As we enter into the season of Lent and prepare for Easter, here are some ideas to get children and families involved!
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!
We’ve been experimenting with an after school club for adults and children together and it’s been going very well!
Our structure is very simple so there is minimal preparation needed, but we have been really pleased at the level of engagement from both children and parents. Every week we tell a story, ask some wondering questions and then let everyone choose what they want to do. At the end of the session we come back together and share what we have been getting up to.
- a simple prayer activity (with Noah’s ark we chose an animal to say thank you to God for)
- a book corner with Bible stories
- play dough
- playing with the story sets
- cake and drinks to help yourself to
You can see from the photos above what people got up to in our Noah’s ark session!
Here is a really easy but very hands on craft to help children to explore the various characters and events of the Easter story (though you can, of course, use it for any Bible story!)
You will need: Bowls (I used plastic Ikea ones), play dough
After reading the story, get children to talk about the characters and events they liked and didn’t like. Which people and events struck them the most?
Give each child a bowl and some play dough. Using the bowl as a head, ask them to make the face of one of the characters from the story. Try to make expressions such as anger, sadness joy.
When everyone has made a face, ask children to try and guess who each one is!
This is a really simple but effective idea to help children to think and pray about Jesus bringing light and hope into situations.
You will need: A String of peg lights (or fairy lights with paper clips to fasten prayers to the string), paper, pens, photos of people, photos of places from magazines or the internet.
Ask children who they know who they would like to pray for, or which places they think need help and hope at the moment. They can write or draw them on paper or use photos. Turn on the light string and peg the photos and pieces of paper to the string. Pray that these people and places will have the light of Jesus in their lives and will know that he loves them.