Let’s Share Bible Stories with Toddlers

“Hello friends, hello friends. How are you, how are you? It’s time for a story, time for a story. Come and listen, come and listen.”

We sing this song to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’ every week at toddler group. We gather round the story chair in a semi – circle; some sit on the rugs and others on chairs and then we share a story together.

By saying ‘share a story together’ I mean that I don’t just read a story from a book or recite a story script. It is story telling – a much more interactive group activity. We are ‘in it together’, taking part, joining in.

There are different ways of creating a joining in experience when telling a story. Here are a few ideas

  • Sounds to make – the sound of the storm on the lake
  • Actions to do – climbing the tree with Zacchaeus
  • Saying hello to the characters in the story as they come out of the story bag
  • Singing a song – include ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ part way through the story of the shepherds and angels.

So how do you choose which stories to tell?

As a church-based group (although we meet in a community hall) we tell stories from the Bible. It can help if each story is connected to a theme for half a term. Animal Bible stories, Homes Jesus Visited, Stories Jesus Told, Creation. Choose stories that you feel comfortable with and will enjoy telling.

When to have Story Time?

Pick a time in your session when there are less distractions. If you want the children to join in, then serve snacks before or after. Try to time things so that hands are free to take part in the story actions. If possible, have a space where there are no toys or do Story Time at the beginning or towards the end of the session.

Create a space

The storyteller needs to be seen and to be on the children’s level. Choose a low seat and create a semi – circle. Clean rugs encourage parents/carers and children to sit on the floor, but chairs are good for adults who need a higher seat.

The idea is to know the story well and encourage interaction with the group. The Bible is full of the most wonderful stories. Enjoy sharing them!

(This is an article I wrote for CEF Britain’s Newsletter)

Here are some of the items I use when telling stories…

Thank you God for my feet..

Acts 3:1-10 is a great story for thanking God for our feet. The children will enjoy jumping and walking. To tell the story use actions – these are in italics. Use as many or as few as suits your group.

Bible story from Acts 3:1-10. The lame man is healed

Bible truth for toddlers – we can thank God for our feet

‘There was a man who was very sad – can you look sad?

Each day he sat outside and asked people for money so he could buy food – rub thumbs and fingers together to illustrate money

One day two of Jesus’ friends came walking by. They were called Peter and John. Tap hands on knees to make sound of walking.

They stopped and looked at the man. Everyone sit still.

‘Look at us’ they said. Ask everyone to repeat this.

The man looked and he hoped they would give him some money. Rub thumb and fingers together again.

We don’t have any money! Ask everyone to repeat this.

‘But what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus get up and walk!’

Peter held out his hand and helped the man up.

Could he walk? Yes! He could walk – can you walk? He could jump – can you jump?

He was happy!

We can thank God for our feet that we use for standing, walking, running and jumping.’

You could use pictures instead if you prefer – Free Bible Images have these.

This is a craft idea.

Thank you God for my hands..

This last term at Toddler Group we thought about ourselves – our hands, feet, eyes, ears, nose and mouth. It is a very easy starting point for the children as they are learning about themselves as well as hearing a short story.

We started with Tabitha. We’ve done her story before but with young children repetition is good.

Tabitha came along to toddler group and bought some sewing supplies with her. We talked about what we could do with our hands – wave, shake hands and help tidy away toys.

img_0332

For the craft we made coloured rice pictures. Children and adults loved this craft and it was very easy to prepare. I dyed the rice using food colouring and a spoonful of vinegar. Just put the rice in a plastic freezer bag, add food colouring and a teaspoon of vinegar and then smoosh it all around. Pour out onto a tray to dry. ( You can cover the tray in kitchen roll – you just need to then tease the rice off when it’s dry). Once it dries and  you break it up with your fingers. We then made rice collages – I used black, square paper plates rather than paper as the rim of the plate kept the rice and PVA glue a bit more contained.

We have a large group so I separated the rice into small containers – two lots of each colour. Half way through the activity I was able to refresh the supplies so that everyone got a chance to choose individual colours.

 

‘Thank you God’ big book

This past week I needed a large -ish visual aid to use at Toddler Group that was a change from a story bag. So I made a big book. Well, it’s nearer to an envelope really. Very simple to make. All you need is A3 cartridge paper (it does need to be strong paper) x2, some double sided tape, string and cellotape. The basic idea is that you gradually take pictures out of the book/envelope by pulling on the string that has pictures attached.

To make – print out pictures of the things you are thankful for. On one of the A3 sheets of paper secure the string. Then attach your printed pictures onto the length of string – make sure you space them well. Better to have loads of string rather than very small gaps between pictures. Leave a length of string to hang outside the book/envelope. Decorate your front cover. Then using double sided tape stick the A3 sheets of paper together on three sides only. I also used cellotape around three sides.

The person is meant to be me! I used large people shapes from Baker Ross. These are OK but a bit tricky to colour with crayons as they are shiny. The pictures were from the internet – food, a home and a family.

If I was doing this with over three’s I would get enough supplies for each child to make their own and then use the ‘book’ as a prayer help. Older children could select their own pictures or write. If doing the latter an A4 or A5 sized book would be fine.

 

A-Z of the Bible

A couple of years ago we used the alphabet to teach a Bible story a week at Toddler Group. We used a person, place or object and once or twice a word from a story for a letter of the alphabet. For example a is for Adam, b is for Bethlehem, c is for carpenter and so on. The downloads are the wall chart that we built up over the weeks.

For craft we did various things and sometimes chose to print out the letter for that week for the children to decorate – so a bit educational :). We tried to use the phonetic alphabet but did do E is for Eve because I think I just wasn’t thinking straight that week.

Here are the downloads.  WALL DISPLAY (a-d) (1)WALL DISPLAY (e-h)WALL DISPLAY (i-l)WALL DISPLAY (m-p)WALL DISPLAY (q-t)WALL DISPLAY (u-x)WALL DISPLAY (y-z)

Jericho

IMG_0919

We don’t usually do stories in strict chronological order at Toddler Group. We generally tell Bible stories that are linked by a theme and may or may not follow on from the previous week. However, we followed the story of Rahab and the spies with the story of Jericho and it worked well. The duplo Jericho was very visual – a bit tricky to make sure that Rahab’s home stayed intact when the walls came down but the lego duplo was carefully put together to make sure her home was safe!

The Story  (Joshua 6)

To tell the story we had actions for everyone to do – marching, blowing pretend trumpets and a loud shout. We did lots of counting too – the seven days and the final seven times round the city walls. With the shout the duplo walls fell down. 

Main Teaching Point – the people believed that God would do what he said. God always does what he says he will do.

IMG_0906

Rabab and the spies

IMG_0907

The spies hiding

IMG_0918

Rahab had great faith – she put the red cord in the window and went and got her family together. And she waited. The Israelites had to cross the Jordan before getting to Jericho but she didn’t doubt that God would give them the city. We read about Rahab’s family in Matthew’s Gospel. She was Boaz’s grandmother. Boaz married Ruth and was King David’s great grandfather. She is one of the few women named in the genealogy of Jesus.

Hebrews 11:30,31

‘by faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient’

 

Y is for the rich young man

The story of the Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-22) has a sad ending. He loves his money more than Jesus. With older children you could talk about  things that get in the way of them following Jesus. You could also add a question mark symbol and talk more about why the young man asked the question ‘What must i do to inherit eternal life?’With young children the story lends itself to using actions – running, kneeling and walking. Make a money bag using real coins as they are weighty and jingle!

The Story – for younger children

One day a young man came to speak to Jesus. He didn’t walk up to Jesus. He ran to Jesus. (Run on the spot) He wanted to ask a question. He thought that Jesus was important so he knelt down in front of him and asked ‘Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?’ (kneel down)

It was a good question and the young man really wanted to know the answer.

Jesus said to him, ‘ You know what the Commandments are that God gave us, to tell us how to live to please him.’

‘I’ve kept them all since I was a young boy.’

Jesus looked at the young man. Jesus cared about him. Jesus wanted to help him. ‘Go, and sell all you have and give your money to the poor and then you will have treasure in heaven and come and follow me.’

But, oh dear, the young man had a lot of money.(Show money bag) He loved all his money very much. (Hug money bag to yourself) What a choice! Sell everything and give all his money away and follow Jesus or keep all his things and his money and go back home. What would he do?

The young man walked away from Jesus. (Walk on the spot, looking sad and dejected) He felt sad. He chose to keep his money.

SAM_0052

 

 

H is for Horeb – Bible Alphabet

In Deuteronomy 5 Moses refers to the mountain  where he received the ten commandments as mount Horeb. (In Exodus it is called Mount Sinai – same place; different name)

To tell the story I used a simple picture of a mountain drawn on to a large roll of paper (from Ikea). There was a ‘mini – Moses’ who ‘climbed’ the mountain, a cloud and the fire and smoke were added during the story using marker pens. There was also some actions for the children and parents to join in with. Actions are a great way of involving everyone in the story in a manageable way. As you do the actions say the phrase you are acting out.

Telling the story

Just before the story we practiced the actions we would need during the story. Once the group is settled I explain that during the story there will be something for them to do. We practice the action about twice and then we begin the story. I encourage the parents to join in too.

As the children are very young don’t include all the details – for example I don’t mention the Israelites at the foot of the mountain. The basics are focused on – Moses, Mount Horeb (everyone repeats the name. It’s included because we are doing the letter ‘h’), the cloud, smoke and fire and the ‘Ten good rules to live by’.

Main teaching point – God speaks to us – through the Bible.

The actions referred to the Ten Commandments which I referred to as ‘Ten good rules to live by.’

IMG_3463                                                                                                                                 Ten

IMG_3464                                                                                                                                good

IMG_3465                                                                                 rules (shaped like a book because they were written down)

IMG_3462                                                         to live by (Walk your fingers over your hand to illustrate people walking/living)

IMG_3416                                                                                                        Moses on Mount Horeb

IMG_3417

To finish the story explain that today God doesn’t speak to us on mountains but from the Bible (have a Bible to show)