Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Elephants and Safaris

One of my favorite lessons with the 3- and 4-year-olds is the “I am Thankful for Animals” lesson. The kids love to talk about their favorite animals and we have fun discussions about all the differences/similarities between the animals, which helps expand the educational value of the lesson.

One of our favorite songs to sing and act out is the Elephant on a Spider Web song, which I’m pretty sure is a Raffi song. We make a “web” on the floor with string or masking tape, and then we sing the following verses as we balance on the web. Each new “elephant” becomes the one to invite another “elephant” to join him/her on the web.

One elephant went out to play
Upon a spider’s web one day
They had such enormous fun
That they called for another one to come
Two elephants went out to play…

(Continue counting up after each verse until all children are on the web.)

As the teacher I usually demonstrate how I enjoy walking like an elephant with one of my arms as a trunk and one arm as a tail, but I tell the children they might be a different kind of elephant. Kids can decide if they want to be a tip-toe elephant or a stomping elephant, if they want to walk on two feet or crawl on all four… I let my preschoolers get creative. Once all the kids are on the web, we do usually link up tail-to-trunk to have an elephant parade. The young children love this activity and it adds some active play and movement into the Sunday school lesson. It can be stretched to multiple rounds, or verses changed to feature a different animal.

As a creative arts piece to the lesson, we make our own “safari picture” where children take a piece of paper and draw on, stamp or sticker it with any animals (real or imaginary) that they think they would want to see on a safari. We talk about how thankful we are to have so many wonderful animals to include and how we should be kind to all of God’s creatures.