The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10
Your students will be totally engaged and smiling when you play the “Samuel Game” with them. Start by sharing one of the stories about Samuel in the Bible: 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19. Tell your students that you will be asking them what God is teaching them today before you begin reading. Be sure to use your best storyteller voice to emphasize how the Lord was calling Samuel by name. Discuss how Samuel learned to recognize the voice of God and to listen to Him. Remind your students that praying involves talking and listening to God. Ask your students how they listen to God. Discuss how summertime is an excellent time of year to slow down and spend time peacefully listening to God speak to our hearts. It is also a wonderful time of year to read the Bible and listen to God speak to us through Scripture.
Next, introduce the “Samuel Game.” Have a student volunteer come to the front of the room and turn his or her back to the class. The volunteer is like Samuel in the story and he or she will listen while another student calls his or her name. Silently choose a student to come to the center of the room and call out the volunteer’s name. The student can try to disguise his or her voice and the volunteer must guess without looking. Set the stage for success by telling your class the expectations for the game. Every student needs to be quiet so the volunteer can listen carefully. I usually pass out a Bible verse sheet to color to make sure everyone is engaged while waiting for their turn. Everyone will want a chance to guess and to call out, so be sure to plan ahead. Let the laughter begin!
A fun twist to the game is to surprise your volunteer when you are the one calling out his or her name. One year I played the part of Samuel and it was an absolute joy to guess all of my students’ voices. There’s a special bond in the classroom when you realize that you’ve been listening to each other for almost five days a week for nine months. I’ve played this game with students in grades 3-5 and it’s always a hit!
At the end of the game it’s a good idea to recap the message of the Bible story: Take time to listen to the voice of God calling you by name. As a religion teacher celebrating the end of the year with her students, I hear the message in my heart of how blessed I am to have taught such wonderful students. Rejoice and teach!