!  
  12. There was a lot of dreaming going on!  Joseph dreamed he saw an angel who told him to marry Mary even though she was already pregnant.  The Magi dreamed they should not return to Herod, who was plotting evil.  Joseph dreamed he should take Jesus and Mary to Egypt so that Herod couldn’t kill the baby.      

Christmas was a suspenseful yet wonderful, God-ordained time of history as these Christmas Bible facts and many others will attest.  You can use them in trivia games, art projects, performances…or just have fun sharing the Bible facts about Christmas with your kids! 

Bible Trivia – A Great Sunday School Activity for Kids

To many people fun Bible trivia for kids is a way to kill time or to entertain the children. However Bible trivia does a lot more than entertain.  It reinforces what the children have already learned, and it teaches them more.  Some research shows that when kids are presented facts in competition, they learn more quickly and retain more subject matter than through school memorization or wrote.  Bible Trivia is a fun way to prepare kids for real life with stories from real-life history.

Even Preschoolers Can Compete at Bible Trivia

Bible activity
To many people fun Bible trivia for kids is a way to kill time or to entertain the children. However Bible trivia does a lot more than entertain.

You can start teaching kids by using Bible trivia at a very young age.  Most preschoolers who regularly attend Sunday school know the stories of Noah, Jonah, David & Goliath and a few others.  Doing Bible trivia questions with kids will help prepare them for the types of testing that await them in school—and in a fun way.  Bible trivia contests also provide an opportunity to reinforce the exciting details of what they’ve learned in Sunday school. 

Finally, trivia for kids provides a great opportunity to compare biblical heroes with people of today.  Show them a trivia question that asks, “which Bible heroes were called by God and asked in terror, “why me??”  That’s a great opportunity to share how ancient heroes were just as scared as we are to do brave things. Trivia questions can help kids believe that God can use them too!

Here’s an easy bible trivia contest  

Below is a Bible Trivia Contest for kids as young as four but will work for those new to our faith of any age.  If you use it remember praise, praise, praise!  Praise for correct answers is just as good as a prize (thought prizes wouldn’t hurt either)!

Quiz

(Is the correct answer A, B. or C.)

1.  Who was the baby whose mother placed him in a basket and hid him in the bulrushes?

A.  Cain.    B. Moses.   C. Daniel.

2.  What did God tell Noah to build?

        A.  A statue.   B.  A chariot.   C.  An Ark.

3.  To whom did God give the Ten Commandments?

        A. Moses.  B. Saul.  C. King Solomon.

4.  What sign did God give to Noah after the flood?.  

A.  A star.   B.  An angel.  C. A rainbow.

5.  Who slew the giant Goliath?.  

        A. David.  B. Gideon.  C. Sampson. 

6.  Which of these men wanted to know, “Why me?” when God called on them to do something?

        A.  Moses and Gideon   B.  Jonah and Saul.  3.  All of them.

7.  How did David kill the giant?

        A.  With his slingshot.   B.  With his sword.   C.  With poison.  

8.  When the Israelites were hungry in the desert, how did God feed them?  

A. With Burnt Offerings.  B.  With Manna that fell from the sky.  C.  He filled their nets with fish.  

9.  In which book of the Bible is God not mentioned even once?

A. Micha.  B.  Esther.  C.  Malachi. 

10.   What happened to Jonah when God asked him to do something and he tried to run away?  

        A. He was thrown into the lions den.   B. He was swallowed by a whale.  C. He was thrown into the firey furnace.

 The Bible has an endless number of subjects and characters that can be turned into trivia contests for kids.  The Ten Commandments, the beatitudes, the disciples, the New Testament, The Christmas story, the Easter story and many others can be learned easily…especially if there is lots of praise and a prize at the end! 

Quiz Answers

(With the correct answer underlined and in bold.)

1.  Who was the baby whose mother placed him in a basket and hid him in the bulrushes?

A.  Cain,    B. Moses,   C, Daniel

2.  What did God tell Noah to build?

        A.  A statue.   B.  A chariot.   C.  An Ark.

3.  To whom did God give the Ten Commandments?

        A. Moses, B. Saul, C. King Solomon?

4.  What sign did God give to Noah after the flood?.  

A.  A star.   B.  An angel.  C. A rainbow.

5.  Who slew the giant Goliath?.  

        A. David.  B. Gideon.  C. Sampson 

6.  Which of these men wanted to know, “Why me? when God called on them to do something?

        A.  Moses and Gideon   B.  Jonah and Saul.  3.  All of them.

7.  How did David kill the giant?

        A. With his slingshot.   B.  With his sword.   C.  With poison.  

8.  When the Israelites were hungry, how did God feed them.  

A. With Burnt Offerings.  B.  With Manna that fell from the sky.  C.  He filled their nets with fish.  

  1. In which book of the Bible is God not mentioned once?

A. Micha.  B.  Esther.  C.  Malachi. 

10.   What happened to Jonah when God asked him to do something and he tried to run away?  

        A. He was thrown into the lions den.   B. He was swallowed by a whale.  C. He was thrown into the firey furnace.

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