I love using technology in kids’ ministry. First, it acts as professional development for me by giving me access to experts in the field through twitter and blog posts. Second, it provides great opportunities for helping kids to learn about the gospel and be transformed by it.
For me, the greatest thing about using technology in my teaching is that it provides opportunities for kids to pursue individual interests and ideas. Every week I teach kids about Jesus in four public schools in Sydney, Australia for thirty minutes each week. This is a privilege and opportunity that I am very grateful to have. I work hard to make these lessons engaging, challenging, and thought provoking for the kids.
This past school term the kids have chosen a story from one of the gospels and they are working alone or in pairs on a project about that story. The kids are doing all kinds of interesting things to display their story:
- Making dioramas of events in the story
- Making posters
- Writing and illustrating a children’s book
- Making puzzle books
- Making power point presentations
- Writing and performing plays
- Making an animation
The challenge with this teaching is that the kids are all working on different stories. I can’t just stand at the front of the class and teach about the one story. The kids need to be able to work independently to access information and ideas about their story. This, of course, is where technology steps in.
I always take my tablet, smart phone and computer with me when I teach. This means that wherever I am I always have internet access. Here are some things that the kids have used my technology for:
- To find out where a Bible story was so that they could find the passage in their Bible
- To watch an animation of the Bible story they were researching
- To find maps of where the story happened
- To look at what the places look like today
- To download a stop go animation app to use in their project
- To take photos for their presentation
- To film their play
At one of my schools, the classroom teacher organized for us to use the school’s computers. This meant that the kids had their own computer to work on. Some children made a power point presentation, while others printed off pictures for posters.
When the kids are working like this, I am free to walk around and talk to kids as they work. I can give much more individual attention than I would have been able to if we were all gathered together talking about one thing. I get to hear their stories and their ideas, and along the way I get to know them a whole lot more.
Of course, not all kids’ ministry looks like a classroom. Here are some other ways that I use technology in kids’ ministry:
- Showing a movie on my tablet. It is quite surprising, in a world of large projected screens, that the kids will sit and watch a movie on my tablet. Usually when I show a DVD, I am sitting at the back of the room watching with the kids. When I show them using my tablet, I sit in front of them. This means that I can see their reactions to what they are watching; I can pause the movie and we can talk about different issues as they come up.
- Using movie clips as lesson illustrations.
- Taking lots of photos. I send them to parents, put them in newsletters, project them in church.
- Using edmodo to provide safe chat rooms for small groups of kids (www.edmodo.com).
- Using prezi to create presentations for when I’m teaching (www.prezi.com).
- Showing ‘how to’ movies that I have found on www.youtube.com to a group of kids who are making something
- Giving links to crafts and other ideas (especially using www.pinterest.com) to my kids’ ministry leaders.
- Telling parents about great apps they can download at home. For example, the preschoolers were learning about Jonah and I found a simple game that their parents could download. While they played the game they could talk about what they had learned at church. We also played that game in the lesson, and the kids loved it!
Technology should never replace the personal relationships that develop through one on one interaction. However, it can complement our teaching by providing more opportunities for learning and being transformed by God’s love.
Kaye Chalwell is a children’s minister in Sydney, Australia. She has been involved in Christian ministry for the past 25 years, working in Christian schools, public schools, curriculum development and churches. She loves working with kids, training and supporting kids’ ministry leaders, writing curriculum, reading and writing about kids’ ministry, and spending time with her husband, three adult children and one teenager. She is currently working on her doctorate in Christian pedagogy. You can follow Kaye on twitter @Kchalwe and check out her blog at www.transformingkidsministry.wordpress.com.