My smartphone is one of my favorite tools for teaching kids. I recently decided to ask some other parents, missionaries, and Sunday School teachers how they use their phones to enhance their teaching and I got some pretty great feedback.
“Sound effects! I was teaching with a friend and she found a sound effect the kids wouldn’t have recognized and played it for them.” ~ Homeschool Teacher in Missouri
“I use mine for translation (Google) when sharing with kids from various countries. We have been working with refugee children from various middle eastern countries. I teach them in English but also refer them back to their mother tongue language to ensure full comprehension.” ~ Missionary in Greece
“I will use it to pull up pictures of things I am talking about. Just the other day I was talking to a little boy about helicopter landing pads at hospitals and how there are special helicopters for very sick patients.” ~ Pre-K Mom in Kentucky
“Music to be played on our Bluetooth speaker…because sometimes the lone ukulele doesn’t quite cut it.” ~ Missionary in Argentina
As you can see, other really cool people are already using their smartphones to bring lessons to life in Sunday School, family devotions, and even around the world. Maybe you’ve never tried it before or maybe you’ve been doing it for a while, but are looking for some new ideas. Here are a couple ways you can put your smartphone to work in Sunday School, Good News Club, AWANA, or family Bible time!
Teaching Kids With Your Smartphone
Hopefully you’re already using a curriculum that utilizes brightly colored pictures to visualize the lesson for the kids, but you can also boost interest by using your phone to show kids pictures or videos of things that relate to the lesson.
It’s easy to find pictures of grain, shepherds, fig trees, Israel, chariots, Hebrew scrolls, the Sea of Galilee, and the Garden of Gethsemane to help the kids see that these Bible lessons happened to real people who really lived in real places. You can even let the kids help you! They can take turns swiping your phone screen to advance to the next picture.
Whipping out my phone to play a song is so much easier than lugging a CD player everywhere. Many of the top kid’s ministry musicians have YouTube channels where you can find their most popular songs for FREE. Lots of them even have FREE music videos that you can play for your kids on your phone during family devotions. Check out the playlists on our YouTube channel for a few of our favorites. (My Party Girl gets a kick out of touching the screen to play her favorite videos.) You can also download lots of great songs straight to your phone from websites like CEFpress.com.
Thanks to the magic of internet, you can quickly find and play sound effects on your phone. You can use your phone to let the kids hear all kinds of Biblical sounds like harps, sheep, camels, or a ram’s horn. (But I recently searched in vain for a YouTube video of the ancient Syrian sackbut from the KJV version of Daniel 3:5, apparently there is a limit to YouTube’s vast library of sights and sounds.) You can also play nature sounds such as the remarkable lyrebird to impress kids with God’s creative brilliance or to signal that it’s time to transition into another activity.
Connecting with missionaries has never been easier! Most of my missionary friends send their newsletters via email so I can easily pull them up on my phone to read with my kids and show them pictures of what our missionaries are doing. Even if you’re teaching a large class where you can’t feasibly show them all the newsletter, you can read snippets of it and then use your phone to type back a reply to the missionary’s email. Let the kids help you come up with what to say—they love it! You can type and send it right there with the kids. You can even let one of them touch the “send” button!
It’s easy to play games with your smartphone. Here are some to try next time you teach.
Guess What I Saw! I’ll often take pictures of cool plants, rocks, or bugs that I find outside then while I’m teaching I’ll say something like, “I took a picture of something cool God made when I was outside this morning. Can you guess what it was?” I’ll let them guess and then show them the picture.
What’s That Sound? Play sound effects and have the kids guess what the noise is. This is a fun way to pass the time as you wait for all the kids to arrive in your class.
Times Up! Use the clock on your phone to time the children while they do a simple task like cleaning up the toys, moving from one area of the room to another, or lining up for dismissal. Cheer for them while they do it and announce the time when they finish. (Be sure to tell them precisely how many milliseconds it took them to line up. Shaving three milliseconds off last week’s record is a BIG deal folks!) This makes ordinary activities into a game!
These are just a few ways I have used my smartphone to teach kids. Do you have any other ideas? Please share them in the comments so we can all grow together. (And so I can steal your ideas for future articles…thank you in advance!)