Inspired by a enthusiastic hunt for ‘fairy doors’ at Ripley Castle, I thought I’d have another go at a Bible story treasure hunt but this time use pictures. This one takes a little prep but is really flexible and so could be made to work for any age of children or adults.
My children are 3 and 5 so I photocopied pictures from two Bible story books I got from here and cut out part of the picture as a clue to the next part of the story. Some are obvious, some less so. I chose the story of the last supper and Jesus’ death and resurrection as earlier in the day my 5 year old had set up our Seder plate we use for Passover and had attempted to tell the last supper and Passover story.
On the back of the pictures I wrote a sentence either saying what happened at this point in the story or a quote from the Bible (e.g. “This is my body”). I kept these short and in easy to read language so my 5 year old could read them if she wanted to.
I put the pictures in story order into 14 numbered envelopes. I then hid the envelopes around our garden and let the girls loose to find them. You could of course do as many or as few envelopes as you like. I thought 14 might be too many but it was just right – lots to find. Another alternative way to do this is to have them collect all the pictures in an order where the first pictures weren’t obvious what the story was then the later ones made it easier to guess.
(For older children or adults I might use words or less obvious pictures. You could use google images (as long as you’re not going to sell them!) or do as I did and make copies from a Bible story book you own. For younger children and even for mine another time I might use items which relate to the story. I just need to collect them together. You could, of course, hide the pictures anywhere! In your house, in a room where you meet, in a hospital chapel or on a beach.)
They loved the chase around the garden finding the envelopes (which I left unsealed so we can easily use them again). My 5 year old wrote down all the numbers as they found them, and within ten minutes they’d found them all.
Once we’d collected them, we sat down together and opened them in order, taking it in turns to take out a picture. The girls didn’t guess the story from the donkey, as “there’s lots of Bible stories with a donkey”. But by the palm branches they were on track and telling each part of the story without needing the words on the back. The only time we read them were the ones for “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” I wanted to read these as they connect with our Friday Shabbat meal where we break bread and drink wine / juice together.
When we got to the end, I said, “I wonder which part of the story you like best.” My 3 year old liked the angel on the empty tomb and asked to keep the picture. My 5 year old promptly announced that she knew this story already. She’s at an age where she loves more obscure stories she’s not heard before which is why we’re reading 1 Kings together at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop sharing all the great ones with her. Slowly she’ll come to realise that knowing the details of the stories is just the beginning of a wonder-filled journey where God speaks to us through the story in a different way each time we come to it. In a way, my 3 year old already gets this. When she had the picture of the disciples asleep “in a field” she started talking about resting and how they rest at nursery, demonstrating a clear connection for her with this part of the story and her life.
And now they want another story in the envelopes. Anyone got pictures for the story of Nehemiah?
For loads more creative ideas for exploring the Bible get Bible GodVenture52, a pack of cards with 52 different ideas for families to have fun with the Bible together at home.