Wee Wonder

Session Outline

by Chrissie Walls and Lori Steiner Jans

To download a PDF of this outline, click here.

Editor's note: Some of this material is also included in the Wee Wonder Leader's Guide

Each session is constructed with a teaching and learning flow in mind. Here you will find a description of all the parts that make up the whole session plan. Since each group of children is unique, you may need to adapt the session to the needs of your two year olds. Listen to the needs of your children and adjust the session to give them the time, attention and love they need to flourish.

The session

describes in a word or two what the Bible story is about. Each session has a title. Each module has its own title.

The scripture text is the basis for the Bible story each session.

The faith focus is the spiritual emphasis for the module. All sessions within the module expand on this faith statement through stories, songs, prayers, activities and play times.

Faith formation for twos connects the faith focus to the spiritual formation of the two year old.

Environment for twos presents tips for creating an appropriate environment for this age group, one that pays attention to physical space, emotional climate and understanding of the development of twos.

Preparation highlights what needs to be done before the session.

At a glance provides a quick overview of the flow of each session.

Supplies lists items needed for the gathering and story time. Supplies for "Responsive play" are listed in the six boxes on the fourth page of each session section.

Gather

  1. Greet each child warmly as each arrives. Kneel or sit at the child's eye level. Look the child in the eye and use her/his name. Children love to be called by name.

  2. Choose an activity for the children to engage in as soon as they enter the room. Choose between snack and activity, depending on what works best for you. Both options will help engage children as soon as they enter the room. They also provide an opportunity for a child to enter the group as she/he is ready. Some children come right in and interact. Others need time to observe and warm up. Be sensitive to the needs of each one. Use this time to make connections with each one and build relationships.

    Snack. Provide a healthy snack right away if the children are arriving from a worship service or some other event. Sit with the children during snack. Talk with them as you eat. Snack time is about gathering as a community as much as nourishing the body. Sometimes a snack can be part of the activity. This will be noted in the session plan.

    Activity. If the children are coming straight from home, plan to have the snack later in the session. This activity is meant to engage the children until most of the participants have arrived in the classroom. If there is more than one leader, one can sit with the children while the other welcomes children as they arrive. The gathering activity relates to the Bible story or the faith focus for the session. If you don't have time during gathering, offer it later on in the session.
  3. Give the children all the time they need for the gathering. You are building relationships with the children and with God during this time. Sit with the children. Listen to them. Get to know them beyond the superficial.

  4. Transition into the story time when you sense the children are ready to move. As you sing or chant, move away from the gathering activity by physically putting it away, covering the area with a sheet or blanket or by moving the group a designated area for the story.

    Gather on a quilt or small rugs to help define the area for the children.

Share the Bible Story

  1. Focus the children and prepare them for the Bible story experience with a finger play, chant or song that introduces them to the faith focus.

  2. Draw attention to the Bible with a Bible story ritual: singing "Jesus loves me" while displaying the Bible. Young children love rituals and repetition. This ritual cues the children that the Bible story is now going to be shared.

    Open the Bible to the scripture text, where you have placed the bookmark. Use a full text Bible and highlight the story texts with color. Not only does the colored area draw the children's attention to where the story is on the page, it begins to develop the concept that written marks convey a message. Carefully lay the open Bible to the side. How you handle the Bible will convey an unspoken message about its importance.

  3. Tell the Bible story using story pictures or figures. The flat story figures provided can be laminated and attached to magnets or flannel. Prop a cookie sheet or flannel board against a stand or piece of furniture or hold it in your lap to serve as the storytelling area for the figures. If you are using three-dimensional story figures, tell the story by moving them over the floor in front of you. This area becomes the "storytelling area."

    Tell the story from your heart. Practice the story with figures in advance so you do not need to read the story. Getting the words exactly is not as important as the story coming from your heart. Much of the story will be conveyed from your gestures and movements, tone of voice and facial expressions and not just the words. This is hard to do when you are reading the story. Do not be afraid of verbal pauses in the story. Twos have difficulty taking in words and movement at the same time. Take time to slowly move the figures. Take time to touch a figure meaningfully. Silences convey meaning. Twos often understand more from these nonverbal moments of communication.

    Set the figures and props in the Tell-It–Again Responsive Play box next to you, or you may set the figures aside to be placed into the box when Responsive Play time begins.

  4. Pray after the story. Prayer can take many forms. Words, silence, joyful noises, and body movements are ways twos can express their love for God. Each session invites twos to pray in a unique way.

  5. Keep moving after praying together with an active finger play, song, chant or activity to expand on the Bible story.

  6. The Bible activity cards are part of the whole group response. Some activity cards are more manageable when done with one or two children at a low table or tray. For these, plan to open the Responsive play areas for children's independent play. Invite individual children to join you to work on the activity page as you have space for them. If you are the only leader, be sure to open only the Responsive play areas which do not require direct supervision.

    If you did not offer snack as the children arrived, you may want to offer it at this time. If you have just finished a whole group activity, move into a large group snack. If children are playing independently in Responsive play areas while you worked with smaller groups on the activity cards, set out snack at the table for the children to come as they are ready.

Responsive Play

Responsive Play is about creating an environment and space for the children to connect with God, the Bible stories and their daily life through their own play.

Responsive play may well constitute the longest time period of the session. Twos like to move and explore. As they play, they are making spiritual connections. The toys and materials for the play activities were thoughtfully and deliberately designed to encourage two year olds to make the spiritual learning their own.

Children learn best through play, not through explanations. Children learn by doing, less by listening. The Responsive play activities are meant to help them experience God through play. This is not ordinary play, but godly play, providing opportunities and resources to help twos play with God.

Responsive play is PLAY. These are not adult-led activities that the whole group does together. Rather, they are free-choice play areas set around the room so that children can play independently. Some activities, however, require adult supervision but not direction. Give children permission and freedom to move around to the areas, choosing what interests them. The children manipulate the materials and play independently or alongside others.

Responsive Play is divided into 6 basic areas:

CONNECT play encourages the children to re-play the Bible story and connect the story concepts with their own lives through dramatic play.
EXPLORE play encourages the children to explore with their senses and create meaning with the story concepts through sensory play.
BUILD play encourages the children to build with a variety of items and build on the story concepts as they build meaning through large muscle and spatial play.
CREATE play encourages the children to play out the story concepts with fine muscle play; this play is focused on the process of creating with art materials and is not usually focused on creating a specific craft product to take home.
TELL IT AGAIN play encourages the children to internalize the story at they handle the story figures the leader has used and tell the story themselves, whether through actions or words.
READ play encourages the story concepts to be repeated or expanded through books appropriate for twos; twos are encouraged to look the books on their own or listen to them being read to them in groups of 1 or 2.

Tips for Responsive Play (could be interspersed in the leader's guide)
Each session provides ideas for each of the responsive play areas on the fourth page of the session plan.

  • It is not necessary to offer all 6 play areas each session, especially with a small group of children.
  • When you have a new group of children, you may offer 2 or 3 of the suggested play areas.
  • As the children learn how to use the items, gradually offer a new area each session.
  • Choose the ideas that work for your group and situation. Adapt them as necessary.
  • Reuse ideas that captured the children's interest.

Setting up the play areas
Gather the materials ahead of time and arrange in an area or in a box.

  • Cover a play area with a cloth until Responsive Play time.
  • Children help take the drawer boxes from the cart, shelf or corner when it is time for Responsive Play time.
  • If you do not want to use one of the responsive play areas for a session, mark that area with a red stop sign or red circle. Teach the children that red means stop, and that the area is not open for play at that time.
  • Because these are play areas not activity areas, the plans will often suggest items to SET OUT and will not tell you what to DO with them. The children will use the items to make their own connections.

"Faith Link" provides the leader with a talking point between the materials and the faith focus. It may provide you with ideas of how to talk with the children if you sit in an area with them. However, the faith link does not need to be verbalized to each child who visits that area.

Play alongside the children.

  • Choose one of the areas to sit in.
  • Support the children with language, problem solving and conflicts.
  • Don't tell the child how to play. However, you may stimulate or shape the play by asking a question or by using the materials in a different way.
  • The "Tips" listed in the Responsive Play boxes often give ideas for playing alongside children.

Sending

There are two ways to send the children from your time together. Gather in a circle and sing the closing song, Holding hands together. This may work better with the older twos or after you've been together for several weeks.

The second is to give an individual blessing as each child leaves. Lean down to the child's eye level and offer the sending words listed in the session. This sending is given individually and is not done in a group setting. Focus on each child and share a special connection.

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