Storytelling with playdough mats

Playdough mats are incredibly helpful as ways of consolidating stories and exploring their themes.  The idea is very easy: print out the mat, laminate it (so that the play dough will come off easily and so you can use the mat over and over again) and then get busy!  Here are some example play dough mats to print off and use but why not get creative and make your own or get children to make some to help others to learn about the story…

Jesus on the beach (John 21)

Jesus calms the storm

Creation Story

Pentecost

Worship Game

Sometimes it can be hard for children to understand the difference between prayer and worship.  It’s helpful to explain worship as being about telling God how great He is and celebrating the wonderful things He has done for us.

Here is a little game I’ve made to try and get the children to practice thinking about who God is and why He’s amazing!

Play the game in pairs.  Each person uses different colour counters.  Choose a square and when you have completed the little task, you can put your counter there.  The first person to get 3 counters in a row is the winner!

For a printable version click here.

Praise Biscuits

You will need: Biscuits (at least one per child), icing sugar, water, food colouring, eye-droppers (unused!!), knives for spreading, cocktail sticks, heart shaped sprinkles or hearts cut out of fondant.

Read Psalm 148 together or talk about the great things about who God is.  What do you want to celebrate about Him?  What is praise?  How can we praise God?  What does worship feel like?  How would you express praise in colour? Set out your equipment and get ready!

Make up a  bowl of thick white icing with the icing sugar and some water.  Then make up some individual bowls of different coloured icing, slightly more runny in consistency than the white icing.

Spread a biscuit with white icing and then use the droppers to drop dots of coloured icing on top.

Use a cocktail stick to make swirls in the icing, expressing the colourful, imaginative, amazing nature of God- let the children do this as the mood takes them!

Add a heart to the top of the swirls as a reminder of God’s love for us and our love for God.

Finally, eat the biscuits and thank God again for how Good he is!

Pipe Cleaner Worship

With thanks to Tanya Lord for these ideas.

Speak to the children about what worship is e.g. telling God how great he is and thanking him for all of the wonderful things he has done for us.

Get the children to think of words to describe God and put them into a big poster…

Then ask them to use a pipe-cleaner to make shapes representing an aspect of who God is, how we respond to God in worship or what they would like to say to Him.  Expect some fascinating responses!

Here are some examples of what one particular group of children came up with…

People praising God, praying or (in the case of the yellow person) holding a hand in the air “to say ‘yes’ because Jesus is so awesome!”
Various hearts to reflect God’s love of us and our love for God.
A dove to symbolise God’s purity.  This child then said that half of the shape was yellow because God was ‘golden’.

A variety of musical notes from children who found beauty in the music a reflection of God.

Two examples from a 5 year old: a person dancing and a snail because even snails worship God (we had just been learning the verse from psalm 150 ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’!)

Enjoy exploring!

Toddler Group Crafts

The key to great crafts at a toddler group is to find something easy and open-ended.  That way there is less work for the leaders and more fun and exploration for the children.  Just a warning- easy can also sometimes be messy so make sure you have a collection of aprons or old shirts to hand!

Here are some tried and tested toddler group crafts…

Painting with nature

Playing with oobleck (a mixture of water and cornflour)

Playing with shaving foam on a tray

Plastic bag rainbow painting

Rolling egg paintings

Click here to go to a Pinterest board full of more ideas!

Lunchtime Club Prayer Box

Here is a selection of tried and tested ideas that can be taken into school and used as a prayer session, perhaps as part of a lunchtime club.  Everything fits in a big box and makes prayer a very active and involving activity for the children.  Exploring prayer with children is always an amazing experience, so be prepared to be bowled over!

‘What would you like to say to God?’ graffiti board (all you need is wallpaper lining and pens!)

Reflective prayers to colour in (very popular!)

Laminated maps (find a place you want to pray for, ask God to bless that place and stick a sticky dot there to show you’ve prayed for it)

Laminated people shapes- write prayers for people on the sheets with dry wipe pens

Prayer cubes

Prayer chatterboxes– the most popular!

When we tried this at a lunctime club, we managed to have some great conversations with children and some of them opened up in a way they never had before.  They were eager to make their own chatterboxes, choosing what to pray for under each flap. One of the girls who was praying with the maps stuck a spot on the Antarctic because she was concerned about global warming!

If you use some of these ideas, please let us know how it goes!