Ask a person unfamiliar with kids ministry what happens in a typical preschool Bible study room, and they may say, “It’s all just fun and games.” Before you bristle at that statement, think about how preschoolers learn best. They learn best through doing, and activities can be fun. Therefore, we do teach preschoolers biblical truth through fun and playing games.
Some game play is planned, and other games are spontaneous. Nonetheless, as the late Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood said, “Play is the real work of childhood.” When I think of preschoolers at church, I remember that through fun games preschoolers can learn Bible truth as they P-L-A-Y:
P onder Bible content
L augh with teachers and friends
A sk and answer questions
Y ield to Bible learning (and sometimes, Yell with friends)
The Bible tells us, “. . . Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.” (Luke 2:52). Since Jesus was fully human and fully God, we know that God designed every child to grow in the same way—intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. Game play is one way that children grow simultaneously in all four areas.
That well-rounded growth is evidenced in the three ways in which preschoolers play at church:
- Individual Play—Preschoolers engage in solo play with little or no interaction with other children.
- Parallel Play—Preschoolers play near each other but not together. For example two preschoolers playing with blocks may build two towers that are independent of one another.
- Group Play—Preschoolers actively interact with teachers and other children while engaging in play. This could be in Bible-learning centers, at a table with other kids, playing a matching game with one or two friends, or playing a game together with everyone in the room.
In each of the above three types of play, teachers play a critical role in making sure that preschoolers hear Bible content as teachers . . .
- Repeat Bible verses
- Talk about Bible truths
- Tell parts of Bible stories
- Sing Bible songs
- Provide examples of how preschoolers can apply Bible truths
In a way, what we do in preschool Bible study groups is fun and games. And, that’s a good thing, because that is how God wired preschoolers to learn about Jesus and to grow according to God’s design. So, go ahead, provide fun games and incorporate play in your Bible study sessions with preschoolers as often as you can!
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to LifeWay. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adorable newly born grand babies.