1 Samuel 16: ‘God sees the heart’ hidden chocolate biscuits

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.

Talk about:

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?

Pray:

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.

Using playdough to pray and respond

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…IMG_3519

Praying with Playdough: 

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:

Beeswax Prayer Candles

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.

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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!

Noah’s Ark Exploration Session

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.

Choices include:

  • 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
  • drawing
  • Lego
  • 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!

Easter Story Play Dough Faces

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

IMG_2778After 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!

Transfiguration shine!

The transfiguration is an amazing story of Jesus being transformed into blazing light, radiating God’s glory and giving the disciples with him a glimpse of who he really is. This activity helps children to connect with the shine of the story and to think about how they might come closer to Jesus and be reflections of his light too.

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You will need: A set of glitter eye shadows (check any allergies children might have!), pieces of paper with challenges written on (see below)

Speak to the children about the story of Jesus going up the mountain and being transfigured into blazing light.

Talk about:

  • how would you have felt if you had seen it?
  • What would you have done?
  • What do you think it meant?
  • What does ‘glory’ mean?

Light is often associated with Jesus. He calls himself the light of the world and says that we can be too.  How can we come closer to Jesus and reflect his light to other people? How can we shine too so that people know we are his followers?

Get children to suggest ways they can come closer to Jesus or do things that he told us to do. Write some ideas down beforehand and then get children to suggest even more and write them on pieces of paper.

e.g.

  • pray for ourselves and others
  • Read Bible stories
  • Say thank you to God for what we have
  • speak to people who are lonely
  • help those in need

Ask each child to choose a piece of paper as a challenge to hep them get closer to Jesus and shine some of his light during the week. Next, get them to put some of the eyshadow on their finger and to spread it over their hand or arm. The glitter will shine as a reminder to them!