Bible Handling Goals for Children – 5-8 years old

An age-appropriate guide for children’s use of the Bible – their knowledge of its content, skills in using it and attitudes towards it. Children of different ages approach the Bible in different ways. As their general skills grow, so does their understanding of the Bible and their skill in using it. The statements below represent the knowledge, skills and attitudes that leaders will encourage and help children to develop by the upper end of their age group.


Familiarity with the story form

The children will know that the Bible

  • is God’s book
  • has different kinds of writing in it, including stories, poems/songs, letters
  • has true stories in it about God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit
  • has true stories in it about people who lived long ago
  • has true stories in it that help us learn about God.

Learning a biblical overview

The children will know

  • that events in the Bible really took place a long time ago
  • that people in those days dressed very differently to today
  • that the technology was very different
  • that the weather in Bible lands was often hot and dry
  • that the Bible is made up of different books – it wasn’t all written down by the same person
  • that the Bible has an Old Testament and a New Testament, but they will not be too sure what these words mean
  • that the Bible says the same thing in many different places (such as ‘God loves us’).


Devotional and meditative approach

The children will

  • be able to listen to a story and relate to the characters in it, such as thinking how they were feeling or imagining they themselves were there
  • enjoy reading a small part of the Bible regularly, probably with adult help, and saying a related, relevant prayer
  • begin to learn some key Bible verses by heart.

Basic Bible-handling skills

The children will

  • identify the Bible as a special book
  • know that God teaches us about himself through the Bible
  • realise that the stories they hear come from the Bible
  • be able to find short stories in the Bible
  • be able to find God’s and Jesus’ name
  • be able to read a whole short story or one special verse
  • memorise short Bible verses
  • know that the more they read or hear from the Bible, the more they will learn about God.

Interpretative skills

The children will

  • learn to discover what God said to people long ago, often through prophets or such
  • learn to think about what God might be saying to us through the Bible
  • begin to interpret Bible narratives, other passages and themes through art and collage.

Use of Bible aids

The children will

  • know that artists draw Bible characters in different ways as we do not know what they looked like, although we have a good idea about clothing, buildings and landscapes
  • see how artefacts such as a clay lamp help us understand Bible passages better
  • begin to use simple maps and timelines where appropriate
  • begin to use a booklet or notes for regular Bible reading.

Understanding major themes and doctrines

The children will understand that

  • God made everything
  • God loves everyone
  • God wants everyone to love him and is sad when they don’t
  • God wants people to be kind and fair to others and is sad when they are not
  • God forgives me if I have done wrong and am truly sorry
  • Jesus died on the cross for us (although they may not fully understand what this means).


The children will

  • anticipate discovering something important from the Bible
  • look forward to hearing a story even if they have heard it before.

You can download this article at It draws on insights from Scripture Union.