We have a large under-5's population at St. George's, and I've been searching for ways to engage them, from art to games to singing to many other activities.
I've found, in general, the more PHYSICAL an activity is, the better they engage with it. Here are some of the things that have worked well:
1. "Pin the Animal on the Ark" game for the story of Noah - I printed out a painting of Noah and the Ark, laminated it, printed out several pictures of animals, laminated them, and stuck blue-tack on the back. Bring in a sleeping mask, blindfold the kids one by one, and have them stick their animal onto the painting. If they manage to get the animal anywhere on the ark, the animal is safe. If not, they can take it off and try again until they manage to save the animal.
2. Also for the story of Noah, "Two by Two" is a fun game for 4- and 5-year-olds. It's basically Concentration, with animal cards - you print out a series of pictures of animals (two of each), stick them on cards, and turn them face down on a table. Children turn over two, and if they match, those animals "go two by two onto the ark" - i.e., get put to the side on a picture of the ark. If not, the child turns the cards back over and tries again, continuing until all pairs are found.
3. "Moses in the River." Cake decorating shops often have little plastic cradles and little plastic babies, about 2 or 3 inches long. Glue the baby into the cradle and make a fishing rod out of a dowel, string, and a cuphook. Alternatively, you can stick a magnet on top of each cradle and a magnet to the end of the fishing rod. Fill a plastic tub with water and set your Moses dolls floating. Children take turns to "pull Moses out of the river."
4. Killing Monsters. This idea came from my mother, Christian educator Gretchen Wolff Pritchard. With a large picture of Goliath on the wall (you can easily draw it yourself - it doesn't need to be a great work of art) have children throw Silly Putty, or small pebbles, or, if you're outside, water balloons, at the picture of Goliath.
5. "The New Family." I used this for the Ruth story, as the central images of that story are family and wheat - symbolic of life and sustenance. The children brought in pictures of their family and I provided picture frames (which I made out of paper - if you have the time, the kids can make them out of craft sticks, or, if you're feeling energetic, you can make nice ones out of cardboard, stick magnets on the back, and have the kids paint them first). I also provided pasta, oatmeal, and rice, to go with the grain/wheat imagery of the story. At the bottom of the frame were the words "where you go, I will go - your people shall be my people, and your God my God." Children decorated the frames with the pasta, oatmeal and rice, and put in their pictures of their family. (Note: Ruth provides a good jumping-off point for a discussion about different kinds of families! "Ruth lived with her mother-in-law and her husband. Sarah in our class lives with her mummy and her grandmother. Billy in our class lives with his mommies. Joey in our class lives with his mummy and daddy and sister and dog." And so on.)
6. Crowning the Queen. For the story of Esther. One child is given a crown to wear and one to hold. That child is Ahasueras. When the music starts, the child begins walking around the outside of the circle. When the music stops, the child puts the crown on whoever they're standing behind, and that person is Esther. Everyone shouts "Long live the King and Queen!", then you pick another King and do it all over again. You COULD have "Esther" suddenly become "Ahasueras" and pick a new "Esther," a la Duck Duck Goose, but that might be a bit confusing.