Imagine this: You are all ready to teach Sunday School. You’re excited. It’s going to be so much fun. You start to tell a story from the Bible, and you look up only to see that no one is paying attention to you. One student is drifting into space, another one is staring blankly at the wall, another one found a washer (where did he find a washer?) and is banging it on the chair, making all sorts of noise.
Now imagine this: You are all ready to teach Sunday School. You’re excited. It’s going to be so much fun. You get the kids engaged in the lesson. They are asking questions, answering questions, amazed by these 2000+ year old stories.
The second scenario is a possibility– you’ve just got to get the kids engaged in the stories.
Taken out of the Bible, the Bible stories are CRAZY. Seriously, magic hair that gives you strength, people walking on water, a boat that saves all of man and animal kind.
But for some reason, they don’t always come across as interesting.
So how do you get your students engaged? You have to hook students into the Bible lesson.
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What is a hook?
If you’ve ever taken a writing class, then you may know that a hook is a way that you literally hook a reader into the writing. It’s the beginning of the writing when you get people interested. You say something that surprises them, that makes them want to read more.
Hooks are also essential for getting kids interested in your Bible lessons– it is the piece at the beginning that gets them interested.
The good news is: hooks are not hard– they just take a few minutes of thought before you go plowing into reading the story.
I’ve been teaching kids at church for a long, long time, and I also teach music at a public school Monday-Friday, so I’ve developed a few hooks that are versatile, simple, and fun.
Feel free to steal any of these for your lessons at church with your kiddos!
Favorite hooks to get kids interested in Bible Stories
Bible Themed Game
The first– and probably the best– hook is a game. Kids love games, so this is where I look first.
We will often play a game before we start a story. I will know that they are related, but the kids may not know that.
Here’s some examples of games I used as hooks recently:
- Medic tag: Like normal tag, but when you get tagged, you cannot use that part of your body anymore. Once you can’t move, then you call for the medic. Pairs with any Bible story about healing.
- Doggie, Doggie, Where’s Your Bone: I’m a music teacher, so I’m partial to singing games. In this one, one of the students sings the last line solo. Then the “doggie” has to guess who sang it. The kids are welcome to use funny voices. Pairs with Samuel hearing God’s voice, Jacob being tricked by Isaac (since they could only hear his voice), etc. (learn more here)
- Blindfolded race: Blindfold one student. Set things all over the floor (we spread out the chairs and students not currently going also lay on the floor). Another student is the helper and has to tell them how to get through the course without touching them. Use to talk about faith, the blind man being healed, missionaries (missionaries guide people to Jesus!), etc.
Object lessons as hooks
Second on the list is object lessons. An object lesson is actually very simple– it’s just a lesson centered on an object.
The point of the object lesson is to take something abstract and make it more concrete– because there’s a physical object to attach the abstract oncept to. It also makes students more hooked into the Bible lesson because they are curious to see what a shoe, a banana, or an empty box has to do with anything.
Here’s a few of my favorites:
Banana object lesson: This is a simple demonstration for why we should put God first in our time, money, and lives. Read more here.
Shoe object lesson for Palm Sunday: Relates a shoe to the palms– we don’t want dirty feet, the people of Jerusalem didn’t even want Jesus’ donkey to get dirty.
To be honest, I usually classify science experiments as object lessons as well, but for this blog post, I wanted to separate them out.
If you really want kids engaged, science experiments are where it’s at. There are so many fun and simple science experiments– and they basically look like magic from the kids’ perspectives.
Here’s a few favorites:
Oil and water don’t mix: Just like “the world” doesn’t mix with Jesus. Read more here.
God’s forgiveness: Make a heart in permanent marker on a paper towel. Make the heart dirty with washable markers. Then wash the paper towel clean in a bowl of water. The heart stays, the marker comes off– just like our sin when God forgives us. Read more here.
Related questions are some of the easiest ways to get kids thinking about your Bible lesson in a way that has to do with them. You don’t want these stories to be about people who lived thousands of years ago– you want them to relate to us now. There’s a reason they are in the Bible– because the stories they contain are still relevant.
A related question hook is very simple– just get kids talking about something that has to do with the story.
- We recently talked about how the Pharisees did not like Jesus because he didn’t fit the mold of what they thought a Messiah should be. We started by talking about times when we ate a new food and expected one thing but got something different.
- Jesus calms the storm can be introduced by talking about a time that you or the students have been in a bad thunderstorm, and how it felt.
You can also make lists of things that relate to a story. So for Jesus calms the storm, we might talk about things that we think are scary. For Jacob and Esau, we might talk about times our siblings have tricked us.
Songs as Hooks for Bible lessons
Add a song! Songs are a fun way to get kids engaged in a lesson. This could be a classic kids’ song (I’m thinking Zacchaeus), or it could be a praise song. Either way, if you add a song, kids will be interested.
Bonus points for dance moves. And double bonus points if you have the kids come up with dance moves!
Video or Book
There are tons of videos on Youtube and pictures books that could relate to Bible stories. Some that actually are Bible stories, and others that are related. Use them!
Sword Drills are a fun way to practice finding passages in the Bible (learn more and download one for free here!).
We often use sword drills before a lesson to set the theme. We might find a few different verses about love before we talk about God’s love for us. We might find a few verses about God being in control before we look at Joseph’s crazy life and how God was in control the whole time.
When you use them before a lesson, I would save 3-5 is a good amount. Then I’ll ask what the verses have to do with each other, which will lead us to the topic of the lesson.
Learn more about sword drills here.
Last on my list of hooks to get your kids engaged in Bible lessons is scavenger hunts.
Hide objects around the room that have to do with the story that you are discussing. Once the objects are found, you can use them to tell the pieces of the story, or just as an opener.
Yo can use objects, or just cards with pictures. I find the latter to be easier because then the kids all know they are looking for pictures, so they aren’t picking up random things thinking they are important when they aren’t.
You can do this with anything, but a few ideas include:
- Loaves + fishes (Jesus feeds 5,000)
- Fish cut outs (fishers of men, go fish on the other side)
- Coat, lion, money (Joseph)
- Bandaids (healing)
- Mat, mud, water (Jesus heals blind man)
You can also hide cards with pieces of the story on them to put together, or you could hide sword drills to make the sword drills even more interesting!
Alright friends, I hope that these ideas will get you started with getting your kids involved in Bible stories! Every time I teach a lesson, I stop and think: What will my hook be? It only takes a few minutes to think about (and it doesn’t have to be fancy), but it does give you a huge return on your investment.
What’s your favorite hook? Send me a message on Instagram @beccasbibleclass and let me know!