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

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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.

Church Family Group Art Work

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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

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IMG_05173. Lego

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4. Building blocks

IMG_00955. ‘Loose parts’ box

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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!

 

 

The Parable of the Mustard Seed Branch Craft

There are so many avenues you could explore when thinking about this short parable! There is so much here about the value of small beginnings with the gospel, not underestimating the power and potential of the kingdom of God and thinking about how we plant seeds in other people’s lives to help them see God’s love.  This craft, though, is a great way of helping children to think about what their ‘home’ in the kingdom of heaven might be like.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”  Matthew 13: 31-32

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You will need: long twigs that have fallen from a tree (there are normally loads on the ground wherever you find trees!) buttons, beads, feathers, glue, glitter, pipe cleaners, wool, paint.

Talk about the home that the birds find in the branches of the mustard tree, just like the Kingdom of heaven is a home where we are all welcome.  What would your branch look like if you found a place to perch in this Kingdom tree?  Let children decorate their branch and use the time to chat to them about what the kingdom of heaven might be like.

 

The Parable of the Pearl Lesson

When you have a range of ages in a children’s group, it’s great to provide a range of activities that are more open-ended that children can choose from.  This means that children are more likely to find something they can get on and do independently and to their own level!  Here is a session we used this month with a group of children ranging in age from 2-12.

First we organised a hunt for coloured paper squares which we had hidden around the room.  Children worked in small teams to find specific colours.IMG_0443

Next, we told the parable of the pearl. I used my Godly play set, but a version from a children’s Bible or a video of the story would work just as well.

Children could then choose from a range of related activities that helped them to explore the story themes of ‘treasure’, searching for something precious and what the kingdom of God would be like…

  • Making pearl ‘treasure’ biscuits. Click here for the link to show you how.
  • Drawing a picture of the story
  • Using play dough to make a scene from the story or to make a ‘treasure’
  • Using a range of collage materials to make ‘treasure’

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  • searching in moon sand for ‘treasure’ (glittery foam shapes, buttons, pom poms)

As the children created, we used the time to talk to them about heaven, treasure, what it must be like to give up everything for something incredibly precious and what they would have done if they had been in the story. We had some fascinating conversations!