Developmentally, younger kids LOVE stories. They learn from a story far more than a stand alone message from an unattached scripture passage out of the pericopes. Try doing that with Bible stories for a Children's Message. You can still use whatever theme you're working with that day but instead of an object lesson, which is often lost on young kids, try an ECHO STORY (you can use a children's Bible or any storybook). Tell the story but have specific places within the story where the kids will repeat a line or answer an echo question. Here's how it works.
- QUESTION ECHO - While you share the story, pause to ask simple questions. "One day a man named Jonah was told by God to go somewhere. WHO WAS THE MAN? (Jonah!) WHO TOLD HIM TO GO? (God!) You don't need to ask a question after every single point but you do want to make sure the kids repeat the important parts of the story as that's what they'll remember most.
- PAUSE TO REPEAT ECHO - While you share the story, pause in specific places to have the kids repeat that line. "Zacchaeus was a short, rich man and nobody liked him. He took money from people to give to the government so nobody liked Zacchaeus. NOBODY LIKED ZACCHAEUS. He wanted to see Jesus. Hmmm, what should Zacchaeus do? He looked around and climbed up a tree to see Jesus. HE CLIMBED UP A TREE TO SEE JESUS." You get the idea... You'll want to make sure these are pretty short and that the lines are kept short enough that the kids can remember them. You also want to remember that you're telling the story to get a point across so you need to make sure you get your point across in the story and they should be repeating that.
- REPEAT THE PHRASE ECHO - Tell kids that every time you put your hand to your ear the kids echo a specific phrase or every time you say certain words they echo a specific phrase back to you. This one works great when trying to get kids to understand something that's complex. For example, if the basic message is JESUS LOVE EVERYONE and you tell a story about a bunch of mean, sad, ugly, unexpected types of people, every time you put your hand to your ear have the kids say JESUS LOVES EVERYONE!
Bible Suite Children's Bible
The Bible Story Guy
The Bible for Children
A Bible in many languages: Bible for Children, Inc.
Jesus and Kidz
Super Online Kids Bible
I'm sure there are many more...