When it is time for the lesson to begin, we often invite children to read or have them listen as a story is read to them. To switch things up, consider creating opportunities for children to get in there and touch the lesson.
Touch, one element of sensory play, invites participants to squish, splash, pat, pile, place, and smear their way through a lesson using their motor skills. Sensory play encourages them to use their imagination and creativity to explore and figure out what they can bring to the story. As a teacher, you enable your class to be a part of a story-telling team as you script their participation or design a lesson that leaves plenty of room for sensory play participation.
If a verse or story mentions something specific that children can touch, you can convert a plastic bin into a sensory bin that contains that specific item. Create one big bin that everyone in the classroom can share (a plastic swimming pool works well) or create individual bins for each child. Explore washing the disciple’s feet (John 13:12-15) or building houses on sand and rocks (Matthew 7:24-27).
Pass a story box
Each child is given a small bag that contains store-bought items that will be added to a cardboard story box as it is passed from person to person around a table. The creation story in Genesis 1 is a perfect choice for adding lots of plants and animals to a story box.
Sculpt a story
Modeling clay is always a big hit with children. Children, or groups of children, are assigned characters and props that they will sculpt. Children gather around a table and, as the passage is read and the story unfolds, children add their hand-made sculptures. The Christmas story in Luke 2 mentions a wide variety of props and colorful characters that can be sculpted from modeling clay.
Create a cookie
Distribute people-shaped cut-out cookies that children will decorate with sprinkles, frosting and decorative sugars as they explore Psalm 139 and the God who knows them well.
Children tend to retain what they have learned when they use one of their senses, like touch, while learning. Our prayer is that they will carry the things they have learned about God and themselves with them as they exit the classroom and make their way into the world.