Following are some excellent practical suggestions for teaching children about creation, evolution, and Genesis. The ideas in this section come from the work of women very experienced teaching children about creation in both church and school settings. The ideas here are based on various workshops conducted on how to teach creation.
Addressing creation and evolution can be a frightening subject. Often, parents and children's workers don't know how to answer the creation-related questions asked by children. Because evolution is accepted in our society and taught in public schools, this tends over a period of years to lead children away from faith in the Bible. So, it is important to address creation versus evolution so that children understand that all of the Bible can be trusted and learn about God's greatness as Creator. It can be a great joy to do this with kids if some preparation is put into it and if a hands-on approach is used. It does require a lot of planning. A "hands-on approach" means using a variety of materials, crafts, and resources to give the children tangible things they can see and touch and do that will reinforce creation concepts. As in any children's ministry, music is very important. In relation to creation, music serves to help kids appreciate the beauty and order that God made and worship Him in response to it.
People teaching creation to children do not have to be science experts. Rather, they should be able to enjoy learning with the kids. This cannot be stressed too much. It is OK if you have to say "I don't know, I'll have to look into that" in response to a child's question. Of course, the responsibility of teaching children should not be taken too lightly, but you cannot let it stop you that you are not an expert. Rather, be willing to learn and let God use you. So, in teaching kids about creation, let go, GET EXCITED, and enjoy yourself! It is also best many times to use questions to lead kids in their thinking so that they can discover truths for themself rather than just listening.
It is necessary for the workers to have someone to go to answer their creation questions. For this, perhaps a local creation organization can be consulted. For any major event, such as a Vacation Bible School program centered around creation, preparation should begin about 3 months in advance. The workers may themselves need to be taught about creation. The workers need their questions answered first. But, realistically, there is no way to have all the answers to all the questions, regardless of how much training you get or how much planning ahead your workers do. Even the most knowledgable creationists in the world can only speculate and guess about many detailed questions. But, there are certain things the Bible (and the scientific evidence) make very clear--we must be clear on these things.
Anyone using this who would like help in locating the creation organization
nearest them can contact Foundation Ministries for assistance. The ideas
in this section are best suited to special events such as Vacation Bible
Schools, weekend conferences, or Day Camps. However, many of them could
be used in other children's programs or in Sunday Schools just as well.
Using Learning Centers
A very effective way of teaching children is to arrange lessons and activities into centers in which the children move from one center to another, staying at each center for perhaps about 20 minutes. Several centers can be set up and children can be rotated from center to center in groups. It is good to have a "counselor" who can go with a certain group of children for an entire program, to build a relationship with the kids. A fossils center could have some actual fossils for the kids to see and touch while they are taught about fossils and rapid burial of creatures by Noah's Flood. It is also important to have visual aids, posters, and hands-on activities at centers. One or more centers could be some sort of craft, made relevant to Genesis or creation in some way. Also, it is very important to incorporate scripture wherever possible and appropriate. The Bible contains many things that speak to science or focus on who God is as Creator.
The children need things to do and look at while the leader or teacher
explains some simple creation points. For older children, a chart of the
geologic column could be included as a way to explain evolution as it relates
to rocks and the age of the earth. Children can also dig in sand boxes
for bones or plastic skeleton pieces while being taught about fossils and
what paleontologists do. Live animals are always winners with kids, and
make great centers. But, to relate them to spiritual lessons and creation,
the adults or teacher/s at the center should relate the animals to the
creation days, the question of how much living things can change, our responsibility
to care for animals(Genesis 1:26), or intelligent design. God's goodness
and creativity are shown by how animals are so well suited to their particular
way of life. Sometimes it is very effective to put children in pairs with
an older child going with a younger child, teaching and helping them.
Vocabulary and Identifying Creation and Evolution
It is very important to teach kids how to recognize creation and evolution
terms and help them be able to recognize the differences between the two
when they look at a book, for instance. One very good system is to use
different colored stickers for books to help kids know the difference between
a creation book and an evolution book. Pat McCombs, who has worked with
many children in both churches and public schools, uses green stickers
on creation dinosaur books, red stickers on evolution dinosaur books, and
yellow on books that are "just for fun" that don't deal with origins very
much but are fun or valuable in general. Terms like "millions of years,"
"descended from...," or "ape-men" usually refer to evolution. Children
do not recognize that these mean evolution unless they are taught so. Also,
terms from evolutionary science may not mean the same thing as they do
when used by creationists. The biological classification term "species,"
does not mean the same thing as "kind" as in Genesis 1.
Involving the Parents
It is safe to assume that the parents will not know what the children
are being taught about creation, in almost all cases. Thus, it is necessary
to get the parents involved in some way. Sending some handouts home prepared
specifically for the parents can be valuable. Parents should be told
where they can obtain creation materials. Many creation organizations operate
lending libraries of videos and books, for instance, for check out. Wayne
Spencer at Foundation Ministries can help in locating these sort of resources.
Another wonderful way to get parents involved is to provide a time when
the parents can go through the learning centers or activities with their
kids. In this, it is amazing how much the children will teach their parents!
Making it Age-Level Appropriate
Two main objectives of teaching children about creation are 1) to help them visualize what the world was like at the time of creation and the Flood, and 2) to get them to associate things and animals we have today with the creation days and therebye learn about the creation days. Before beginning to teach them anything, it can be helpful sometimes to do something to show you what their concept is about creation, dinosaurs, and the world as it was in the beginning. Younger children can be told to draw a dinosaur and show the kind of area it lived in. Older children can be told to write out some answers to some questions. You want to find out, in this, if they put people and dinosaurs together, if dinosaurs are portrayed as mean and dangerous, whether they lived in a jungle or near water, etc. This can be done again at the end of your program after all the lessons.
Many things can be done to help them visualize and imagine what the earth was like at creation, what Noah's Ark looked like, or what the Flood was like. For instance, it is very enlightening to children and parents alike to measure off the actual size of Noah's Ark in a field and go walk around the perimeter of it. (See other information about making a scale model of the Ark in this book.) You may be able to find a building or telephone pole or something in your area that is approximately the same height as the Ark; this can be pointed out to the kids. You can also divide the kids into 3 groups and have each group plan out where they would put everything on Noah's Ark in its three decks. Large long sheets of paper are good for this.
For young children, the emphasis is on imagining things at the beginning, learning about what Genesis teaches, and seeing God's power, goodness, and creativity. More detailed questions like "Are the Genesis 1 days literal days?", or "What about ape-men?" are not appropriate for very young children. Middle school-aged kids, or high schoolers, on the other hand, will have these type of questions. However, young children can have some tough questions, which you must answer as best you can. But young children have not yet heard much about evolution and have not learned what it means. Thus, young children should be learning what the Bible teaches and as they learn about all God made, they should learn to see what nature teaches us about God himself.
One common question related to the origin of living things can be very difficult to answer at the level of young children. That is the issue of how do the many races of people come about; or, it can be put in terms of animals--how do the many types of dogs we see come about from only one pair or a few pairs of dogs? This is actually a rather complex matter from the science of genetics, but it can be related to kids to some extent. When God created Adam and Eve, he made them with the ability to have descendants of all possible races and varieties of physical characteristics. They had this ability from having a combination of genes in their chromosomes that was sort of "neutral" or not specialized. This is why they probably had a sort of brown or intermediate complection. Kids don't know about genes and chromosomes, so it's probably best not to even try to really get into genetics information like that unless you deal with high school kids who have had biology.
God created unchanging "kinds" but he did not create living things so that they are totally static and cannot change at all. All living things, including plants, animals, and even humans are able to change to a limited degree to adapt to the environment they live in. Thus, the first people to live on the continent of Africa were not necessarily black in skin color, but they carried genes that allowed for that possibility. Over time, those who had dark skin had an advantage in that climate so dark skinned people became most prevalent. Other factors enter into this issue, but the important thing is that God's word says each living thing "multiplied after its kind." God has built into living cells mechanisms that prevent a creature from becoming something really different. There are even mechanisms designed into cells that correct mutations before they can be copied! All this fits right in with Genesis. Creation books can help answer many of the questions that are asked. An excellent book for getting answers to some of the most common questions is The Answers Book, by Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, and Carl Wieland, available from Master Books and in many Christian book stores (see the "Creation Resources List" in the Creation Activities for Kids book).