We made these take home storytelling kits for the Parable of the good shepherd last week in AWANA Cubbies
The AWANA story for this lesson closely models the Godly Play Parable of the Good Shepherd but breaks the story down into several parts.
I love the Godly Play story and since we have the story materials I told the Godly Play version to the children. You can find the script for this story in The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Vol. 3:. You can also purchase a story book based on this retelling of the Parable of the Good shepherd here.
Research has shown that children have a particular connection to Jesus as the good shepherd and identify deeply with this parable that emphasizes God’s presence in our lives no matter what. I definitely saw proof of that connection through this activity.
Since we covered the story over a couple of weeks, we made these take home story boxes so the children could retell the story on their own. I wanted to provide the children with a way they could connect with the story personally and share the story with others.
To make the story boxes we used very simple items that are easy to find and very affordable:
- Square craft boxes– 3 inch boxes will work, but use 4 inch if you can find them. This is the most expensive part of the craft, so if money is a factor a ziploc bag would do just fine.
- 1 sheet of green felt, for the green grass
- Brown pipe cleaners cut into thirds for the fence pieces for the sheepfold
- Blue felt cut into an oval to represent the cool, still water
- 3 white pom poms for sheep (many of the children wanted more, so have some extra on hand)
- black felt cut into three roundish, rock shapes for the dark places
- Craft foam pieces to create the good shepherd.
I pre-cut the shapes and laid them out on the table using this drawer organizer. I didn’t use a pattern for the shapes. They don’t all need to be exactly the same.
The set up is intentional. I set out the materials so the children could see what they needed for their story box and get them on their own. They made great use of their counting skills as they put these together. This picture was taken after the children used most of the materials…so please imagine that the box is full!
The story materials fit neatly into the box for safe keeping. As we put the story boxes together, I tried to get the kids excited about sharing the story with their parents and siblings when they got home. The children personalized their boxes by coloring them with marker.
As we gathered the materials for the story boxes the children naturally started to lay out the story from what they remembered from hearing and seeing the story told to them the week before. This was a great way for me to see what parts of the story they retained and what parts needed a bit more review.
When the children had finished making their story boxes, we gathered for our circle time and I retold the Godly Play version of the Parable of the good shepherd. As part of the wondering time, I wondered if any of the children would like to tell the story using their story box.
Several of the children retold the story. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that they knew the story, but I wasn’t sure if they would be able to tell it using words. However, they told the story beautifully in their own words. Many of the children just played with their story materials and did not share out loud. A totally acceptable response.
Here are a few highlights..
- One little boy named each of his sheep after the people in his family. The shepherd led the sheep to the green grass, and the cool waters (he called it the puddle), and to the dark places.
- One thing I saw repeated throughout the children’s retelling was they identified themselves as the lost sheep
- Many of the children focused in on the dark places. They weren’t entirely sure where to put them in the story. One girl said the dark places were all over the place and kept moving them around.
- When they told the part about the lost sheep, they carefully hid the sheep under the rock. They liked to tell the part about the good shepherd carrying the lost sheep on his shoulders.
- One girl added a bit about a lion and some lava and suddenly the story turned into David killing the lion while protecting his sheep.
- They took great care in setting up the story materials. Some were more interested in deciding how to set things up than actually telling the story.
When parents came to pick up their children, I explained briefly what the boxes were for and encouraged them to listen to their children retell the story.
During the week, I received many reports of the children retelling the story to others during the week. Here is a sweet video from Hattie, one of the girls in my class. Her mom told me that the explanation of the dark places has been a helpful way for them to frame some hard stuff going on right now.
For more activities related to the Parable of the Good Shepherd check out my post
And my Parable of the Good Shepherd Pinterest board.
How have you seen children connect to the parable of the good shepherd?
What other Bible stories could be made into a take home storytelling box?