image July2022 MFL Leader Article
Missions Discipleship

Classroom Setup: Giving Preschoolers Room to Grow

Have you ever thought of your classroom as a room where missions grow?

A well-supplied classroom can be a vital aid in leading preschoolers to grow in their missions learning. By choosing toys, pictures, and real items relating to the missionary’s work and field of service that preschoolers may see, touch, smell, hear, or possibly, taste, the whole room becomes an important teaching tool.

Include equipment and supplies to promote missions learning through activity areas:

    • A variety of art supplies: various papers, markers, crayons, paint and brushes, stamps and ink pads, safety scissors, and more
    • A homeliving area—with dishes, play foods (including ethnic foods), baby bed, multicultural dolls and doll clothes, dress-up clothes, and more
    • Blocks and other building materials related to the missions area, such as toy cars to drive to the “church” preschoolers build
    • A device for playing age-appropriate music
    • Clear floor space for moving with balls, bean bags, scarves, and more
    • Items representing the natural world like toy animals, real or artificial flowers or plants, rocks, and other items related to the missions area, such as shells to sort by size for a missions area near a beach
    • Books about the missions area or concept area, including a Bible and Bible story books, and pillows to create a quiet, inviting space to enjoy a book
    • Themed puzzles about nature, family, foods, animals, church, people, etc.
    • Manipulatives like play dough, plastic connecting links, and other items that can be sorted and handled by small hands

Include toys that relate to missionary activities:

    • Dress-up items related to the missions areas
    • Toy medical kits
    • Transportation toys
    • Cultural souvenirs or artifacts like those found in the missions areas
    • Missions areas location items (beach, mountains, desert, village, island, or large city)
    • Building tools
    • Family life toys

Use the activity areas approach:

    • This will allow a preschooler to choose activities of interest while being engaged in learning about the missionary.
    • For example, a preschooler may make a pretend dinner like the missionary does for new friends in their community, build a church out of blocks while hearing that the missionary teaches people at church about Jesus, or play with toy animals that live where the missionary lives.
    • The preschooler is allowed to choose activities that interest him, all the while being engaged in learning through various senses about the missionary for the month.
    • Using this hands-on approach is a very effective way for preschoolers to learn.
    • Remember that it is not necessary to have every center available every session. Too many choices may overwhelm preschoolers. Keep things fresh by rotating items in and out of the room often.

Choose appropriate preschool furniture:

    • Look for furniture with low shelves so preschoolers can reach the items they will use.
    • Provide chairs and tables that are a comfortable height for preschoolers.
    • Furniture and equipment should be sturdy and easily cleaned.

The environment we provide our preschoolers is a powerful tool for teaching them about God’s love for them and for others. Being selective with what is in our classroom gives our preschoolers “room to grow” their missions heart.