In theater there’s something called the 4th wall—it’s the invisible “wall” that separates actors on stage from the audience. If ever an actor crosses into the audience or involves the audience in the performance, it’s called “breaking the 4th wall”. Whereas the “4th wall” is effective within theater, it’s a recipe for boredom in a children’s ministry. If you or your volunteers ever feel like a talking head, it’s time for you to break the “4th wall”!
Not only do kids love being involved in the learning process, studies show that involvement increases both retention and interest. In layman’s terms, it helps them learn and kids dig it! Most curriculum (if it’s worth the paper it’s printed on) should provide you with an abundance of opportunities to involve kids in the storytelling and learning, but some are better than others. Whether you’re looking to take a sledge hammer to the 4th wall or you’re just looking for a few ways to take involvement to the next level, consider these tips:
Invite kids into the storytelling. There’s no way around it, kids LOVE being involved in the Bible storytelling. The go-to way of doing that has always been dressing kids up and having them act the story out. That’s a lot of fun, but if you do it too much, it gets flat fast. Instead, have kids provide the sound effects to the story or let them uncover the different parts of the story through a crazy game of charades, pictionary, or by striking crazy poses. Have them solve riddles to help further the story. Invoke their creativity by allowing them to draw or sculpt the story as you tell it. Have them close their eyes and imagine the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of the story as you read it. There is an unlimited number of ways to involve kids in the Bible story. Be creative!
Ask kids questions. What do you think is going to happen next? Have you ever been in a situation like that? If you were a disciple, what do you think you would have done? These are the kinds of questions that draw kids in and help them process. Moreover, the responses will help you gauge how much your kids are “getting it”.
Invite kids to share stories. There are few things more riveting than a good personal story. Look for opportunities to share your own, but more than that, invite kids to share their stories. This is especially effective during the “application” portion of a lesson. When kids hear how their peers are applying God’s Word to their life, it can really help them connect with the lesson.
Make kids the object of an object lesson. Object lessons are great at turning the abstract into real, but often times they don’t involve the kids. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. At the very least, look for ways to have a kid interact with the object instead of yourself. If you want to take it to the next level, look for ways to make the kid into the object of the object lesson. Weigh them down with a backpack full of rocks to demonstrate the effect of sin or play an uneven game of tug-of-war to demonstrate God’s will vs. ours. For super-duper-out-of-this-world-bonus-points, come up with a way to involve all of the kids in the object lesson.
The GO! curriculum believes in the involvement of kids so much that we made it our motto: “Join the Story”. Not only do we have a bazillion fun and creative ways of inviting kids to join in the storytelling, we’re also serious about inviting kids to join God’s story of love and redemption through Jesus. If you want to kick the tires, sign up for a free trial and find out why the GO! users are raving about it! For more information or to get 4 free lessons, visit us at www.gocurriculum.com.