Biblical storytelling with children
By Carole Danby
Claiming the Space
Make the gathering space welcoming and bright with a visual emphasis on the Bible – Bible open and on a stand, story stole, cross, coloured cloth and Treasure chest or box wrapped in gold paper if you have one.
We stand on holy ground when we share our faith stories with others – children.
Drama Techniques for exploring Scripture
Divide the bible story into small phrases or single words, then put an action to each one and invite the assembled group to copy what you say and do what you do until you say ‘The End’! Example –
One day Hold up one finger
Jesus went to Jericho Point away from you
To see some friends Shade eyes, looking
Zacchaeus Draw a ‘Z’ in the air
Wanted to see Jesus Shade eyes, looking
But he could not Shake head
Because he was too short
Indicate a short person at your side with hand
Divide the Bible Story into 6 or so segments that can be easily said by young children. Assign one segment to each of 6 or so children and invite them to say the line 3 times and do an action to match what is being said. Then when they are finished, they freeze and the next person says their segment 3 times and freezes. A leader introduces the story and ends it. Here is an example from John’s Gospel –
Leader: The story of the first Easter.
The Stone is gone!
Jesus is gone!
Peter, Jesus is gone!
I don’t believe it!
It’s true! Jesus is gone!
Jesus is alive! Alleluia!
Leader: Jesus told Mary to tell everyone the Good News and she did!
Hold up fingers while telling. Example:
1 day Jesus was going
2wards Jericho with
5 of his disciples.
As all 6 of them were leaving,
1 man, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting next
2 the roadside. When he heard that it was the
1derful Jesus going by,
he called out 2 him
in a gr8 big voice, ‘Jesus, Son of David,
ave pity 4 me!’
Sound Effects –
YEAH, WOW, UHOH, APPLAUSE, OOOHH, AAAHH, HISS –
Make signs with one word on each and invite 7 children to hold one sign each. Tell or read a story and encourage the holders of the signs to step forward whenever they think the rest of the group should call out the word on their sign.
Two-way stretch sacks made from stretch Lycra material. Children place these over their heads and step into the footholds sewn into the bottom of the bag. A Bible story is read or told and those in the bags respond to what they hear by moving inside the bag. Rules – do not move your feet and no talking while inside the bag.
Children can make puppets from paper bags, or adults in your church can make handle-bag puppets from fabric scraps, a handle, and a head. Heads can be made of many different found materials! And when the puppets are made, the children can act the story with the puppets. If an adult has a smartphone they can make a video of the story. Here is a video demonstration about handle-bag puppets and drama bags.
Give each participant a sheet of paper and instruct them to fold in half, then in half again, then in half again. This will divide the page into 8 sections. Tell a story and then invite children to draw the story as far as they can recall. Then tell it again and ask them to fill in any blanks. Then children can turn to someone next to them and use their story map to tell the story to someone else. OR, you can draw a storyboard in sand or dirt the same way.
Prayer with actions for younger children
Creator God, I give you today,
all that I think, and do, and say.
I give you the good times, as well as the bad,
the time when I'm happy,
the times when I am sad.
Fill me with grace and make me strong.
With you by my side, I can never go wrong. Amen