Sometimes the most significant spiritual moments with children come when they have been given the freedom to explore the things they have heard in their own time and in their own way. We often lose sight of the fact that children have incredible spiritual depth without (or maybe even in spite of!) adult intervention and we programme our time with them so that it is full of meaningful activity. Just think how stressful it can be to plan a whole Sunday session on very short notice!
We’ve experimented a lot at our church over the years and have found that giving children freedom to create their own responses to what they have been shown or told has two-fold benefits. Children are not contained by our expectations of what we want them to learn and, therefore, come up with fascinating insights or questions that we could never have predicted; and it is also less onerous for leaders in terms of preparation.
There are several options we offer children for the response time and, as they create or explore, we spend the time chatting to them about the story and what they think. Children will often take this time as an opportunity to retell the story in their own way, or to pick out something that was particularly significant to them. We don’t do this every single week, but children are familiar now with using open ended responses and the results are fascinating and often quite humbling for leaders!
Here are the top ten activities we like to offer on a rotating basis (maybe 3 or 4 options each time).
2. Fuzzy felt
4. Building blocks
5. ‘Loose parts’ box
6. Junk modelling box (using e.g. recyclables)
7. Pens and paper
9. Chalk boards and chalk (or chalk boards with paintbrushes and water)
10. Play people e.g. playmobil, lego, wooden
I’d love to hear from you if you give this a go or are already doing something similar!