As we enter into the season of Lent and prepare for Easter, here are some ideas to get children and families involved!
Its often really useful to have a prayer activity to send home with children so that they can spend time during the week connecting with God. This is an easy activity to put together and send out and works really well if prayed with someone else, taking it in turns to toss the coin. It might help to practice the activity with the children before they take it home, so that they can get right on with praying!
You will need: Enough real or plastic coins for each child, a print out of the prayer activity for each child (click here to print out a sheet with the activity x6 per page).
If you are stuck for ideas this Christmas, here are a few from around the internet…
Carol service ideas and talks
Carol service quiet bags: activities to keep younger children engaged during the service
Talk (using different sweets) for a family carol service
M and Ms talk for a family carol service
No rehearsal Nativity for younger children (songs to nursery rhyme tunes)
Crafts and activities
The story of God directing Samuel to choose David as king is a great one to use when you are helping children to explore the idea of not judging by appearance. On the surface, David looked to be just a boy, but God could see in him what others around him couldn’t. God wasn’t looking for someone tall or handsome, but he was looking at the heart- what was on the inside. David’s brothers seemed to be better choices, but God told Samuel to pass them by and choose David.
This craft is a good example of not judging by appearances, but knowing what is in the heart!
You will need: (for 8) 100g plain flour, 50g butter, 20g sugar, pinch of salt, 8 small squares of chocolate (I used Celebrations chocolates cut in half), baking tray, oven, mixing bowl, wooden spoon or electric mixer.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then mix in the flour and salt until a dough is formed. Split the dough into 8 pieces and flatten each piece out. Put a piece of chocolate in the centre of each piece of dough and then close the dough around the chocolate until it is completely covered. Make sure there are no gaps or melted chocolate will seep out and spoil the surprise! Put on a greased baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool. Bite the biscuits open to reveal the hidden chocolate.
What was it like to find the chocolate in the centre? Would you have known it was there if you hadn’t baked them? (It would be a great idea to make a batch beforehand to share with the children so they could make the discovery themselves before baking them!)
Can you always tell what someone will be like just by looking?
What amazing things do you know about other people that you wouldn’t know just by looking?
Thank God for the gifts and characteristics he has given us that people can’t see on the surface. Ask God to help us to see the hearts and not just the appearance of people we meet.
Play dough is a well beloved, cheap and easily accessible material and can probably be found in most church children’s areas. There’s so much that can be done with it: praying, playing and responding to stories and teaching. Here are some ideas to get you started…
Praying with Playdough:
- Use play dough to make the shape of something you want to thank God for.
- Play dough intercessions
Responding to stories:
- Play dough faces
- Play Dough Mats
- Play dough mark making– roll the playdough out flat and use a variety of mark making items- lolly sticks, lego blocks, buttons, bottle tops, plastic knives, to make pictures of the story you have just heard. Children might want to make a picture of a key event or a key character, or write some words that relate to the story. Leave some time at the end of the activity so that they can share what they have done!
- Play dough models: provide a collection of collage and construction items such lolly sticks, pipe cleaners, buttons, feathers, card and ask children to use play dough along with these items to make models of a character or event from the story. Again. leave time to share!
Play dough recipes:
Lighting candles is a popular way of signalling a prayer and can be a very moving experience. This craft is an easy way to let children make their own candles and to think about situations they’d like to pray for. The activity also lends itself really well to any activities you might be doing that are light related.
You will need: Beeswax sheets, scissors, candle wick (this will usually be supplied with the beeswax sheets), sharpies or permanent markers
Cut the beeswax sheets into strips. I used strips roughly 30cm x 5 cm. Cut wicks about 7 cm long.
With the marker pens, write names of people or situations you want to pray for on the strip.
Place a wick at one end of the strip and roll the strip up like a scroll. The wick should be right in the middle now. Gently press the end of the strip against the body of the scroll so that it stays put.
Light the candle and pray for the situations and people you have written on the inside. The honey like smell of the beeswax will come through as an extra sign of lifting up prayers to God!