Monday, October 14, 2013

Preparing their hearts for worship--toddler communion meditation

I wanted to share something that is working well for my barely-two year-old toddler in regards to helping guide him in a Jesus-centered time of meditation during communion.

To begin with, we really love this story Bible:

Particularly the passion story.  Often as communion begins help B thumb through the images of the last supper, the crucifixion and the empty tomb.  This is his favorite page in the whole Bible--he points and says, "My Jeeez."  This past week he was saying, "See God, Mama, See God."  He was telling me he wanted to see God, then turned to his page.  You can see the page is already well-worn by my little people's fingers!

Next we get out this manipulative.  I just used a sheet of craft felt and some sharpees.  

First we read him what it says on the body and he places a little pipecleaner man on the outline for the body.  

Then we read what the bread outline says and he places the bread accordingly.

The bread is some wooden bread that velcros together that came in a food set we have.  You could use any toy bread or even a piece of felt cut into the shape of felt.  And I realize that we use unleavened bread for communion and this is obviously not, but I don't think that small of a detail is necessary at this point for him.  He often likes to play with the bread a little bit--taking it apart and putting it back together.  

Then we read the blood and he places the red felt "blood" in its spot.

And the cup--which is a wooden egg cup I bought in the unfinished craft wood section at Hobby Lobby, though any small cup would work fine.  Even an empty plastic communion cup.

He likes to put the red felt inside the cup and pretend to drink.  

At this age the goal is not for him to understand each element necessarily.  Familiarity with the vocabulary and the memorization (which is learned gently through repetition week after week) of each element and what it stands for is the goal.  As he gets older and is able to think more abstract we will explain the meanings and he'll be able to understand them more easily, already being familiar with the wording and a concrete object.  

We also have a simple rustic cross, a big nail and a Jesus puppet in his communion materials for him to interact with.  

And all are kept in this plastic pencil box.

It's important to note that it took several weeks of repeated exposure to the materials before he seemed to "get the flow" of the activity and was interested in it.  The first few weeks he lost interest before we got through all the objects.  That's fine, we would just keep presenting each week and he gradually took more interest and ownership in manipulating the objects.  Now as soon as communion starts he knows the box will come out and he can quickly place all the objects in their correct spots.  We'll begin being more diligent in reciting the wording to him as he places each object now that he's ready for it.
And of course, if you make a set for your kiddos, feel free to change the wording however you want!
Older kids can actually look up the cited passages in their Bible to read.

Quinn, our 5 year old, also enjoys this activity after she finishes her own communion meditation (which I will share soon).  She is very interested in having me read what each object stands for.

This is a simple activity that took about 10 minutes to make but that I really feel helps focus my children's hearts and makes communion time an intentional time to teach about Jesus' sacrifice.  
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