The Wise and Foolish Builders Story Illustration

We used this Illustration to tell the story of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-27) at Cafe Church- a new intergenerational service that we’ve started since restrictions eased a little bit. One of the Cafe church team came up with the idea and set up the following display. I was a bit dubious to begin with because I couldn’t see how it was going to work- but I didn’t know the hidden secret!

Both structures look exactly the same. We read the story from a simple translation of the bible and, when we got to the part about the wind blowing, the team member waved a hairdryer at the structure on the right hand side. The ‘wind’ blew the cups down. When we got to the structure on the left hand side, however, the structure didn’t budge at all. I couldn’t figure out why not, because nothing was stuck down. It was only when I lifted one of the cups up and looked inside that I saw the answer…

Each cup in the second structure was half filled with craft concrete. This gave the cups a really sturdy weight that was immovable in the path of the hairdryer and gave a nod to building a structure on ‘rock.’

You will need: 20 paper cups, craft concrete, hairdryer

Make up the craft concrete according to package directions and half fill 10 of the paper cups. Wait for the concrete to dry. Stack the empty cups in one pyramid and the concrete filled cups in another pyramid and use your hairdryer to help tell the story!

Manna in the Wilderness

In Exodus 16, God first gives the Israelites manna as food in the wilderness. It’s describes as being like ‘flakes.’ These crackers aren’t like flakes exactly, but making them will help children to imagine themselves into the story.

You will need: 100g plain flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil, 3 tablespoons of water, a rolling pin, a mixing bowl, a fork, a baking tray, greaseproof paper, a knife or pizza cutter, an oven, honey

Preheat the oven to 180˚C and grease a baking tray or line it with greaseproof paper. Mix the dry ingredients together in the bowl and then add the oil and water. Mix together with a fork or your hands until a dough is formed. Roll the dough out thinly and place it on the baking tray. Prick the dough all over with a fork and then cut it into squares with a knife or pizza cutter. Put the baking tray into the oven and bake for 15-20 mins until the crackers are starting to turn light brown.

When the crackers have cooled, share them out and try them. Children might want to spread a little bit of honey on them, as we are told that the manna tasted like ‘wafers made with honey’ (Exodus 16:31). As you eat, talk about the story of God giving manna in the wilderness.

Talk about:

  • How would you have felt to see the manna on the ground for the first time?
  • Why do you think God gave the rule about only gathering what was needed?
  • What would you think of having this every day for many years?
  • What foods do you eat every day?

Pray:

Thank God for the foods you enjoy. Ask him to show us how to help those who don’t have enough to eat.

Creation Celebration Suncatchers

As summer really starts warming up and the school holidays approach, it’s a great time to get outside and celebrate the beauty of God’s creation. At a recent community holiday club, the children loved making these suncatchers to hang in their windows- each one of them was unique and colourful.

You will need: paper plates, scissors, sticky back plastic, leaves and flowers (we were lucky enough to get some from a volunteer’s garden!)

Cut a hole in the centre of each plate and cut two sheets of sticky back plastic per plate, each one big enough to completely cover the hole you have cut.

Lay one of the plastic sheets, sticky side up, on the table and put the plate over the top of it so that the sticky part is showing through the hole.

Arrange leaves and petals on the sticky part until you are happy withe your design. Then put the second sheet of sticky back plastic over the top of the design, trapping the leaves and petals in between.

Hang the suncatchers in the window and let the sun shine through!

Read the creation story in Genesis 1. Talk about:

  • What is your favourite part of the creation story?
  • What do you think God meant when he said ‘it was good’?
  • What questions does the story make you want to ask?
  • How do you see the story in what you have made today?

‘God so loved the world’ suncatcher

You will need: PVA glue, a clear plastic lid (e.g. a large yoghurt pot lid), green and blue food colouring, cocktail sticks

Pour PVA glue into the lid and spread it out with a spoon until the whole lid is covered in a thin layer.

Drop some little blobs of food colouring into the glue and use a cocktail stick to swirl and spread them around. Try to make a distinction between land (green) and sea (blue).

Leave to dry.

When the glue is fully dry, attach the suncatcher to your window with a little bit of blue tack and let the sun shine through.

As the sun shines through, think about God’s love for us and for our world. What makes you feel loved? Who do you know who needs help to feel loved by God right now? How can we help to show God’s love to the world?

Dear God, thank you for loving us and wanting good things for us. We pray for people all over the world who are feeling unloved, guilty, sad and afraid. Help them to know your love and to know the love and hope Jesus brings. Amen

Exploring The Parable of the Sower

As we come further into spring, it’s a great time to tell the parable of the sower and to think about how we grow as disciples.

Here are some helpful resources to help you to do this:

Use the Parable of the Sower Playdough Mat (above). Click here to print off and use. For repeated use, it really helps to laminate the sheet!

Think about how seeds might grow on different types of ground by testing it out! Make ‘seed balls’ and then throw them into your garden and watch what happens as nature takes its course. This is a great set of instructions to help you to get started. Be aware that it might get messy!

Go into the garden and look at where plants are growing and where they aren’t. What do you notice?

Watch this video of the story, using photos taken in Israel of the 4 different types of land.

Use junk to make a model of something that really sticks out to you from the story. Share what you have made and why.

Talk about:

  • What helps plants to grow?
  • What helps people to grow?
  • What helps us to grow in knowing more about Jesus?

Pray:

Eat some fruit and ask God to help us grow in knowing about and loving Jesus and in loving each other.

Mothering Sunday Button Thank You Prayers

Next Sunday is the day when we celebrate Mothering Sunday. It was traditionally a day in the middle of Lent when people who worked were able to have time off to visit their mothers and their ‘mother’ church, where they might have been baptised. One of the most popular readings to use on this day is John 19: 25- 27, when Jesus creates a new community of support for his grieving mother when he connects her with the disciple John, who takes her into his home as his mother. Just as John becomes a support for Mary and vice versa, in life it’s not necessarily just our mothers who give us ‘motherly’ or parental care. There are so many people, especially in church families, who form a community around us to help support us and give us strength. To help celebrate and give thanks for mothers and other caring figures in our lives, here are some prayers using an item you can easily find at home. Find a button and hold on to it when you pray.

Buttons hold things together

Who do you look to to help you when things are busy and stressful? Who can help you to figure out what to do when you are confused about how to keep going? Who helps when it feels as if your world is falling apart? Think of them and say thank you to God for them.

Buttons are strong

Think about the times when you have felt sad, upset or afraid. Who has helped you to be strong. Who is the strongest person you know? Thank God for those people.

Buttons come in different shapes and sizes

Those who care for us and keep us safe might be mothers, but they also might be other people in our lives. Try and count in your head how many different people have helped you during the past week. Thank God for each one of them.

When buttons are missing we notice and things don’t hold together as well as they did before

Some of the caring figures in our lives may have died and we miss the fact that they are no longer here. Take a moment to remember them and the love they shared with you. Thank God for them.