Everyone has something to contribute!
“The thought behind this activity is to give each child the feeling that they are part of something bigger than themselves – especially to reinforce that the little part they contribute is necessary for the project to be completed successfully. Even though they all differ in skills, personalities, and interests, they can all contribute something.”
“What could they be for?”
It’s a busy Sunday afternoon and today I find myself sitting inconspicuously in an upper room filled with the trappings of a preschool. Several young adults hover here and there, one setting up colorful tables and chairs, and another moving an assortment of boxes from one end of the room to another. It is quite obvious these boxes are not a permanent part of the decor and my curiosity is aroused: What could they be for?
Excitement fills the air as the kids enter the room. Some head straight to activities placed strategically around the room – a doll set here and a train set there. Others migrate towards the adults and eagerly engage in conversation. I spy little Charlie curiously commenting on the pile of boxes at the side of the room. I overhear his conversation with one of the leaders – he wasn’t present last Sunday so he doesn’t know yet why they are there.
Heather, one of the leaders, gathers the children together on the carpet and leads them in a prayer and in singing “This Little Light of Mine” as another leader, Jon, strums on his guitar. Today I am visiting the 3-5 year olds in Sunday school at Brunstad Christian Church Ottawa. This group meets regularly during church services on Sundays from September to June.
A safe and welcoming atmosphere
As the kids sing, my mind wanders to an earlier conversation I had with Heather, who invited me to come today: “We have two goals with Sunday school for this age group. The first is to provide a safe and welcoming atmosphere for them here at church, as many of them have spent most of their lives at home due to the pandemic. We are lucky to have a room that we furnished just for them, creating a welcoming environment where they can explore, and do activities.
Our second goal is to teach the stories of the Bible in a way that is at their level of understanding, so they will have memories of learning the stories as they grow.”
Our very own box wall
My attention goes back to that big pile of boxes in the corner of the room. Are they related to the lesson today? I’d better pay attention! As I listen in once again, Heather is reminding the kids about the story they heard last week about Nehemiah, a Jewish man who traveled back to Jerusalem to build up the broken walls that surrounded the city. She pulls out a sword and hammer and explains that the people had to work together, both to build and to protect the walls. Each person had an important task and they also trusted in God to protect them. He watched over them closely, blessing them as they worked together, and they finished the walls in record time.
I see a gleam in Charlie’s eye as Heather explains that we are going to rebuild our very own box wall. “I love to build!” he exclaims as he grabs one of the plastic hammers. The kids rush to the pile of boxes as another leader encourages them to find the largest ones first. The adults are simultaneously helping construct the wall as they encourage each child to contribute where they can. Some hammer away, while others find scissors to cut the tape that holds the wall together.
“As leaders, we hope to find other activities like this which can help cement the stories of the Bible, and God’s word, into their hearts for life.”
As the walls take shape, some of the kids are having great delight in chasing one of the leaders with their play swords. Bonds are being created here that these kids won’t forget anytime soon!
A part of something bigger
Jon meets me over at the side. “This seems to be going well!” he says. I have to agree. Heather told me that Jon planned this activity, and I am curious to hear what his goal was for today. “The thought behind this activity is to give each child the feeling that they are part of something bigger than themselves,” he notes. “Especially to reinforce that the little part they contribute is necessary for the project to be completed successfully. Even though they all differ in skills, personalities, and interests, they can all contribute something.
In addition, the hope is that building a large wall, that is taller than the kids, will create a visual memory in their mind to associate with the story of Nehemiah.
Even though they all differ in skills, personalities, and interests, they can all contribute something.
This activity is a little different than the ones we typically do as a group and it seems that the children really love it. As leaders, we hope to find other activities like this which can help cement the stories of the Bible, and God’s word, into their hearts for life.”
We are interrupted by a sudden crash. It seems that the kids are just as enthusiastic to take the wall apart as they were to build it! Within a few minutes the boxes are flat again and the room empties as the kids leave with their parents, excitedly describing their adventure today.
A special and memorable lesson
As the room quiets down again, I take a minute to imagine myself as a small child, looking up at the top of the wall high above my head, and I remember their happy chatter and all the laughs as they worked together. I remember the leaders, making sure that each child felt included in some way, and I have to agree with Jon that this was a really special and memorable Bible lesson.