Tag Archives: Children

10 Tips on How to Use a Puppet

Puppets can be so much fun. Kids just love them. But puppeteering can be a bit more challenging than you might think. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you prepare your puppet drama.

1. Know Your Character

One reason puppets are so appealing, is that they have character. They can be silly, crazy, even ridiculous and it is all allowed because they are puppets. It makes the puppet so entertaining. Spend some time thinking about the character of your puppet – the clearer your idea is about your character, the easier it is to portray him with character and the more interesting he will be to your audience.

2. Add Drama

As you practice with your puppet, experiment with the amount of drama your puppet uses. He can simply say things, or he can exaggerate. ‘Hi’ can be said in many different ways. What does your puppet feel like? Is he upset? Then let him be VERY upset. Is he happy? Then exaggerate that happiness in how he communicates. Silliness is appreciated in puppets – up to a point, of course.

3. Give Your Puppet a Voice

Experiment with the type of voice you want to use for your puppet. Often people like to use a high pitched voice to add drama, but be careful – make sure you choose a voice you can easily use for the entire duration of your puppet skit. Your voice must be easily understood by the listeners, and if it is too high pitched it might become too difficult to actually understand. Consider using a crazy accent rather than a difficult pitch. If you’re not sure if your voice works, make a quick audio recording on your phone or other device so you can hear what it sounds like. If you have a conversation with your puppet, make sure you can switch well from your own, normal voice, to the puppet’s voice.

4. Let Your Audience Hear You

Using a puppet stage can be useful, and can be easily set up with some tables and fabric. However, if you do not have a sound system, don’t use a puppet stage, because the audience will not be able to hear you. Just hold your puppet and talk to it. Don’t worry about them being able to see your mouth move. If you practice how to move your puppet, the kids will focus on the puppet while it speaks, and will focus on you while you speak. It can work beautifully.

 

5. Move the Puppet’s Mouth 

Moving the mouth of the puppet properly is important. You’ve probably watched a puppet skit where the puppet stops moving its mouth as the puppeteer is busy reading his script and forgets to move the puppet’s mouth – it quickly turns the puppet skit into a lame presentation. It’s confusing too; who is talking? Practice moving the mouth in front of a mirror. Open the mouth wide when he says something loudly. If your puppet does not have a mouth that opens, then move the face as he talks.

6. How to Hold the Puppet

After speaking, make sure you hold the puppet in a way so that people can see the face. People often hold the puppet up too high so that the audience sees the neck and mouth, but not the eyes and face.

7. When to Move the Puppet

A lot of the puppetskit will likely involve conversation. Whenever there is a conversation going on, only move the puppet when he is talking. The only exception is that you move him to show that he changes what he is looking at, so he may look at the kids, and then look at you. Movement distracts the audience, so whenever the puppet moves while someone else is talking, he becomes a distraction.

8. Make Eye Contact

Let your puppet look at the audience, and make eye contact with your puppet as you talk to him yourself. Have an actual conversation with your puppet. Eye contact will make your conversation seem more real to your kids.

9. Show Don’t Tell

You may have heard this rule before. It applies to storytelling and drama and writing. And yes, also to puppeteering. Always try to think of ways in which you can communicate without using words. Doing things, acting things out, showing what you mean by using body language and facial expressions will make the kids watch you a little closer. It helps our visual learners, but it also forces the children to keep their eyes on you. It adds interest. It encourages engagement. And that’s what you want.

10. Let the Puppet Introduce Your Topic

Puppets are very useful when it comes to introducing the main topic of your lesson. Let the puppet have a problem that is similar to a situation your children may face, but then slightly more dramatic or silly. During your lesson the children will see how they can handle such a situation in their own lives. At the end of the lesson, you can use the puppet again, and have puppet ask the children how he can deal with his problem. It will give the children an opportunity to figure out how they help someone apply what they learned. It puts the children in a role of teaching the puppet, and that is a great way for them to learn.

What if you have no puppets? Make them yourself? Here’s how!

Coming soon: How to Write a Puppet Skit

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How to Make Simple Puppets

There are few things as captivating as puppets. As soon as a puppet appears, all eyes are on it. And those eyes open a little wider as curiosity peaks. You’ve got everyone’s attention! Your opportunity has presented itself.

Okay, wait. Let’s start with the basics. Yes, we will get to How to Use a Puppet. And we will look at How to Write a Puppet Skit. But first things first, you need a puppet!  What if you don’t have one? What if shops don’t sell them? Does that mean your opportunity will never spring into being?

No worries! Making a puppet can be as easy as this:

You see, all you need is paper, glue and a marker. If you have those, you’re good to go.

You can keep it this simple. But you can also add a few extras. Like this:

 

The sky it the limit. My drama teacher in university told us anything can be a puppet. Really.

Look around your house and see what you can find. Anything will do!

Of course, if you’re more adventurous, you an also make puppets like these:

To make it, you need a old shirt, and you tie a string at the bottom. Put knots in the shoulder straps.

Draw a face on it. Then add a few extras as you wish, and you’re done.

For this one I used an old mop. For the head I used a bunch of plastic bags and made them into a ball. I drew eyes, a nose and a mouth on paper, cut them out and glued them on. I added a horizontal stick for arms and dressed her in an old t-shirt.

If you know how to knit or crochet, you can come up with something like this:

So, back to the beginning. You bring out your puppet. All eyes are on you. Or no, all eyes are on the puppet. The potential is enormous. But you can also have a less successful performance. There are a few things that are crucial to a successful puppet moment with your kids.

Check out this article as well: 10 Tips on How to Use a Puppet

Share your creative ideas in the comments!

Teaching with creativity helps children engage with what you teach, and it makes it more fun for them and for you!

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Sunday School Teacher Handbook Free Download

Available now! Free download of the first three chapters from the Sunday School Teacher Handbook in Amharic – የሰንበት ትምህርት አስተማሪዎች መመሪያ

Sunday School Teacher Handbook

You can purchase the full version of the book at Beza International, TK Bld, Addis Ababa.

From the introduction of the handbook:

Children praising God. Children expressing their faith in Jesus. Children knowing who Jesus is. It happened in the days when Jesus walked on this earth. It is happening today as well. What will we do? Will we encourage them and help them to grow in their relationship with God? Jesus sent money changers and merchants out of the temple area. But he did not send the children away, because their praises were ordained by God. And their praises are ordained today as well!

As the church, we need to provide a special place for the children. It is up to us to provide them with a place where they feel welcomed, loved and treasured. What are some of the characteristics of such a place? It will be a place where they:

  • can worship wholeheartedly in ways they enjoy
  • want to come because the Word of God is presented to them in creative ways
  • grow spiritually
  • experience God’s presence
  • learn what it looks like to follow Jesus in their own lives
  • can trust and know their teachers
  • can talk about things that happen in their lives
  • can find someone who will listen to them and pray for them
  • a place where God is glorified

We, the church, can provide a place like that.

With the Sunday School Teacher Handbook, I hope to inspire you to dream big dreams for your children and your ministry. I hope you will see opportunities you were perhaps never aware of. I hope your passion and commitment to reaching children with the Word of God will grow. I also want to give you lots of practical tips to help you grow in your role as Sunday School Teacher – one of the most exciting volunteer roles you can imagine! The potential is enormous the the results eternal. Are you ready?

Download the first three chapters in Amharic: Sunday School Teacher Handbook. The handbook covers many topics such as learning styles, how to prepare a lesson, creative teaching methods, storytelling techniques, discipline, how to lead a child to Christ, and more. Buy the full book at Beza International, TK Bld, Addis Ababa.

 

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Small Groups

Ministry is most effective  within relationships. And the easiest way for us to build relationships with our children in Sunday School is through Small Groups. Jesus modelled this for us. He had his own Small Group of twelve disciples. Small Groups are the perfect setting for building relationships. One teacher and up to twelve kids see each other every week (or every two weeks), talk about how to live their lives for Jesus, share their experiences, and hold each other accountable; that is the perfect setting to cultivate relationships and to see children grow spiritually. Week after week the teacher shows the children that he cares about them, that he remembers the details of previous conversations, that he takes them seriously and that loves to have fun with them. Can you see it? It is so beautiful. As the relationships grow, the teacher gains the right to speak into the lives of the kids, and he gets to be ministered to by the children, too.

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Building relationships takes time and effort and it does not happen overnight. You must be willing to invest, just like Jesus invested in his disciples. In order to facilitate this, I always keep the rule that volunteers must come every week or every two weeks. No exceptions. When I started in Children’s Ministry, I volunteered once a month and real relationships simply did not develop. It just doesn’t work. If a child doesn’t come the week that you are there, you won’t see that child for two months! If you are serious about reaching kids, volunteering every 2 weeks is no big deal at all, and it will actually make it much, much more rewarding for everyone involved.img_6092

Kids are desperate for adults who will invest in them in this way. I have seen it happen so many times; suddenly kids start to share very personal stories, or they ask questions that have been on their minds for a long time. They are waiting for an opportunity to share with someone – someone they can trust, someone who will actually listen, someone who genuinely cares and who will pray for them. Sadly, often kids don’t have many adults in their lives who are really there for them. If you are willing to invest your time, you can be the person for them. The kids are waiting to have this barrier broken in their lives – the barrier of not really knowing people in their church, people in Children’s Ministry. And this barrier keeps them from getting closer to Jesus. They are waiting for someone. Will you be that person for them?

So what do you do in a Small Group? Check out some of our lesson samples to get some ideas!

Joseph - Living for God Sample Lesson

 

Acts Sample Lesson

 

He Loves Me sample lesson

 

For more on the importance of building relationships, read Barrier #1: No Relationships, or read the series starting at From Barriers to Values.

You can also download the full document From Barriers to Values.

 

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Soft Drinks, Raisins and the Holy Spirit

What do soft drinks, raisins and the Holy Spirit have to do with each other?

Good question!

The answer lies in a science experiment found in lesson 1 of our Acts curriculum. It is used in the introduction and the connection part of the lesson. It goes like this:

I have some raisins here who think they can swim up and down if I drop them in a glass of water. Do you think they can do it? No! Let’s try it and see what happens. (Drop the raisins (or lentils) in a glass of water – they sink and nothing happens.) You were right, they cannot swim.

Now we are going to check again if the raisins can swim.

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The jar is the same.

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But this time I’m using carbonated water. Water with bubbles.

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The raisins are the same. Let’s drop them in and see what happens.

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Something is different this time. They are swimming up and down! Is it something the raisins did themselves that made it possible for them to swim? (No.) No, the raisins did not do it themselves. The raisins did not change, but the water has. It’s not normal water, it’s Sprite®. The water has bubbles in it, a special type of gas. Those bubbles attach themselves to the raisins and they are strong enough to lift the raisins up. When they get to the top, the bubbles burst and the raisins sinks down again.

This is such a cool picture of what happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples! These bubbles give the raisins the ability to do something they cannot do in their own strength. In the same way the Holy Spirit gives us power. God gives us the Holy Spirit. We cannot give the Holy Spirit to ourselves, but God gives His Spirit to all believers. He lives inside all people who believe. So if you believe, the Holy Spirit lives inside you! And because of the power of the Holy Spirit inside us, we can do the things God calls us to do to build His Kingdom and tell the world about Him. Without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible, but with the Holy Spirit we can reach out to the world!

 

Did you enjoy this article about using science in your lesson? Check out this article and video about using language in creatively to teach your children in a way that will capture their attention and will help them engage with the stories from the Bible!

Download a copy of our module From Barriers to Values for more practical ideas to teach your children about Jesus. 

All our lessons use creative ways to teach children! Check out our lessons books in our Resource Shop.

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Teach with Creativity – Creative Language Use

Capturing the attention of our children during Sunday School may prove to be more challenging than we’d like to admit. Many children have already heard the Bible stories, so it’s easy for them to ‘tune out’ quickly. What can we do to grab hold of and keep their attention?

Teaching with creativity is a great way to reel in those kids who are about to let their minds wander off in a different direction. There are many creative methods for us to choose from. Let’s look at Creative Language Use.

Here is an example from one of the Acts lessons.

Throughout the lesson the children are taught the phrases that summarize the key parts of the story. By adding motions to the phrases, different learning styles are utilized, and as they memorize the phrases, the kids will be more likely to remember the story itself.

So how can you use this creative teaching method as you prepare to tell a story?

First, divide your story into segments. Make sure that each segment contains an important event from the story.

After that, come up with two phrases or sentences that point out key elements of the story. Try to make rhythmic rhyming phrases. Count the syllables in each phrase to check your rhythm. For example:

“They were beaten but were glad (7), even if it hurt so bad (7).”

“Go stand in the temple and tell everyone (11) about God’s love and what Jesus has done (11).”

You can also keep them shorter, like this:

“We disobey (4), God far away (3). Be born again (4), Be God’s friend (3).” (From He Loves Me, lesson 4)

Finally, come up with simple, clear, interesting motions that flow with the rhythm of your lines. Practice them to make sure that they will work with the story and with your children.

As you tell the story, teach the children the phrases and motions as they come up in the story. After you teach them a set of phrases, repeat the entire set from the beginning of the story and add your new lines at the end. Then continue to tell the story until you finish telling the next key event. Teach the children the next set of phrases, repeat from the top, and continue your story again. This may seem repetitive, but many children will enjoy the challenge and at the end of the lesson they will have memorized all the key elements of the story in a fun way. The children will remember the story and they will be able to use the rhymes to tell someone else the story as well! Have fun!

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Reviews

“This curriculum is absolutely excellent!!! It is presented in such an exciting and engaging way that it totally captures the children’s attentions, enabling them to really understand the lessons. It is also great that it can be applied to children from different backgrounds. It was wonderful using it to teach the kids about God and the Bible.”

Meti Ketema – Ethiopia

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Family Devotion: God’s Creativity

From: He Loves Me – Family Devotions

 Read: Genesis 1:20-25

On the fifth day God created the birds and the fish. Have you ever noticed how many different kinds of birds there are? God made each of them ‘according to their kind.’ They are all so different! They have different colours, sizes, and even their eggs look different. Each type of bird has a beak that is designed for the type of food they eat. They all make nests, but there are many different types of nests. Somehow, each kind of bird knows exactly how to make the type of nest that is perfect for their environment! Many birds migrate in different seasons. They travel to places where there is food and weather that is good for them. Birds don’t have passports, compasses or maps, yet they know exactly where to go! God had a specific design for each of them.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:29 that God sees the sparrows, and not one of them falls to the ground without God knowing about it. God knows all the details about everything. He knows each animal and each person in this world! If you start to look at the tiniest details in the world, you’ll never find a thing that God doesn’t know. He knows everything! Isn’t that amazing?

  • Go have a look at some animals, and carefully look at the details on its body. How many details can you find? List them all. God created those details!

Thank God for being the Creator of all the birds and the fish. Thank Him for caring for us more than for the birds of the air.

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Devotion: God’s Word Power

From He Loves Me – Family Devotions:

God’s Word Power

Read: Genesis 1:1-19

Have you ever made something? Maybe you have drawn a picture or built a toy.  How did you feel about making it? Did you enjoy making it?   God made everything in the first six days of creation. Today we read about how He made light, the sky, water, land, plants, the sun, the moon, stars, day and night.

Whenever we make something, we need to use things. For example, if we want to draw a picture, we use our hands to hold a pencil and create something on a paper. But when God makes something, He does not use things that are lying around. Instead He uses His Words. He speaks, and it happens. It always does. God is so powerful, that His Words make something out of nothing. He does not make just simple little things like the pictures we draw, but instead He makes big things like the sun and the sky. When you draw, you may have to erase some things and try drawing it a few times before you get it right. But God never makes a mistake. We just read that each time God made something, He took a look and saw that it was good. God makes good things!

God’s Words are powerful.  When you read God’s Word, the Bible, you can be sure that the Words in the Bible are true. You can trust what it says. His Words are so powerful, that they created the world and the heavens! He gave His Word, the Bible, to us so that we can know Him. Even though He is so incredibly powerful, His desire is that you know Him!

  • Take a look around and name the things you see that God has created. What are some of the most amazing things God has created?

Give thanks to God for all the things He has made! Thank Him for His power and that His Words are powerful.

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Acts Curriculum

Coming soon!

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A Children’s Ministry Curriculum based on the book of Acts. Includes 14 Large Group – Small Group lessons.

The stories in Acts are filled with important, powerful, transforming lessons! Kids  will discover that God calls them to live their lives fully devoted to Him, and how they can reach out to the world around them. Twelve lessons are based on the book of Acts, one lesson focusses on how God uses kids all over the world today, and the series concludes with a lesson about Heaven.

Different creative teaching methods are used in each lesson. Highly practical. Uses only easy-to-find-materials. Reproducibles included.

Price: $24.99

Contact us if you want to be notified at the time of the release of this series!

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