Fidgets, Forms & Puppets for Special Needs Ministry
For those of you who follow The Inclusive Church’s Facebook page or Twitter account, some (but not all) of this post will be old news. These resource nuggets were too good to ignore and so I’m lumping them all into a single post….
Last week I taught workshops on The Orange Tour and met with several special needs ministry leaders in Texas. Wendi Akers was one of the leaders I had the opportunity to spend time with. Wendi is the Children’s Ministry Special Needs Associate at Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. As a fun little gift, Wendi brought me a wrist weight that she has available for participants in her ministry. The bracelet essentially serves as a mobile sensory toy for a child who needs a tactile fidget. I love the creativity behind this little tool. Wendi shared that one of the families participating in LakePointe’s SOAR Ministry is behind the stacyssensorysolutions.com business.
This past weekend, a blog follower and children’s ministry leader from Liquid Church in New Jersey, Suzi Soares, emailed me about the “Make Friends with Autism” website. This is a fantastic resource developed by Children’s Specialized Hospital with several videos and documents that could benefit a church. Here are three downloads I thought were especially helpful:
Terminology & Acronyms for Common Terms Related to Autism – Make this document available to every special needs ministry volunteer. It isn’t necessarily important that volunteers know all the acronyms and definitions. But it sure is helpful for them to have some level of familiarity (or be able to reference the sheet) when overhearing parent conversations using these terms.
Business Inclusion and the Law and Recreation and the Law – These two documents provide concise explanations of accessibility and The Americans Disabilities Act (ADA). Occasionally (and candidly) I am contacted by a church with questions pertaining to the law.
And finally…the Old Testament Bible character puppets. I have shown these simple hand puppets in some of my workshops on The Orange Tour recently. If you are in children’s ministry and don’t have much experience working among kids with special needs you may be rolling your eyes about now. The subject of puppets is of much debate these days in current children’s ministry circles. Yep, I get it. Puppets aren’t exactly hip and trendy. But…puppets are a fantastic tool for kids who need visual aids and movement in order to connect with a story. If you have any type of three-dimensional visual aid to use as part of a Bible lesson you are more likely to engage participants with learning differences. And it is even better when you find a way for participants to utilize the prop themselves. For tailored special needs classes you might consider buying enough sets so that each student is flexing their own puppet when the character speaks during the Bible story.
So why only Old Testament characters? Here’s the back story: I discovered these puppets at a secular autism conference this past fall. It just so happened that the original creator and seamstress was selling these and other secular safety-themed puppets at a vendor booth. This delightful lady is Jewish and as you might guess, she created these hand puppets for her own faith community. But I thought they were fantastic and would apply well in Christian church environments. You might notice some of the characters have a yamaka or kippah on their head. And not surprising, no New Testament characters are available. The set of 7 puppets includes: Noah, Moses, Joseph, David, Goliath, Daniel, and Pharaoh. My sales lady/original seamstress seemed to think the distributor would entertain expanding the line to NT characters with enough interest: Dexter Educational Toys, Inc.
~ Amy Fenton Lee