God Made the Senses: Bible Verses and Activities
Getting kids to participate in bible studies can be challenging, and with younger children with sensory processing issues it can be that much more difficult. Let’s look at some ways to incorporate God into some engaging sensory activities.
Intro to Bible Learning at Home
Making Bible Study a regular part of your family time can be uncomfortable if it isn’t something you were raised with as a child. It can definitely feel like something better left to a Sunday school teacher. However, God wants the family as a unit to worship Him and pray to Him even outside of the walls of the church. The Church, with a capital “c”, is the Body of Christ. We are to be the Church everywhere we go, including our own homes. This doesn’t mean to plan a sermon or give out pop quizzes, but it does mean to be more intentional about sharing God and the Good News of Salvation with our children.
Think of sharing the Word of God with your children as more of a fun time. Set the atmosphere to play mode, not serious mode. Each of these activities engages the senses and this is a GOOD thing. God intended for us to experience life to the fullest using all of our senses. Our children with sensory issues are perhaps more connected to feelings that we could ever imagine possible. Use this as an opportunity to allow your child to experience these tangible sensory activities while hearing a parent share kid-level versions of these classic Bible stories. I’ve included the main points of each activity so that as you share these Bible stories you remember that reciting the stories eloquently or completely is not what matters, but that the lessons God intended us to share are told.
Tips for Telling Sensory Stories
Noah and the Rainbow
Point 1: God loves us, but wants us to be good. 2: God made colours, animals, and people.
Choose an activity like blow painting as an oral motor exercise that includes colours. Alternatively, you can gather other coloured items like pom poms or pipe cleaners for them to sort by colour and play with.
While your child is engaging with whichever activity you present them with, begin to discuss the story at a level you feel is appropriate. A very simple telling to go this way:
God made the world and everything in it. He loves the whole world! But, eventually there were so many bad people that God was very angry. In fact, only one person was good. Noah was the only person left who still loved God and wanted to believe in God and love God. So, God told Noah, “Build a big boat called an ark. I’m going to flood the whole earth.”
So Noah did what God said: he build the ark! When he was done, God sent the animals and Noah family into the boat. Then, God sent the rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
After the 40 days and 40 nights, God sent the rainbow as a promise that He would not flood the earth again.
Extra or alternative activity: For small/young toddlers children, you could gather stuffed animals and have them stuff a laundry basket then try to get inside with all the animals!
Moses and the Red Sea
Point 1: God wants to protect us. 2: God can do great things, and nothing is impossible.
This is a great opportunity to water play. If you have a water table, then you are already ahead of the game. If not, you can fill a bathtub or plastic storage container for your child to play with. Gather objects that are safe for the water and your child like rubber spatulas or silicon cake scrapers. If your child isn’t already doing so, model pushing and moving the water with these solid objects. Use long objects like handled spatulas or cooking spoons if touching the water is not an option.
Another alternative is to fill a zip-lock bag with blue coloured water about ¼ of the way. As you zip it closed, press out as much air as possible. Now, your child can “part the seas”!
As your child plays and explores this activity, recap the story of Moses. If you feel going through the plagues is a little much, here is a simpler alternative:
Once long ago, God’s people, called the Israelites, were treated very badly by the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh wanted to keep the people as slaves. God sent Moses to free the Israelites. At first the Pharaoh did not want to let the people go, but after many bad things he changed his mind. Pharaoh let God’s people go!
But, not long after the Pharaoh said the Israelites could leave, the Pharaoh changed his mind and chased them! When they came to the Red Sea, God told Moses to raise his staff. When he did, the waters parted and the people were able to cross just in time.
God still does amazing things. We know he can part the seas!
Jesus Calms the Storms
Point 1: Jesus is always with us, so everything will be okay. 2: God wants us to be faithful and to not worry.
For this activity, you will need straws, a container for holding water, and small boats like these recycled bottle boats (you could use many items for your boats, like pieces of pool noodles are egg cartons). Let your child “be the storm” and blow the boats around!
This story has several lessons, and you can definitely point out what you feel necessary for your child. The primary theme though is that Jesus knew everyone was going to be okay and was comfortable enough to sleep. The disciples, however, doubted and were afraid, so Jesus calmed the storm.
One night, Jesus as his friends called the Disciples, were traveling on a boat when a huge storm came. The waves rose and shook the small boat, splashing over the sides. This whole time, Jesus was asleep. The Disciples were so scared! They thought that Jesus didn’t care if the boat were turned over.
The Disciples woke Jesus from his nap. He told them, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
Jesus got up and called to the storm. It went away and the night was calm once more. The Disciples were amazed!
Jesus at the Healing Pool
Point: Jesus heals and saves. There is nothing we can do to earn being saved; we don’t even have to work for it. If we believe in Jesus, then He will save us.
For children who like to touch water you can allow hands to swirl water in a large container. Alternatively, you could gather spatulas or mixing spoons for them to use instead. You could also fill a bottle with blue polymer beads and extra water—glitter for bonus interest. Remember, the idea is that the sensory activity is slightly related so that are a part of the story, but mostly so they will be in a position so that you can share Jesus.
Long ago, there was a special place called the Healing Pool. It was a special pool where people would go to get better. An angel would come and stir the waters. Whoever got to the waters first when the angel was there would be healed!
One day, Jesus noticed a man who was paralysed—he could not walk. Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to walk?” The man said, “Of course I do, but I just can’t make it to the pool when it is stirred!” The man had been waiting his entire life to be healed. He was born unable to walk. So Jesus told him, “Get up! Take your mat and go home!” And the man walked.
Jesus and the Empty Tomb
Point: Jesus conquered death so that we can live forever in Heaven.
It doesn’t have to be Easter to remember that Christ defeated death itself and rose again! In this fun activity, feel free to dig out those plastic eggs and use a variety of items that will make noise when your child shakes the eggs. Think rice, beans, beans, marbles.
Choose the amount of eggs you want to shake and open. Depending on your child, you might want to have two sets: one for them to shake the entirety of the story because the wont want to stop and open them, the other for you to use as a demonstration. However you choose to fill the eggs, leave one empty to represent the empty tomb.
Telling this story does not have to be complicating. There are so many things leading up to the death of Jesus; so many details that had to be fulfilled from the laws and prophesy. But what matters is the end of the story: He died and came back so that we could live forever!
God sent His only son, named Jesus, to live on the earth. Jesus was perfect: He was always good, loved people, and helped people.
Many bad people hated Jesus. They wanted to kill Jesus.
Even though Jesus never did anything wrong, he was put on the cross where he died.
After Jesus was dead, he was placed in a tomb.
On the third day, some of Jesus’ friends went to visit but saw that the tomb was open! Jesus was no longer in the tomb! He was alive again.
Jesus still lives today. He is back in Heaven with God and we will see Him when it is our time.
Tips for Creating Your Own Studies and Activities
Of course there are many more lessons and stories to learn from the Bible than the ones listed here today. Each of us has our own special connection to the scriptures and desire to share that bond with our children. When deciding on a story to share, think about how to tell the story in a way that lines up with your child’s understanding. For example, if you want to share the story of Mary and Joseph, a child might not know or be ready to understand the concept of “virgin birth” and “immaculate conception”, but they will receive the story of an Angel visiting Mary and telling her news from God. When thinking of activities, it’s perfectly acceptable to simply give your child something to fidget with or the freedom to move around while you read or recite a story. One of the best tips to remind yourself is that your child’s reactions—moving around, playing with hands or making small noises for example—do not always mean you are being tuned out.
Enjoy, experiment, follow your child's sensory needs as you explore scripture and bring it even more alive for them.
To your sensory and spiritual health!
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