Recently, I was teaching in my church's preschool/kindergarten class. I had seven children, ranging in age from just-turned-three to nearly six. This is a class I have been teaching regularly so the kids know me well and I have established authority. However, some weeks things just go a little sideways - this was one of those weeks.
I had seven little piles of crazy sitting around the table. They were talking all at once, playing with each other's hair, tipping back in their chairs, and trying to tell me stories about their pets and grandmas, all while I was trying to teach my lesson. After struggling for half the class to just get one person to stay with me enough to respond to a question, I came to the point in the lesson where I needed a visual.
As I pulled it out, the kids, one by one, started to take notice and ask about it. For that particular lesson, we were learning about how God has knit us together in our mother's wombs, so naturally, I brought my knitting. I told them what it was and then I began to knit. My class of seven rambunctious little ones fell absolutely silent. They were spellbound. You wouldn't think it would be all that exciting to watch someone knit, but they were mesmerized. I asked them a few questions while I was knitting, since I had their attention, and they finally started to get what I was trying to convey.
For whatever reason that combination of kids was just off the wall wiggly and distractable that day - it happens! But by adding in a tangible, active visual, I managed to grab the attention of all seven of them and keep it until I was done with my lesson. It doesn't have to be a big thing and it doesn't need to be every single week. But having some object lessons in your arsenal can be absolutely invaluable on those days where you encounter the crazy like I did. Little ones are bundles of energy but they are also bundles of potential. It's astounding how much they can absorb when it's delivered in a way they can take it in. Visuals are absolutely essential, especially when they are experiencing an unusually bad case of the wiggles.