Acacia in the Desert

June 24, 2013

Sensory Tub: Tabernacle

Tabernacle Sensory Tub


Wooden blocks to make tabernacle fence from Constructive Playthings Wood Block Nativity Set.  The altar was originally meant to be a manger.

Wooden sheep for sacrifice also from Constructive Playthings Wood Block Nativity Set

12 jewels from WalMart, to represent the jewels on the high priest’s breastplate.  One is missing.  I had children asking to take one home, and I even though I said no, I suspect a child did so anyway.  The jewels were a huge hit.

2 priests from Worship Woodworks

River rocks, also from WalMart

3 pieces of cloth.  I intended these to be coverings for the tabernacle, but the blue was usually a river, and the red piece occasionally blood.

Ark from BibleQuest Moses set

Yarn, snipped into pieces.  One skein was plenty to cover the whole tub.


When I first put the tub in the classroom, all that could be seen was the yarn.  Discovering there were rocks under the yarn was hugely exciting.  Discovering the jewels was even more so, and immediately set about a search to find all twelve.  The most popular activity was to hide something in the yarn, and let another kid try to find it.

Tabernacle Sensory Tub filledI used the tub during Bible story time, then put it back against the wall for use during free play time.

The most enjoyable part for me was to get down on the floor with a kid and simply play with the tub.  Rather than telling the Bible story as a teacher led activity, I would pick up a character and with a squeaky voice begin to interact with the other wooden character.

“Oooh, I feel so sick.  It all started when we captured that ark. How are you feeling?”

And then follow the interaction from there based on the child’s response.

This Tabernacle tub was in our classroom during a month with Samuel stories.  Bible lessons might include:

  • Building of the Tabernacle.  From Exodus.
  • Wandering in the Wilderness.  From Numbers.
  • Calling of Samuel.  “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
  • Ark is Captured by Philistines.  And then God shows who’s boss.

August 27, 2012

Sensory Tub: Sea of Galilee

Contents: Water, water pearls, foam fish with memory verse written on it, sea shells hand-gathered from the Florida beach. Added a boat (rectangular foam folded in half and stapled) in week three, and plastic netting in week four.

Apparently, kindergarteners are not too old for sensory tubs.  They spent 30 minutes clustered around this tub coming up with new ways to play.  All I had to do was sit back and watch, and remind them that items stay in the Sea of Galilee.

  • Hey, the fish stick to the sides!
  • Let’s sort the fish.
  • Whirlpool! (swirling the water madly around)
  • Now there’s a storm.

They discovered that when you squeeze the water beads between your fingers, they “shoot” out.  Both fish and shells were the recipients of this target practice.  The shell with the hole in it was popular, getting repeatedly filled up, then letting the water beads trickle out as a “waterfall”.

One little girl decided the water beads were “babies” and while the boys were making a storm she spent her time “saving” the babies. Quite a few of the beads got squished into pieces, but those pieces then became “food” for the babies.

This Sea of Galilee tub was in our classroom during a month of New Testament stories.  Bible lessons might include:

  • Calling of the Disciples.  “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
  • Jesus Calms the Storm.  “Peace, be still.”
  • Healing of the Paralytic.  Four friends and a lame man let down through the roof.
  • Feeding of the Multitudes.  And a little boy gave his lunch.
  • Jesus Walks on Water.  Peter too.
  • Jesus Helped a Man Hear.  Healing of the deaf man.
  • Jesus Helped a Man See.  Healing of the blind man.

August 20, 2012

Story Tray: Parting of the Red Sea

Target Age
Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st

Several bags blue glass gems from Michaels.  They are very satisfying to run one’s fingers through.

Pyramid is the top block from Haba Pyramid

I’d like for the Hebrews to be the same style as Moses or the Egyptians, but right now they are Hygloss Decorative Wooden People

Pharaoh is the Playmobil Pharaoh

Moses from Worship Woodworks

For Passover, there is red cloth from Joann fabric.  Cloth from the same swath of fabric is used for the crucifixion story.

Egyptian soldiers also from Playmobil

Plastic box from storage section of Walmart.  It had sticky velcro placed on its bottom, and brown felt placed on top of it.  So far there haven’t been any problems with kids removing the gems from the box.

This was inspired by the Young Children and Worship story, with modifications made after looking back at the Biblical text.  It sits on the Old Testament shelf in our Sunday School classroom.

Script for the Exodus from Egypt
Pause, place your hands in your lap, and sit back a moment.  Once the children were very hungry.

Place some figures of children lying down in the sand in the left-hand corner of the box nearest you.  They cried in the night, even when they were asleep.  Their parents heard them…

Place the parents around them.  …but there was no food.  So the Israelites crossed the desert to the land of Egypt, where there was food.  Move the people across the desert to Egypt (the far right-hand corner). 


They stayed.  But then a new king, called a pharaoh, wanted the Israelites for slaves.  Cup both hands over the people as though you were trapping them. 

The Israelites had to work when Pharaoh said to work.  They had to live where Pharaoh said to live.  They had to go to bed when Pharaoh said to go to bed.  They were slaves.

Present Pharaoh. 

Then the people of God cried to God for help, and God remembered his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God spoke to Moses through a burning bush and told him what to say.  [Ex 2:24]

Present Moses and place him at a distance.  Then move him towards Pharaoh. 


Place hands around mouth.  Thus says the Lord, “Let My People Go!”

Place arms in X shape then move them out sharply.  “No!”

God sent ten plagues on the land of Egypt.  During the last plague, the firstborn son of all the Egyptian families and animals died.  But not the people of God.  The Israelites killed a lamb and placed its blood on their doorposts…

Place red cloth over the people of God.  …so that the angel of death passed over them.  Pass hand over people of God.

Move Moses back to Pharaoh.  Touch Pharaoh.  Pause. Point finger.  “Go.”

Move Moses back and speed up your voice by running together the following sentences:

The people of God were ready.  They had to hurry!  So they packed unleavened bread, because there wasn’t time for it to rise.

God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea.  Move the blue stones to the middle of the box.

Then the Lord God warned Moses, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.  He will chase after you.  Then the Egyptians will know that I Am the I Am.”

Line up the Egyptians.  The people of God heard the war chariots!  They were trapped between the sea and the army!

Then God showed Moses the way… Part the waters. …and brought them through the sea to freedom.  Move each Israelite through.  When the Egyptians tried to pursue… Move the soldiers through. …the waters returned to their place.

Then the people danced and sang: Move people in a dancing motion

I will sing unto the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously; The horse and rider fell into the sea.

This was the tale of the Exodus from Egypt.

August 13, 2012

Jesse Tree Book Bag

Target Age
Kindergarten – 1st Grade

A bunch of Christian picture books placed in a 12 x 12 inch tote

  • The Dragon and the Garden, by N.D. Wilson.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
  • Noah: The Rescue Plan, by Carine MacKenzie.  Like Adam, Noah was an ancestor of Jesus.
  • The Angel and the Donkey, by Katherine Paterson.  While Balaam is not an ancestor of Christ, some scholars theorize that Balaam’s prophecy of a star to come out of Jacob was what led the wise men to recognize the significance of the star they saw.
  • The Story of Ruth, by Maxine Rose Schur.  Ruth, and her great-grandchild King David, are ancestors of Christ.
  • The Christmas Story, by Jane Werner
  • The Story of Christmas by Stephanie Jeffs and John Haysom
  • A stable backdrop to use when acting out the story
  • Paper figures of the Nativity story

This is a book bag for the Christmas season that has covers more than just the shepherds and wise men.

August 6, 2012

Easter Book Bag

Target Age
Kindergarten – 1st Grade

A bunch of Christian picture books placed in a 12 x 12 inch tote

Could also add resurrection egg items, scratch art crosses, or a gospel memory cross.

March 19, 2012

Story Tray: Jesus Heals the Deaf Man

Target Age
Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st

sound bottles which are empty pill bottles with the outside covered by Avery labels.  Inside are screws, pony beads, sequins, and sand.  Instructions for using these can be found at Info Montessori.  I’ve been surprised how popular these are with the five and six year olds, I would have thought they’d be too old for them.

Palm tree from Constructive Playthings Wood Block Nativity Set

Jesus, people, and deaf man figures from Worship Woodworks

A cardboard box lid makes the tray

This was inspired by the Young Children and Worship: Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus story.  It sits on the New Testament shelf in our Sunday School classroom.

Adapted from Mark 7 in the New American Standard Bible.

At a time when the Romans ruled the land of Israel, Jesus was by the Sea of Galilee.  Point to blue sea on green underlay.  Place Jesus figure. 

The people brought Jesus a man who was deaf.  He couldn’t hear and could hardly speak.  Place “people” figure and deaf figure. 

Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself.  Move two figures off to side.

Then Jesus put His fingers into the man’s ears.  Touch your ears, or touch the sides of the figures head.

Jesus spit, and touched the man’s tongue.  Put hand in front of mouth, and say “pppt” then touch figure’s face.  

Jesus looked up to heaven with a deep sigh, and said “Be opened!”  Look up at ceiling and raise arms.

And he could hear and talk!  The people were utterly astonished, saying, “He can make the deaf hear and the mute speak!”

March 12, 2012

Art Shelf: Memory Cross

Blank memory crosses available from Memory Cross and regular crayons.  Kids can draw something important, or something they were thinking about during the Bible story.  For older kids, they can write the memory verse on it.


March 5, 2012

Art Shelf: Shuttle Pens

Mini shuttle pens available from Oriental Trading and mini trifold books made from colored paper.  I used these during the story of Jesus’ baptism, and had kids draw 1) A voice coming down from heaven, 2) Jesus in the Jordan, and 3) the Holy Spirit descending “like a dove”.

Technically, Godly Play allows children to freely respond by drawing whatever they wish.  But I’ve found having a specific activity planned helps avoid directionless kids.

February 27, 2012

Art Shelf: Puzzles

Blank Design-Your-Own puzzles available from Oriental Trading and regular markers. Kids are to draw a scene from the story, or draw what someone was thinking during the story, or draw what Jesus wants us to do in response, etc.

An alternative to coloring pages.


February 20, 2012

Art Shelf: Sequencing Cards and Crayon Rocks

Crayon rocks available from Amazon or Montessori Services and index cards cut in half. Kids are to draw a scene from the first part of the story on the first one, etc. Then write 1, 2, 3 on the back so they know what order they go in.  I suggest the kids challenge their parents to put them in order.

So far, I’ve needed to suggest to the kids what to draw as “first” in the story.

Older Posts »

Blog at