Noah’s ark – drawn onto wall paper (found in the church storage cupboard!!) The animals are stickers, the water is tissue and sugar paper. Very easy to set up and you can always display it afterwards.
“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…
I do really love doing three toddler groups a week. The Thursday group is at my own church (at the other two I lend a hand – taking a turn telling a Bible story, leading songtime and generally helping out where needed). So the following photos are from the Thursday group – we have a lot of space … and this is a glimpse of what happens on a Thursday morning from set up to tidy up! If you are running a toddler group then I really hope that you know that all the hard work that goes on before and after is really appreciated! I am really grateful that my husband does the setting up of all the furniture each week and that I’m part of a team that works really hard and is really cheerful each week.
So – the beginning of the day in the life – early morning furniture moving..
followed by toy set up.. by now there are three of us …
Our craft table is important – it’s really missed if it’s not there! We also have a painting room – I’ll try to get some photos! Our painting dryer is a clothes airer from Lakeland. It does the job, has no sharp edges and was a good price! One of the team makes the playdough and sorts out the paints bringing these from home.
For the first hour and a quarter it’s free play and tea/coffee and biscuits for the adults. The team is now at 5. We serve from the kitchen – the door is open but we use a stairgate to keep children safely out of the kitchen.
Then there is tidy up of the toys and snack time for the children.
At 11am we have a Bible Story and singing. Our hall has a stage which comes in very handy if we’re displaying pictures for the Story. This is a Go pack table on it’s side. It makes a great display space. We use a story bag too.
It’s almost the end of the session – this is when we celebrate birthdays. We sing and then the birthday child can dong the birthday bell once for each year. It’s decorated bell in a special box.
And finally we always end singing time with, ‘Row. row, row your boat.’ Then the CD is put on (we are still using CD’s) and the musical instruments come out for the last few minutes.
And then it’s washing up … putting everything away..sweeping the floor…there are often 6 or 7 of us clearing everything away
And sometimes there’s washing to take home and toys to clean. Every week a team member takes the tea towels home and the children’s painting aprons and washes them ready for the following week. Another team member is responsible for our welcome booklet with all the dates for the term.
I’m really grateful that I work in a team!
Week one was creation – God made everything good and Adam and Eve were friends with God and each other.
The idea for the creation paper plates came from here – https://ithappensinablink.com/paper-plate-the-days-of-creation/
This week the story is all about how things went from being ‘very good’ (thumbs up) to very bad (thumbs down). The creation plates will be part of the large picture board and the next story will be added.
God gave Adam and Eve one rule. ‘Don’t eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden’. They could eat from every other tree but not that one.
Then one day a serpent began to talk to Eve! ‘ Just look at the fruit on that lovely tree in the middle of the garden! It looks so deliciousssss. I’m sure God won’t mind if you take a bite. Nothing bad will happen!’
Eve looked at the tree. Eve looked at the fruit. It did look yummy. She reached out her hand and she took the fruit. She could smell how delicious it was and then she took a bite. Then Adam took a bite too!
They had broken God’s one rule and everything changed. They weren’t friends with God anymore and they tried to hide.
But God found them. He still loved them and he promised to send a Saviour so that people could be friends with God again.
In the storybag
A friend has asked for some ideas on what happens when at toddler group. So here are a few examples. I go to three groups a week at the moment and each one is different. Mondays and Thursday we are in community halls and on Tuesday we are in a church.
Monday group ( venue has one large hall with extra space for buggy parking)
10am Doors open and bubbles
10.15 Story time and welcome/notices
10.20 Snacks for the children
10.25 Free play and tea/coffee and cake for adults
11.15 Singing time and finish at 11.30
Tuesday group (venue has two rooms with extra space for buggy parking)
9.15 -10.15 Free play
Half way through the session snacks for the children ( everyone sits on the floor) followed by story and singing (One room is cleared of ride on toys to create space for this). The story is 5 minutes long and singing time varies.
Free play with tea/coffee and cake/biscuits for adults and finish at 11.15
Thursday group (venue has large hall, two smaller rooms and extra space for buggy parking)
9.30 Free play – with painting in side room. During this time tea/coffee is served – adults come to the kitchen door (we use a stairgate to keep it safe) and ask for their drink when they arrive or at any time up to about 10 minutes before tidy up time.
10.45 Tidy up time immediately followed by children’s snack time that we serve at tables.
At 11 we finish the morning with story, singing and musical instruments. Home time is at about 11.15.
The big downside of this timetable is that the parents don’t get any cake!
Some things to think about…
The space that you have for you group can make a difference to what you do when. If you want toddlers to be involved in story time you may need to have snacks first so that they can join in without holding a drink and a bread stick. It’s easier to tell a story without the distractions of toys around.
If parents help with tidying up toys it can be a real help if there aren’t many people in your team. In each of the three groups I help at the team of leaders tidy furniture once everyone has left.
If you have a craft table or do painting the items that are made need time to dry before home time. This is especially true when it comes to painting!
It can be hard to get a toddler and new baby out of the house to arrive at a group for 9.15. If people arrive half an hour after you’ve started will they have missed the chance for a drink or the story?
It’s useful for everyone attending your group to have an idea of what happens when. At the Thursday group we have a large print out on our noticeboard of our timetable with the heading ‘What happens in toddler group’. There was a lot of laughter the morning we found that someone had written ‘stays in toddler group’ underneath.
How does your group look? Please share your ideas!
This term we are thinking about the good things that God has given to us. The idea is borrowed from Christ Church Dunstable (big thank you to them!!). Each week we discover something that God has given to us. We aren’t exactly telling a story each week but are taking things from a story bag. This week we were thinking about animals and so I had a selection of toy animals to take from a bag. We named them and thought about stripes, colours, the sounds they make and whether they had a long tail or a long neck. The last animal was – a wild animal but one that we all might see. Any ideas? A fox. We are in an urban area where it’s not unusual to see foxes in broad daylight.
Here are the different story bag items from the last three weeks…
God gives us a beautiful world
God gives us family and friends
God gives us animals