As children grow, their attention spans and understanding levels change. So it’s important for Sunday school teachers and children’s ministry workers to adapt lessons accordingly. Find out how to teach Bible stories for elementary age, from toddlers to tweens.
These “Age-Level Insights” from Children’s Ministry Magazine will help you discover how young students learn Bible stories.
Bible Stories for Elementary Age: 2 to 5 Years
Young children like to be read to with age-appropriate books. They like pictures, age-appropriate terminology and simple wording. Their attention span is only two to 10 minutes. Preschool children like to interact with objects. They learn by touching objects and through repetition.
Ways to Teach
Paraphrase Bible stories and highlight only main points. For example, say: “God chose Noah to save all the animals from the flood. He told Noah to build an ark. An ark is a large boat. Noah brought in the animals. The flood came. Finally, the ark landed on dry land and God made a rainbow.” Tell the story using objects, such as storybooks, stuffed animals or a wooden animal and boat set. Allow children to play with the objects after the story. Remind children about or repeat the story as they play. Reinforce the story with an activity such as an animal craft, song or game.
Bible Stories for Elementary Age: 6 to 9 Years
By this age, children’s attention span is 10 to 20 minutes. They understand more details. Objects hold their attention during story time. Children love to be a part of and interact with the story. Children think concretely and focus on the parts and actions of the story.
Ways to Teach
Provide details. For example, say: “God wasn’t happy with people on earth. But Noah made God happy because Noah obeyed. People made fun of Noah and his family when Noah obeyed God.” Have children act out the story, playing different parts such as Noah, his family, friends and animals. Let children tell the story in their own words. Highlight only one main point with one direct application.
For example, say: “Noah obeyed God. We can obey God too.” Reinforce the story with crafts, games or other activities. For example, play Simon Says, and focus on the importance of obeying the leader.