One Sunday, we chose to not do a craft in our 2-year old small groups. As a parent picked up her child from small group, she asked the leader where her child’s craft was. Upon the Small Group Leader explaining to her that her son was learning today about how God made people and that he created a person using play-dough, the mom took her son’s hand to “inspect” if there were traces of play-dough. The mom clearly wanted evidence that her child was learning in his small group, and she felt the best way for her to know that was through her child completing a craft. That’s a lot of pressure for a Small Group Leader.
Learning through play is a hard concept to quantify to parents isn’t it?
We learned through the Phase Project that preschoolers think like artists. Artists experience the world through activities that stimulate their five senses. Preschoolers blend reality with imagination, and they learn through participation.
How are movement and play helping preschoolers learn during Large and Small group time?
- The movement in a game helps to solidify key truths in a preschooler’s mind as they move.
- The sensory bin where they dig to find an item that correlates back to the Bible story helps to make the story come alive in their mind.
- Reenacting the Bible Story encourages a preschooler to put themselves right in the middle of the Bible Story making it become more real to them.
- Repeating the memory verse along with motions helps a preschooler to memorize God’s Word.
- Creating people or animals out of play-dough while a small group leader describes creation helps a preschooler to imagine the Bible Story of creation.
If we choose not to do a craft one week, we let our parents know how their preschooler learned that morning. In fact, we put up a sign that says:
Today we learned through movement, play, exploration, and imagination.
This sign communicates to parents that their preschooler is in fact learning through many different avenues. We want to help reinforce conversations that a Small Group Leader may have with a parent who wonders why there is no craft.
Crafts are a great way for a preschooler to learn, but it’s not the only way. Don’t be afraid to encourage your Small Group Leaders to prioritize games and play!