Planning preschooler activities for church requires teachers to be flexible and consider: ages of the children, attention span, gross and fine motor skill development, and any other special needs. Group children by ages and developmental stages, and let them learn at their own pace. Preschoolers need room to move around and be energetic, so quiet times like stories need to be balanced by lively games or crafts.
Three favorite art activities for preschoolers are: sculpting, painting, and creating things. Make mini-books for take-home items, or paper plate tambourines to teach about musical worship. Clay or play dough offers many teaching opportunities and these activities can be tailored to fit any age group.
A group game that is easy for preschoolers is a version of London Bridge. Have the children line up as for London Bridge with teachers forming the bridge. As the kids walk through the bridge, everyone sings “find a friend and give a hug, give a hug, give a hug. Find a friend and give a hug, we love Jesus!” On the word Jesus, the teachers “capture” some children by bringing their arms down, and everyone else hugs.
Make a Joyful Noise
Musical church activities give preschoolers numerous opportunities to move. They dance with hymns, play tambourines they made, or use worship tools like flags and scarves. Turn this into a teachable circumstance by describing how people in biblical times worshipped with songs and dance.
Hide Them in Their Hearts
Adapt short scripture verses to the tunes of familiar songs like Twinkle Little Star or London Bridge. Using familiar tunes builds a strong foundation as the preschoolers need only learn the words, not the music. Easy to teach, youngsters learn fast, and retain information longer – experiment with this one to get your creativity started. Use these words to the melody of London Bridges: A friend loveth at all times, at all times, at all times. A friend loveth at all times. Proverbs 17:7.
Be a Story-teller
Short Bible stories – two or three paragraphs – are best for preschoolers. Prepared lessons are helpful, but may need condensing or customizing to accommodate your class. Stories can be acted out by the group – Noah’s ark is easy and fun. The class can be the animals and the teacher is Noah. Noah pretends to build an ark and leads the animals into it. This can be a simple lesson or more elaborate if you have preschoolers who are more advanced. Animal crackers are a good snack to extend the lesson and offer more teaching opportunities.
Flannel graph stories provide a visual to reinforce the verbalization of storytelling. Young children love putting figures on flannel boards. Many pictures and images paired with a few written words work best as all the preschoolers may not be reading. Ask open-ended questions. Have you ever seen an ark? What do you think it was like to be on the ark for such a long time?
Keep it fun
Focus on engaging and keeping the class excited, and involve as many senses as possible. In the example of Noah’s ark, you might want to use plush animals, like a lion or a giraffe, and let the children hold the animals or use them as puppets while the story is told. Hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting; these are important sensory triggers that extend learning for young minds.