The Diorama or "Story Table" Workshop

Editor Note:

This topic is discussing a kind of workshop teaching technique that uses tabletop Bible drama kits with action figures to help kids visualize, retell, and discuss the story by recreating and re-enacting it on a small scale.  It's a great story-learning activity especially in the Rotation Model where you don't have to come up with a new "table" each week because we rotate the kids, instead of changing the story each week.

The Story Table or "Diorama" Workshop borrows from other workshop techniques, such as, storytelling, puppets, drama, and "construction." It also borrows from time-honored story-visualization techniques, such as, felt Bible stories and Godly Play storytelling. It takes advantage of the availability of a wide-array of Bible toy and action figure kits.

However, this workshop takes these story construction concepts to another level and scale. They create a more tactile and interactive story telling experience that occupies more of the student's attention and class time. By scaling up the size and number of movable props in the story, the technique also creates more points of contact for students, and moves away from the "sit and watch the teacher tell the story" techniques of the past.

A technique that's easier to do in the Rotation Model
In a traditional Sunday School class, it would be hard to come up with a new table setting and props for a new story each week. And it would start to get "old" for the students. But in the Rotation Model, set-up and exposure is easier because we re-use the Story Table each week for the same story with a different group. 

Story Table scenes and props can be more elaborate, in part, because Rotation workshops don't believe in skimping, and also because the regular use of this workshop allows us to accumulate and reuse resources. When you're going to use the same scenery and props each week with a different group, it's easier to justify the expense and preparation. The more elaborate technique also stretches the age-range upward for this technique (in the past, such story techniques were reserved for younger children). The drama props come from a variety of sources, some purchased, some re-purposed, and some homemade.

This workshop topic will continue to be expanded here at Rotation.org, and we invite you to post your questions, suggestions, resources, and ideas below.


Our "Soul Station" Story-Diorama Workshop

By Rotation.org Member ZBCC

We have a new workshop in our rotation called "Soul Station". The technique of this station is that students re-enacting Bible stories through the use of dioramas --small tabletop sets and action figures.

Bible characters 4The room is stocked with Bible action figures (some made out of dressed up Barbies/GI/Lego/Playmobil and other re-purposed toys), props, backgrounds, blocks, paper, craft supplies, etc.

Preschool students hear the teacher tell as story through pre-prepared diorama objects, early elementary are assigned characters/props to find and then assist with moving the figures throughout the story and middle/upper elementary read the story at the beginning of class and then create a diorama all on their own.

I have attached some pdf resources that we developed for our first lesson for you to see how we are doing this.

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Cool idea ZBCC!

Additional Idea:
Brick Bible closeupUse a "pen" camera that can take close-up video/snapshots from 'within' the diorama/construct so it looks like you are standing in it.  ...Like they do in the BRICK BIBLE online. http://thebrickbible.com/ (This type of camera is not expensive and can take 'macro' photos really easy).

The camera can be connected to a monitor/computer as well, allowing students to "see" from the point of view of the characters --which creates a fun and memorable visual.  For example: In the Prodigal Son story, as you discuss the story's finer points, you can "illustrate" those points by having a student point the camera at the father's face and scan the horizon for the return of his son or show the older son's face close up. It adds a memorable wow factor, fun, and more hands-on, especially for older kids.

Update: Luanne Payne's "Story Table" posts below describe incorporating snapshots and video into the Story Table concept.

God’s Story Table

 by Luanne Payne, Hampton U.C., Hampton, ON, Canada


God’s Story Table became a reality when I was donated a used table that was perfect for what I had in mind in 2009.  It is located in our “Tent Room”, previously used for Bible Skills and Games.  The room is approximately 11’x11', so you don't need a really large space for this idea to work.

Table with Playmat

 Goals

  • Reinforce: who the bible story characters are, event(s) that happened, and correct story sequence. 
  • Still a work in progress!

 
Guidelines

  • I gather all the props and set-up the main layout beforehand.  Reason – you will spend too much time setting up the scenes during class and not have enough time to take all your pictures and have discussion along the way.  So main scenes should already be set-up, kids will be moving and posing characters and small props, background scenes, etc.
  • Children take turns, being: director, scene designer, camera operator, lighting, etc. for each scene.
  • Tri-pod and a movie clapper will add a movie set feel.
  • I take the digital pictures, taken by the children, and put them into movie maker, adding text and then copy to DVDs for all the kids.  (See post further down on using Kid Pix 4 or PowerPoint, instead of Movie Maker).
  • If I had older kids, I currently have age 10 and under, I would have them input the pictures into Kid’s Pix and put together a slide show in the computer workshop.
  • Next time I hope to record the kids telling the story and adding sound effects to incorporate into the slide show or movie.

 
Story Table

Use any table. For details of my table see below.

  • 3¼ feet Wide; 5¼ feet Long; 21” High.
  • Drawers - shallow, but deep, pull out drawer on each end.
  • Table still high enough to easily store larger props and containers of smaller props underneath.

I placed stools around outside of room for use in discussion later that we can pull forward, but the students will be need to move freely around the table when creating and photographing their bible story scenes.

Story Scene Mats

I wanted to leave the original table top bare for playing board games, so then came up with the idea to create Story Scene Mats the size of the table top that could be removed or exchanged for a different story scene. 

My first Story Scene Mat I drew free hand, painted it, then had it laminated (had to cut in half lengthwise in order to fit through the laminate machine at a local educational store), once laminated I taped the pieces together using clear packing tape.

I wanted to be able to use the mat to cover several bible stories, so I incorporated:  a stream (river), a small lake (sea) with a beach, roads for traveling, grass for fields, and desert sands (Egypt).  Pictured below.

Story Table General Scene Mat x

Down the road I would like to create additional Story Scene Mats, such as: 

  • Paul’s Journeys map(s)
  • a sea with coastlines for those stories that take place on the water
  • in 2017 I created - Jesus' Last Week Story Scene Mat, pictured below.

Story Table Easter Mat x

Video made with scenes created and photographed by students

I've uploaded our first movie on "David: Shepherd/Musician/Anointing/Goliath" to "YouTube" so you can see a sample of the possibilities!   Our background music is a song, I found on-line, that suited our story perfectly.  It was written and sung by "David Delgado" (used with permission) and a heartfelt thank you for allowing us to use it!

Additional Information

Attached is a pdf file including the above information, as well as:

  • Props & Supplies Suggestions.
    Note:  I have been collecting props since 2008 for our Story Table so not everything may still be available that I am using.
  • Sample photo's taken of stories we've done so far: 
     - David (shepherd, anointing, musician, giant slayer);
     - Jesus Lost in Jerusalem;
     - Story of Joseph (our most recent January 2013).
  • Sample: Scene Set-Up Chart for "Joseph Lost in Jerusalem".
  • Sample: Movie Set Crew Responsibility Chart.

If you have any questions on any aspect of God's Story Table please do not hesitate to contact me or post a question in the help lounge forum here on the site.

Luanne

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We used the action figure diorama workshop for the first time this last month using the story of the Last Supper. Kids had a great time and did a really good job. See the photos we took at this post (lesson included).  Full lesson set of workshops are here

 

Here are a couple of pictures.

 

scene 3scene 7

Jesus blesses the bread.       

Setting up the Upper Room

 

 

scene 9

An extra time photo:  the Garden of Gethsemane

 

To view enlarged photos, click on one of the photos "attached" below.

 

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TIPS/IDEAS ON CREATING MOVIES OR SLIDESHOWS OF YOUR DIORAMAS


Using Background Music

 

I'd just like to comment that I believe it will make an even better movie - if your kids create the voices and add sound effects, rather than background music - see below notes for Kid Pix 4

 

Remember all reading this that if you haven't received permission to use someone else's music, you can't use it!

 

Other ideas for background music:

  • ask your organist or worship band to write & record for you simple background music.  Now I'm not musically inclined, but thinking if they could write a few simple bars that could be repeated over and over quietly in the background would work great as well.
  • Music is not necessary - do audio recordings of the kids with sound effects, this is way better than music background and the kids love doing it (see below*).

 

Putting your pictures into a Slide Show or Movie

 

Slide Show and/or Quick Time Movie

 

  1. * Kid Pix 4 Sunday Software  (#1 BEST CHOICE!! recommended by Luanne)

    Cons - not really any.  You can't add a soundtrack in KP, just individual recordings per
              slide. But, after exporting as a QT movie, you could add soundtrack either in
              QT Pro or any decent movie editing program.

    Pros - you likely already have this in your computer lab, if not, you should!

           - it's the easiest thing I learned how to operate.
     
           - kid's love using the program!

           - You can import your digital photos, add texts, add backgrounds, paint on the pics,
              record narration for each slide right in the KP program, and even add slide
              transitions.

           - anything kids type, it speaks out loud.

           - you can record their voices and add, just need a microphone (mine is a cheap,
              little plastic one and it works great).

           - has 100 sound effects to choose from.
             
           - you can play it in church during children's time if you have a projector.

           - parents can visit computer lab to see slide show.

           - you can export it as a Quick Time Movie, then save it to CDs, so the kids can
             play it at home.  You need to be in Slide Show, select slideshow, File, Export.

             Great year end gift!


  2. PowerPoint


    Cons - it's also time consuming if you don't know what you're doing.  In the last three years I've had to do 3 PowerPoints for family funerals and learned a lot, but found it VERY time consuming.

    Pros - you can save it to CD so kid's can play their project at home on their computer or save to the correct format and you can play in a picture frame or to DVD.

 

Movie


  1. Movie Maker

 

Cons - if you're not familiar with the program, it will take you forever, as you have to learn as you go, and constant trial and error, I know, I did it that way.

 

Pros - once your done all the work (which will take forever), you've test played it and it's good to go, you can then publish the movie so it will play in a DVD player.  When inserted into the DVD player it will wait for you to press play, it also automatically gives you three scenes you can go to, but it chooses them, you can't.



Sound Room Idea for Kid's Audio Recordings

 

What I'd like to do with the Joseph pictures we took is to set-up a temporary Sound Room - computer lab will work, but remember you can only have one person at a time recording for you will pick up other sounds around you, so I suggest a room away from the noise or do after church. 

 

  • Put a colourful sign over the door saying "Sound Room" and another sign on the door that says "RECORDING IN SESSION - QUIET PLEASE!"  Use that removable 4M Velcro so they can be easily put up and take down.
  • Do up a chart of characters in the movie and sound effects, so you can evenly distribute parts out to the kids.
  • Script - either create it yourself - or have the kids help you with it.
    Note:  you only have so much time allow to record - so you have to keep it simple - to only 1 or 2 lines per page if you're recording the kids voices.  One recording allowed per page.
  • Just use "Text Bubbles" written by the children on paper and posted in your scene, like Jaymie did above, in some of her pictures!

Luanne

Thank you to everyone for adding to this post. Luanne I am very excited to use some of your ideas to expand on our diorama workshop.  I think it would be great to pair our diorama workshop with our computer lab lesson on occasion to allow children the opportunity to create their own videos and put to use all the dioramas they have been creating.  Can't wait to use all the new ideas.  Your pdf file is very helpful also.  THANK YOU!

WOW! Diorama BIBLE buildings, figures, and props out of paper!  Download, print, cut, and fold.

Thanks to this neat site called "My Little House" by Didier Martin.

Information on Didier taken directly from his site.

My name is Didier, I am French, born in Paris. I lived in France for most of my life, then abroad, mostly in Latin America.

I am a children’s book and comic illustrator, and paper engineer (I create paper models and different paper crafts). I also create activity pages and occasionally board games, as well as write short stories.

As a Christian, I feel it is my calling to reach out to children, and so the reason for this blog is to share with them and all of you the different projects I work on.

Many of the projects I post on this blog are for free for you to download and use and share with others. I simply ask that don’t use these articles for commercial purpose, and that you keep my credits and copyright with the articles and projects.

 I've created links to his site directly to the bible diorama projects he's created.  If you use them please remember his credits and copyright notice as noted above.

He also has a DONATION button on his website - if you use his material I promote donating to help him in this amazing calling.  Just imagine the endless hours he spent creating these then providing them on his blog/site for free.  Help him continue this amazing ministry!  (Note:  I do not know the author or have any connection to him or his website - simply awestruck by his bible artwork!)

Diorama Links to his site:

Link to "Bible Town" http://www.mylittlehouse.org/bible-town.html

Link to Easter "Empty Tomb" Story http://www.mylittlehouse.org/the-easter-story1.html

Link to "Nativity" Story  http://www.mylittlehouse.org/the-nativity-story.html

NEW - Link to "Moses" Story  http://www.mylittlehouse.org/the-nativity-story.html

Luanne

 Bible town 1

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God's Storytable Props

More photos and links to some of our Story Table props, backgrounds and lessons.

Note: We often PHOTOGRAPH our story scenes and create story slideshows with the photos in our computer lab later using Kids Pix Deluxe. That's where many of these photos came from.

12 Year Old Jesus heading to Jerusalem for Passover

Toys do not have a long shelf life I've found, so if you see something you need to purchase it then, not wait until the story rolls around again in your rotation.

Some of the props I've collected since 2006 are shown in the photos below.  I've included links for the same props or something similar if it's been discontinued.

Story Table

  • Ground Playmat - I drew this, painted it, and had it laminated.  It's attached to the table top with Velcro pieces.  Because it's laminated the room's ceiling light sometimes causes a glare when taken in pictures, so I have a large piece of cardboard the children who are part of the "Background Set Designers" will hold above the table to block some of the above light.  Helps give everyone jobs and we all switch places for each new scene.
  • Castle - Melissa & Doug's Folding Wooden Castle.   Can be used for so many stories!  It opens up and the outside can be used to create a long city wall or the other side inside a city - features a jail cell inside that has a door that slides open and shut (for prison scenes).
  • Castle Furniture - "Melissa & Doug Castle Furniture".
  • Bible Time House - Playmobil's 4246 Egyptian Tomb Treasure.  Another great buy as the roof lifts off (great for the story of the man let down through the roof).  This is a discontinued item so I don't know how long you'll be able to find it.
  • Toy Sheep
  • Lego Palm Trees (I still have the Lego from when my kids where small - they are adults now.  In that bucket I've found all sorts of useful items - like wine globlets, water pitchers, etc.)

 

Gods Storytable Props 1

 

Gods Storytable Props 2

  • The other drawer holds trees, animals (sheep, lions, horses, camels, donkeys, hippos, alligators, camp fire, Egyptian idols,  and other miscellaneous items.)

  • A good site to find miscellaneous tiny4284291_t Playmobil items that you can buy individually is14563373_t Ron's Rescued Treasures, such as:  globlets, vase, loaves, money sack with hand grip, water pitcher, fish, etc..  You just need to check to see if it's in stock and if not check back later.  The best way to search is type Playmobil and item name (example: loaves) then find the one that suits you and check to see if he has it in stock.  He's Canadian, but does ship to the United States.

 

 Gods Storytable Props 3

 


David & Goliath

David Saul 4

Props you can use to recreate a similar scene: 

 

 


Jesus as a Child traveling to Jerusalem for Passover

Jesus Child 07 Camping on Route to Jerusalem

  • night background - black felt with felt stars and moon.
  • the other blue rounded background piece use to come with the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Sets, but they discontinued that part.
  • Palm Trees come with each of the Fisher Price - Little People Sets.

 

Jesus Child 025 in Jerusalem Overhead Shot

  • Melissa & Doug's Folding Wooden Castle - shown opened to create the city of Jerusalem.
  • Bethlehem Inn - as noted above discontinued and big $$$$ on ebay.
  • Market Stalls - something I picked up at Dollarama years ago.
  • Temple - this was in a book that's no longer available, but another idea would be Solomon's Temple Model by Tim Dowley (Candle Books).
  • The mini-scrolls were from the Heroe's of Faith Series (discontinued).  The characters were too small for the story table, but the scrolls were neat.
  • The small wooden furniture for the tabernacle was from a Mormon website no longer around.




The Tabernacle

The idea was to have something the kids could take apart and then put back together, like a puzzle. 

DSC01195DSC01196

  • base - sheet of polystyrene (maybe 3/4" thick).
  • assorted wooden blocks - I painted gold.
  • Most of the pillars I simple had pressed into the polystyrene to make a bit of a permanent dent (none where glued down) for when they went to put it back together they simply sat the poles into the dents.
  • I made small folded cards for each part (not pictured). 
  • furniture I purchased on-line (website no longer there).
  • different felt pieces used for roof coverings
  • the Holy of Hollies does have wood pieces glued to the polystyrene on each side of the those blocks, so block could be inserted then removed, I put eye hole screws on some of the side blocks and thread very thin dowel rods through them.
  • Everything was removable except for the thing grey strips of wood seen in bottom picture.

 


Fall of Jericho

Fall of Jericho


Joseph's Story

01 Joseph02 Joseph03 Joseph04 Joseph05 Joseph06 Joseph07 Joseph08 Joseph09 Joseph10 Joseph11 Joseph

 

Perfect - Dove Cage

http://www.playmobil.us/evil-e...-with-quad/6939.html

Playmobil Set "Evil Explorer with Quad" Item #: 6939 - $14.99.   Releasing in May or June of this year so unfortunately, it won't be available for this Easter.

  • cage box: perfect cage to hold dove(s) - Jesus and the Money Chargers in the temple, Jesus boy in the temple
  • snake - Adam & Eve
  • bone -  Ezekiel dry bones
  • two cheetah cubs - Noah, Creation
  • hollow tree log - outdoor accessory

I like Playmobil because it works well with a doll house in my home basement, so any time I see a smaller set with hard to find items that will work with my God's Story Table I purchase it for myself. Pulling any items I can use to help tell bible stories at church, the rest gets added to the doll house making our grandchildren very happy.

 

Doves - you can buy a pkg of 3/4" plastic white doves at Michaels,Plastic doves
found in the wedding decorating section.

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Bullrushes (Baby Moses)

Fishing Net & Fish (Miraculous Catch of Fish / Calling the Disciples / Breakfast with Jesus).


Playmobil Set "Inflatable Boat with Explorers" Item # 5559


 Playmobil Set "Young Explorer with Otters" Item # 5376
(Much less expensive - this set doesn't have the fishing net, but gives you a fish and a nice sized bullrush.)5376_product_box_back

 

Note:  Playmobil Sets have limited runs, you never know how long a particular set will be available before it is retired!  So I buy them when i see them, not waiting until that story comes up in my 6-year scope and sequence.

If looking for a retired piece of a set try Ron's Rescued Treasures website and look under Playmobil.  He sells by the piece, not the whole set, so for example your just looking for a "bread loaves" or a "water pitcher" this is the place to go! http://ronsrescuedtreasures.co...43846.aspx?sid=19392

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Women Figures

When you need more women in a scene, like Mary & Martha or the Empty Tomb:

  • Tales of Glory figures (3" in height) they only have Mary (there was a Delilah/Samson set, but it's discontinued.)
  • Playmobil women (which are 2 3/4" in height) are great and the bonus is their arms and legs move and they can hold items.  you can find some dressed in gowns or dresses, so they only bend at the waist.
  • Another option are Finger Puppet sets from Oriental Trading that contain woman.  They are 2" in height. 
    The "Nativity" Set I(24 total in set - 4 each of Mary, Joseph, 3 Wise Men, Baby Jesus).
    and "He Lives!" Easter set (24 total in set = 2 x Jesus, 8 x Roman soldiers, 4 x angels, 2 x women in blue, 2 x men in purple, 2 x women in purple, 2 x women in pink, 2 x men in orange.

Though created as "finger puppets," these toys could be adapted/attached to bases to make them movable "figurines" in a table top drama.

Women Props for Story Table6843_product_box_front

New 2017: Playmobil's "Princess and the Handmaiden Duo Pack".  It also includes two doves and a bowl with a handle.

The handmaiden is great for stories like: Mary & Martha, Widow's mite, Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath.

The princess can be turned into a commoner by removing the dress skirt. I just used a sharp knife to gently pry apartDSC03458 the skirt, then popped off her green arm bands and crown. 

The apron is interchangeable between the two figures.

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Oriental Trading Is a good place to poke around to find small figures that can be used on story tables. Here are sets for Easter and Palm Sunday, and figures can be repurposed for telling other stories too!

palmSundaySetresurrectionSet

WoodResurrection-set

And look, a mini flock of lambs (about 1" tall)! Cute, plus useful in many stories!!

MiniFlockLambs

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