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…

Inspiration

We often use knitted people to tell Bible stories so when I saw the sign for ‘The Knitted Bible Stories Exhibition’ outside Keswick Methodist Church I had to go inside. The exhibition was excellent – well laid out and welcoming. The knitting must have taken ages and the creativity is fantastic.

The Knitted Bible stories has a facebook page and can be booked. A great resource.

Books of the Bible -an easy way 2

Learning the Books of the Bible is really useful – just having an idea of whereabouts a book is and what kind of book it is can be helpful when we are finding our way around God’s Book. For a brief description of the Old Testament books take a look here.

For the New Testament the pegs work really well as a reference and by playing games with the pegs – mixing them up and putting them back in the right order – children can begin to get a feel for the order.

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The pegs are wooden attached to a wire coat hanger – the names of the books are written on with biro and then a colour to represent the NT is added at one end and then different colours for categories at the other end.

Categories

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John – the gospels or life story of Jesus.

Acts – history of the early church

Romans through to Jude – letters. Explain that some of the names of the letters refer to where they were sent (e.g Philippians). Others refer to the name of the person who received the letter, (e.g I and 2 Timothy) while others refer to the person who wrote the letter (e.g 1,2.and 3 John).

Revelation – prophecy relating to end time events.

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Books of the Bible – an easy way

Learning the books of the Bible can be fun! The peg idea is out there on pinterest and various sites so I thought I would have a go and make my own. I have added some colours to make it easier to work out where the books belong and what type of books they all are. I’ve given a very brief snapshot of each book. It helps children to know a few things about the names – are they names of people or places or descriptions. We often assume that they will automatically know but why should someone realise that Obadiah was a person rather than a place!

Genesis – all about beginnings

Exodus – all about leaving – who, when and where

Leviticus – laws

Numbers – God’s people in the wilderness

Deuteronomy – The law for a second time

These five books are grouped together under the heading – law

Then the history books are grouped together – Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Esther, Nehemiah and Ezra.

Joshua – taking possession of the Promised Land

Judges – Israel’s faithlessness; God’s faithfulness in sending judges to rescue them

Ruth – a story about ordinary people during the time of the Judges (people who are in the family tree of David and Jesus)

1 and 2 Samuel – Israel gets a monarchy

1 and 2 kings – the good kings and bad kings of Israel

1 and 2 Chronicles – a history book written for those who had experienced the exile. the future of God’s people is secure in the dynasty of David.

Ezra – God works to fulfil his purposes. Ezra was a scribe. The exiles return from captivity and rebuild the temple. Ezra teaches the people about God.

Nehemiah – the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Esther – God’s people are rescued. God is at work even when his presence isn’t obvious of acknowledged. The Purim festival celebrates this true story.

Then we have the poetry books –

Job – the righteous do suffer even when they are living in a way to please God. Part of Wisdom literature.

Psalms – songs written by various authors and different times.

Proverbs – wise sayings. Part of wisdom literature. A general principle of how to live in a God-ordered world is followed throughout the book. If you live like this – then this will happen and things will go well. (Job is a contrast to this as he suffered even when doing good)

Ecclesiastes – wisdom literature. Compares life without God and life knowing God.

Song of Solomon – a song/poem about love

After the poetry which includes the Wisdom literature we arrive at the Major Prophets

Isaiah – a prophet for more that 40 years (kings at the time were – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah)

Jeremiah – a prophet and a priest. He prophesied the exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and lived to see it. A very sad prophet living at a very sad time for God’s people. (Kings at the time – Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiakin and Zedekiah.

Lamentations – a coming to terms with the loss of Judah. Loss and also hope.

Ezekiel – warnings to God’s people, exile and hope for the future

Daniel – a book of two parts. Stories about Daniel in Babylon followed by visions of the future.

Then the twelve Minor Prophets.

Hosea – prophecy and warnings to the northern kingdom (Israel)

Joel – prophecy often written as poetry

Amos – prophet during reign of Jeroboam 2 (Israel) and Uzziah (Judah). Prophecy mainly against the northern kingdom (Israel). Poetic style.

Obadiah – a prophecy against Edom. (Descendants of Esau)

Jonah – short story about Jonah and God’s sovereignty and mercy

Micah – prophet during reign of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezikiah. Mainly aimed at Judah where the gap between the rich and poor was growing.

Nahum – about the fall of Ninevah (a follow up to Jonah’s story)

Habakkuk – the prophet’s struggles and prayers

Zephaniah – prophet during Josiah’s reign in the southern kingdom of Judah

Haggai – call to repent and rebuild the temple given to the people who had returned from exile.

Zechariah – very similar message to Haggai. They were prophets at the same time.

Malachi – telling God’s people that the story isn’t over yet; there is more to come…someone is coming ‘I will send you Elijah the prophet..’ Malachi 4:5

Then we wait for the New Testament. (That’s another post!)

To make the pegs you need wooden pegs! ball point pen (felt tip will just soak in and not look clear), some stickers or permanent markers to colour code (doesn’t matter that a blob of colour soaks in) Attach the pegs to a wire coat hanger. (You’ll need more than one). I had two types of colour coding – a colour for OT and one for NT at one end of the peg and then different colours for the types of books at the other end of each peg. I make a key too.

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To use – play a few games with re ordering the pegs. the idea is for children to get an idea of where things are in the bible. It’s meant to be fun. You could mix up a few of the pegs and get the children to put them back in the right order. play find me a book beginning with (choose a letter). Find me a book about (poems, history or law) The colours will make it easy. If you want to make it more challenging then don’t colour code.