Wednesday, January 11, 2012

teaching your kids about God: play-acting

I may have been brought up in the Church and I may have been to seminary and Bible school, but I still have moments when I tremble before the awesome responsibility of teaching my daughter about God.  It is intimidating to think of the effect it can have in her life if I "get it wrong."  It is scary to think of how to explain faith in a way she can understand.  And it is easy to let faith teaching fall by the wayside in the midst of life's busyness.  I struggle with all those same challenges, just like all of you do.  So, from time to time, I'd like to share with you ideas that have worked for our family and helped us to pass on our faith.

The first idea I'd like to share with you is play-acting!  My daughter is a fairly dramatic young lady.  We regularly act out parts of fairy tales, particularly Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.  One day, as we were working through Truth in the Tinsel and trying to learn the Christmas story, it occurred to me that we could act it out.  We fell into it so naturally.  I would be the Angel appearing to Mary (my daughter) and saying, "Do not be afraid, Mary!"  Mary would end by saying, "I'll do whatever God wants."  Or I would be Joseph, taking Mary to look for a place to stay in Bethlehem, but finding all the "hotel rooms" full, and then praising Mary for her strength in the midst of adversity.  Or Mary would rock a baby doll Jesus and sing to him.  Or Mary and Joseph would run away from Herod and go to Egypt.  Suddenly, my daughter was really getting into it!  And she was learning the story and learning faith lessons from the characters.  She wasn't having a faith lesson forced on her.  She was learning it organically.  Now, she pleads not only to play Princess, but also to play Mary and Joseph!

So, now we have moved on to the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace.  It is a great faith lesson for following God and refusing to bow down to idols.  Burrito loves to pretend to be the 3 faithful men and come out of the furnace saying, "I didn't even get smoke on my clothes!"  She loves to proclaim to the King that she "won't sing the Bunny Song" (a la Veggie Tales).

So...want to get started with your own play-acting?  Don't worry...costumes and props are not even needed!  That's the great thing about kids; they can imagine all that stuff.  Just get out your children's Bible and pick a good story.  Read it several times with your child.  Then, start an improv of the story, together with your child.  Use modern day words to get the meaning across.  Let your child choose which character they want to play.  As you act out the story, let lessons emerge naturally.  Let creativity flourish!  Remind yourself that the people of the Bible were real people, like you and me.  I promise you will be inspired!


  1. Thanks for the post! My daughter is still a little young for that level of "pretend" (she's still getting Moses and Joseph confused in our picture bible, but at least she usually gets Jesus right), but now I'm excited for the next stage of learning. I really didn't know what I was going to do, other than reading to her and just answering questions as they came up. Great idea!!!

  2. I read your article on play acting out Bible stories and used it one day when I was not the "most prepared" to share a Bible story with my preschoolers (preK 5 class). They LOVED it!
    We did it again yesterday with the calling of the disciples. At the end of the lesson, I told them that they are now Jesus' disciples and it's their job to tell others about Jesus.
    The kids were VERY involved, not just (somewhat) listening to a story.

    Thanks for the great idea! I will be doing this again with them.

    Jennifer Madsen


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