Children's Ministry, Family Ministry
Jesus Cooks Breakfast: Ideas for Sharing Sensory Bible Stories with Kids
June 23, 2020
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It just might be my favorite Bible story of all.
Looking for a bit of normalcy after the emotional rollercoaster of Jesus' death and resurrection, Peter decides to go fishing. A few other disciples join him. They fish all night, flinging out their wet, heavy nets over and over.
Nothing. Still nothing. Not. One. Fish.
Early in the morning, they’re tired, hungry, and discouraged. As they near shore, they see—Jesus! But what’s he doing? He’s not standing there looking holy with his hands raised in benediction. The risen Lord is bending over a fire frying up some crispy fish fillets, tending them carefully so as not to burn them. And to top it all off, he provides Peter and company with their own catch in nets full to bursting.
The sensory elements of that story are SO compelling. The sight of Jesus in the early morning light, the sound of the waves lapping the shore, the smell of frying fish sizzling over a smoky fire, the welcome taste of food after a long hungry night, and, I like to think, the feeling of Jesus hugging his friends as they climb out of the boat.
Exploring the Bible with All Five Senses
The Bible is full of sense-tingling stories like that one. With just a little imagination, you can weave sensory elements into the exploration of any Bible story, whether you’re at home, at church, or any other place. Here are some ideas. Please add your own in the comments below!
When you read a Bible story, make a “smell list” with kids. Write down all the things you might smell if you were there while the story was happening.
Go on a smell hunt. Read a Bible story and look for things around the house or your church that smell like things on your smell list.
Light a scented candle or some incense each time you read a Bible story together, so kids associate a special smell with the “special revelation” of God’s Word.
Use food as a prop. For example, put Cheerios on the floor to represent manna and let your kids gather and eat them while you read the Exodus story (might wanna clean that floor first, just saying.)
Make a meal of foods mentioned in the Bible, and read the stories that correspond to them as you eat. Taste things like unleavened (pita) bread, milk and honey, olive oil, grapes, and fish.
Sing along (and sing loud!) to your favorite Bible songs, praise songs, and hymns.
Look for Bible storybooks that are a feast for the eyes as well as the soul. My favorite series of all time is Tales That Tell the Truth from The Good Book Company.
Search for inspiring works of art, both classical and contemporary, that illustrate the Bible story. Check Eyekons.com, or search “Bible story art” on Etsy or Google. There’s a lot of poor art out there, as well as a lot of blond Jesus illustrations, but there’s some wonderful art as well.)
Check out the fabulous free videos from The Bible Project, which are especially good for older kids.
Invite kids to make their own sound effects as you read a Bible story together. They’ll love it, and listening for opportunities to make some noise will keep them engaged.
Listen to kid-friendly Christian music from groups like Rain for Roots, Scripture songs from Seeds Family Worship, and others. Connect the songs to passages from Gods Word.
For sound-oriented kids, check out audio versions of story Bibles like The Jesus Storybook Bible and Growing in God’s Love
Use physical books whenever possible, rather than reading from a device. Holding the book and turning pages helps kids engage with the story.
Make up simple hand motions to help kids learn Bible verses by heart, as suggested in Memorizing Scripture with Littles: A Fun and Easy Tip.
Retell Bible stories using LEGO people, stuffed animals, or wooden figures from Worship Woodworks. Retelling stories encourages kids to use their listening and interpreting skills. Plus it’s just plain fun!
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I love this! I'll be sharing this with our church families, thank-you!
I took this approach many years back in a UK church while on a working holiday. I was asked to teach a children's Sunday school class of 5 year olds. The story was of Elisha and the woman who had a jar of oil and a jar of flour. While I told the story the children each had a lump of bread dough to manipulate. Then we put their bread shapes into the oven. As the church service next door came to its conclusion there was a delicious smell pervading the sanctuary, and the people were literally following their noses as they left. All they found was a dozen small children munching on freshly baked bread.
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