Sunday School Curriculum
When I ask someone else to teach Sunday School in our mission church, I like to be able to hand them curriculum like that of Regular Baptist Press. The curriculum gives the teacher helpful hints in knowing how to present the lesson. I also know that Regular Baptist Press organizes their materials to teach regular attenders all the major Bible stories within a certain number of years. It also features lessons about communion, baptism, Baptist distinctives, and subjects that are often lacking in other curriculum. I know these lessons will teach sound doctrine.
But I sometimes find that this kind of curriculum, in their effort to provide quality workbooks, often comes a bit short when it comes to pictures of the Bible story. I sometimes feel the need to supplement. Plus I sometimes want to pick a single story out to use in another context (like Bible-in-schools or our church kids’ program), and this curriculum isn’t ideally suited for that.
Sets of Bible Story Visuals
Lots of Christian publishers sell sets of Bible story visuals for main Bible characters like Joseph, Moses, and Daniel. Some of these are very nice, but it costs quite a bit to buy enough sets for all the Bible characters.
In about 1984, one of our supporting churches gave us a set of Betty Lukens felt figures. The ladies had even taken the time to cut all the figures out. The great thing about this set is that you can use it to teach basically any Bible story. Since I often create my own curriculum for Bible clubs, I like the freedom of knowing that I can create any series of lessons knowing I’ll have visuals to back me up. I have used these visuals in many different ways.
These felt figures are sturdy and flexible for different situations, but they do look a bit generic. You have old men, young men, old women, young women, and kids in a variety of positions and dress, but they show little expression and can make every Bible story look the same. Some stories, like Jonah, don’t really have as many figures as I would like. Their backgrounds, however, are beautiful and vivid and can be overlaid to give different looks. I love the backgrounds, but actually don’t own many of them.
One disadvantage to these figures is that you have to set them up just right in order for them to look right. If I need several scenes for one story, I usually use several flannelgraph boards with the scenes ready to go. The set comes with a manual that shows how possible scenes could look, but I find it really helpful to take photos of a scene once I have it the way I like it. This helps me set it up for my class, as well as remind me, years down the line, the best way to set up the scene to teach the same story again. Photos can save you lots of time when you teach a story for a second time.
See more about Betty Lukens visuals here.
Flannelgraph or felt figures can add variety to a story because you can move them around, but they are a bit more hassle than flashcards. You have to make room for an easel and board. You have set-up and pack-up tasks. You have to be prepared to put all the figures in place at the correct time. When you want to refer briefly to a Bible story, sometimes the hassle makes you skip the visual.
I love flashcards. They are easy to use and you can take them anywhere. Since every scene is a new card, the art can give a lot more emotion to the story.
Not long ago I said, “I wish a company sold a complete set of Bible flashcards for all the major Bible stories. That would be a great resource to own to begin a lifetime of teaching ministry.”
Of course you could buy a lot of flashcard sets. You could easily spend hundreds of dollars, but it would be a great resource.
One constant frustration for overseas missionaries is the spiralling cost of postage. It can cost as much to send an item as it does to buy the item itself.
I’ve found some resources, however, that allow you to download quality Bible story visuals for basically no money. Of course, it would be nice to make a donation to the company, but you can buy a ream of cardstock from a stationery story, download the visuals, and print out the scenes as you need them. No more waiting for items to come in the mail. Buy it now, print it now, use it immediately.
Free Bible Images
So far I’ve downloaded images for Samuel and Jacob and Esau from this site. They have printed out beautifully on our printer using card. In New Zealand we use A4 size paper rather than the letter-size that is standard in America, but that didn’t give us any trouble.
Tired of artist-drawn visuals? Free Bible Images also has beautiful images using real photos of people in costume.
Want to use the visuals for a bigger crowd? Free Bible Images can be used on PowerPoint.
Need images for an obscure Bible story? Not a problem. For example, Free Bible Images has beautiful visuals for the persistent widow in Luke 18 about the widow who pestered a judge for justice.
Are they really free? Yes. We did give a donation so that we would feel good about downloading images any time we needed them, but yes, they are free.
Any drawbacks? I can’t see any. Though I did notice that the stories I downloaded had so many detailed scenes to each story that I actually didn’t need to print every one.
See more about Free Bible Images here.
Of course, downloading images and printing them out takes time. You might not want to sit down in one day and print out everything. But you can begin today to download flashcards as you need them so that, in time, you’ll have visuals to teach any of the stories you commonly teach. That’s a great resource and a great beginning to children’s ministry!
[image courtesy of BasheeraHassanali/Deposit Photos]