Like anyone who spends any time trying to communicate with toddlers I have had a fair few disasters in my time. There was one notable example when I decided to tell a story using sand, at the front of my church on a brand new carpet. That did not go well. Sand. Everywhere. I’ve used songs, I’ve tried to read from story books of all kinds. I’ve made up dramas. Sometimes I’ve just given up and through better of it.
But with time the penny began to drop. What young children do best is play. That is when they are most absorbed and how they make sense of the world. When I started to tell stories through play, sometimes using words, sometimes just providing them with the resources to explore for themselves, things began to change. Now I could introduce toddlers, and my own toddler, to those important stories that I wanted to share but on a level that they found engaging and fun.
I was particularly excited, then, to come across the book Play Through the Bible by Alice Buckley and decided to trial it on my guinea pig…ahem son. It’s a lovely colourful book with, as the cover boasts ‘over 140 activities to explore the Gospel of Luke with young children.’ So perfect if you would like to begin to introduce your child to Bible stories but have no idea how to start.
There is a handy ‘How to use this book’ spread and then each story has a double page spread with a short, dramatic version of the story to share with your toddler along with hints for how to tell the story in an engaging way. We tried the first story ‘Here Comes Jesus’ where the theme is waiting and getting ready. The story telling prompts suggested doing your best bored face and as much huffing and puffing as you can as you impatiently wait for Jesus to arrive in the story. This went down a treat with my toddler and really helped him to take this theme of the story on board.
The book then offers a whole page of suggestions for how to play the themes of the story. For this first story this included things like cooking muffins together to experience the anticipation of waiting and pretending that you are waiting for a King to arrive and making all the preparations. As is always the case with kids my son took this in such an interesting direction. We put our crowns on and then he declared that we should paint a picture for the King. When he began painting he explained that he was painting a picture of food for the King so that the King would have something to eat when he eventually arrived. He really seemed to take the simple theme of waiting for a special person to arrive and run with it.
The book also gives an idea for a creative project and something to try when you are out and about for each story and there are more ideas to use online should you need them. There are more ideas than I needed for each story so it is a book that you could come back to, perhaps choosing a different activity when you are telling the story together again.
Overall I have to say that I have really enjoyed using this book. It is bright and colourful and the stories are told in an accessible and engaging way for young children. The activities are fun and easy to do with what you have around the house, no emergency Amazon orders required!! This is definitely a preschool age resource that children would outgrow beyond those years but it’s a lovely way to introduce Bible stories into the family and to begin to pray together. It gets a gold star from me!