Saturday night is when I ritually pack my navy blue Samsonite roller bag, in preparation for Sunday School.
I’m thankful for all the times a loving adult created a fun and imaginative learning environment for me, so now I’m paying it forward. Here are some of the things I’ve packed in my roller bag to help me teach the Bible to preschoolers.
A mixing bowl and spoon, electric kettle for heating water, and a tupperware container with flour, salt, and cream of tartar. I suggest this recipe for making playdough. You don’t even have to make it ahead; just pack all the ingredients and you can make no-cook playdough right there in the classroom. Perfect for playing Elijah and the Widow. Or color the dough purple, and boom! You’ve got grapes. There are lots of stories with grapes in the Bible, thus many opportunities for little hands to make them.
Packets of Saltines from restaurants. Works as manna in the desert, plus it stays clean if strewn on the floor because it’s in cellophane. (Note: always ask parents about food allergies before serving any food.)
Fabric in various colors, textures, lengths, and widths, along with belts. Bible people are always arising and girding their loins to go do something. Men and women need head coverings at various times. Then there are coats of many colors, fuzzy clothes that mimic animal skin that mimics Jacob’s very hairy brother Esau. There’s John the Baptist’s rustic getup, and sackcloth, too.
A blue yoga mat. You can camp by the River Jordan (which I doubt is actually blue, but whatever) or go fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Or get shipwrecked or eaten by a whale. Then just roll your water back up and back in the suitcase she goes.
Coins. I recommend keeping a ziplock bag of coins on hand at all times. These can be jingled conspicuously or used in all manner of transactions, e.g. traded, buried, lost, found, taxed, paid back with interest.
Some fake green vines or branches from the craft store. If God comes to find you and you’ve eaten the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, well, now you have fig leaves to make breeches out of. You also have a tree that God can make wither if God so pleases, or shade for that badass judge, Deborah, to sit under and consider her judgments.
Sheets or blankets to make tents out of are also handy. People tend to peek around tent flaps in the Bible. But omit the tent pegs. These can be sharp, and, er, deadly (see Deborah, above).
Paper towel rolls are great for scrolls of all kinds, and royal decrees that say to Only Worship the Other Things That Aren’t God.
Toilet paper for bandages. Some lucky Bible people get cured and thus have occasion to shed their bandages.
Blue and red food coloring. For coloring playdough, as mentioned above, or for making water into wine (just prime the bottom of the empty cup with drops of food coloring before pouring in the water). Also, if you dip strips of old cotton undershirt into purple water, you can make fancy purple-dyed cloth like that fancy businesswoman, Lydia. Any extra undershirt can be saved for swaddling cloths.
Costume jewelry. Kids love to bling it up just like Queen Esther!
Old greeting cards, for invitations to wedding feasts.
Those towels you have lying around that used to be pretty but are now faded to brown or grey? Rocks! There are a lot of rocks in the Holy Land, I’m told. Rock-colored towels can be draped over shy preschoolers who don’t want a speaking part. The shy kid can be a rock that somebody anointed, made a pillar with smaller rocks on top of, laid his head on (while camping by the River Jordan), or perhaps the rock on which someone offered a sacrifice. A more dramatic preschooler may wish to dash her foot against a towel-clad rock. Gently.
Those little circle stickers you get for yard sales? SORES, of course. You can totally play Plagues or Leprosy with those. Corn pads work nicely for this purpose, too.
Plastic food and a tray. Who doesn’t want to play Martha, all harried in the kitchen serving Jesus and his entourage while sister Mary just sits at his feet and listens to him drone on.
Tape that plastic food to a stick you found outside, and voila! You’re cooking over an open fire and you never know, you just might be cooking breakfast next to the Lord.