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The creation story for kids is full of wonder and mystery as well as simplicity. Through the creation story children learn about a BIG God, who is active in our world, who is the beginning of all things. For young children who already have such interest in discovering the world around them, this Bible story has immediate relevance and helps them connect God’s love for them with God’s power.
In our AWANA Cubbies curriculum this year there is a unit on creation (four lessons). I set up an area of the classroom that visually told the creation story for kids using a variety of objects the children could play with.
Creation Story for Kids in Loose Parts
I experimented with a teaching method often used in the Reggio Emelia approach referred to as the theory of loose parts.
The theory of loose parts was first proposed by architect Sam Nicholson in the 1970’s and has been applied in Early childhood settings to refer to materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. These open ended materials empower creativity and help children construct meaning in their world.
I added in some puzzles, books, and felt story materials to further inspire their learning.
The first week, I told the creation story using the objects so the children knew what was on the shelves and I showed them how to put the materials away. I made this pretty exciting as we discovered together what was on the shelves.
In this new “experiment” with loose parts, I have struggled a bit to get the kids to
1. Know what to do with the objects and
2. Respect the materials and put them away properly. There are a couple who love to dump and run—especially all the glass gems ;). I have found it helpful to do some brief demonstrations and then step back and let them create. We also just leave a little more time for clean up.
During free play time, the children were able to go back to the shelves and create the story themselves using the materials. I wish I would have been able to capture their fun combinations, but sometimes while teaching there is so much going on that I can’t get my camera out in time!
They loved making the sky and putting cotton ball clouds in it and then having the birds fly in the sky. They also made up stories to go with the animals and the plants.
I had a flashlight out with day 1 and of course taking a turn “creating” light was popular with the kids.
Here is a closer look at the first six days…
For the seventh day, I wasn’t sure how to represent God resting, but I found a small pillow from the baby bed in the toddler room and then decided to put out our squishy globe balls and some felt hearts to help represent that God had finished his work and that is was good. I also have a fabric world map so I put that in there too. They like to lay out the map and then place different objects all over it.
They were pretty interested in the objects the first week and the second week, but by the third week it seemed like they were ready to move on to something new so I consolidated the materials into a basket activity.
Update: I have repeated this unit with our children (a different group of kids) and the second time around I set things up a bit differently. I did create a basket activity shown here. I consolidated the materials on the shelves into the circle boxes finding mini versions of the materials as necessary.
The small boxes allow us to keep the creation story activity on our classroom shelves all the time. The children enjoy getting out what is in each box and making sure the items are in the “right” boxes. They have become familiar with these materials and use them to retell the creation story.
The papers in the wooden drawer below are printables available with the AWANA Cubbies curriculum. They are pictures of objects God created separated by day. I had the children match the number on the card to the large creation numbers. These are available here for free.
I did set up an additional area for the kids to explore using a tabletop instead of a shelf. The children added a basket of animals to this when they played with it
Do you think that play is an effective way to teach the Bible? What play activities do you incorporate into teaching the Creation story for kids?