Epiphany Star Biscuits

IMG_20171202_162008_033

Even though Christmas day is over, Christmas is not!

This is a great activity to do with children as you celebrate the wise men arriving in Bethlehem at Epiphany after following the star.  If you have access to an oven, you can bake the biscuits with the children during your session. Alternatively, bake the biscuits beforehand and let the children decorate them!

You will need: An oven, greaseproof paper, a baking tray, 200g butter, 250g plain flour, 75g cornflour, 100g icing sugar, a pinch of salt, star cookie cutters, icing and sprinkles to decorate

  1. Set the oven to 180C and preheat.
  2. Beat butter and icing sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Sift in flour, cornflour and salt and mix together to make a dough.
  4. Roll out dough to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut star shapes with the cookie cutter
  5. Put star shapes on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven for 15-20 mins
  6. Cool on a cooling tray and then decorate with icing and sprinkles!

Talk about:

What is it like to go on a long journey? How do you know where to go? What does it feel like to find something you have been looking for?What do you think the wise men felt and thought when they found Jesus?

Pray: Eat the biscuits and pray that this year we will all come to find out more about Jesus and how much he loves us.

Glow Stick Light Prayers

As we approach winter and nights are drawing in, here is a simple prayer activity to help children to think about praying for light in darkness.

You will need: A bag or dark coloured pillow case, glow sticks, small pieces of paper, pens

IMG_1828

Talk to the children about light and darkness and about how light always chases darkness away. Remind them about Jesus saying he is the light of the world so we can bring the dark, sad, challenging and difficult things of the world to him and ask him to help.

Get children to think of people and places that are going through hard times and write or draw them on pieces of paper. Put them into the dark bag/ pillowcase. Pray that Jesus will bring his light to these people and situations. Break some glow sticks and put them inside the bag with the prayers. Look into the bag to see how the glow sticks are lighting up the darkness. Give each child a glow stick to take away to remind them of Jesus’ ability to chase away the darkness.

Sticker Intercessions

IMG_3834

This is a simple but very colourful and visual way of bringing prayers to Jesus.

You will need:  A roll of wallpaper backing paper or a roll of foil, a marker or paint pen, a collection of coloured label and/or coloured dot stickers, felt tip pens.

Roll out your paper or foil to your desired length (it’s good to make it long enough for a group of children to get round at the same time!)

Write the word ‘Jesus’ in large letters across the sheet.

Talk to children about bringing prayers to Jesus and feeling confident that we can let go of them and leave them in his hands.

Think of who you want to pray for and either write initial letters or draw small pictures on the coloured label stickers. Stick the stickers anywhere on the letters of Jesus’ name as a sign of brining the prayers to him.

If children would like to pray for themselves, ask them to choose a coloured dot to represent themselves and to stick that on the letters of Jesus’ name too.

Church Family Group Art Work

IMG_3699

This is a great activity for the first session back after the summer as it helps children to think about who they are as a person, but also about the part they play in the much larger church family.  You could do this as an all age activity with everyone in church taking part, or you could do it in a junior church group.

You will Need: squares of paper with identical hearts drawn on them (10cmx10cm is good!), a larger piece of backing paper to stick the squares on when they are all complete, pens, crayons, paints, glue, scissors, tissue paper, glitter, sequins, feathers, fabric scraps, coloured paper.

Talk about how different we all are from each other- you might look at hair colour, eye colour, hobbies, likes and interests. God made us all individuals and we all have our own gifts and talents.  It might be useful to use some verse from Psalm 139 to talk about how we are made uniquely by God and He knows every part of us.

Then talk about how we are all part of the same family in the church and have been called to be disciples together. Even though we are all different, we all belong to the same family and have a part to play as disciples, loving God and loving each other.  How could we show that we love each other? How could we show that we love God?

Ask everyone to decorate a heart square according to their own personality. Use colours and textures to express something of themselves. When everyone has finished, stick all of the squares onto a backing paper to make a big church family banner.

Pray: Thank God for making us all unique but also part of an amazing family. Ask him to help us love ourselves, love each other and love Him even more.

Ideas for open ended story responses

Sometimes the most significant spiritual moments with children come when they have been given the freedom to explore the things they have heard in their own time and in their own way.  We often lose sight of the fact that children have incredible spiritual depth without (or maybe even in spite of!) adult intervention and we programme our time with them so that it is full of meaningful activity. Just think how stressful it can be to plan a whole Sunday session on very short notice!

We’ve experimented a lot at our church over the years and have found that giving children freedom to create their own responses to what they have been shown or told has two-fold benefits. Children are not contained by our expectations of what we want them to learn and, therefore, come up with fascinating insights or questions that we could never have predicted; and it is also less onerous for leaders in terms of preparation.

There are several options we offer children for the response time and, as they create or explore, we spend the time chatting to them about the story and what they think. Children will often take this time as an opportunity to retell the story in their own way, or to pick out something that was particularly significant to them.  We don’t do this every single week, but children are familiar now with using open ended responses and the results are fascinating and often quite humbling for leaders!

Here are the top ten activities we like to offer on a rotating basis (maybe 3 or 4 options each time).

  1. Playdough

IMG_36322. Fuzzy felt

IMG_3033

IMG_05173. Lego

IMG_0022

4. Building blocks

IMG_00955. ‘Loose parts’ box

IMG_0090

6. Junk modelling box (using e.g. recyclables)

IMG_02207. Pens and paper

8. Paint

9. Chalk boards and chalk (or chalk boards with paintbrushes and water)

10. Play people e.g. playmobil, lego, wooden

I’d love to hear from you if you give this a go or are already doing something similar!