Friday, 22 July 2016

God looks at the heart: Litmus Paper craft and object lesson (1 Samuel 16:7)

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

This verse is a really useful one to use with children when you are helping them to think about who they are as children of God.  In times of peer pressure and social expectations, it can be really helpful to know that God looks at us through different eyes and sees our value and gifts even when others don't seem to.

This craft is deigned to help children explore ideas around the difference between what people might see on the surface and what God knows about us and uses something that takes me back to my school science days!

You will need: A book of Litmus paper strips (1 bought a book of 80 for less than £1 online), heart shapes drawn on paper, glue, various liquids (safe ones for children to touch! e.g. hand soap, washing up liquid, lemon juice, water, milk, different drinks.

Let children experiment with touching one of the strips to a certain liquid.  Each liquid will have a certain PH and that will turn the strip to the according colour.  You don't know what colour you will get until you test it and the colour of the strip/ liquid is no indicator of what colour the paper will change to.  You can't judge just by what you see on the surface and hopefully there will be some element of surprise for the children (maybe they could predict the colour before testing)!

Talk about:
  • Could you tell what colour the strip would change just by looking at the liquid?
  • what can't you tell about someone just by looking?
  • what would someone not know about you just by looking at you?
  • what does it mean to look at someone's heart?
  • what would you like God to see in your heart?

Get the children to place their test strips into a heart shape.  Pray for those things they would like God to see in their hearts (they might want to write them on the strips) and ask God to help them to see people's hearts rather than just judging by appearance.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Family prayer bag: 10 easy and fun ideas to help families pray together

This weekend I am off at a gathering of churches from our diocese and beyond and will be running a workshop for parents about how they can help children to engage with faith at home.  To give them some ideas for praying together, I've made up some bags which we will work our way through during the session!

Here's one of the bags laid out...

I've included: some bubble wrap, felt tip pens, spotty paper, play dough, play coins, plastic teaspoons, bubbles, pipe cleaners, playing cards, skittles sweets and lego.

Here's how I will suggest we might use each item (after getting some ideas from the parents themselves which will probably be even better than these ideas!!)

Family Prayer Bag

1. God Venture Skittles Prayers: 
(Found at thanks Victoria for this amazing idea!)
Choose a skittle at random, say the appropriate prayer and then eat it!

Red: family
Purple: friends
Green: the environment/animals
Yellow: the world
Orange: school/work

2. Play dough Prayers (see also Play dough intercessions)
Model the play dough into the shape of something you would like to thank God for or ask Him for

Flip the coin
Heads- Thank you prayer
Tails- Please prayer

Tell God your worries and pop a bubble as a symbol of giving your worry to God

  • Make your pipe cleaner into the initial of the name of someone or something.  Pray for that thing/person
  • screw your pipe cleaner up and pray for people who are confused and upset
  • link your pipecleaner to someone else’s and pray for people who are lonely
  • put your pipe cleaner around your wrist like a bracelet as a reminder that God is always with you.

Choose a spoon at random and pray the appropriate prayer
T- Thanks 

Take it in turns to connect two dots with a line.  When you make a complete square, write the initial of or draw a small picture of something or someone you want to pray for.  The winner is the one who has made the most prayer squares!

Choose a card at random
Red number- sorry prayer
Black number- thank you prayer
King- give a word that describes how great God is
Queen- pray for a girl
Jack- pray for a boy

9. Bubble Prayers
say a please, sorry or thank you prayer.  Blow some bubbles and picture giving your prayer to God

10. Lego Thank You Prayers (see also Lego prayers and Lego Intercessions)
Build a tower of lego blocks.  For each block you add, thank God for someone or something. 

Click here for printable instructions.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Making Peace: A hands on lesson for 5-11s

As part of our series looking at Holy Communion we spent some time thinking about community, the sign of peace and what it means to make peace with others.  Here's what we did!

Game: stand a stick of spaghetti into a bit of play dough and then thread cheerios onto it.  How many cheerios can you get on the stick in 1 minute? Eat the cheerios and then start again.  This game then leads on to talking about bringing people together as a community, which is what we do in the church family.

Talk about: 
belonging to our own families and to God’s family 
How do you show that you belong to a group?
Everyone is welcome in God’s family and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done or if you get on with that person!

Think about the part in the liturgy where we say “peace be with you’ and then we reply ‘and also with you’
What does peace mean?
How does it feel if peace is ‘with you’?
What does it mean to make peace?
Why do you think we do this in a communion service?

  • Think about words to do with peace and friendship. Children draw round and cut out their hands and arms.  Decorate them and use them to fill a canvas- reflecting us holding out our hands in peace to others.  Add some of the words you have thought of (see above)
  • Doves are a Christian sign of peace.  Make a dove straw rocket and write on the wings people and places who need to know God’s peace.

  • ice and decorate biscuits to share after the service as a sign of friendship with everyone

Prayer: write prayers on a giant cross outline (or on a chalk board cross if you have one!) and pray for people you find it difficult to get on with or who need to find peace.  Ask God to help you and to help them.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Reflective Colouring: Psalm 27:1

Here is a new reflective colouring sheet which focusses on Psalm 27:1- one of most favourite Bible verses: The Lord is my light and the one who saves me. So why should I fear anyone?

Here are some ideas:

Use the time you spend colouring to...

Talk about: 
What/ who is the strongest thing/ person you know?
Why is light important and useful?
How can God/ people be like light for others?
What does it mean for someone to save us?
How do you think God saves us?
What makes you afraid?
What helps you when you are afraid?
Have you ever asked God to help you?

As you colour, pray for people who are afraid and ask God to help them and save them.  Children might want to ask God to help them with specific fears.

To print off the colouring sheet click here.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Hands on intercessions (with an IKEA play rug!)

The other week we managed to come by a second hand IKEA children's rug for a very reasonable price and it seemed perfect for using for some hands on intercessions!

This idea works well with all ages and can be a stand alone prayer station, revisited over period of time, or used as a focus in a group or an all age service.

You will need:
hearts, figures/ people (I used foam shapes but playmobil or lego figures would work well too), toy cars, wooden blocks (or duplo), a town play mat (we used this one)

Place a car on one of the roads- pray for traffic, safety, drivers, pedestrians
Place a block on the map and pray for a building, workplace or home that you know.
Place a figure on the map and pray for a person in this community
Place a heart on the map and pray for situations in the community that need God’s help
Have fun!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Under 5s: Exploring Holy Communion with A Symbols Treasure Chest

Over the next 4 weeks or so, the whole church (adults and children) is looking at and learning about various aspects of Holy Communion: what it is, why we do it, signs, symbols, stories and liturgy.  At the end of the series, we will have a special celebration where I will preside at communion for the first time and one of our children will take her first communion.  It is actually quite exciting to all be learning together!

We have set up a 'treasure chest' for children to role play with during the service, using an old box we found in an antique shop. 

This is what we put inside...

Handkerchiefs in the 4 liturgical colours (plus extra white ones for children to use as purificatory to wipe the cup with), wooden crosses and doves.

A felt book of church symbols (see a future post on this!)

Some metal cups and plates found for a bargain price in a charity shop, some wooden bread, hearts, battery operated candles and a globe ball.

We put it out for the first time last week and the response was fascinating! Some of the children, completely unprompted, were acting out giving the bread and wine to each other and to their parents and even used the white cloths to wipe the cup after each sip.  We warned the congregation that there was likely to be clinking of metal, but that we welcomed that because it meant that the children were getting involved.  In just one service we learned how much even the youngest children observe and process that symbols and actions they see happening around them!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Flying Dove Peace Prayers

This is a fun and active prayer activity, using the dove as a symbol of peace.

You will need: A straw, the dove shape and paper rectangle cut out of the resource sheet (click here to print), sellotape, pens

Wrap the paper rectangle around the straw (not too tight) and then fold the top of the paper over to make a 'pocket' for the end of the straw.  Make sure that there is a little gap between the fold of the pocket and the end of the straw or your paper will stick to the straw and will not fly when the time comes!

Write or draw prayers for people or places who need God's peace on the front of the dove shape.  Turn the dove over and sellotape the paper pocket to it, as shown in the picture below.  

Turn the dove the right way round, aim it and then blow through the straw.  Watch your peace dove fly as a symbol of giving the prayers to God!