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Teach The Christmas Story to Children with Disabilities

Repetitions of Bible concepts help children with disabilities understand and learn more. Learn how to use playdough to teach The Christmas Story to children with disabilities.

Use playdough to teach The Birth of Jesus to Children with Disabilities

Use Playdough to Teach The Christmas Story to Children with Disabilities

What are Bible playdough *smash* mats?

A *smash* mat includes concepts that children learn. In the case of Bible *smash* mats, the goal is to review and reinforce Bible stories. A proven way of learning stories is a first-next-then-last format. Our Bible *smash” mats follow that pattern. In this picture, you can see the first-next-then-last parts of The Birth of Jesus.

Use playdough to teach The Birth of Jesus to children with disabilities

Who are Bible *smash* mats for?

The Bible *smash* mats are created to help children with moderate-to-severe disabilities learn stories and lessons. Language can be hard for children with disabilities, and we don’t like doing hard things. The Bible mats shorten the language and help the children have fun, which leads to more learning. The mats are also designed to guide volunteers and buddies as they work with children with disabilities at church.

Easy-to-follow directions for volunteers and buddies

Here are the downloadable files for The Birth of Jesus Smash Mat:

The Birth of Jesus free smash mat (PDF, color)

All smash mats (PDF, members only, color and black-and-whtite)

How do I use a *smash* mat?

To prepare the mat, print on cardstock and laminate OR place in a dry-erase pocket. The only supplies you need are a Bible and playdough – and you probably have those easily available!

Bible *smash* mats are created to reinforce Bible stories and not replace them. Do your lesson as usual. Then, allow adults/buddies to use the *smash* mats with the children. There are easy directions for them on the top of the page.

The text helps guide volunteers in what and how to review. For The Birth of Jesus, the first two sentences are “An angel told Mary she would have a baby. Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem.” The third sentence says, “Mary and Joseph stayed in a…”. Now, there is a choice did they stay in a hotel or a stable? The answer is “stable”, so the child gets to *smash* out the hotel! This pattern guides the reader to read the first three lines aloud and then pause.

Now comes the learning and fun part! Present both options to the child – “Mary and Joseph stayed in a hotel or STABLE?” Have a ball of playdough ready for the child to smash “the hotel”. Continue until all four parts of the story are finished – the mat should now tell the story.

Use playdough to teach The Birth of Jesus to children with disabilities

Wait – I have a child who doesn’t speak/who can’t make a choice/who randomly points at the pictures

That’s okay! Children with moderate-to-severe disabilities learn best when they feel successful and when they are having fun. Here are some tips to achieve that.

For a child who doesn’t speak, let them point. TIP: If they reach for the incorrect choice, move the mat so that they point to the correct choice and reinforce it. The interaction would look like:

Volunteer: “Mary and Joseph stayed in a hotel or a stable?”

Child: Starts to point to “the hotel.”

Volunteer: Moves mat so that child ends up pointing to “stable” and says, “Yes, Mary and Joseph stayed in a stable. Let’s smash the other circle!”

For a child who doesn’t make a choice either by pointing or talking, interact with them. The interaction might look like:

Volunteer: “Mary and Joseph stayed in a hotel or A STABLE?” (verbally emphasize the correct choice)

Child: response does not indicate a choice

Volunteer: “Mary and Joseph stayed in a stable. Let’s get rid of the other circle!” The volunteer helps the child smash “the hotel” by putting playdough on the circle and letting the child smash the playdough OR describes what they are doing.

For a child who randomly points at the pictures, verbally emphasize the correct choice while pointing. This interaction might look like:

Volunteer: “Mary and Joseph stayed in a hotel or STABLE?” (verbally emphasize the correct choice)

Child: randomly points

Volunteer: Moves mat so that child ends up pointing to “stable” and says, “Yes, Mary and Joseph stayed in a stable. Let’s smash the other circle!”

OK, we finished the mat.

The *smash* mats are not a goal to finish. Rather, they are a way to reinforce the story. After smashing the four incorrect choices, read the story with the correct choices. Then, discuss the Bible verse at the end and how God sent Jesus to save us.

Conclusion: Use playdough to teach The Birth of Jesus to children with disabilities

Reinforce understanding when you use playdough to teach The Birth of Jesus to children with disabilities. *Smash* Mats are an easy way to help volunteers and buddies know how to teach. Use the Bible *smash* mats to review and reinforce Bible stories for true understanding. See options available at The Adapted Word.

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Use playdough to teach The Birth of Jesus to children with disabilities