So one year as I was trying to teach them the life of David, it suddenly occurred to me that learning that life might be a lot easier if it were a board game. So after a couple different versions were tried out, the Life of David game came into existence. I even used it in Bible classes.
This past spring, we kept our two grandsons for two full weeks. We have Bible lessons every night when they come to visit and as I was wondering what to teach this time around, I suddenly remembered that old David game. I wondered if, at 5 and 8, it might be a little too soon, but they sure showed me!
The first night I brought out the game and showed it to them. "Your daddy and your uncle used to play this," I told them, and instantly they wanted to also. "First, you have to learn about David, or you will never be able to play the game and win." Their only question was, "When can we start?"
I had already gone through 2 Samuel and the first three chapters of 1 Kings and divided it into 7 lessons, with 6 memory verses. I had drawn lesson sheets—questions with multiple choice "picture" answers, especially since Judah was just finishing up Pre-K this year—not that I needed to worry. He can read as well as I could in first grade! We did a lesson every night for a week, reviewing the previous lessons before starting a new one. After we did the seventh lesson, we spent time reviewing the memory verses cards. Finally, on the 8th night we were ready to play the game.
They loved it. We played it several times over the second week, letting that time be the "Bible lesson" for the day as they cemented facts and verses into their little heads. When it was time to go home, they wanted to take the game with them. That's how much they liked it, and I dare anyone reading this to quote those six memory verses and answer all of the 2 dozen questions involved in the game.
So how do you make your own? Well, I have no copyright on it, so let me tell you. If you can draw a straight line with a ruler and write legibly, you can do it, too. But your first task is to learn the life of David yourself. You will never be able to make an accurate game otherwise...
…So now that it's maybe a week or so later, and you know the life of David like the back of your hand, here is what you need: a standard sized piece of poster board, a black and several colored Sharpies, a straightedge, some card stock, and a pair of scissors.
1. First, take your poster board and draw a large square at what you have decided will be your beginning point, usually the bottom left hand corner, preferably in a bright color, and write "BETHLEHEM" on it. Since David was born there, that is your "START."
2. Using your black Sharpie and the straightedge, begin drawing a switchback track around the poster board. The track should be about an inch wide.
3. Each "square" of the track should be about 1 ½ inches along the track. As you mark them off, write the various events of David's life and a "consequence" in the squares. For example: Kill Goliath. Go ahead three spaces. It's okay to have a blank spot here and there. The boys called them "Safety Zones" because nothing bad can happen to you there.
4. Every half a dozen squares should be a "?" in a contrasting color. Obviously, if you land on that, you have to choose a question from the pile and answer it. (More about that in #9.) In my game, a correct answer lets you move ahead one space and an incorrect answer sends you back one. You can make it even more consequential if you want to.
5. Every five or six question marks should be an MV question (initials written down in the corner of the square), which means you have to do a memory verse from the memory verse pile. More about that in #10, but the same consequences of correct or incorrect follow.
6. Something a bit trickier here: David spent a lot of time running from Saul, particularly in Ramah and Gath, and he had a lot of trouble with the people of Ziph who kept telling Saul where to find him. So as I reached those particular portions of David's life, the board looked something like this: R ? A ? M ? A ? H. I did the same with Gath and Ziph. Do you see? It was a dangerous time, so there are more questions! I was also not afraid to put things like "Lose one turn" in those sections.
7. On the top and final line of the game, was a brief detour into the wilderness. That's where David once again had to flee when Absalom rebelled. So if you landed on the square that led to the wilderness, you had to take that detour. If your number safely sent you past it, you were lucky.
8. The final square of the game was a large blue "HOME." We talked about all of God's people trying to make it back "home" at the end of their lives by doing God's will and accomplishing his purpose for them. The boys got the point instantly.
9. Finally, go back and cut out smaller cards, about the size of those Chance Monopoly cards, and write your questions from the Life of David. Where was David born, Who was David's father, How many brothers did David have, What job did David do for his father, and so on, all the way through his life, ending with, Which son rebelled, Which son tried to take over the kingdom while David was dying, and Which son became king after David died?
10. Now about those memory verse cards. When I taught the boys the six memory verses I had chosen—not all from Samuel, by the way, but all matching the evening's lesson in some way—I used the the Stick Man method previously discussed. By the time playing the game actually came around, those cards had been significantly reduced to one or two drawn images on much smaller cards that by then instantly evoked the verse in question. By the time Mommy and Daddy came home, those boys shocked them by what they had learned and what they could do, in spite of the fact that Daddy himself had done it as a little boy.
So, are you wondering how to teach your children about the Bible in a way that is fun, but very educational? Make your own Life of David game—or Life of Any Bible Character game for that matter. You might learn a little bit yourself.
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers…(Acts 13:36)