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Safe Hands-On Play

sandHands-on activities effectively convey Bible stories and concepts, so try these fun, safe ideas to enhance your lessons.

Building-For Bible stories that involve building, such as the ark, the temple, Joseph the carpenter, and the parable of the wise builder, use small or varied sizes of cardboard boxes with lids securely taped, beanbags, plastic bowls with lids securely fastened, paper cups (not Styrofoam), and graham crackers on a clean surface.

Travel-Loose sand is messy, and children tend to get it in their eyes, hair, and mouths. For travel stories involving sand, such as Abraham, Moses and the Israelites, Joseph and Mary, Jesus, the disciples, and Paul, try these alternative ideas.

  • Place a scoop of sand (or salt, sugar, or flour) inside a plastic resealable baggie. Close the bag securely and then tape it shut with packing tape. Children can still enjoy squeezing, pounding, and shaking the sand without the mess. Closely supervise children as they play.
  • Place a scoop of sand inside a plastic jar and secure the lid. Give each toddler a jar to shake while you tell the story or review the lesson.
  • Give each toddler a piece of sandpaper, plus finger puppets or story figures from the lesson. Help children "walk" their puppets or figures across the sand.
  • Place a long strip of brown paper on the floor. Walk with children across the "desert."

Water-For lessons dealing with boats, such as Noah's ark, the fishermen's great catch, Jesus quieting the storm, Jesus walking on water, and Paul's shipwreck, use these safer activities.

  • "Float" boats on blue paper or cookie sheets dampened with water.
  • Give each child a "mast and sail" (a paper towel tube with a paper sail that's taped on). Have toddlers hold their boats high as they "sail" around the room.
  • Place a rug in the center of the room and call it a boat. Help toddlers climb into the boat and pretend to sail, dipping hands into pretend water.
  • Use a spray bottle to spray a mist of water into the air. Have children pretend they're in a boat and try to catch the "spray."

For other Bible stories focusing on water, such as the Creation, the Flood, and Moses parting the Red Sea, try these ideas.

  • Provide safe spray bottles for toddlers to spray water onto plastic or real plants or flowers.
  • Fill a plastic jar halfway with water. Add a plastic flower or other item and secure the lid. Toddlers will enjoy shaking the jars and watching the items inside float.
  • Provide white butcher paper and water tinted with food coloring. Let toddlers-wearing smocks, of course-fingerpaint the paper.

Mary Davis
Montrose, Iowa

This article is excerpted from Children's Ministry Magazine.  Try an issue for FREE and see what you're missing!

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