God’s Strength: Paper Challenge

This idea was inspired by something I read in a great book by Heno Head Jr: Simple Science Object Talks. I would totally recommend the book as it has some amazing ideas to help children to connect with God and to explore the meaning of Bible stories.  I’ve used this activity in primary school assemblies but it would work just as well in an all age service or in a children’s group.

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You will need: I sheet of A4 paper per child, sellotape, toilet roll tubes or kitchen towel tubes, mugs or books.

Challenge children to use 1 sheet of paper to make a construction that will hold the mug or book off the floor. DO NOT show them the tubes!

Invariably, the children will find this an impossible task!

Now take a sheet of A4 paper and bring out the paper towel tube.  Wrap the paper tightly around the tube and sellotape the edges to make a paper tube covering the card tube.

Show how the mug will balance happily on the tube, but admit to the fact that you are cheating because you used tube and you didn’t let the children use one!

Now take the paper tube carefully off the card tube and ask if the children think that the paper on its own will hold the mug.  They will probably say no.  Put the mug on top and it will balance.

Talk to the children about the fact that when things are hard and we try to do it by ourselves, sometimes we don’t get far and things seem to collapse around us. When we ask for help, we can do things we never thought possible.  Think about the verse from Philippians 4: 13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” As Christians, we can ask Jesus to help us and nothing is impossible to him.  Share times when you have asked Jesus for help and pray for people who are faced with difficult situations.

School Club Session: The 10 Lepers

 

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5 mins Reflective colouring while waiting for all children to arrive.  Click here for ideas to print out
5 mins Game- 10 cup bowling

Set out  10 cups in a ten pin bowling formation and throw a soft ball or beanbag at them.  Can you knock down all 10 with 3 throws?

2 mins Song (click for a Pinterest board of Children’s Ministry songs)
10 mins Tell the story either from a book or interactively.  The Lion Storyteller Bible is great! Get children thinking about what they are grateful for. Remind them that out of the 10 lepers, only one came back to say thank you. Why do you think that was? How do you feel when someone forgets to say thank you? What would you like to say thank you for?
10 mins Prayer: balloon praise- blow up balloons and write/ draw thank you prayers on them with sharpies (or write on stickers and stick to the balloons) Play some music and bat the balloons around. When the music stops, everyone grab a balloon and say thank you to God for something on that balloon. Repeat.

Make up a word search using words from the story or using word of things they would like to say thank you for.  Click here to print out a blank word search sheet.

3 mins End with a game!  Click here for a Pinterest board full of ideas.

Worry Assembly (The Exodus story: Wandering in the wilderness)

This assembly works well with years 1-6 and is quite interactive- especially if you have a willing teacher who doesn’t mind taking a risk!

You will need: A retelling of the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and being given manna by God, a sealed plastic ziplock bag 2/3 filled with water, sharp pencils or pens

We told the story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and worrying about where they would get food and drink and also about where they were going.  A great retelling can be found in this book:9780745964331

Talk to the children about what worries them and then talk about the way that God helps the people in the story.  They don’t need to worry because He has got it covered!

Invite a teacher to come out to the front (we had a very willing head teacher who we had prepared beforehand!).  Sit them in a seat and hold a ziplock sandwich bag filled with water (and sealed!!) above their head.  How worried do they feel now on a scale of 1-10?  Then bring out a pen or a sharp pencil.  What if I threatened to push this pencil into the bag? How worried would you be then?  Stick 2015-09-01 19.15.09the pencil ALL THE WAY THROUGH the plastic bag in one steady move so that the pencil is poking out either side of the bag.  No water will come out!  Repeat this twice more.

Emphasise the point you knew that no harm was going to come to the teacher even if they were worried.  You had it covered.  When we are worried, we know that God has it covered and will look after us.  We can tell Him anything we are worried about.  Who can the children talk to if they are worried?

Say a prayer, thanking God for people who help us when we are worried and thanking Him that we can talk to Him about our worries too.

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!

Basic Assembly Structure

After years of doing assemblies, I have finally hit upon something of a formula.  This may or may not work in your particular context, but hopefully will be of some use!

Timings are obviously very approximate.

5 mins Hellos and game (based on the theme of the assembly) for one or two children to participate in up front

Click here to see a Pinterest board of game ideas

5 mins Storytelling e.g. acting out with the children, using props or from a good storyteller Bible
5 mins Short talk about the assembly with an illustration if possible (including an example from my own life where appropriate)

Click here to see a Pinterest board of object lesson ideas

2 mins Short prayer (or reflection time if not a church school).  Generally this works well with a lit candle.

Here are some assembly examples following this structure:

David and Goliath (Good to be me)

Abraham (Changes)

Abraham Assembly (Changes)

This assembly is based on the story of Abraham being called by God to leave his homeland and journey to a distant land (Genesis 12) and fits with the SEALS theme of ‘changes’.

5 mins  Game-get 10 yellow ball pool balls, 5 red and 5 blue and share them out as follows into 3 baskets spaced out across the front of the hall:

Left basket: 5 yellow balls, middle basket 5 red and 5 blue balls, right basket 5 yellow balls.

Get two volunteers to stand by the left hand and right hand baskets.  Shout ‘go’ and get the volunteers to run backwards and forwards between their basket and the middle basket, changing their balls one by one until the left basket has 5 red balls and the right basket has 5 blue balls and all the yellow balls are in the middle basket.  The first to change all of the balls in their basket is the winner.  This introduces the idea of ‘change.’

5 mins Talk about God calling Abraham to leave everything behind to journey to an unknown place (mirroring what would happen after the summer when Y6 move to secondary school). Invite a child up to the front to become ‘Abraham’ and give them a rucksack and a map as if they are going on a journey.  Then take the map away and gave them a blindfold to wear and lead them around following only the direction of your voice.  This is hard because they really have to trust!

Then talk about Abraham having to trust God when everything he knew was changing and how we have people we can trust to help us when things around us are changing.  Share with the children who some of your trusted people are

5 mins  Object lesson- check out the original idea here on this blog of object lessons using natural laws.

Stand about 10 feet away from ‘Abraham’ and aim an inflated but untied balloon at him.  Let go and the balloon will go a little bit crazy in the air as it deflates.  This is like us when we get stressed about things and don’t let others help us.  Next, blow up another balloon (still without tying the end) and sellotape it to a piece of straw with a long string running through it (see picture).

Get ‘Abraham’ to hold on to one end of the string and you hold the untied balloon/ straw at the other end.  Let go and the balloon will fly straight to its destination at the end of the string (Abraham)!   This shows us how, if we trust God or those around us to help when things are changing and we are worried then, like the string, they will help to keep us on track!

2 mins  Light a candle and ask the children to think of all those people in their lives who they can trust to help them when changes are happening- the people who will keep them going in a straight line.  Say a brief thank you prayer for those people.