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KidzAblaze Blog

Show, Don't Tell: How to help kids stay un-bored.

May 7, 2023


You've probably heard of show and tell, but have you ever ever heard the phrase "Show, don't tell"?

Almost every time we've taught kids, if not every time, there will be at least that one child who struggles to pay attention. Honestly, it's challenging to grab the attention of even some of the kids.

One thing Pastor Randy has taught us is to not just talk, but to do things to keep the kids' attention on the lesson. I call it "Show, don't tell." That's a phrase writers use a lot. For example, don't write, "Pastor Randy was cold." You'd write, "Pastor Randy grabbed the blanket and wrapped himself in it." It gives a better picture of what's going on, and makes it more realistic. When we only tell in fiction, and even nonfiction, the reader gets bored.

Well, if adults get bored reading things that tell, why would kids pay attention when the teacher only tells? Here's some ways to make lessons more interesting.

Voice inflection and expressions. This isn't all that you should have, but it does help. Droning on might make some people sleep, but kids will just squirm and talk. Change up your tones. Make a face for each emotion for the story. When your voice and face are more interesting, it makes it more fun to watch.

Object lessons. For some reason, having something in your hand or in front of you while you teach is interesting. One common example of this kind of showing is when we use the water pitcher analogy to show how we're filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Not only does it keep attention, it also illustrates the lesson in another way the kids can understand.

Acting. There's something fun about watching several people do the lesson, especially when it's dramatic. And then it's even greater when you have the kids come up and act too! For example, one time our team did David and Goliath. That's a pretty common Bible story, right? But the time we did it, we had one guy sit on another's shoulders and wrap a curtain around themselves, making them actually 8 to 10 feet tall--perfect for Goliath! And then when we brought the kid up to be David, it illustrated perfectly how small David must've seemed compared to Goliath. Not only did it most certainly keep everyone watching (and laughing), but it also made it more real how much faith and courage David had, and then how mighty God is!

The age rule. One thing Pastor Randy has mentioned is this rule. Basically, you can only talk for as many minutes as the kids are old. If a kid is 5, they'll probably only be able to pay attention for 5 minutes. If they're 9, they'll be able to pay attention 9 minutes. If they're 15, 15 minutes (believe me, it can be true). There's always exceptions, but that'll give you a good idea of how long you can only talk.

Those are just a few ways to keep things a little more interesting!

Do you have other ways you keep the kids involved? Comment below!

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