Salt. Light. Coin. Vine. Sower. Immediately pictures pop into our minds followed closely by the connection Jesus made linking these objects to his teachings. Through the use of objects that were common to people’s everyday lives, Jesus taught in a way that we remember. If we are to teach like Jesus, using objects while teaching should be a common event. In his teaching, Jesus’ use of stories and everyday items helped people better understand spiritual concepts.
Object lessons are the modern equivalent to how Jesus taught. These lessons are meant to create an emotional connection to an abstract concept. The object lesson can be used to either pique the children’s curiosity and interest or to drive home the point taught. When done correctly, an object lesson will create an “aha” moment where the light bulb will go off in a child’s head.
When looking for an object lesson, keep it be simple yet interesting. The link between the object and the point should be clearly understood without having to explain every nuance. Stories about real people doing real things make kids sit up and listen. Science experiments that pop, sizzle or bang in surprise endings have a great wow factor. Common items used in uncommon ways etch into kid’s minds memories that will be recalled when they see the item again.
One type of object lesson is a real life story. The stories can come from personal experiences, famous people’s lives or kids’ lives. They can be found in conversations, news events, or books. A teacher must just get into the thought pattern of recognizing when some story will “teach” a concept. One hard to forget real life story was found while was watching Ronald Regan’s funeral.
Real Life Story: President Ronald Regan
President Reagan was in the hospital healing from when he had been shot. One day his Vice President walked in the room to find him on his hands and knees wiping up water. The Vice President said, “Mr. President, they’ll take care of that.” He meant that the people at the hospital would clean it up. All President Reagan had to do was call them and they would hurry in. But the President said, “No, no, if they come in and see it the nurse will be blamed for it. I don’t want the nurse to be blamed. She didn’t do it. I did.”
When I heard the story, it clicked in my head what a humble man President Reagan was. Every child had spilled something in their lives. If the President of the United States of America could be humble enough to clean up his own mess, surely they could too.
Another type of an object lesson is using a common item in an uncommon way. These lessons can easily be found on the internet, in object lesson books or just looking around for fun objects in toy stores, garage sales or in your own home. Many times a good way to tell an object lesson is to hide it in a treasure chest or a bag. Give the kids clues as to what the object might be, allowing them to guess after each clue. Once they have guessed or the clues have been exhausted, pull out the object and teach the lesson.
Valentine Heart Object Lesson
(Place the heart box in the treasure chest before class. Give the children clues as to what is in the box. Once they guess, pull the heart box out. ) True obedience comes from the heart. This heart (show the heart box) is pretty. It looks like it is an obedient heart. We can look like we are obeying but be really mad inside (open the heart to see dirt). Even though the outside of the heart was pretty, inside it was full of dirt. When our hearts are like this, full of grumbling or anger, we are not really obeying. God wants us to have obedient hearts. He wants us to obey not just with our actions but with our attitudes.
Finally another type of object lesson that creates oohs and aahs are ones based on science experiments. The teacher does not have to be a scientist or even like science to be able to do a simple experiment that will captivate kid’s attention. This is a great introduction to a subject. Science object lessons can be found in books, on the internet and at River’s Edge Curriculum .
Crushing an Empty Can
Fill the pan with cold water. Put 1 tablespoon of water into the empty soda pop can. Heat the can over the hot plate, holding the can with the tongs. When the water begins to boil, a cloud of vapor will escape from the can. Let the water boil for 30 seconds. Quickly turn the can upside down and put it into the water in the pan. The can will collapse.
It seemed impossible that a can be crushed by using water. It reminds us of God’s power. He is omnipotent which means He is all powerful. He has the power to accomplish seemingly impossible things. (Psalm 147:5)
(Drop as many pieces of mentos into the bottle of Diet Coke as possible. Be quick. A fountain of soda pop will fizz out of the bottle almost immediately. Do experiment outside!)
We can act like a volcano when we do not control our anger. Just like the soda erupted from the bottle, we can erupt with mean words when we are angry. When this happens we hurt people’s feelings. We can damage friendships and other relationships. One way to keep from blowing up when we are angry is to spend time with God every day praying and reading His word. When we are putting good things inside of us it keeps us from erupting in anger and sinning in our anger. (Ephesians 4:26)
(Note: Geyser tube can be purchased from www.riversec.com which will make this experiment easier and the fountain spurt higher.)
Try something new the next time you teach. Think about creative ways you can incorporate a science object lesson, a real life story or a common item used in an uncommon way into your lesson. Captivate a crowd of kids while burying a spiritual truth deep in each child’s heart.