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Sunday School: Games as Learning Tools
Within the Sunday school setting, games are well planned tools for making a Bible story come alive. Think of the Loaves and Fishes game, an activity that emphasizes sharing, and it is evident that these games provide the hands-on experience mere book reading and coloring pages could never supply.
There are also toddler games that the wily Sunday school teacher has ready to go, which capitalize on lag time. This is the time usually dreaded by most Sunday school workers, since it leaves the safe structure of the curriculum behind for the wild and sometimes unchartered territory of corralling preschool age children. Why not turn this occasion into an actual learning time for the kids?
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10-Minute Games That Can Make a Difference
Play-Doh and cookie cutters
Invest in a cheap set of cookie cutters and large tubs of Play-Doh (or make your own). When lag time arrives, simply spread butcher paper onto the floor or tables and let the children “make cookies" or “sandwiches" to practice for real life meal preparation as part of a homeless outreach program. Emphasize how important it is to make them attractive, so that when the time for the real activity arrives, they are ready to help mom and dad.
Musical instruments and noise makers
Relive Miriam’s joyful singing or the procession surrounding King David by letting the children make music or just noise and follow a leader marching around the room or yard. This combines music education with exercise and also serves as a rather audible reminder to parents that it is time to wrap up and get the kids. This activity does not work in a facility that is shared with other groups.
Black construction paper and colored chalk
Illustrate Genesis and the void: the children receive a black piece of construction paper. With the help of colorful chalk, they can now create a world of their own on the paper.
Thank you/promise ball toss
Let the children make a big circle, grab a couple of differently colored beanbags and instruct the kids to think of something for which they are grateful. Toss one bean bag (let’s say a red one) to a child, who will then say one thing for which s/he is grateful. Model the game a couple more times, but now have the child who shared toss the beanbag to another child. Stop the game.
Introduce the other beanbag (maybe this one is blue). Instruct the children to think of a promise they will make. Toss the blue beanbag to a child, who now promises something. An example could be “I promise to help my mom with the dishes." Keep it simple and realistic. Let the child toss the beanbag to another child. Stop the game.
Finally introduce both beanbags into the circle and let the children randomly throw the beanbags back and forth, with each child either saying “thank you" for something or making a promise. As confusing as this might sound, this is a fun activity that captures the children’s attention until the parents get there.
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I’d Rather Just Let Them Color…
Having been entrusted with running a church’s Sunday school for about six to seven years, it has been my personal experience that coloring -- after all is said and done – can lead to disaster. Consider that the toddlers have been sitting obediently for about 45 minutes to two hours. They are done; they need to move or do something that will get them excited and white paper and crayons won’t do. The aforementioned toddler games – Sunday school teachers, tell me if I’m wrong! – provide the Biblical lesson backdrop but also the activity level the youngsters need after having been “good" for so long.
Source: Personal experience as a children's ministry coordinator and Sunday school teacher
Four Sunday School Toddler Games a Teacher Can Rely On (in a Pinch)
Helping children internalize the tenets of the Christian faith is oftentimes done via extensive curricula and carefully designed Sunday school lessons. You may be surprised to learn that occasionally the little interludes and unplanned filler games have more of an impact.