from Neil@Sunday Software
After 24 years of pushing the Sunday Software nut uphill, I have stopped sales at this site, DONATED all my Bible software and games to www.rotation.org, and updated and posted all my software guides there as well. Rotation.org also has all my software lesson plans. Certain portions of sundaysoftware.com may no longer be available.
The Guide Let’s Talk has been updated and posted at Rotation.org: Guide to Let’s Talk. It includes lesson ideas.
Learn more about our story (and closing). A HUGE thank you to those who have been with us on this wonderful journey.
This page contains a number of Let’s Talk teaching ideas you can use for just about any subject, including my favorite Let’s Talk game idea: “How Few Can You Do?” …a great game for the kids to condense long important passages (such as a psalm) into a list of keywords.
Popular Ways to Use Let’s Talk
1. Teaching with Let’s Talk is an interactive experience. You’ll find yourself asking your students to create a response or answer to a question using Let’s Talk, then you’ll invite them to play their response to the class, and that becomes an occasion for YOU (and others) to react to their response. In other words, you act just like you would if you were simply sitting around a table asking questions. The difference with Let’s Talk, is that the kids are using software to create their response. That’s the hook. That’s what gets them to engage your questions, instead of staring blankly at you waiting for someone else to talk.
The lesson ideas on this page are simply different ways of achieving this classroom goal: getting students to share.
2. Let’s Talk can be used Before, During and After the Bible study.
It depends on what your story or lesson needs are. Let’s Talk presentations can be used to OPEN a lesson –asking a set of opening questions. It can be used to PRESENT the basic scripture spoken aloud by a character. Or, it can be used to present or craft questions and get responses DURING a Bible study. Or to ask students to REFLECT, PRAY, OFFER LIFE APPLICATION ADVICE AFTER the Bible Study. Lesson examples below.
3. Let’s Talk is great to use in conjunction with other software. In fact, I originally thought up the program on my way home from church one Sunday. I wished that I had a discussion-encouraging program for my older kids to follow up on our use of the lessons in Life of Christ CD. So…I invented Let’s Talk! Lesson examples below.
4. Let’s Talk can be used by OLDER students (teens!) to create lesson content for YOUNGER students. And do not be surprised AT ALL when your non-readers get as much enjoyment out of TRYING to create short spoken responses as your older kids. They can’t read, but they can TYPE with help and HEAR!
An important tip when using the Character Builder module: See more tech tips at the end of this page.
5 POPULAR LET’S TALK LESSON TECHNIQUES
Each of the following are illustrated in the lesson examples on this page.
1) “Stand and Deliver”
This is my most COMMON way of using the Let’s Talk “Talk Now” module. After the study, the teacher stands in the middle of the room and asks each computer workgroup to respond to the teacher’s questions one-at-a-time using the “Talk Now” module. We play back their answers, I comment, then I ask another question. (It helps to tell them they have “2 minutes” to create an answer. And a 30 second warning helps!)
Example: The teacher asks a series of questions one at a time, such as, “What are the Disciples thinking when they see Jesus on the shore cooking fish?” and… “What would you have asked Jesus when you saw him cooking that fish?” and… “Who are the ‘lambs’ Jesus wants you to feed in your life?”
See my “Beneath the Sheet Quiz Variation” below for a fun way to mix this up.
2) Make a Presentation for Others …”Quiz Your Friend”
After your Bible study, split into work groups and recreate the Bible verse and study in the “Lesson Builder” module built into Let’s Talk –which another group will then come and use. Kids working together will build a “teacher”, create an “intro” statement, add a shortened version of the story or what they think the story means. Then they add three quiz questions and three discussion questions. Once they have their presentation, they will invite another workgroup to their computer and have that workgroup play their presentation, answer their questions and respond to their discussion questions.
The John 1:1-18 lesson example below has two ways to play a “decoder” game with either the Lesson Builder module or Talk Now module. The gist: The kids rewrite the verse/passage without being allowed to use a single word from the Bible’s version, but they have to come close to the same meaning. Thesauruses needed! (And they think they’re playing a game). You can do this with a verse or series of verses that you introduce. (YES >> I did say “use thesauruses”. Let’s Talk turns the hunt for new expressions into a sort of game.)
4) “HOW FEW CAN YOU DO”? (aka “How Low Can You Go?”)
This is one of my FAVORITE WAYS to use the Talk Now module in Let’s Talk CD. It’s particularly good for breaking down LONGER PASSAGES into their most important keywords or concepts. And the kids love the challenge of making the computer speak aloud their keyword choices to the rest of the class.
HOW-TO: Do a Bible study, then challenge the kids to condense down long passages/stories into their key words/phrases, beginning with “20 words” or 15 –depending on the length of the passage. Then you have them playback their words in the Talk Now module of Let’s Talk for all to here (and for you to comment on). Then you ask them to revise and condense their lists further using only “10 words” and then “3.” HENCE THE NAME OF THE GAME: “How Few Can You Do?” You will have a MULTITUDE of opportunities to teach WHILE the kids are making their choices and after each round of playback.
5) “Text Messaging with Jesus”
…..a technique using the “Conversation Now” module –which looks like an internet chat screen or text messaging session (no internet connection needed!)
On the left is Jesus (or whatever character you want). On the right is your student or class. Back and forth the comments go on the “Conversation Now” screen in Let’s Talk. “Why did you do it Judas?” “Why didn’t you stop me, Jesus?” Martha: “You should have been helping me!” Mary: Why didn’t you come learn WITH me!”
The teacher can take on the role of Jesus, or a team of students can create Jesus’ questions and responses for the kids on the right. See my creative “Man Beneath the Sheet” lesson example below (which is a fun way to pretend you’re talking to Jesus. This works especially well if you connect a second keyboard to your computer via a USB port.
MORE lesson ideas…
“How Few Can You Do” is one of my favorite ways to use Let’s Talk.
In a nutshell: After your Bible study, have the kids go their computers and turn on the TALK NOW module in Let’s Talk. With Bibles in hand, challenge them to CONDENSE the designated passage into 15 keywords, then remove 5, then remove 5 more. (They are typing these words into the interface for their onscreen character to read to the class.) In between each round of removal, you and the kids are discussing WHICH keywords are most key, why they chose what they did, and debating! The kids at the different computers won’t agree and that’s where the grist is for the mill. (Adjust # of keywords and rounds based on the passage.)
And after you’ve used the basic idea for one lesson, in subsequent lessons you’ll come up with variations on the game, such as, “How Few Can You Do –without using any of the same words from scripture but keeping the same meaning?” and “Pick one word that says it all.”
A Lesson Plan illustrating the “How Few Can You Do” technique
IN BRIEF: Students will work with you to CONDENSE WORDS from the passage until you can get it down to its bare essential words, or “minimum words without losing meaning.” This exercise helps them understand key ideas and opens up the debate.
This lesson plan uses Cal & Marty’s Scripture Memory Game and Let’s Talk together to teach Paul’s understanding Christ’s ministry and cross in Philippians 2:5-11, “…he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross…“
You can also see Cal & Marty’s CD version of this lesson here –which includes a free downloadable verse set for use in that program.
LET’S TALK “BENEATH THE SHEET” ~ VIRTUAL PUPPET IDEAS
Strange title! But a very creative way for kids or teachers to use Let’s Talk …which are really just creative ways to do the techniques described above on this page.
1) “Virtual Puppet” “Virtual MC” “Virtual Gameshow Host”
Leaders use an LCD projector to project the animated characters in TALK NOW or CONVERSATION NOW at a large group gathering, such as VBS, or Fellowship, or Children’s Church. Kids love this! Example: Instead of talking directly to your kids at your next gathering, open up the TALK NOW module, create a goofy looking character, and type what you want to say. You can ask the group questions and type your responses. There will be big smiles all around.
You can even do this as a comedy sketch…. placing the typist under a bed sheet by the computer, and having them respond to your discussion by making the character talk on the screen. You can do this with either the Talk Now Module or use the Conversation Now Module which looks like an instant messaging session between two people.
With smaller groups, you don’t have to have a projector, they can just gather around your largest screen.
Two Ways to ‘Hide’ the Talk Now Text Bubble that appears next to the animated character:
1) Use a small screen on a stand that’s positioned in such a way and is only big enough to show the animated character. IE …make it so the portion of the projected image which shows the talk bubble text doesn’t fit on the projection screen.
2) If you’re doing this on a computer screen, cut a mask out of paper and lay it over the screen to cover the talk bubble text. Decorate the mask with keywords or scripture or designs so it doesn’t look so gnarly. Or make the mask look like a spaceship or house that the character is coming out of.
2) “The Man Beneath the Sheet”…
… a variation on the “Text Message with Jesus” technique using the Conversation Now module.
Turn on the “Conversation Now” Chat Module or Talk Now module, attach a SPARE KEYBOARD to a USB port on the computer, and have a teacher or kids “go underneath a bed sheet” to play the role of “God” or “An Angel” or any key character in the story you’re studying. You the teacher can ask them questions, then invite the students to ask “the man underneath the sheet” more questions.
This is very similar to the “Virtual Puppet” use of Let’s Talk described below. The basic idea is the same: HIDE in plain sight. Kids think this is fun, and will want to take a turn at hiding and responding (expressing! discussion! pinch me!)
In the “Conversation” (aka “chat”) module, you can create a character to be the man underneath the sheet, for example, you could create your character to look like a prophet, or Jesus, and he can ‘chat’ back and forth responding to the students who have a character on the right side of the screen.
About attaching a spare keyboard…. did you know most Windows computers can have MULTIPLE KEYBOARDS attached? Bring in or buy a $15 keyboard that can plug into your computer’s spare USB port. This comes in handy when you’re using the Conversation Now module (though isn’t required) and especially if you what to play “underneath the sheet”. It’s fun and the kids get into it and all want to be the Bible character you have put underneath the sheet, or on the other side of a divider (they don’t even need to see the screen because they can hear the response, type and press ‘enter’ to send theirs.
3) Beneath the Sheet TEAM QUIZ Variation…
Instead of using the “Conversation Now” module, use the the Talk Now module. Split into two teams and have each team form AWAY from the computers. Now each team sends a player forward “underneath the sheet” to answer the teacher’s question with their onscreen character. Keep score and you’ll get better responses! And yes, the sheet is just for fun. Adds mystery!
|BIG TIP! –Work WITH your students to create their content. Don’t just wait for them to “get done.” It helps to have discussed possible ideas/responses ahead of time and have these ideas written on a whiteboard for all to see. Provide phrases and vocabulary from the scripture and discussion to seed their presentations and responses.|
PETER SINKS, MARY & MARTHA
WOMAN at WELL, THOMAS
Reminder: The following lesson ideas can be used with many other stories as well.
Peter Sinks in the Water
1– Start with Life of Christ CD Lesson #20 — Peter’s Walk on the Water. Skip the question asked at the end of the LOF presentation. We’re going to revise that in Let’s Talk. Take the LOF six-question quiz, then turn on the Let’s Talk program. Note: If you don’t have Life of Christ CD, you can create your own talking version of Lesson 20 using the Lesson Builder module in Let’s Talk, or you can introduce the story by reading it straight from the Bible.
2– Go to the “Talk Now” module in Let’s Talk menu. Have your students create an animated character to speak aloud their responses to some of the following questions. Mix and match. Follow-up some of their responses with more discussion, perhaps creating a new question to respond to in Talk Now -based on a student’s comment.
“Stand and Ask” Question to ask in Talk Now: How do you think Peter felt when Jesus asked him to come out of the boat? What would you have said to Jesus? What would you have been thinking inside! What thoughts were going through the minds of the other disciples? What was going through Jesus’ mind as he decided to walk across the water to the boat? -What was he wanting to show? What was going through the Disciple’s minds about Jesus and Peter when they saw Peter sink? Which meaning do you think this story is about: We don’t have enough faith, or Jesus is here to help us? What is the safe place in your life? What are the stormy-wave-tossed places? What difficult things does Jesus ask us to do? How would you describe your faith: “ready to get out of the boat -or- afraid to get out –or- sinking –or- feeling Jesus’ hand grab yours.” How does Jesus reach out and save us? (Be ready to provide life examples to the children. This would be a good time to share some difficult/trying times in your life when you felt Jesus reach out to you.).
3—After some discussion, conclude by creating a computer-spoken prayer for Jesus’ hand to grab us (something like that). Have each student create a line in the prayer and play it through Talk Now when you point at their computer. Give them some hints on what to pray for. Example: for faith, or for Then have everyone type and play “Amen” at the same time.
Younger children adaptation: Lesson 20 is ok for them. And they love to type in Let’s Talk, even if they can’t spell. They just need someone to help them.
Mary & Martha’s Argument
Their story only appears briefly in one other program (Bibleland.com which I’m not going to use) but can be re-created center-stage with the Lesson Builder and/or Conversation Now modules in our new Let’s Talk CD.
Option 1: For my older children, after studying and discussing the story with me using their Bibles, they will create their own talking version of the lesson, then switch computer and playback each others lessons and quiz about the story. When they add their 3 Discussion questions to the end of their lesson, I’ll give them this idea to work with: “Imagine the conversation AFTER Jesus had left the house. –How would MARY defend her actions to Martha? –What could Martha have done differently so as not to miss the opportunity to learn from Jesus?
Option 2: The teacher could prepare the talking lesson in advance and copy it to each computer for playback. Then when the kids got to the discussion questions, they could type in their responses and play them back for the entire class to hear. The teacher points to each computer when it’s their turn to playback their response. For younger children, help them type their responses. They think typing is fun.
Option 3: After the Bible Study, students are prompted to open up the Conversation Now module in Let’s Talk. This looks like a “chat or “INSTANT MESSAGING” screen. One student creates and names an onscreen character –which can talk to a second onscreen character created by the other student at the same computer. The teacher begins the conversation with a “scenario” which the two onscreen will create DIALOG about.
Scenario One: “Student #1 you are Martha. Student #2 you are Jesus. Martha, ask Jesus to explain his answer to your complaint. If his answer doesn’t make sense to you, tell him that and have him explain it again.”
Scenario Two: “Student #1 you are Mary. Student #2 you are Martha. After Jesus has left your house, start an argument. Mary, your job is to explain again why you chose to learn and listening to Jesus overdoing your chores. Martha, your job is to suggest how Mary might have helped you so you could BOTH spend time with Jesus.”
The Woman at the Well
IDEA 1: What if that had been a teenager or child at the well? What if it had been YOU? What would Jesus dig into YOUR background about? What if that person at the well had been a bully or a kid who had made bad choices and hung out with bad people? What if that had been an alcoholic or a teacher, or a leader in your church? What excuses would you give? And how would Jesus respond? Use Let’s Talk for this type of reflection activity after you’ve seen lesson 14 in Life of Christ CD.
IDEA 2: Here’s a Lesson Sketch using the technique: “Stand and Ask”
This is not a story about a “fallen” woman. It is another remarkable story of Jesus’ acceptance and empowerment of someone who felt forgotten and shunned.
I used to not like this story for children because the “many husbands” aspect turned me off. But then I came to realize that many of us have been taught the wrong idea about this woman. …That there was a different reason she was being shunned. She couldn’t have children. In those days, that would have been a huge burden to bear for her. And quite possibly she is now living in the household of a male relative who has taken her in, …the “man who is not your husband.” She didn’t feel worthy to go to the well with the other women of the village in the morning when they would have gathered.
Further evidence that she was being shunned or was living an embarrassed life comes from the fact that she was able to go to people in the village and tell them about Jesus, and they didn’t reject her. She was part of the village, but living with shame. Jesus freed her from being defined by those conventions, and indeed, she became a leading disciple.
1—Start with Life of Christ CD Lesson #14 –Jesus tells his story to a Lonely Woman.
It ends with these two questions and a quiz: Do you reject people who are loved by God? How do you introduce others to God? However in the next lesson step, we’re going to get personal just like Jesus did. He knew what the woman needed, and she wanted to change the subject.
2—Go to the TALK NOW module in Let’s Talk CD.
YOU (the teacher/assistant) will take on the role of Jesus. The kids will use the Talk Now module to respond to your questions. Stand in the center of the room and ask your question. Have the students type and playback their response.
Examples of Questions You/Jesus could “stand and ask”:
a. Why are you sitting at the well in the noonday (hot) sun? Why didn’t you come with the other women in the morning?
b. Why are you embarrassed that you can’t have children? Why do some people think it is some kind of punishment from God?
c. How does it feel to be “shunned” by others?
d. How does it feel to think God is punishing you?
e. What went through your mind when you realized Jesus knew a lot about you?
f. How does it feel to know that the Messiah was willing to spend time with you, and talk about your problems?
g. What do you think Jesus meant when he said he wanted to give you “Living Water.” What kind of water is that?
h. How and Where can you can get this living water? (What things in the Church help you find this Living Water?)
i. What did you tell your towns-people about Jesus that convinced them that HE was the Messiah?
j. You went from being shunned and ashamed, to becoming a leading disciple in that region. What does that tell you about the kind of people that God calls to be his disciples?
k. Who are the people today that get shunned or feel like they of lesser worth: in school, in your neighborhood, in the community…. world.
l. What can you tell someone who didn’t think they were worth anything, is depressed about their life, thinks God doesn’t care about them, or is being shunned by others?
Where were you, Thomas?
Techniques: Quiz a Friend, and Stand and Deliver
Thomas’ story doesn’t appear in Life of Christ CD. And he also isn’t present when the risen Jesus first meets the disciples!
Where was he? Why wasn’t he with them? Didn’t he expect Jesus? Had he lost heart? Was he too busy?
1– Students will rewrite the Doubting Thomas story in Let’s Talk Lesson Builder from the point of view of Thomas. What was going through his mind? Why wasn’t he there? What did he think of the Disciples’ reports about Jesus? After creating their lesson, they’ll switch computers and listen to other’s groups/computers’ version of the Thomas story.
2– After we’ve heard each other’s versions of the story, the teacher will pose a series of questions to the class. The students will respond aloud to everyone in the classroom by having their onscreen character voice their responses in Talk Now.
Possible Teacher Questions: A) What would you ask Jesus if he appeared right now in our room? B) Jesus can come to us anywhere in our lives. Name 3 places in your life where you think Jesus might come and talk to you. C) In what ways does Jesus come to us and make his voice heard to us today?
The Temptation of Jesus… a lesson plan
Scripture: Matthew 4: 1-11
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
The lesson uses two different software programs: Life of Christ CD and Let’s Talk CD. It’s common to find both in a Rotation Model computer lab because they both cover a lot of stories and lesson ideas. In fact, I thought up the idea for Let’s Talk on a drive home from church one Sunday having JUST USED Life of Christ CD, and wishing I had another program I could have used to FOLLOW UP and reflect on what we had learned. Let’s Talk is that program.
THE LESSON PLAN
FIRST: Use Life of Christ Lesson #12, “Three Temptations” (Matthew 4:1-11)
Summary: “Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness and what those temptations meant. How do you prepare yourself to fight off temptation?”View the scripture presentation together and take the six question quiz at the end of the presentation. Have them do the quiz again if they don’t get them all right.At the end of this lesson, you’ll have the option to view Lesson 13 “New Wine out of Water” (John 2:1-11), the Wedding at Cana. WHY? I think it’s a VERY INTERESTING counterpoint to the Temptation story. When being tempted to help himself, and change who he was obedient to, Jesus resisted. But when asked to turn water into wine by a concerned member/friend of the family FOR THE GUEST and FAMILY, Jesus performs the miracle!
STEP 2: Play the “Temptation Excuses Game” using Let’s Talk CD’s “TALK NOW” module.
After a brief discussion (below), the kids and you will be playing a game using Let’s Talk CD to give voice to the excuses people use to give in to temptation. Whatever the kids type, their animated character that they created will speak OUT LOUD from the computer. (It’s like a fun way to get your kids to answer your questions!Teach the kids the following concept:
Share: There are the simple temptations, such as taking something that doesn’t belong to you. But then there are the Temptations to do things which ON THE SURFACE don’t really look that bad because you come up with a GREAT EXCUSE TO DO THEM (or avoid doing them). These kinds of temptations usually come with an EXCUSE:”I can take $10 from my mom’s purse because I am a good kid and she won’t miss it. Plus I’ve been helping her a lot lately.”
“I can lie to my friend about not inviting them to my party because I don’t want to have to tell them my other friends don’t like them.”
“I will pretend to be too tired to go to church because I had a big game Saturday.”
Jesus could have said, “I should make myself Bread because, after all, I am the Messiah and it’s such a small thing.”
Many temptations are rarely about doing something really BAD, but rather, making something BAD seem like it is the RIGHT THING TO DO! The problem is that the excuse usually takes away something from you, like your integrity, your honesty. And it “diminishes” the other person from whom you’re taking away. It can undermine your relationship with them and lead to bigger LIES. It also affects what you think of God. Since God can see what you do, all disobedience is OPEN disobedience to him! Nobody else may find out, but YOU and JESUS know it. Jesus knew that by giving into the “devil”, he would be taking away from his loyalty to God. He would be using his powers to satisfy himself, and that would be a betrayal of all he stood for. He knew he was out there to prepare himself, not to look for the EASY WAY OUT.
“Bread” = because he’s hungry and we all need to eat. So maybe I should stop thinking about God out here and take care of my belly.
“Kingdoms of the World” =because then Jesus would be in charge and tell people what to do.
And that’s what Excuses often are all about: finding an easy way out of doing the right thing.
USING LET’S TALK
PLAY THIS “EXCUSES TEMPTATION” GAME:
The teacher will reveal the following temptation scenarios one at a time. The students will type into their Let’s Talk “TALK NOW” screen their answer. They are to come up with a REASONABLE EXCUSE for giving into the temptation. (Notice how I have mixed the temptations we face, with those Jesus faced.)
You are Jesus, you’ve been in the wilderness for days with little food, it would be okay to use your powers for yourself and turn a rock into some bread because…
It’s okay to hate a bad person because…
I need $10 to go to the movies but don’t have the money, and I found $10 laying near a wallet, so I take it because….
Mom wants me to go with her to church this Sunday, but between school, sports and friends I’m pretty busy, so I resist going because….
It’s okay to call somebody a jerk to their face and talk bad about them if…
It’s okay for Jesus to use his powers to force everyone to believe in him because…
If I were the Messiah, I would go to Washington DC and jump off the Capitol Building while being broadcast on CNN in order to win everyone over with this giant miracle, and that would be okay because…
Have the students type a plea to God to help them resist temptation, and be aware of when they are making EXCUSES. Play them back. -and Amen!
Alternate Ending Activity…if you have time…
At the end of this lesson view Lesson 13 in Life of Christ CD: “New Wine out of Water” (John 2:1-11), the Wedding at Cana. WHY? It’s a VERY INTERESTING counterpoint to the Temptation story. When being tempted to help himself, and change who he was obedient to, Jesus resisted. But when asked to turn water into wine by a concerned member/friend of the family FOR THE GUEST and FAMILY, Jesus performs the miracle!
Here are more lesson ideas for use with Let’s Talk CD from Sunday Software
John 1:1-18, Job’s Friend, Call of Disciples
JOHN 1:1-18 In the beginning was the Word…
John 1:1-18 is full of heavy language and imagery which we needed to “decode” for the older elementary class. You can do this by either
Decode Technique 1: Have them rewrite the story/verse in the Lesson Builder or Talk Now Module WITHOUT being able to use any of the same words found in the Bible. Totally different!
Decode Technique 2: Make a list on the board of the 5 or 6 keywords in the passage they are going to have to change. You can assign one to each workstations or let each workstation work on each word. Have them WRITE DOWN alternative words. They’ll use their list to type their word into Let’s Talk.
Here’s how you play: The teacher starts reading the passage, and when they get to the first keyword, they pause and POINT TO A COMPUTER for them to play their word, then the teacher keeps reading on until they come to the next keyword and points to the NEXT computer. If you only have 1 or 2 computers, they’ll have to immediately start typing the next word on their list that they have prepared ahead of time, so that it’s ready to play when you the teacher get to that verse and point to them. This takes some practice, and there’s a bit of rushing at first, but you can do it TWICE. The kids think they’re playing a game!
OR….You could do this passage as a “Quiz a Friend” or “How Few Can You Do?” game.
The book of Job is essentially a series of conversations or monologues, each trying to explain the nature of evil (“why bad things happen”). As the teacher, you could pose a series of questions to your students after study, which the students would respond to using the TALK NOW module. Or, after study, you could invite each computer workgroup to compose their OWN lesson/explanation in the Lesson Builder summarizing Job’s story and the answer God gives him.
For older students, you should also go ahead and have them try their hand at ARGUING (convincingly) using the CONVERSATION NOW instant messenger module. Have them “practice” their explanation about evil in the world with another student (who plays the “devil’s advocate” or “provocateur” if you wish). As the teacher, pay close attention to the student’s answers and talk with them about how they might better respond to the provocateur who says things like “if there was a God, how could God allow bad things, like genocide.” Help your students learn the vocabulary of arguing their beliefs. Soon enough, if not already, they will encounter people who say things that require a response. Help them learn how to EXPRESS THEIR BELIEFS !
Call of the Disciples
Imagine the disciples were NOT fisherman. Imagine contemporary jobs, imagine if they were ELEMENTARY students too! Where would Jesus have approached them? And what would Jesus have said to them? Create that story. Then… put some realistic responses in the mouths of those contemporary disciples. Jesus walks into a schoolyard and calls you. How does he talk to students in “student” language -as opposed to fishermen metaphors? What are your reservations? How to you answer him? What do you say to your parents and teachers?
See my complete “Call to the Disciples” lesson plan at https://sundaysoftware.com/lessons/calldisciples.htm
You can create the ‘new’ story using the Lesson Builder. Alternately, you can use the ‘Conversation Now’ module to have kids take on different roles (you be Jesus, I’ll be the elementary student). Alternately, you can use the ‘Talk Now’ option and have the teacher invite kids at two computers to respond to each other. This would work best if you have older helpers/assistant teachers helping kids to think through their responses before typing them. Alternately, the teacher could be a one computer and pose questions to the kids at another computer who use ‘Talk Now’ to respond to the teacher out loud. Lots of options here depending on your age group, number of computers, and number of helpers.
Karen at St. James United in Toronto liked this lesson idea so much that she expanded the “Let’s Talk” concept out onto their walls. They had the kids outline themselves on big sheets of kraft paper, cut them out, decorate them, and add talking points to each “disciple”. It’s a great example of combining computers and artwork in a lesson to great effect.
The Resurrected Jesus has breakfast by the lake with his disciples
Wedding at Cana
Resurrection ‘Breakfast’ with Jesus by the lake
If I was on a boat fishing and saw the resurrected Jesus on the seashore cooking a fish, I’d have a million questions, wouldn’t you? That’s the premise behind this quick lesson outline, a version of which I did two years ago in my own lab. Using the “Talk Now” feature in Let’s Talk (which allows kids to create quick spoken responses to playback), each computer station creates a talking character then composes responses to the question I pose to them while standing in the middle of the lab. Then we playback their answers and discuss them. Then I pose another question. With some questions, I pose as Jesus talking to them -asking my disciples (the kids) questions. With other questions, I pretend that I’m the disciple and they craft responses as if THEY were Jesus. If you have younger kids, they like to come up with responses, -just need an older child to help them type.
Jesus to his Disciples:
What was going through your mind before you saw me?
When you saw me on the shore, what did you think to yourself?
Why were you out fishing instead of telling people about me?
How come Peter is the only one to jump out and run to me?
How are you going to stay faithful to me after I’m gone?
The Disciples to Jesus:
Where have you been since your resurrection?
Why are you cooking us a fish? Why not just stand there and yell to us?
Why did you want to meet us here in Galilee?
How are we supposed to Feed your Sheep? We can’t even catch fish for ourselves! How can we do this without you?
Wedding at Cana
We did a fun Let’s-Talk lesson writing “Letters About the Wedding” that was quite fun. The idea: Jehoshaphat was at the wedding and is writing to his friend Betty. They discuss what it means, who Jesus might be, and what to do NEXT with this information. Betty is a bit of a skeptic.
“Dear Betty, I was at this wedding over the weekend and you’ll never guess what happened.”
“Dear Jehosaphat, I don’t believe you! Who can turn water into wine and what do you think it means?”
Dear Betty, Here’s what the people there were saying to each other about Jesus. What do you think I should do next? How will I know he’s The One?”
You can do this a number of ways:
1) Have the TEACHER pose as “Betty the skeptic,” and pose questions to the kids at the computers who respond with the “Say It” module Ex: “Okay Jehosphat, you’re pulling my leg. WHO can turn water into wine and WHY would anyone do that? What are they trying to prove?”
2) You can have older kids use the “Conversation Now” chat module to take a role and respond to each other at their workstations. Give each workstation a list of suggested questions to go through. You can also use this module in a small group and have everyone gather around, assigning some to be “believers” and some to be “skeptics in the the crowd” debating what happened and then coming up with a plan to “figure out who this Jesus is”… what they can do to investigate him and his message more closely.
Tips on Using Let’s Talk with OLDER students and NON-READERS
Sometimes older students like to goof around with Let’s Talk’s speech capabilities. That’s okay! …just don’t let it get out of hand. I will often invite them to “create one funny response, and one serious response” and that seems to take care of their need to make the computer say funny things. After a few lessons with Let’s Talk, they’ll have that out of their system.
For the one or two who can’t get that out of their system, I will often ask them to come help me with the younger grades. Once they feel like “one of the teachers” they tend to settle down even with their peers.
Another approach that works well with pre-teens and teens is to tell them they are “making the presentation for the little kids.” Sometimes when they think they are just making it for themselves, they are reticent or will try to impress each other (not in a good way!). By signaling that “this is for the little kids” it takes the pressure off some of your older kids to think they have to be cool. It’s also educational gold. “Translating” a Bible story and concepts into pre-school or early-reader appropriate language helps older students think through the concepts in a new way.
As the teacher, you’ll have to help them think about what’s “age appropriate.” Vocabulary is important, but so is creating simple sentence structure and grammar. If you can, it’s a great idea to invite the younger kids to come in at the end of the lesson to view the presentations. If that’s not possible, save the presentations and invite a couple of your older students to ‘present’ them to the Kindergartners when they are scheduled into the lab.
Younger children who can’t type still love to make their animated character talk. I’ve used Let’s Talk with four year olds! They think it’s magic. This is where having an older “typist” help them is essential. The older “typist” can help them formulate their thoughts, and correct their spelling. Sometimes, I’ll write “keywords” on the board based on the passage or our discussion, and let the kids pick the keywords they want to put in their Talk Now or Lesson Builder presentation.
You can also PRE-MAKE a Lesson Presentation, then have the younger children (with their helper) select EDIT a LESSON, to go in and add their own thought on top of yours. That makes for a richer presentation, and they will still be thrilled to hear “their” words. (See “another great tip” above)
A Few Let’s Talk Tech Tips:
More extensive Let’s Talk CD support can be found at
1) If you want the same Let’s Talk content on multiple computers, you need to buy one copy of Let’s Talk for each computer, THEN you can copy yourlesson.txt from the lessons folder (where you saved it) to the lessons folder on another computer where you have Let’s Talk installed. The lessons folder is created in the same directory/folder where you install Let’s Talk.
2) Always save your work. If your lessons do not save, make sure you’re logged in as the Admin on your computer with full ‘write’ permission to the harddrive.
3) Only use letters and numbers in your lessons.
Do not include non-standard symbols, such as, > or & in your typing.
Do not type long sentences in the “intro” field.
Do not type in a wordprocessor then paste into the fields.
4) If you install Let’s Talk and get a message that there are “no installed voices” it means that computer doesn’t have a complete Text-2-speech package installed. Fortunately, we put a Microsoft voices zip file on the CD, or you can find one at our Support page for Let’s Talk.