The Fifth of Six Articles Supporting
God’s Unfolding Story for Older Preschoolers
The Biblical Story – Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Hopefully by now you’re developing the conviction that our churches should be teaching the biblical story as a story. You’ve seen that children should learn God’s story is still unfolding and perceive that they are part of the story. Such an understanding can help them gain a sense of purpose, direction, and eternal destiny. In the prior article of this series we looked at how to package the biblical story in a way that children can grasp for life. We call the six elements of this framework God’s Unfolding Story Narrative Elements. Any age group can use them to learn the basic elements of the biblical story.
The challenge for any children’s class at this point is the need to review the story elements with children on a regular basis. We’ve all witnessed examples of kids “memorizing” a Bible verse quickly and easily. We’ve also observed that virtually none of those children can genuinely remember a week later what they previously “memorized.” This doesn’t even surprise us. We really don’t expect kids to commit a verse to memory in one session and then retain that memory for the rest of their lives. That’s because we don’t “lather, rinse, and repeat.” That should not be the case with learning the biblical story. Children need to learn and retain it for the rest of their lives. In order to facilitate the memory of the story, we recommend the following three “best practices.”
- Review the six story elements with the children every week. This can be done in less than a minute or two, but it quickly becomes a fun aspect of the Bible study session because kids enjoy recalling the elements and typically perceive the review as a game. In fact, treating the review as a game is probably the best way to handle the review time. Children will soon begin to see the review as a routine part of the session much like those kids who recite the pledge to the American flag at school every day. The consistency of the review also helps bring order to the weekly session as kids come to expect it much like a call to order.
- Utilize God’s Unfolding Story Cubeto facilitate the review. God’s Unfolding Story Cube is a free, downloadable sheet that can be printed, cut, folded, and taped into a cube with the visual icons representing each of the six story elements printed on the sides of the cube. The cube is, by necessity, fairly small, so you may want to assemble one for each child to have. This could make a fun in-class craft activity.
- At the beginning of every Bible story, explain where that story fits in the broader biblical story. The story of Joseph, for example, would fit in “God Chose a Special People.” The Christmas story would fit in “God Sent Jesus to Help Us,” etc. Helping children understand where each story fits within the larger biblical story will not only facilitate a quick review of the biblical story, it will also help kids understand how that session’s story relates to the broader biblical narrative.
These best practices will help children learn the story for life. An added bonus is that the teachers will soon learn the story as well and that will facilitate their Bible teaching for the rest of their lives. We should also note that these story elements and God’s Unfolding Story Cube will work with and support any curriculum or study plan being used in the church. That’s because the biblical story is the same regardless of the curriculum. Children need to know the biblical story. The regular review of the story elements using the cube can help them learn it.
So, while the God’s Unfolding Story Narrative Elements can be used with any curriculum or study plan, there is curriculum designed to introduce older preschoolers to the story in a way that incorporates the cube and story elements into the curriculum itself. Read the next article to learn more.