Bible Teaching Methods: Methodology for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers

This Month's Bible Teaching Method:

Object Manipulation

Students alter an object in ways it normally would not look to represent their perceptions, feelings, or attitudes toward an issue or situation. Students then take turns showing each other their refashioned object and tell why they changed it as they did.

In Choosing Teaching Methodology consider your group factors:

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Teacher Training Worksheet Based on These Group Factors:
Tips for Choosing & Using Methods

Group size
This method works best in a small group due to the sharing that ensues. To use object manipulation in a larger group, sharing could be done in smaller groups. You would also need to be careful that the type of object used is logistically feasible, not taking excess time to distribute and clean-up.

Resources needed
You could also use bendable toys, dolls, or stuffed animals that can be put into different positions. Students would communicate how they feel through the object's body language such as crossed arms, buried head, hands in air, etc.
Some include clay, play-doh, and putty in this list but they are technically materials for manipulating rather than objects to be manipulated. If shaping clay, play-doh, or putty to represent feelings, attitudes, or perceptions, it is following the spirit of this method.
Usually students should be able to use their hands to work with the object. You may want to, in some cases, provide appropriate utensils like scissors, clippers, pens/pencils, etc.

Objective targeted
Usually object manipulation is an evaluative tool to measure a person's attitudes or perceptions.

Use modeled
Children's play through the years has often involved taking an object and changing it to represent something else. Object manipulation has also been used for therapeutic purposes.

Proximity of others
The noise volume should not be a problem for nearby classes. Students quietly work on shaping their objects and then only one person shares at a time. If you are breaking them into small groups to share, more than one person will be sharing at a time but the noise should not get above a buzz.

Finances needed
You will have some cost involved in purchasing enough of the same item for everyone in the class. The object used, however, can be inexpensive. Keep in mind that it will possibly not be reusable since it is being reshaped.

Age level
Since some abstract thinking is required, this method would be best used with upper-elementary age through adults.

Object manipulation allows students to express themselves. They are communicating without words through the reshaped object but then with words as they share why they shaped it as they did.

Time required
This method may take from 10 to 15 or more minutes depending on the number of students in the class who will be sharing. Shaping the object can be limited to a couple minutes but you need to also figure on up to a minute or two per person for sharing.

Openness of group
Object manipulation can be stretching for many students. Initially they may complain but often once they put their minds to it, they find it to be a fun activity.

Room size
This method can be done in almost any setting. Depending on the object being used, you may need to provide a working area in which case you will need a room large enough to accommodate enough tables or work areas around which to station the number of students in the class.

Skills needed

Types of Objects:

Choose objects that can be easily manipulated in some way -- shaping, tearing, molding, stacking, arranging, bending, crushing, folding, etc.

Help students understand the objective:

Make sure students understand that there is no right or wrong way to alter their object. This is not a competitive or comparative activity. The objective is for them to communicate how they personally feel about something.

Help students understand the process:

If students have never done this type of activity before, you may want to demonstrate what they can do with the object.

  • Show them some of their options such as tearing, bending, etc.
  • Show them what you personally would do to the object and why. Be careful, however, that what you do is not so elaborate or creative that it intimidates the less creative in your group.
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(Last updated 1/01/20)